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Scene Selections: Podcasts

, , and | Thursday, March 28, 2019

Lina Domenella | The Observer

For this week’s Scene Selections, we wanted to highlight a few of our favorite podcasts — covering topics from philosophy to sports. Whether you’re looking for yet another podcast to add to your listening rotation or are just getting started, one of these is sure to become your newest obsession. 

“Night Call”

By Matt Munhall, Scene Writer

If you ever find yourself driving through the desert at 2 a.m., “Night Call” is the podcast to keep you company out there on the highway. Each week, Molly Lambert, Tess Lynch and Emily Yoshida — formerly the hosts of Grantland’s “Girls in Hoodies” podcast — delve into their wide-ranging interests, which run the gamut from conspiracy theories and paranormal experiences to internet ephemera and pop culture. Loosely inspired by Art Bell’s long-running late night radio program “Coast to Coast AM,” “Night Call” bills itself as a podcast for “those strange days and lonely nights,” with the hosts taking calls from listeners with UFO encounters to share or providing updates on a saga about the ethics of crafting a ouija board with wood taken from a murder scene. It is the camaraderie between the trio and its curiosity about a host of topics that makes “Night Call” such a compelling listen: It’s the kind of show where parasitic worm larvae are treated as just as pressing a concern as the new Elizabeth Holmes documentary on HBO.

“Philosophize This!”

By Jim Moster, Scene Writer

A fireplace crackles as clear and distinct propositions concerning the human experience swirl throughout your mind. You go to take a sip of your herbal tea but instead find an iPhone with headphones attached ─ you’ve been cajoled into the world of philosophy by Stephen West’s “Philosophize This!”

Working chronologically from pre-Socratic philosophy, Stephen West condenses the doctrines of history’s greatest philosophers into entertaining, 30-minute episodes. His passionate belief in the modern relevance of philosophy manifests itself in extensive knowledge and an embrace of the uncomfortable. By prioritizing accessibility, “Philosophize This!” allows for anyone to delve into an era of philosophy and grasp the lofty ideas that shape our social and political structures. West, committed to unbiased podcasting, manages to add his personal flair through running jokes and animated delivery. Those who yearn to transcend the mediocrity of armchair philosophy might seek out “Philosophize This!” for a rewarding and critical approach to the nature of existence.

“Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”

By Marty Kennedy, Scene Writer

Find it hard to digest the news without crying or entering the fetal position due to total terror? The podcast “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” tailors to that exact audience. This 20-year-old weekly podcast/radio show by NPR, hosted by Peter Sagal and announced by Bill Kurtis, seeks to discuss the news in a comedic, satirical game show-style format. Each week, three different panelists attempt to answer questions about this week’s news, including the top headlines of the week but also obscure, “Onion”-like, news one may only find from the oddest of media outlets (including, from this week, a story about the creation of Fantasy Birdwatching). A guest is also interviewed on each show, which recently have included current “SNL” cast member Aidy Bryant, skateboarding icon Tony Hawk and Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter. Last March, South Bend’s own Pete Buttigieg was a guest when the show traveled to do an episode in South Bend. I enjoy listening to “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” because I find it a palatable channel to digest the notable events of the past seven days. I can laugh, think and become informed all in around one hour. On top of all that, this podcast is an effortless and relaxing way to support public radio.

“Pardon My Take”

By Ryan Israel, Associate Scene Editor

Tune in for any hour of “Sportscenter” and you’ll likely see some mix of the following things: a series of short video clips from a sports game you don’t care about (or a great play you already saw on Twitter), some “breaking news” that isn’t really news at all, a couple of agitated men who have never played sports before arguing about sports and an incredibly boring interview with an incredibly talented athlete. What you’re likely to take away from it all is that sports news isn’t all that entertaining anymore; it’s too formulaic, too self-righteous and too trite.

Enter “Pardon My Take,” the most entertaining sports podcast on the internet, and arguably the most entertaining sports commentary out there. “Pardon My Take” centers around a simple premise: don’t take anything, especially sports, too seriously. The show’s hosts, Dan “Big Cat” Katz and the anonymous PFT Commenter, both of the Barstool Sports empire, put a refreshing absurdist, satirical and comedic spin on sports as they discuss the week’s headlines and interview personalities from the sports world — notable recent guests include legendary Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, Adam Schefter and Dennis Rodman.

Over the course of hundreds of episodes, the show has gathered a large following, referred to as “Award Winning Listeners,” and has developed into a world of its own. Entering the “Pardon My Take” universe now may seem a bit off-putting at first, but it’s well worth it if you’re a sports fan in need of something to laugh at.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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