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Jordan, Jesse, Go! Episode 141: A Touch of Evil with Jim Festante and Joel Church-Cooper

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Guests: 
Jim Festante
Guests: 
Joel Church-Cooper

Jim Festante from The Game Show and Joel Church-Cooper of The Rotten Tomatoes Show join Jordan to discuss that saucy minx Dame Helen Mirren, the narrative arc of Family Matters, and more.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Snap Judgment

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Vital stats:
Format: thematically linked, host-commented-on personal stories
Duration: ~55m
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: all

I’d been wondering what happened with the Public Radio Talent Quest, a higher-brow American Idol-style affair a couple years back meant to seek out the new generation of public radio personalities. This is just the sort of contest that excites a radio dorkus such as myself, so when the PRTQ turned up not one but two winners — one dude with dreadlocks, one dude with a shaved head — I eagerly awaited their respective projects. Then time passed, and I just sort of forgot.

Over the past month or so, I’d heard a bunch of people mention a new NPR show called Snap Judgment. My Podthinker’s curiosity piqued, I pulled it up and discovered it was the project of none other than Glynn Washington — the aforementioned shaved-head dude. Everything about the show screams “huge undertaking,” from the lush-sounding production to the elaborate-by-radio-standards web site to the big publicity push that’s gotten the program so far up in the zeitgeist so early in its life. I get the whiff of the Big Deal about it.

But after listening to all the available episodes, I’ll still be damned if I can tell you what it’s about. “Storytelling with a beat” is the show’s tagline, and the promise is delivered on, to the extent that (a) its segments are all stories told and (b) Washington, in the role of Snap Judgment’s Ira Glass equivalent, often talks over (pretty surprisingly good) beats. I’d hoped every story would be literally told to a beat, but no dice. They’re told, arhythmically, by the people who experienced them, augmented by Washington’s questions, commentary, interjections, and framing.

You’ve no doubt noticed that “storytelling” is in vogue right now, especially on the radio and podcasts, what with shows like Risk! and The Moth doing pretty well for themselves. But jeez, I’m a little storied out. Telling stories sounds like an infinitely wide mandate — everything’s a story, right? — but it’s far from the only way to get ideas across, and often not the best one. Sure, I’ve heard all the talk about how narrative is a primal human need second only to food, shelter, reproduction, etc., but making stuff into a narrative turns out to demand so, so much pulling of standard tricks — suspend, twist, reveal, double twist — and hammering into standard shapes.

Snap Judgment does this as well as it’s ever been done, though I don’t know how much remains in communal narrative barrel. I was entertained by the participants’ (and Washington’s own) tales of desperate searches for schizophrenic friends in unfamiliar cities, unexpected kindness in Iranian restaurants, startling meetings with obscure religious leaders, and freaky encounters with radio stalkers, but I didn’t come away feeling that I’d heard anything as new and different as the buzz seemed to promise.

The standard critique of new public radio efforts leveled by those not embedded in the public radio world is that, while a lot of it sounds different, almost none if it, at its core, is different. Washington ostensibly won the Talent Quest by being something fresh, and he does have a reasonably fresh manner. He comes off as a guy you’d really want to hang out with, which not everybody seems to think about most public radio personalities. But I’m not sure if this show allows him to be different, especially as long as it insists on short-form skimming across the top of a handful of thematically related human experiences. How about spending the entire hour, every hour, drilling down deep into a single story, say? That’d be new and different, but would public radio be down with it?

[Podthinker Colin Marshall also happens to be the host and producer of public radio’s The Marketplace of Ideas, the blogger of The War on Mediocrity and the writer of The Ubuweb Experimental Video Project.]

Podcast: The College Years: Show People

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Guests: 
Suicidegirl Pearl
Guests: 
Josh Kornbluth

The College Years is a look deep into the vaults of The Sound of Young America. Take a journey with us every week as we post a new program or two from our salad days.

Today's theme: Show People


To start the show, Jesse and guest-host Steve Palopoli interview Pearl of the Suicidegirls. While promoting her group's traveling burlesque show, Pearl explains to the guys why Suicidegirls is about more than just pictures of pretty girls. Note: very hard to find SFW links of that other stuff Pearl talks about due to risqué pictures of pretty girls. In any case, if attractive women is your cup of tea, check out the DVD of the tour.


Next, Jesse and Steve talk to the arguably just as NSFW Josh Kornbluth. (NSFW because you might guffaw while listening). Josh speaks about his one man show, Ben Franklin: Unplugged. Although that show has passed, you can still catch Josh in the film, Haiku Tunnel and at future performances.

Roberta Flack, Singer-Songwriter: "The Song That Changed My Life" on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Roberta Flack

The Sound of Young America was in Alberta, Canada for the Calgary Folk Music Festival, four days of performances and workshops from folk, indie, rock, country, and blues musicians. Before the festival, we talked to the headliner Roberta Flack for a new feature on the show, "The Song That Changed My Life."

Roberta Flack is a legendary singer, songwriter and pianist. She won back-to-back Grammy Awards for Record of the Year for her songs "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Killing Me Softly With His Song."

The Song That Changed My Life, by Roberta Flack

Stevie Wonder, "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer"

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Episode 92: Energy Air

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Welcome to season two of Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters! In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. These original recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.

On this episode: Coyle & Sharpe investigate the receptiveness of the public towards a possibly beneficial, probably harmful energy supplement.

Stop Podcasting Yourself 125 - Jeff McEnery

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Guests: 
Jeff McEnery

Comedian Jeff McEnery joins us to talk skydiving, sunflowers, and country music.

Download episode 125 here. (right-click)

Brought to you by: (click here for the full list of sponsors)

Corb Lund, Country Singer-Songwriter: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Corb Lund

The Sound of Young America was in Alberta, Canada for the Calgary Folk Music Festival, four days of performances and workshops from folk, indie, rock, country, and blues musicians. Here’s the first of our interviews and live performances from the festival, with Alberta’s homegrown country singer-songwriter, Corb Lund.

Corb Lund is a musician and third-generation rancher from Alberta, Canada. He played for over ten years as part of punk band The Smalls, and now brings some of that irreverence to writing roots-country music about his own experiences and those of his ancestors on the Canadian prairies.

Lund has received the Canadian Country Music Association's Roots Artist of the Year for six years running, and also been honored by the Canadian Independent Music Awards and the JUNO awards.

You can find him singing stories of rodeos, gamblers, and the Canadian West on Losin' Lately Gambler, his latest album.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Uhhh

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Vital stats:
Format: short-form slacking, usually with musical accompaniment
Duration: 2m30s-20m
Frequency: erratic
Archive available on iTunes: all

Now, I don’t know the man or his work, but this podcast is either the absolute best or absolute worst way to get acquainted with Steve Agee. The Wikipedia tells me he’s a 41-year-old California dude with Riverside roots who acts, does comedy, and appears regularly on The Sarah Silverman Program. Other credits include The Andy Milonakis Show, Superego, and a Twitter stunt. Not as credentialed as some comedic podcasters, sure, but way more credentialed than most.

In fact, you might call his show Uhhh [RSS] [iTunes] the work of a pretty well credentialed comedic podcaster which inhabits the form of the show of a viciously uncredentialed comedic podcaster. Representative content of its episodes, which range from two and a half to twenty-ish minutes, include Steve Agee freestyle rapping to pre-made beats with whomever he happens to be hanging out with, Steve Agee making up ridiculous songs as he wanders the fretboard of whatever instrument he happens to find nearby, Steve Agee talking through the most irritating vocal filter possible for eight straight minutes, and Steve Agee belching.

There’s a certain admirable improvisatory quality to all this. Is “Dada” too strong a word? “Dada” is probably too strong a word. But still: some podcasters passively let their podcasts grow slack and purposeless, but Steve Agee is fiercely committed to actively exploring the slackest, least purposeful territory in the entire medium. This is much more entertaining than it might sound, owing in part to the show’s sometimes extreme brevity. (In at least one episode, he reveals that he started the podcast in reaction to all those other medium-to-long podcasts out there.)

Surely the setup, such as is, also comes off better than you’d expect because Steve Agee is a bona fide Famous Person. Here’s a real-life celebrity, a guy who does movies and TV, sitting at home at 10:00 in the morning and burping on mic just like you and me. Having originally come to L.A. as a musician, he also brings musical talent to the arena, only a small measure of which (I assume) is on display on the podcast. Tip of the iceberg. I mention these qualities to keep as many anonymous Basement McQuarterlifes out there from listening to Uhhh, laughing, then getting ideas about replicating its model. You probably can’t. What works for Steve Agee I can’t see working for anybody else, since it so suits his particular qualities. I could say the same about the creators of all the best podcasts.

Yet as better than us as Steve Agee is at firing off a few half-remembered bass riffs and rembering aloud his Jane’s Addiction fandom, he still has the edge of what I’ve come to think of as the L.A. Podcasting Crying Clown. As with a show like WTF, you’ll hear the host and his compatriots occasionally lapse into the moaning anomie that apparently afflicts nearly every Southern California comedian with a copy of GarageBand: “Fuck, the rent is due soon,” “Fuck, here I am, a fat fuck,” etc. I mean, jeez. You guys are, like, on a whole bunch of screens! Aren’t you living the dream or something?

[Podthinker Colin Marshall also happens to be the host and producer of public radio’s The Marketplace of Ideas, the blogger of The War on Mediocrity and the writer of The Ubuweb Experimental Video Project.]

Podcast: The College Years: Free Form

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Guests: 
Tom Scharpling
Guests: 
Eugene Mirman

The College Years is a look deep into the vaults of The Sound of Young America. Take a journey with us every week as we post a new program or two from our salad days.

Today's theme: Free Form


To begin the show, Jesse speaks with Tom Scharpling. Known for his writing on shows such as Tom Goes to the Mayor and Monk. Tom talks about his radio programme, The Best Show on WFMU. Why don't you become Tom's friend?


Next up on this episode, Eugene Mirman! Listen as Eugene shares memories of childhood alienation and loneliness. Meanwhile, Jesse talks about Gallagher. If you're feeling lonely and don't want to listen to another Gallagher album, pick up some of Eugene's hilarious work.

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Episode 91: Human Rag

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Welcome to season two of Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters! In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. These original recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.

On this episode: Coyle & Sharpe want you to do your civic duty. So get into that rag already.

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