Podcasts I like

During my six months of cross-training purgatory, I got sick of my music mixes and turned to podcasts for distraction. In that time, I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts. Since I’m doing nine out of ten runs on the treadmill these days (and still hitting the other machines and pool sometimes), I’m still listening to them often. Most of them have some comedic element. I like funny stuff and it helps to counter my foul mood when I am pool running.

Here are some favorites, with top picks first. All are available on iTunes.

This podcast features either live or studio-recorded stories from people who have tales to tell that fit into the week’s chosen theme. These are usually writers, comedians or actors who have something interesting to say and know how to say it well, meaning they are good storytellers and monologuists. Sounds easy. But it’s not. Most of the time, it works. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes moving, sometimes shocking. Always a good listen.
Starter episode: The Chase. Highlight: “The Freak Magnet,” Kerri Heidecker’s story of being stalked, scrapbooked and rendered in wax fetish form by a school acquaintance.

What The Fuck
Stand-Up Comedian Marc Maron has been a fixture on the comedy scene for a long time. But who knew he was such a skilled interviewer? With a mixture of empathy, wit and intellectual curiosity, Maron is able to establish a rapport and intimacy with his subjects that I can only envy and aspire to.
Starter episode: Dave Foley of Kids in the Hall and Talkradio fame describes his harrowingly awful first marriage, struggles with dyslexia and current status as child-support-poor, reluctant stand-up comedian. Sounds like a depressing drag, right? Well, it’s actually sidesplitting in spots.

Savage Lovecast
Dan Savage has been giving advice about sex (and both garden-variety and not-so-garden-variety romance) for…well, a long time. I used to read his stuff in the Village Voice way back when I was a commuting wage slave. He recently got some well-deserved press for his It Gets Better project, whose genesis was a call from a 15-year-old, stuck-in-the-middle-of-nowhere gay kid who could not see through his current sense of isolation to a happy future for himself. Anyway, the podcast covers everything under the sexual sun and more often than not I learn something new. I usually agree with Dan’s advice too.
Starter episode: In Episode 218, Dan gives good answers to questions like these: Her new boyfriend sometimes wets the bed; dealbreaker? Why does this straight man keep finding himself being mysteriously fellated by his gay neighbor? Is a mom who busts her daughter for sending photos to middle-aged men on the Internetwebs being nosey or heroic?

LetsRun.com’s Training Talk
Weldon Johnson, co-founder of LetsRun.com, interviews coaches and runners. The interviews are few and far between, but I always find gems among them, and he has gotten more confident as an interviewer over time. This is really for hardcore runners or fans of the sport.
Starter episode: Stephanie Rothstein talks about how she went from being a mediocre high school runner to breaking 2:30 at Houston about a week ago. She has a lot to say about injury, confidence and perserverence. A great listen for anyone who cares about their own running.

Judge John Hodgman
Viewers of the The Daily Show will know John Hodgman as the show’s “expert” on all matters, as demonstrated in the segment called “You’re Welcome.” Hodgman extends this persona out, acting as a Judge Judy of sorts (but much funnier), to help couples, friends and others who are in disagreement over something resolve their conflict. The show is uneven, but when the right combination of subject and guests is present, it’s a good listen.
Starter episode: Are Machine Guns Robots?

I won’t get out of here alive without also plugging the two I’m sometimes on: the New York Running Show and The Runners Round Table. Those are good too.