Things I Like Month!: News Roundtable Edition

Man cannot live on comics alone, so sometimes I need to turn to the news. Here are the podcasts I dig on to get my news on.


It should come as no surprise to anyone that I’m a liberal guy and, as a result, I check Slate a few times a day. However, what has rapidly become the biggest draw on the site for me is the variety of podcasts offered.


1.)    Hang Up and Listen- Sports can be news too, thank you. If you are someone who enjoys sports, like me, but don’t care for/need the aggravation of the daily sports radio stations with their focus on yesterday’s one mistake blown up to epic proportions and/or endless speculation/suggestions of trades teams should or SHOULD NEVER make, HUAL is a great choice. Like the rest of the Slate podcasts, HUAL is divided into three story sections and a final “Afterball” in which the hosts talk about some random bit of sports arcane they unearthed on their own times. Smart, fun, and funny with content that is grounded in the now without being solely focused on the most recent game or the upcoming playoff series. My only complaint is when they bring in someone to discuss his or her book as most of the visitors just don’t seem to fit the show’s energy well.


2.) The Culture Gabfest- A podcast with the scope to discuss the latest Star Trek film, the Time’s Millennials article, and Google Glass all in one show. A catch-all approach allows the hosts to cover high, low, and anything in-between culture and give them equal time and energy. The lead host, Stephen Metcalf, tends to be a bit of changephobic, predicting ruin (in recent months) because of the death of the letter, Google Glass, the TV news magazine Vice, and the acceptance of popcorn movies as quality cinema, but it is unclear if he’s serious or just stirring the pot to get his co-hosts going. In any case, it makes for interesting discussions as the co-hosts are usually just as able to argue for why the latest advancements are good or neutral in the face of his “this is bad and will end us” prognosticating. Every podcast ends with recommendations and these are as varied as the topics discussed during the show. Count on Metcalf unearthing a bit of great poetry during this time at least once every few podcasts for your listening pleasure.


3.) Double X Gabfest- I feel like there is a joke here about the fact that the podcast focusing on women only gets a podcast every two weeks instead of weekly, but I’m a guy so I’m not going to attempt it. Despite what you made have heard about feminists and feminism, the hosts are frequently funny and not afraid to bring in men for their perspectives on “women’s” issues. They are also not monolithic in their opinions, another antidote to some of the more kneejerk stereotypes of those who advocate for women. They too make recommendations or highlight other articles listeners should check out in their final segment.


4.) Political Gabfest- Much like Metcalf on the Culture Gabfest, head host David Plotz likes to stake out opinions on matters to stir up his cohorts, but he tends to do it in such a way that leaves you without a doubt that he’s doing it on purpose. The honesty of his yearlong insistence that Mitt Romney was going to win despite being a liberal and mounting evidence that there was no way it was going to happen, however, remains a mystery. Regardless, Plotz is a good moderator who keep things rolling and he’s surrounded by Bazelon and Dickerson, two people who clearly know their field and still have room in their brains to seemingly know enough to engage things beyond their scope with equal smarts. They close with “Cocktail Chatter” which tends to be an amalgam of the HUAL and other Gabfest approaches as they make recommendations, point out articles, or discuss stories that might be too slight for their own section.


Hang Up and Listen: Weekly

The Culture Gabfest: Weekly

Double X Gabfest: Every two weeks

Political Gabfest: Weekly

Twitter handles associated with the podcast: Slate

Hang Up and Listen:

Stefan Fatsis

Josh Levin

Mike Pesca

The Culture Gabfest:

Stephen Metcalf

Dana Stevens

June Thomas

Double X Gabfest:

Allison Benedikt

Noreen Malone

Hanna Rosin

Political Gabfest:

Emily Bazelon

David Plotz

John Dickerson



This is admittedly a more local choice as The Colin McEnroe Show is a Connecticut NPR offering. However, the show tends to look beyond the borders of the Nutmeg State fairly often and secures strong guests to do so. McEnroe is a lifelong newsman and current columnist for the Hartford Courant so he has a sort of jack of all trades knowledge base that lets him be both informed and curious enough to coax his guests into speaking on the audience’s level.

My favorite show of the week is Friday’s The Nose, a pop culture Roundtable that feature McEnroe and a rotating selection of CT luminaries discussing the issues of the week in ways that are smart but not afraid to be fun and/or funny. I also really liked the Mailbag and Behind the Scene shows quite a bit but those appear to be gone, gone, gone.

I don’t listen to every episode; I tend to pick and choose on the basis of the show’s topic. That said, I am rarely disappointed in the episodes I do download.

Oh and if you want to persuade McEnroe to invite me on for a Nose episode, please go ahead and let him know how appreciated my voice would be on NPR’s radiowaves. I’d certainly enjoy it.

Released: Monday-Friday

Twitter handles associated with the podcast:

The Show

Colin McEnroe

Chion Wolf

Tomorrow: Movie-Focused Podcasts