Podcasts have really come into their zenith lately. Five or so years ago, the world of podcasts was relatively underground. But now pretty much everybody knows what a podcast is. It is this authors opinion that “Serial” is not a podcast, but rather an audiobook broken up into bite-size pieces, but I’m thankful for it’s having brought everyone’s attention to the podcast apps on everyone’s cell phones.
From the polished and professional offerings of NPR to the home made comforts of podcasts like Mike Falzone’s “Welcome to Our Podcast”, we can choose from a selection of literally thousands of offerings. At the top of the “yeah, you’ve heard of that one” heap is Mark Maron’s WTF podcast. Sure, if you look at one of the many “top podcasts” charts, you won’t find him in the top ten, but I contend that their information is flawed, especially in light of the fact that many of the top podcasts are really just reformatted radio broadcasts or TV shows. Maron’s isn’t that. Maron doesn’t spew serialized fiction either. Maron does a real goddamned podcast out of his goddamned garage. Take that, PBS News Hour!
Here are the best five episodes so far:
Louis CK – episode 111 – Maron and Louis CK have been friends a long time, minus a few years of falling out. Maron explained to Jay Leno, “I got cynical and he got successful, and he got to the point where it made him feel shitty to talk to me because I was so nasty. It just got weird, and it was sad.” It’s deep. It’s uncomfortable (in a good way). It’s like you’re eavesdropping on a male bonding session.
Robin Williams – episode 67 (rebroadcast August 11, 2014) – One of Maron’s earlier interviews, this episode was rebroadcast commercial-free after Robin Williams’ suicide. A word of warning, anyone sensitive to talk of suicide should not listen to this one, because it’s a subject that gets quite the examination. In fact, he gets into the subject of suicide in disturbing detail.
Obama – episode 613 – This is the episode everyone knows about. While it doesn’t get as deep and personal as many of the celebrity interviews Maron does, it’s still a hell of a far cry from a staged commercial for Obamacare or a campaign stop. The President talks about what it’s like to be African-American without really having grown up with a strong sense of the culture, he talks about the awkwardness of his teen years, and he talks about taking up smoking.
Terry Gross – episode 604 – This is probably his best interview ever. Maron gets an exclusive interview with one of America’s best interviewers, and in front of a live audience to boot. In true Maron style, he manages to wriggle a few good personal tidbits out of Gross, who usually conducts her own interviews over the telephone or a satellite feed.
Gallagher – episode 145 – If you’re the type of person who slows down at a car crash to ogle the carnage, you’ll love this episode… or what there is of it. Gallagher, that Gallagher, has somehow metamorphosed from the happy-go-lucky balding hippy with the silly props into a paranoid, racist, homophobe who probably has tin foil on his windows. When confronted about his bigotry, Gallagher gets angry and storms out of the interview. Maron posted it anyway and it’s a gem!