LA Weekly’s Podcast Issue: If you’ve been averse to podcasts, dismissing them as a trendy time-suck, you’re not alone. But those who’ve given these audio explorations some time know they can be worth it, especially if you’re stuck in your car or home for hours a day.
Podcasts should be looked upon like music – more is always merrier – even if there’s lots of good and not so good choices out there. Some are overrated and many never get their due, but the intention behind pretty much all of them is the same – to engage, inspire and celebrate topics that mean something… to someone. Finding that someone is what it’s all about.
A brief history: the word “podcast” was reportedly coined by The Guardian in 2004, in an article about the blogosphere expanding into audio-driven content thanks to personal computers, smartphones and mp3’s. The idea that digital audio files could be downloaded to a computer or mobile device or streamed to enjoy at any time opened up the possibilities of communication and entertainment, something that was already exploding thanks to social media. Software technology obviously played a role, too, and none other than original MTV VJ Adam Curry is credited with getting the streams flowing, co-founding the podcast network PodShow/Mevio in 2005 and as host of Daily Source Code, which covered early podcast culture. As the term became more commonplace, and more and more podcast networks started to emerge, the platform served as a way for celebrities to connect with fans, for writers to expand their storytelling reach, and for everyday folks to focus on niche or nerdier interests – from true crime to mental health.
Conceptualizing a podcast is one thing, but monetizing one is quite another. Mics up to anyone who does it purely for the expression and who, like a musician, simply wants to create something to share purposeful energy and ideas. From Serial and This American Life to Maron and Rogan, the biggest successes have led to copycats hoping to make a buck doing the same, especially in the narrative feature, entertainment and politics space. But there’s so much more out there and some of the most intriguing stuff originates right here in California. Many aren’t necessarily the most popular, but their followings are loyal and the efforts are worth it for all involved. How do you choose when the space is literally flooded with options? You just dive in and start with people and subjects that interest you, even if they’re guilty pleasures.
If you’re more of a visual person, many podcasts can also be watched on YouTube or sampled on Instagram. Here’s a list (nowhere near complete, but a fun start) of some shows that have been intriguing us lately. Also scroll to the end of this list to read podcast stories in our arts, music, food and entertainment sections.
FICTIONAL & DRAMA:
STORYTELLING, HORROR & TRUE CRIME:
MISCELLANEOUS POP CULTURE: