Inside Podcasting - April 10th, 2017

Inside Podcasting (Apr 10th, 2017)

"The Bernie Sanders Show" / John B. McLemore / "Pod Save America" / "The Retroist"

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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' podcast is now available on iTunes. The show has been around since February as a webcast on Facebook, but a new tweet from the senator says "The revolution will be podcast" (in reference to the Gil Scott-Heron classic) and reveals the iTunes deal. "(The show) gives me an opportunity to speak directly to many millions of people about the work that we're doing about the issues that we consider to be important," said Sanders. So far, guests have included Bill Nye the Science Guy and documentary filmmaker Josh Fox. – CNET

Brian Reed, host of the hugely popular "S-Town" podcast, says he wasn't exactly friendly with John B. McLemore, the show's central figure. “Very little was asked about my life, so it’s not a friendship. Because a friendship would be two ways, or if it wasn’t two ways, I would have a right to be like, ‘hey dude, you’re being pretty self-centered.’ But it’s my job to just listen and ask questions. And it’s an interesting relationship.” That said, Reed feels that McLemore liked having him around to "collect his thoughts," no matter how off-topic. – WRAP

The Guardian offers a rundown of the best current podcasts by women. Under the spotlight are "Two Dope Queens," the free-form comedy podcast featuring Jessica Williams of "The Daily Show" and Phoebe Robinson; "You Must Remember This," Karina Longworth's essential series about old Hollywood legends; and (this one sounds good) "Scummy Mummies," Helen Thorn and Ellie Gibson’s wildly profane show about pregnancy and motherhood. – GUARDIAN

James Andrew Miller, who has compiled a series of best-selling oral histories about Saturday Night Live and other show-biz institutions, is kicking off a podcast with a similar mission. "Origins," due this summer, will look at the sometimes humble beginnings of a series of cultural totems from pop culture, sports, and politics. "I've had this idea for quite a while now. When working on oral histories and other reporting, one of my favorite parts of the process has always been digging into the beginnings of journeys," Miller says. The host will take on a single topic for each episode, be it a popular album or a famous love affair, and track both how it came to be and where it ended up. – THR

For a recent edition of the "Pod Save America" podcast, the two hosts and former Obama speechwriters took Fox to task for its handling of the recent accusations of sexual harassment by five women against "O'Reilly Factor" host Bill O'Reilly. Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett "take turns teeing off on Fox" throughout. Fox is referred to as both a “garbage organization that protects sexual harassers” and as “a disgusting organization with giant old-man heads attacking pretty young women and putting them on television if they’ll do sexual favors.” You can tell if you're gonna be tickled or turned off by this one already, but you can't say it isn't a passionate communique. – STITCHER

The lately reclusive Richard Simmons has signed a new deal with Prominent Brand + Talent for merchandising and endorsements, signaling what may be a return to public life for the beloved fitness guru. The recent (and very popular) "Missing Richard Simmons" podcast investigated Simmons' retreat into apparent solitude, although many wondered about host Dan Taberski's intentions in terms of forcing an acquaintance back into a public spotlight he seemed interested in avoiding. It may be a moot point now, with the signing of the deal: Simmons' longtime manager Michael Catalano says "it's possible" that his client could make some public appearances soon: "All I can say, at least for now, is it is possible. But it is yet to be determined.” (Editor's suggestion: How about Simmons gets his own podcast to tell his version?) – WRAP

Boise Public Radio's new "Some of the Parts" podcast tells stories of "overlooked people" in Idaho. Host Adam Cotterell focuses on the personal stories of small groups of marginalized people living in the Gem State. That fact that it sounds like a slog should be the first indicator that it is anything but one, and is, in fact, a touching lesson in empathy. “There are still a lot of voices that don’t get heard very often. And I think we in public radio allow ourselves to stray from that founding principle too often. So I wanted to do something about that but ‘stories that don’t often get told’ seemed a little too vague so I decided to focus on small groups of people. I’m really interested in how small communities relate to the larger community and how it relates to them," says the host. – BSPR


My friends know and are often exasperated by my personal focus on old things. I've always thought opening one's self up to old movies and music, rather than simply consuming just new stuff, can supply anyone with the keys to the kingdom: If you can get into music and movies and books from the 1920s or the 1960s, you can arrange to have a constant flow of good and interesting shows and songs and novels flitting through your life. When you focus only on new stuff, you're forced to filter out a lot of garbage. And hey, there's a lot more older stuff than there is new, and since they say the forward progression of time is an illusion anyway... Why not dig in?

Knowing this, a friend recommended "The Retroist" to me. While the minimally produced show focuses more on 80s nostalgia than on general cultural archaeology, The Retroist (the name the unnamed host uses) isn't glib nor is he particularly snarky, which is a blessing. I listened to the episode about the 1980 musical bomb "Xanadu," which I saw in theaters when I was a zygote, and which may have been my first exposure to certain ideals of romantic love and beauty (as well as offering me mythic images of The Strand that runs along the beach in the town I grew up in and heads right up to Venice Beach, where the film is set.) 

It's not a particularly good movie, but it has a serious retro charm and a real sweetness. It also has the phenomenally pretty Olivia Newton-John and a great song score by ELO. For The Retroist, the movie ties him to his older sisters. He grew up with two and found himself by necessity more open to the kind of things they would watch for entertainment. The movie centers on a physically incarnated Greek muse who roller skates around Venice Beach, beguiling a wayward young artist who has an unrewarding job painting those big album cover reproductions that used to adorn Tower Records on Sunset (another nice LA touch.) 

So as a kid, The Retroist would roller skate around the coffee table during the big musical scenes, even though he had no roller skates and instead simply shuffled his feet. This went on until one of his sister's boyfriends was over for a "Xanadu" screening. The intruder made fun of the Retroist's little skating routine, called him rude names, and was promptly chastised by his girlfriend, The Retroist's beloved older sister. This reminds him why he loved his sister so as a child, and that informs why he's always liked "Xanadu," a movie that could always use a friend. 

The second half of the show is a remarkably compact and informative breakdown of the movie's production history, which was fascinating to hear. Not being a well-liked film, none of the home video releases of "Xanadu" have included much in the way of production history or reappreciation, so The Retroist's passionate work here is of particular value... at least for "Xanadu" fans. 

Title: "The Retroist"
Episodes Available: 206
Episode Length: 30 minutes
Where to Download: iTunes
Host: The Retroist

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