February’s Top 10 Podcast Episodes

I’m a little behind in putting out this list due to being in Huntsville, Alabama for much of March. Towards the end of February, I didn’t have the time to wrap up this post and send it out, but the highlights from last month remain what they are be it the first, fifth, of thirtieth of March.

Several of these episodes are less “exceptional” episodes from their shows as much as they are important markers in big events that occurred or changes that were happening to the shows. This list could also be used as a reminder of what happened in my preferred corner of the podcasting world this month.

Here’s the list:

Cracked Podcast – How Internet Subcultures Combat Free Speech

In my opinion, Cracked has been on fire with these podcasts lately. Maybe I’m new to it, maybe they’re always like this, but I find it so refreshing to hear intelligent conversations about online culture or society in general from these writers for the website. In this episode they discuss the perceived majority of the volume of the internet: assholes. From regular trolls to conspiracy theorists to bigots, they seem to dominate the digital space in every comment section and in so much of social media. A lot of aspects of this problem are explored in this episode.

Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show 137 – Skymall Forever

For some reason, even the weirdest, smallest, most frivolous institutions have so much meaning… at least when they’re going away. Yes, Skymall, the esoteric, kitsch, and far-too-expensive in-flight magazine/catalog is closing down. Far more predictable than tragic, the rise of electronic devices and cell phones completely eliminated the novelty of this form of in-flight entertainment, and Amazon replaced the exclusivity of its stock.

Rubin joins Patrick Cassels and Emily Gordon in perusing his extensive collection of Skymall magazines going back years in the finest farewell tribute I can imagine for this ephemeral brand.

We Have Concerns – Content with Content

This We Have Concerns goes a little meta by discussing “creating content” versus “writing a novel” or “making music”, and how “content” seems to imply disposability. It caused me to think about what among the many things I share each day do I ever go back to. What do I revisit anymore? What do I create that is worth anyone looking at twice? Is it a bad thing necessarily that online culture is this way?

Polygon’s Quality Control – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

Quality Control is growing on me because it’s a more free form extension of a traditional video game review, often answering questions from readers. This episode in particular was a delight for me because it convinced me of the quality of the 3DS remake of Majora’s Mask while also allowing me to relish the nostalgia of one of my favorite games.

Reasonably Sound 14 – Joe Hanson on Animals, Sound, and Semiotics

Reasonably Sound is a podcast I look forward to each time it pops on my feed. It’s hosted by Mike Rugnetta (of PBS Idea Channel) and has the broad scope of discussing anything and everything auditory vibration.

This episode has a guest who stimulates the conversation with an in-depth look at the complexity of animal noises and how closely they can be considered a language. Within that, of course, is just what comprises a language, as well!


StartUp #14 – Where We Are

This is the last episode of the first “season” of Alex Blumberg’s Gimlet Media flagship podcast. It’s a solid wrap of a long documentation of the beginnings of the business and sets the stage going forward that the show will expand to listen in on other, different startups out there.

I’ve really enjoyed the frank, honest discussions with loved ones, investors, employees, and partners throughout this season. It’s been eye-opening and very… human. It’s hard to imagine such a world and experience without being in it, so I’m happy to have this glimpse.

Invisibilia – Our Computers, Ourselves

And continuing the “season ending” episodes, Invisibilia finishes its first batch with another great episode featuring a Georgia Tech professor that I actually had my last semester of college! He’s notable for pioneering wearable technology in his everyday life and working on Google Glass.

The second half of the show features a story and examination of what technology and social media can do to modify our patterns of behavior, for better or worse. It tells the story of a person mad at inconsiderate people on the subway who takes revenge by tweeting about it. He begins to look for those flaws to feed his hunger and his audience…

Nerdist – 5th Anniversary Show!

If you’ve never listened to the Nerdist, this episode reviews and looks back at the past five years of its existence. It even includes quemments, which have been gone for quite some time. I’ve been skipping a lot of Nerdist episodes in favor of other podcasts, but I made sure to listen to this celebration of its long existence! It’s moving to hear and recognize how much the hosts and behind-the-scenes people have changed over time.

Atheist Experience #905 – Is atheism a reason to kill?

This episode of TAE, a live show about atheism that takes caller questions, is on my top 10 list this month because of Matt Dillahunty’s opening monologue about the man who killed three Muslims in Chapel Hill, NC in February. It captures and summarizes the incident and the response from all angles in a nuanced way that I appreciated, pointing out that we don’t have much evidence that the crime was hate-motivated towards Muslims, but acknowledging that this was a real possibility that may be found to be true.


This American Life 547/548 – Cops See It Differently

(Part 2)

These two episodes are essentially TAL addressing Ferguson in the way they know how: by telling stories from multiple angles, showing compassion, and getting to the bottom of an issue. I learned quite a lot from these episodes that both didn’t and did fit my understanding beforehand. It’s a challenging topic and episode because no one will be completely happy with it, but I applaud the effort to tackle this subject.

Honorable mentions:

Cracked Podcast – Tiny Cause, Huge Effect

I’ve been in love with Cracked podcast episodes in general lately, so you’ll have to endure that from me for a while. This one highlights several ridiculous correlations that exist in the world, or hidden reasons for important outcomes in history and daily life. It races past the butterfly effect to real and fascinating examples and made me ponder how so different so many lives could be based on small choices or accidents.

We Have Concerns – Sit Stand Die (with Justin Robert Young)

“He can’t get up because he’s afraid he’s gonna die.”

We Have Concerns continues to find hilarious takes on real science stories. In this one they invite one half of Night Attack to test out a singular exercise that signals your overall health: can you sit down and stand back up without using your hands? The stakes are high as the hosts attempt this, fearing for their lives that if they fail, they may seal their fate. Hilarity ensues.

Polygon’s Quality Control – New Nintendo 3DS XL

Think of this as a companion piece to the Majora’s Mask Quality Control review in the top 10. It’s a group of folks who have used the new Nintendo handheld. I remember it just because of how funny it was, and about how the hosts/guests discussed his device in the current spectrum of handheld consoles out there today. Also one of them is Very Disappointed. Also also they try to open one of them, and it sounds scary.

TLDR #46 – Episode 45 Redux

This TLDR episode isn’t pleasant, it isn’t fun, and it might not even be good. It’s essentially an “oops, let’s fix this” on the previous episode which covered a man trying to be a good ally to women in the technology sector but who often seems to misstep or stand in front of women instead of alongside them. It’s super uncomfortable as the host interviews the man in question, and I feel both make some mistakes, but it’s a notable event in February’s podcasting, so here it is.

I know it’s halfway through March, but please, share you own favorites recently!

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