In the fall of 2014, an audio innovation called “podcasting” made its debut. At least, that’s the way the cultural conversation made it seem. Podcasts have actually been around for over a decade now, but the true crime series Serial inspired the kind of massive, ravenous reaction that usually heralds a seismic technological breakthrough. While the medium itself may not be so new, this show’s particular format is indeed very hot right now, perhaps serving as a counterpoint to the internet age’s general trend toward the brief, shiny and shallow. Serial took an entire season–12 episodes, in this case–to pick apart just one compelling case. Elsewhere in the podcast world, specifically the crossroads of comedy and pop culture, single-subject deep dives have emerged over the past couple years as fertile ground for intelligent, funny discourse–with no signs of slowing down.
The most interesting comedy podcasts are the ones where the hosts and a guest have something to do, rather than just riff along aimlessly, hoping to arrive at a funny bit or two. Definitive guide-style podcasts have the week-to-week focus of examining a new element of some topic, giving hosts and guests the homework assignment of a different episode or album to obsessively pore over. The guys behind Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period, for instance, don’t have to worry about meandering–not when the episode devoted to the Washington film Ricochet has so many possibilities. Walking through the entire Denzel filmography or every single episode of The X-Files is like listening to a director’s commentary track from people who may not have been involved with the project but have a lot to say about it. This format is becoming more and more popular, and it has limitless potential, considering how many shows, movies, actors, and bands might merit an encyclopedic examination–out of either reverence or ridicule. The revolution will be podcasted.
Have a look in the slides above at Co.Create’s definitive guide to definitive guide podcasts in pop culture. And if you have podcasting equipment and a sense of humor, please consider being my partner in the Wu-Tang Clan podcast I was born to co-host. (100% serious invitation. Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity.) Let us know in the comments which as-yet-unrealized podcast you think should exist or would like to create.