Pop Culture Podcasts and Spoilers

(Cross-post from my tumblr)

Although in recent months my level of intake has declined some, I still listen to a lot of podcasts. My two pop culture discussion favorites are Slate Culture Gabfest and Pop Culture Happy Hour (and this week there was even a cross over of the amazing Glen Weldon!).

I have recently become frustrated in the discussion of new movies (sometimes TV too) on these shows. I totally respect that critics and bloggers –  and every day people – get a lot of shit for spoiling things. However, I think dancing around topics means that the analysis from these critics suffers. The whole reason I listen is to hear their opinions and discussion, which hopefully betters my experience of a particular piece of culture.

In comparison, on this week’s episode of Culture Gabfest, the discussion about the ambivalence article was better than the conversation about Superman because for the former there was no worry about spoilers. I haven’t seen the new superman movie yet, but I’m not sure I’m going to, and I would much rather choose to listen to the conversation or not but have it be a very substantial conversation.

Therefore, I think the solution is to either drop in a note from the producer saying the minute to jump too post-spoilers or include the minutes of the segment in the podcast information. That is what they did at the much-mourned Extra Hot Great, which was wonderful! I knew exactly how long each segment was going to be, and I could go to whatever piece I wanted to if I was afraid of spoilers.

In conclusion, let the audience know there will be spoilers, give us the option to skip them, but do not be afraid of them as it hinders the conversation.

Regardless of this complaint, if you are not listening to these shows, and really all the Slate gabfests, you should be. They are wonderful.

Pulling Back the Curtain

One of my most favorite parts of the week comes usually on a Thursday, and is a brief email exchange with friends Joe and Alex. In it we discuss that week’s Slate: Culture Gabfest, one of my favorite podcasts.

I love these emails for a few reason:

  1. chatting with friends is always great, especially as we live in three different states and especially about culture;
  2. one of the hosts, who I love in spite of it, is just so pretentious that talking about him becomes mandatory to sanity;
  3. and most of all, because I convinced them to listen to this show! I love sharing things I love, especially good media.

Hence this post – which is partially a push folks to listen to the Gabfest on a regular basis (basically, three culture critics look at three cultural things from that week – books, essays, movies, music or whatever else), but mostly to push a different bit of media – “Puling Back the Curtain” from WNYC’s On the Media.

A few week’s ago on the Gabfest, they discussed the Bachelor and mentioned that the segment ended up being the longest they had ever talked about one topic. Well, when it reached our ear’s it was only the standard 15 minutes or so of talking. So, here they were showing how much editing goes to produce this piece of media, that feels very edit-free, just like listening to a free-flowing conversation. Both Joe and Alex were surprised to learn how much editing occurs.

This reminded me of “Puling Back the Curtain,” a great segment that looks at how audio media is edited, even in seemingly live scenarios. As the blurb states:

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes here at OTM?

(Hint: Not everybody speaks as cleanly as it might seem.) A few years ago, we invited reporter John Solomon backstage to see how the sausage is made.

The piece originally ran in May 2007, but I heard it sometime in late 2010/early 2011, after the reporter passed away. OTM always has an excellent voice about transparency in media, and the importance of always questioning the truth.

I highly, highly recommend a quick listen. It is fascinating, entertaining, and under 15 minutes long.

Any wonderful bits of media that you would like to share? Podcasts? Essays? Great Game of Thrones mashups?