Sam Sanders Picks His Favorite Podcasts
Photo-image: Vulture; Photo by Stephanie Noritz
You may have heard that we at Vulture recently welcomed a new member to the family.
To that — pronounced with emphasis — is Vulture’s flagship podcast, an aural vessel for the site’s many craziness and passion. The show is hosted by Sam Sanders, who speaks as someone who has closely watched his arc from NPR reporter. NPR policy Podcast host running his own public radio podcast machine-hybrid car, sharing an HR system with the man is a real treat.
To mark the occasion, I thought I’d catch up with Sam to talk a little about what he listens to, how he listens, and his relationship with big culture in general. Along these lines, I think I might make this listening Q&A concept a recurring feature. The only problem is the name. “What’s in your rotation?” “What feeds you?” (get it? no?) whatever. I will find out later.
OK, let’s go to him
1.5x Speed: It has been my experience that many podcasters tend not to actually listen to podcasts. Do you listen to other podcasts a lot?
Sam Sanders: I’m a very critical listener, which means I don’t listen as much as most podcast fans. If I listen to other people’s podcasts, I edit in my head without fail. So when I really want to relax, I have to watch the worst TV show.
Sanders: You know what show really gets you out of your head? This Netflix show is called single.
1.5x: Oh, I love that show.
Sanders: Shit, whatever problems you have aren’t as bad as theirs.
1.5x: But when you are not Really relaxing, what are you listening to?
I have my own news programs. [Fellow Vox Media show] Today, it was explained My favorite daily news podcast. They have a tone and a grace and a sense of whimsy that makes it all fun. first up Part of the routine is “while the coffee is made.” And then I enter Daily Every now and then, when they have an episode that speaks to me.
In terms of pure enjoyment, there are three of my podcasts—I honestly call them my holy trinity Read, Las Culturistas, And The World Health Organization? weekly. Read It’s discontinued, but I’ve been a fan of that podcast since the beginning. In many ways, the tone and voice of that show is what I’ve been looking for over the years. Even when we were thinking about what to do, we put it together A minute has passedI had Brent Baughman [senior NPR producer, with whom Sam created IBAM] listen to Read. I was like, “We can’t do what they’re doing, but I want some of that energy and that fun to be in this show.” I’m sorry they don’t make apps right now, but I totally get it. What they’ve always done is completely let all their emotion take over every conversation they have on the show, which makes every conversation richer and deeper.
Over the years of their show, they’ve found amazing ways… not to make themselves the center of these conversations, but to make themselves a central character in all the stories they tell us. It feels real and especially refreshing to hear that happen to two people who are so black and queer, you know? We get enough podcasts where three Chads on the same mic can fully embody themselves and their people. It’s the gold standard to hear Chrysell and Kid Fury do it for so long and so well.
1.5x: When you say podcasts with three Chads, do you have one in mind?
Sanders: I don’t say anything. It could be four chads, it could be five chads.
1.5x: I’ve heard you talk a lot about it Las Culturistas before. Tell me about your relationship with that program.
Sanders: I love the way [hosts Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers] It can veer from pointless inanity to sharp cultural criticism. They may be best known for the ridiculous stuff they have on the show, but Bowen is always reading heavy material and Matt has an encyclopedic knowledge of film and culture. When they get into the area, they give you what often looks like a graduate-level seminar on cultural studies. I’m just confused when I went to their show a while back, we were very much in that headspace and I love it. And besides their commentary on each day, the great joy of that show is hearing their friendship evolve. It is, in many ways, the podcast version of The Great American Love Story.
1.5x: The World Health Organization? weekly It has many of the same features you mentioned Read And Las Culturistas. You seem to be drawn to something very special with your holy trinity.
Sanders: I loved The World Health Organization? weekly Before the pandemic, but I Really It was introduced to them during the epidemic. What I love about them is their cynicism, which is always behind the laughter. they [hosts Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber] They are obsessed with B-level celebrities, but also obsessed with being cynical about the idea of celebrity.
At its best, the show is actually a commentary on late-stage capitalism and the withering of the celebrity-industrial complex. They understand that we have left the moment of imperial celebrity. We’ve left the Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Will Smith era of the nineties – all these stars of every race were family in every generation. Because of the fragmentation of the media, we will never have celebrities this big again. However, celebrities still want to perform celebrity and it increasingly looks like a travesty. Now, they know that celebrities still exist and always will, but they realize that it’s increasingly like a joke, and they make fun of it. thanks God.
1.5x: Should be at least a little interesting to you. Aren’t you technically occupying celebrity territory?
Sanders: No, not really. I live in Los Angeles, a city with Real Celebrities And heck, maybe you could tell me “oh you’re a celebrity” when I was in DC around people listening to political podcasts 17 times a day, but it’s a different atmosphere here where there are actual celebrities. I might get attention now and then, but later I go to a Boogie restaurant for dinner and there’s a real movie star at the table next to me.
1.5x: This is an interesting strain. I mean if The World Health Organization? weekly The project is arguing that celebrities are less powerful than they used to be, because the concept of celebrity is dying, aren’t you part of this changing calculus?
Sanders: Well, I think there’s a certain security in achieving any notoriety in the audio-first space. Few people know what you look like, and I love that. My face is very easy to recognize, but I guess most people who listen to me don’t know what I look like. And let’s continue like that.
1.5x: You’ve said before that you tend to listen critically when you listen to other podcasts. what are you listening for
Sanders: walk. Many people think that just because they’re talking to their friends with a microphone, it’s automatically fun for everyone listening. its not always like this. You need a sense of speed and respect for the listener’s time. But there’s also a lot of shows where I’m like, ‘I want you to go on for two hours,’ right? You have to decide on one or the other. If you want to be completely relaxed, do so and follow up for two hours. But if you’re going to give me the feeling of being on time, let it be a good pace.
And then I love when a show can nail the landing and give me a new idea or a moment of “Whoa, that surprises me.” I really enjoyed Receiver ring, that Slate podcast. Willa Paskin does this wonderful thing where she spins these yarns about everything—method acting, this, that—and then it’s over and you find her giving you her thesis. He nails this thing that makes you rethink the world.
1.5x: Aside from walking issues, what does your pet find annoying with podcasts?
Sanders: I think a lot of interview podcasts don’t respect the sacredness of a good interview. A lot of interviews on podcasts are wasted opportunities, and I think a lot of interviewers are more focused on sounding cute and entertaining than making these interviews a space for growth and reflection and sometimes new ideas.
The worst is when you get these group interviews where five guys are laughing to themselves and asking their guest a question or two every five minutes. You don’t listen to the guest that much and then leave without knowing anything new about the person you’d like to learn something new about. There is an arc for good interviews. There is a flow to them and when they work well. They can be very satisfying. You can always tell when an interviewer has a goal in mind in a conversation, and for most interview programs, the goal was just to get the guest there. Increasingly, even with the increasing number of interview podcasts, often the quality of the interviews is not good. can i say this I say this.
➽ Speaking of Receiver ring, the Slate series is back with a new season, and I wanted to specifically highlight its latest episode: a story by Dan Quis about Ron McQueen, the famous (and famously horned) poet who is now largely in the Time and Materials stores. Food is missing. This is a fun, lovely piece.
➽ The era of BA Parker is over Code switch starts.
➽ Be careful The goal of shameless acquisitionwhich has shades of early Hollywood memories.
➽ I’m working on a backlog of a show from last year: Who hit the floor at my wedding? I assure you it does exactly what it promises.
➽ A reader in Australia flagged a true-crime pod to an ongoing trial, aptly titled Teacher trialseems to be all the rage there this summer.
➽ Speaking of true crime, there is an extensive summary in it Rolling Stone In a big hook that revolves around the world of true crime Killing SquadBilly Jensen, Exactly Right Network, and several allegations of misconduct by Jensen.
➽ And while we’re still here, here’s a separate story that isn’t the first time there have been allegations of direct plagiarism on a true crime scene podcast.
➽ Blast songHas been busy with spin-offs. In addition to the Explosive book Spanish language mini-series airing next week Cancion ExploderProduced by Adonde Media, it premiered recently.
➽ * Signs The X-Men of the 90s theme song*
➽ RIP Larry Josephson, pioneer of independent and free radio.