What We’re Listening To – November 2018 Picks

I listened to my first podcast over ten years ago, and I was immediately hooked by the format—short- or long-form niche radio shows that I could listen to at my convenience. I loaded my black-and-white classic iPod with all the episodes I could find, dug out my white earbuds, and was set. The radio in my car started to feel unappreciated, as morning DJs and afternoon wrap-ups could no longer compete with the abundance of content being made straight for my ears.

Fast forward to present day, into the second decade of podcasters broadcasting into every niche market they can discover, and I remain thankful and excited that producers are still finding new niches for their content. These are a few of the podcasts at the top of my feeds whenever a new episode drops:

Art of the Score

Art of the Score

 I am a big fan of movie scores, and tracks from John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith are usually on all my playlists for the gym. You try running on the treadmill when the Captain America theme plays, and I guarantee you’ll run just a little bit faster. This podcast is a deep-dive exploration into movie soundtracks—the history of the film, the influences of the composer, and the musical workings of the score itself. In each episode, cohosts Andrew Pogson, Dan Golding, and Nicholas Buc examine a score that they love, from movies, television, or video games. They start by talking about the composer, then play pieces from the score itself, exploring the main themes of the soundtrack, discussing how they evolve throughout the film, and examining how they work musically.

And if you don’t know anything about fifths, triads, or minor sevenths, this podcast is still for you—in addition to the soundtracks, the hosts play some selections on the piano in the studio as they explain what is happening musically in order for the tune to feel happy, triumphant, nervous, or ominous. I consider myself a major Star Wars fan, and the episodes on the score of Star Wars: A New Hope held observations and insights that were new even to me. Start with their first episode on Raiders of the Lost Ark, and go from there.

Mission LogMission Log

Have you ever watched an episode of Star Trek and found yourself wanting to discuss the themes and issues it brought up? Then Mission Log is for you. Cohosts John Champion and Ken Ray are going through all 700+ episodes of Star Trek one at time, looking for “morals, meanings, and messages” and discussing whether or not the episodes stand the test of time.

This podcast is far more than a fan-centric look at the Star Trek universe—it’s more like the coolest, nerdiest English-class discussion you’ve ever audited. John and Ken have had fascinating conversations about Captain Kirk’s attitude toward mankind’s struggle for happiness (a philosophy that is remarkably consistent across his every appearance). They have an ongoing debate about whether or not Mr. Data should be considered alive (yes), and speculation on whether the Enterprise itself should be considered alive (also yes). The hosts take a smart, intellectual approach to the sci-fi franchise, and the show delivers one of the pinnacles of discussion podcasts—a conversation that I wish I were in the room for.

ars PARADOXIAars PARADOXICA

I’ve only just started listening to this sci-fi audio fiction podcast, but I’m hooked after two episodes. In the first episode, Dr. Sally Grissom finds herself transported in time back to 1943, into the middle of an experiment conducted by the US War Department. Unsure how she got there, and how to get back to her own time, Sally starts working with the scientists of the past in their efforts to stop World War II. Where it goes from there, I’m not sure yet, but if the first two episodes are any indication, it’s going to be a heck of a ride.

The show also has a great structure. We start by hearing the audio recording Sally makes while examining her predicament, and then a full cast recreates scenes as she describes what led to them. Bringing us into Sally’s perspective so quickly is a great way to immerse us in the show, and it reminds me of a binge-able television show, with mysteries slowly being explained while other mysteries are revealed. I’m a little behind the times on this one—the series debuted in 2015 and was completed in 2018—but that just means I get to listen to it without waiting for cliffhangers to be resolved.

And because no listening list would be complete without an audiobook, I am about halfway through Neverworld Wake, by Marisha Pessl.


Nick MartorelliBy Nick Martorelli, producer