BY GEORGE ARTSITAS — I consider myself a top-tier podcast connoisseur.
Like, if there was a convention strictly about podcasts, I’d probably show, Comic-Con the hell out of it. It’s probably my favorite medium. I spend a solid four hours a day listening to my sweet cochlea nectar that is a lineup of good podcasts, and I don’t feel guilty about it at all. Shoot me: I don’t consider listening to news/opinions/opinions on news via my iPod nearly as reprehensible as the Jersey Shore1.
So, after years of listening and following a multitude of different podcasts, I’ve naturally developed favorites. And after *cough* starting my own podcast called Quacktown on this very blog that you can get here *cough* I feel comfortable calling myself an expert. I don’t feel vein in the least. My podcast pedanticism is akin to finding someone who is really into the English Premiere league or the (greatest television show of all time) The Wire — when you find someone who gets “it”, you dive deep in. It’s a little cult-y in that way, but podcasts really are on the precipice of being something pretty big. And I know, I know, they’ve been saying that about soccer in America for ages, but I got a hunch on this one.
And as they say, with great knowledge comes a list of some sort. So, under that credo I’ve chopped out my Top 5 favorite sports podcasts. There’s some great content out there that few people really get to hear.
Instead, in Eugene, you get Steve Tannen yelling over a Hot Mama’s waitress in that hard-to-miss-yet-oddly-addictive nasaly tone. And I even like the guy.
But with the twenty minute commercials and the ability to listen to anything in your car, terrestrial talk radio can become a thing of the past.
With all that being said, I give you the most likable, informative and just fun podcasts to listen to in the world of sports. Those are the only requirements: The podcast must be likable, informative and fun to listen to, while also talking about sports — or in other words, something about sports that anybody (but not necessarily everybody) could enjoy.
Honorable Mentions with reason they’re out:
DAN PATRICK SHOW: Great characters (the Danettes), great insight, great host (Dan Patrick). It’s a great show, but it’s impossible to get over their shtick after awhile. I listened for a year and a half and just couldn’t handle Danette Fritzy’s perv-tacular antics anymore. And its also available on two other mediums (radio and TV), giving the DP Show the axe.
ESPN Football Today: Sorry. Love it during the season (especially Power Ranking Tuesdays) but during a slow week the content is a spoonful of cinnamon kind of dry.
PTI: Like the Dan Patrick Show, it’s the exact same thing as the show. Still solid, but just an automatic repeat. But if you miss PTI any day, it’s a must download.
Solid Verbal: Great college football analysis, but it’s a direct competitor, so I refuse to put it on the list.
Rich Eisen Podcast: A wonderful pro football podcast with a familiar face as host. But again, in the off season, gets very stale.
5. Fantasy Focus Football
Frequency: Mon-Friday in season
Wheelhouse: Fantasy Football, Inside Jokes, Fabulous analysis
This is such a niche topic, but this podcast is consistently in the top 5 of the iTunes charts and deserves to be on said Top 5. Matthew Berry (of Crocodile Dundee II: Los Angeles fame) and Nate Ravitz are infinitely entertaining even if you have no interest in fantasy football. Their producer, aptly named Pod Vader, whom has been labeled a comedy goalie, is the whipping post everyday and they bring in Stephania Bell for injury reports — like a practical fantasy show would — without ruining the chemistry ever. They have countless inside jokes and personal phrases that they even have a glossary. They also put their money were their mouth is, making bets throughout the season for a steak dinner.
And then there’s the Man’s League.
A 16-team league run by the hosts for the listeners, each fall hundreds of their die hard fans bribe the hosts in countless ways to make it in the most exclusive fantasy league in America. Previous entries have given keys to various city’s, numerous middle names named after show members and even a best man’s speech was hijacked to show references of the podcast on camera. The show has even been mentioned on the fantasy football themed show “The League,” and has a theme song written and performed by international “superstar” Eric Hutchison. Its subject matter isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but if you’re into podcasts, it’s a must.
4. The Basketball Jones
Wheelhouse: Professional Basketball, fan interaction, fabulous analysis.
If you are a basketball nerd, listening to these two friendly Canadians is the best the internet has to offer. Skeets and Tas, the dynamic duo that host this show, are just as likeable as they are knowledgeable. The main reason to keep coming back is the analysis. It’s just two guys who watch a ton of NBA and know what they’re talking about. They’re not the former players that you can barely recognize because they were out of the league in 6 years that pop up on bigger networks (I’m looking at you Bruce “bowtie” Bowen.) They go through almost every game on the schedule, in great detail dissecting what transpired in the game and “breaking down the tape,” so to speak. They also find time for fun, especially with fans. They read tweets during the show, read show ideas, and has even featured a marriage proposal on the show live. It’s hard to top something like that. It all starts because of how likeable the guys are. You come for the basketball, you stay for the hosts.
3. Tony Kornheiser Show
Wheelhouse: Pardon the Interruption flavor, Washington area sports, great guests, amazing fans.
If Pardon the Interruption is as big a part of your life as it is in mine (I’ve watched 30 minutes a day for the last 10+ years. Over 1,000 hours easily. I consider it a part of my life. Also, fun fact, if I ever got a tattoo it would be that logo). Tony Kornheiser is easily one of the most famous sportswriters in the past half-century. It’s the only local broadcast to make the list (The Dan LeBatard show is a close second but it’s just too long, clocking in at over two and a half hours.). They devote the final segment of their show to listener e-mails that are almost always clever and they also start every show with wedding invitations they receive from “Littles,” the given name to devoted fans of the show. Guests like Michael Wilbon and Bob Ryan appear nearly every day, even if they’re off from PTI or Around the Horn. The Kornheiser captained crew also dabbles in politics, film and weather without ever turning into a whine-fest. One problem: Don’t be surprised by a small delay in the release time every morning as it’s one of the running gags on the show. (I would mention the PTI podcast, but it’s literally just the audio portion of the show. If you’re a big sports fan, when do you miss PTI?)
2. Nick and Artie
Wheelhouse: Frequent comedy, spitballing, hot women, loyal and returning callers.
I’ll be the first to admit it: This isn’t the best podcast for the hardcore sports fans. It’s very relaxed and neither stats nor analysis driven. Hell, most of the news they report is literally breaking news to Artie Lange, one of the hosts of the show.
This is just by far the funniest show on the list. It’s very politically incorrect and just absolutely raucous. Whenever they get experts on, they ask rudimentary questions that they actually learn from. Who’s the best team in college football? Not a question that’s off limits. They have a show announcer who is the nicest human on Planet Earth and (bonus) kinda looks like the Cyclops from Hercules. One day, they even got a call from a couple of hot blonde twins and then gave them a job on the spot. It’s just a great, laid-back atmosphere, and it’s now even on television on DirecTv. They even have callers who come up to the studio to hang out. There’s a great loyalty, and even a gimmick where some callers call other shows as a prank, which is then aired on the show.
But above all else, the primary reason to keep coming back is the banter. Nick Dipaolo and the long-time joke man for Howard Stern Artie Lange are fabulous together. They beat each other to a pulp and are so sharp-tongued that jokes really keep flowing. It’s wonderful, especially for a newcomer. I cannot recommend it enough for the casual sports fan.
1. BS Report with Bill Simmons
Frequency: Varies from week to week. Most times 3-4 times a week.
Wheelhouse: Sports, pop culture, great guests, late night television, 90210 history, Yankee bashing, Boston loving, gambling.
This is the cream of the crop, the Great Bambino, the absolute king of kings. Bill Simmons is the Godfather of sports podcasting, and I don’t think anyone would (or should) be surprised by this topping the list. If there was a Mount Rushmore of sports podcasts, it would have Bill Simmons’ face on it four times. It’s like Citizen Kane being the best movie — it just is, and you accept it.
The man who has built a small empire from his humble start as the Boston Sports Guy has developed into the biggest sports writer in the world and has still kept with his podcast. It’s been on for the better half of a decade and has not lost its steam at all. It has by far the best guests (the man got 20 minutes with the President of the United States and over forty minutes with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the same year. Yeah.) He consistently bring in a mixture of brilliant sports minds like Michael Lombardi and Marc “Steiny Mo” Stein as well as his long time friends who are massive sports fans, like Joe House and JackO, for a brilliant mix of sports fans and experts.
Simmons has harnessed the perfect intuitive fan voice and conjures up the perfect questions to really have his subject bring about the most interesting answer. It never get contentious, just solid sport ideas floating around. If you’re a sports fan and you havn’t listened to this podcast, it really is a travesty. Some people get rubbed a little bit the wrong way by his Boston team bias, but he still take everything from a national level. It’s just a magical thing to listen and the reason to listen to podcasts. Give it a try.
- Although given the ratings of The Jersey Shore’s final season, not everyone finds watching those eight nearly as reprehensible as I do.Jump