Podcasts to ignore
September 11, 2012 8:51 AM   Subscribe

What are some good podcasts I can half pay attention to while working? While I love This American Life, The Moth, Story Collider and Radiolab, if I listen to them (or anything else with a storyline) while working, I lose the thread and can't concentrate on either the work or the podcast. A few that do work well for me: Savage Love, Jordan Jesse Go, WTF (to a lesser extent). Any suggestions?
posted by The Dutchman to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 91 users marked this as a favorite
Stuff You Should Know is great for idle listening.
posted by griphus at 8:53 AM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I really love JJGo and get a similar vibe from both Stop Podcasting Yourself and Throwing Shade.

Stop Podcasting Yourself offers great conversational comedy while Throwing Shade is much more snarky and sarcastic with a feminist and LGBT slant.
posted by BrianJ at 8:55 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stop Podcasting Yourself, rather.
posted by BrianJ at 8:55 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good recommendations so far; I'd also recommend Who Charted? Very conversational and loose, and thus very easy to drop in and out of.
posted by saladin at 9:00 AM on September 11, 2012

Check out the podcasts from The Nerdist.
posted by Asparagus at 9:03 AM on September 11, 2012

I like The Flophouse movie discussion podcast. They only review bad films, then decide if they are good bad, bad bad, or just awful.
posted by mippy at 9:08 AM on September 11, 2012

Oh I also really love NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour.
posted by Asparagus at 9:10 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Roderick on the Line updates all the time, is a very loose conversation between two and only two people, and is at times fucking hilarious. Max Fun's My Brother My Brother and Me is a chatty, jokey "advice" podcast from three brothers and is consistently hilarious.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:12 AM on September 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

Answer Me This! It's mostly them answering letters, so if you miss one little bit you won't get lost. Plus it's hilarious.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:12 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Pop My Culture is great fun, and they recently had Jesse Thorne (of JJGo) on.
posted by evilelf at 9:13 AM on September 11, 2012

If you like Savage Love you could try Sex Nerd Sandra. Also seconding Stop Podcasting Yourself.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:14 AM on September 11, 2012

I always recommend In Our Time. Though, your attention issue might be a problem. I manage to work and follow-along fairly well.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:14 AM on September 11, 2012

I have a similar problem with This American Life or very contentful podcasts like In Our Time (BBC academic podcast).

I like newsy-podcasts for working to - something where there is talking, but I don't mind if I miss the details, and I find that newsier podcasts seem to be easier to only half-listen to. I listen to Planet Money, The Economist audio, the news (duh), PRI's The World's Science and Tech podcasts, More or Less -- stuff with lots of interviews and interesting facts, but not a long storyline or much description that I would have to picture.
posted by jb at 9:15 AM on September 11, 2012

I've recommended Originz and other Paulrex podcasts before in a question on podcasts to fall asleep to, because they're great for background noise or active listening.

They're basically an Australian guy with a great voice, Paul, reading out articles from around the web. You can listen actively if you want to, but he's got such a soothing and mellifluous voice that it doesn't impose itself on your brain too much. As a bonus, each episode is loooooong and there's a great back catalog.
posted by clerestory at 9:18 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I always recommend In Our Time.

I adore In Our Time, but I find it requires the most concentration of any podcast (more than TAL), as the concepts and ideas are often very academic. (The history, for example, is a university-level discussion). So I save IOT for my walking-commute, when I can do nothing but concentrate on it - along with TAL and documentary series like CBC's Ideas.
posted by jb at 9:18 AM on September 11, 2012

The Indoor Kids with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon (they're married) is loosely about video games, but in practice is much more a talky casual thing like JJGO. And Jordan's in a few episodes!
posted by sonmi at 9:19 AM on September 11, 2012

The Nerdist (mentioned above) and The Dork Forest are very conversational rather than linear.
posted by Glinn at 9:20 AM on September 11, 2012

I listen to old episodes of Loveline when I don't want to be distracted. The episodes from the 90s are really entertaining, and because it's a call in Q&A, the "story" isn't so riveting that you have to give it your full attention.
posted by decathecting at 9:22 AM on September 11, 2012

The rambling but genius Best Show Gems, radio skits from former WTF guest Tom Scharpling, are what I half-listen to during work. You can tune out and then tune back in and they will typically make just as much sense.
posted by steinsaltz at 9:28 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Damn, I came in to recommend Stop Podcasting Yourself, Throwing Shade and Who Charted.

You might also try the Long Shot Podcast (though make sure you listen to an episode with Eddie Pepitone, he's a co-host but has missed some episodes lately) and the Dana Gould Hour. Also Walking the Room if you want to really crank up the silliness and vulgarity.
posted by mullacc at 9:37 AM on September 11, 2012

2nding Best Show Gems, and if that works, the full Best Show podcast is 3 hours weekly of meandering. But you really should be giving it your full attention.
posted by activitystory at 9:39 AM on September 11, 2012

Have tried My Brother, My Brother and Me? I'm a long time JJGO listener, and after getting into MBMBAM, I ended up going through every episode they made.
posted by drezdn at 9:40 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Joe Rogan show is basically a few guys sitting around for THREE HOURS and talking. It's actually pretty great and you can definitely drift in and out of the conversation.
posted by callmejay at 9:41 AM on September 11, 2012

Judge John Hodgman doesn't really require much concentration either.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:42 AM on September 11, 2012

Dropping in and out of Tank Riot is a delight.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:48 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Came in to recommend Answer Me This and Sex Nerd Sandra, which I will second. My "easy listening at work" playlist also has A Way With Words and How To Do Everything.
posted by pimli at 10:48 AM on September 11, 2012

The Mental Illness Happy Hour! Creative types talking about the link between creativity and depression, frequently hilarious, many of your faves have been interviewed on there.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:09 AM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Greg Proops, The Smartest Man in the World, is BY FAR the greatest podcast on earth.

I also love Mysterious Universe as idle listening. High production value. It features tales of the weird, unusual and often the paranormal, agregated from the internet and other media, with lots of humour, discussion, and the occassional interview thrown in.

But really! Try the Greg Proops!

His podcast is recorded mostly at live stand-up gigs as he performs around the world (I'm sure you know who he is, but like me, you probably just didn't know his name) while drinking vodka (making it a "vodkast") and interacting with the crowd. It's brilliant.

Sorry to go on and on, I just never realized something like this podcast was out there.

Try the Proops. You'll be hooked. I find it is awesome for idle listening.
posted by jbenben at 11:23 AM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Studio 360 shuffles topics enough that it's pretty good for a medium-to-short attention span.
posted by D.Billy at 11:28 AM on September 11, 2012

MBMBAM (My Brother, My Brother, and Me) is a comedy podcast by three brothers talking about brother stuff which usually means gross, hilarious things that you could only talk about in the company of your gross, hilarious relatives. It's one of the few things that works for me when I'm working out and my prefrontal cortex blue screens. CBB (Comedy Bang Bang) is another easy listen that isn't super keen on piling up evidence for a hypothesis/epiphany over the course of an hour that requires you to hang on to every fact.

The Dinner Party is also fun and low maintenance. And I like NPR's All Songs Considered for doing tedious stuff to.

Splitsider's This Week in Comedy Podcasts and The AV Club's Podmass exists if you want to broaden your horizons. The reviews are generally pretty solid but the breadth of coverage makes it hard to do anything but be constantly talked to, 24/7.
posted by dubusadus at 12:09 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Caustic Soda is pretty good for work, you can kind of drift in and out without getting lost. Basically they just pick a topic each week and tell crazy related stories throughout history.
posted by mannequito at 12:56 PM on September 11, 2012

Wait Wait Don't Tell Me
posted by radioamy at 1:22 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

TBTL, Too Beautiful to Live, hosted by Luke Burbank. It's a radio show that'll make you laugh. Luke does news, reads letters, and engages, from time to time, in actual journalism.

Second The Nerdist. Howstuffworks.com has numerous podcasts including one I listen to, "Stuff You Should Know."
posted by Sunburnt at 1:35 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you like gaming, the Gamers With Jobs Conference Call is a solid hour to hour and a half of game-related chit-chat. It's great for casual listening and you can kind of hone in on specific discussions they have (they do a 'topic' per episode). They do a 'games we're playing right now' which I zone in and out of depending on which game is being discussed and a 'your emails' section which again I can zone in and out of depending on the topic.

Oh, also Dave's Lounge is great for varied, downtempo music. That's got me through many a long day.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:56 PM on September 11, 2012

No one has said Hearing Voices yet? Here you go, then.
posted by Flannery Culp at 3:04 PM on September 11, 2012

Darn it! Sunburnt beat me to the Too Beautiful to Live recommendation! It's 1+ hours every week day, so it's a reliable source of entertainment. It might take you a while to get into it, but once you are you'll be hooked. I recommend at least three episodes before giving up.
posted by apricot at 6:08 PM on September 11, 2012

The icehouse chronicles from Deathsquad is a bunch of L.A. based comics shooting the shit in a comedy green room. Part of the Joe Rogan podcast sphere of influence.
posted by brappi at 4:27 AM on September 12, 2012

I really enjoy the You Made It Weird podcast with comedian Pete Holmes. He interviews other comedians, sometimes about the craft of stand-up comedy, but also about dating, religion, and other life issues.

Personal favorite episodes include Chelsea Peretti's two appearances, Hannibal Buress, John Mulaney, Neal Brennan, and Sarah Silverman
posted by sharkfu at 8:39 AM on September 12, 2012

I came here to nth My Brother My Brother and Me.

It's practically made to be given half attention.
posted by Tevin at 8:42 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

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