Yr favorite niche podcast
April 22, 2017 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Give me your diamond-in-the-rough podcasts that you've never been able to recommend to anyone because the subject is too specific.

Currently I listen to a lot of podcasts hosted by liberal/left people talking about current news, identity politics, and arts/culture: Intercepted, Politically Reactive, Call Your Girlfriend, the Jacobin network, Sooo Many White Guys, Book Fight, 99% Invisible, Throwing Shade, TAL, and so on.

I'm looking to broaden my podcast inner life by getting specific. Podcasts about subjects and topics I didn't think I would be interested in, but that I can't help getting drawn into because the hosts are smart and enthusiastic. Example: I don't have any real interest in sports, but I really enjoyed an episode of Edge of Sports with Dave Zirin. (But maybe that was because it was mostly about John Cusack's book with Arundhati Roy.)

Example of a niche podcast that serves my current interests: The Twilight Pwn (reviews TZ episodes and related shows)

Preferences: 2+ hosts are better than one (the only real drawback to You Must Remember This), hosts that aren't white guys are especially welcome, independently produced, and the podcast is more about their interest/expertise in the subject than interviewing other experts. But really, any podcast is worth throwing out there if it is irresistible.
posted by book 'em dano to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
Leave That Thing Alone has two hosts who discuss one Rush album each episode. If you're into Rush it's pretty great.
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:49 PM on April 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love love love My Favorite Murder.
posted by whistle pig at 1:14 PM on April 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

Facelock Feministas (sorry, can't find a good link from my phone) is mostly a discussion of Lucha Underground (a Mexican wrestling show), but the host is just a fantastic cultural commentator. In the middle of a discussion about a match involving a little person being squashed by an evil doctor, she'll go off on a tangent about the structure of story that would fit comfortably into a grad school curriculum.
posted by Etrigan at 1:19 PM on April 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

I quickly fell in love with the silliness that is the Gilmore Guys Podcast even though I had never seen an episode of the tv show Gilmore Girls. Hosts Kevin and Demi hilariously dissect each episode of the show with love, irreverence, and (sometimes) guests. I started watching the Gilmore Girls (or at least having it on in the background) just to understand more jokes from the podcast, but it's a fun listen even if you've never seen the show.
posted by El_Marto at 2:08 PM on April 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've been enjoying The West Wing Weekly, which is similar in format to how El_Marto described Gilmore Guys (which I haven't listened to). Good Job Brain got an FPP once upon a time and thought I recall making a sniffy comment at the time, I'm still listening to it three or four years later. (They really slowed down their episodes for a while because I think life happened and the website is out of date. There have been episodes the last few weeks, but the website is out of date.) I don't think either of these are particularly niche, but they're at least not the same five podcasts it seems everyone always recommends (and neither is entirely white men).

After ten years, I still find Football Weekly from the Guardian entertaining, but it probably does require at least a mild interest in football/soccer. It's the only podcast I've sucked someone else into listening to by talking about it so much.
posted by hoyland at 2:34 PM on April 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've grown quite fond of the Scriptnotes podcast, which is quite inside-baseball-y about the screenwriting industry (the two hosts are both seasoned in the industry, though with different kinds of experiences, which is part of the fun) but still very accessible to a non-expert. They are white men but left-y ones, if that helps; and they sometimes have guests like Aline Brosh McKenna, co-creator of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I enjoy their banter and insight.

Also, the short (only 3 episodes) podcast Making Oprah was a delight. I'm not sure if you would like it because it has one host and is mostly comprised of interviewing people involved in the making of the show; but I never watched Oprah and still enjoyed the podcast a lot, so might be worth checking out.
posted by Owl of Athena at 3:36 PM on April 22, 2017

I laughed very hard while listening to the Metis in Space podcast. The hosts are two Cree women who are SF nerds. They drink wine and deconstruct the Indian people, themes, and tropes that appear in a particular television show. Thoughtful trash talk, and a chance to learn the actual Indian legends beyond the stereotypes.
posted by Jesse the K at 3:51 PM on April 22, 2017 [10 favorites]

The Twin Peaks Diane podcast is exactly what you're looking for. There's four rotating hosts - Rosie, her two brothers, and their friend Bob (no, not BOB) - and most episodes feature Rosie + two others. They're charming and knowledgeable and extremely British, and they have a fascinating take on every single Twin Peaks episode.

"Unique insights into Lynch and Frost's seminal show via art/theory/culture/magic and Snake's lush hair."
posted by harujion at 3:54 PM on April 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's always weird recommending Sleep with Me to people (unless they specifically tell me that they have trouble sleeping and are looking for a podcast to help them sleep, which has never happened to me). But it's a great podcast. It does what it says on the tin, but it's also very entertaining. Listening to the host and his unusual--but deeply humane--way of looking at the world is a great way to end your day.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:59 PM on April 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

If you live in NPR territory already, Car Talk might not count as a podcast because you already get it on the radio... but I found it via podcasts.

Not an epic horizon broadener, per se, but certainly niche!
2 old farts diagnose car problems on a phone-in radio show with impeccably lighthearted gusto. I love it.
posted by peppertree at 6:07 PM on April 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the recs so far! Marking the ones I haven't heard of for my own records.
posted by book 'em dano at 6:45 PM on April 22, 2017

the enormocast - climbing podcast.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:48 PM on April 22, 2017

No new episodes, but Cast On by Brenda Dayne has a big back catalogue and was a fantastic podcast about knitting (and other things).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:55 PM on April 22, 2017

Ask a Clean Person by Jolie Kerr. Cleaning can be fun and funny! (In earlier episodes she has a guest on each week. In the current incarnation, she has a regular co-host.)
posted by radioamy at 11:56 PM on April 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Signifying Something with Steve Flato is about experimental music. He plays a piece and interviews its maker for about an hour or so.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:44 AM on April 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Probably The Eastern Border which is a sort of oral history of Eastern Europe during the time of the Soviet Union.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 2:17 AM on April 23, 2017

I really enjoyed the Hidden Histories podcasts about how most early novels were written by women but no one remembers that now. By the New Statesman though so not independent. Six episodes total, one host and a few guests who I think rotate through two at a time and are all women. The host seems quite knowledgeable and opinionated about the subject even if she's not an expert like her guests.
posted by carolr at 6:41 AM on April 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I quite like Unexplained Podcast. Like it says on the tin, it's stories of woo-woo adjacent happenings, largely in Britain. I love the host's low-affect delivery - something about it is both soothing and riveting simultaneously.
posted by sazerac at 6:48 AM on April 23, 2017

You might like this earlier Ask of mine about "how I made/fixed this software" podcasts by women.

The Untitled Kondabolu Brothers Podcast: Ashok and Hari Kondabolu and their occasional guests have genuinely funny and insightful conversations about growing up nonwhite in the US, culture, family, comedy, complicity, fame, and whatnot. I deeply recommend this especially to any other members of the South Asian diaspora who grew up in the US. Irregularly released.

"Passionate Voices": "In many years of virtual travels through many online communities, I have met amazing individuals who do incredible work. Passionate Voices is an experiment designed to capture their stories — to share them with the world, and preserve them for the historical record." Videorecordings and transcripts. Irregularly released.

"How I Built This" from NPR, interviews and narrative journalism focusing on how people built new endeavors. A favorite episode: The story of Jane Wurwand, founder of Dermalogica.

"Say Why to Drugs" with Dr. Suzi Gage and Scroobius Pip, in which they share the current research on the effects of various drugs. (The bit of the intro where Pip says "pro-truth and anti-myth" has extra reverb or something and I adore it.) A favorite episode: caffeine.

"The History of Philosophy in India", by Jonardon Ganeri and Peter Adamson (but most episodes are lectures by Adamson alone -- a few are interviews). A couple favorite episodes: on the Mahabharata, and on women philosophers in ancient India.

"Song Exploder", by Hrishikesh Hirway -- in each episode, musicians talk about how they made a particular song or score, and you get to hear the early components and drafts, and then you hear the finished piece. Hirway does a little narrating. A few favorite episodes: Garbage ("Felt"), Weezer ("Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori").
posted by brainwane at 7:56 AM on April 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

Futility closet!
posted by Ms. Next at 11:16 AM on April 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel is one I picked out for my 8-year-old but it is so good. Scripted story with a very diverse group of kids. A little Goonies, a little Stranger Things. Production value is great.
posted by LKWorking at 7:27 AM on April 24, 2017

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text discusses HP from a theological lens, as though it were the Bible or similar.

Maeve in America is all about immigration.
posted by divabat at 7:42 AM on April 24, 2017

I'm not even just saying this because I know the folks who make this, but Werewolf Ambulance is a phenomenal and funny podcast about watching and rating horror movies. I've tried to listened to other review podcasts, and they are mostly bad, but this one is hilarious and awesome, and achieves the rare feat of nearly always being funny whether or not you have seen the movie they're talking about.

There are a couple of Maximum Fun shows that I like that might fit this bill--Sawbones and Shmanners are, respectively, funny and informative podcasts centered around medical history and practices and etiquette and social conventions. And I know you mentioned you prefer an existing expert to an interview, but I have really been enjoying the Adam Ruins Everything podcast. The experts he has on the show are always very knowledgeable, and he is well-versed enough in the various topics to ask thoughtful questions.

Finally, if you like a little bit of a flair for the dramatic, Lore and Myths and Legends are both great. Lore, if you are unfamiliar, is like if someone who was really good at telling spooky campfire stories decided to research historical oddities and unexplained phenomena and then tell you about them the best way he knew how. Myths and Legends is a series of hilarious (but accurate) retellings of ancient myths and legends from around the world and it is utterly charming.
posted by helloimjennsco at 8:16 AM on April 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

BBC Radio 4: Farming Today.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:24 PM on April 24, 2017

Open Wide for Some Soccer is one of my favorite podcasts and its audience is very niche.

It is a podcast from a trio of sometimes-Major League Soccer beat writers that is mostly focused on their team, DC United. They also cover general happenings in MLS and the national teams. It is also a comedy podcast that is actually really funny.

The hosts have no misconceptions about the absurdity of MLS and its labyrinthine team-management rules or the fact that their favorite team hasn't been on the good side of a winning record in quite some time.* I don't like or follow DC United at all but I listen to the podcast (which is released sporadically, when the hosts feel like it) because it's so funny. It does a better job than anything of capturing the "rough around the edges but incredibly charming" appeal of MLS while also being completely realistic about the league (and team's) short comings.

Anyway - I have no idea if anyone who doesn't know a lot about MLS/North American soccer/DC United would find any pleasure in this podcast but, uh, it definitely fits the description of "never been able to recommend to anyone because the subject is too specific."

*with one crazy exception.
posted by Tevin at 1:45 PM on April 24, 2017

Cabbages and Kings is a charmingly indie podcast about science fiction & fantasy books. The host started the podcast because he realized his reading was mired in typical straight-white-guy fantasy tropes, and he wanted to read more diversely. Episodes are him interviewing other readers/writers—lots of women, POC, queer people, etc. It's more along the lines of "two fellow fans chatting about things they love" than "interview with an expert."

I have a chronic illness, so that's a niche I like to dig into.
In Sickness + Health
and Fully Sick are two of my favourites. The hosts are smart, gutsy women who aren't afraid to ask hard questions. They interview guests about their their chronic illnesses—ranging from well-known ones like diabetes to little-known ones like dysautonomia—and the shape of their lives. I love the episodes featuring people whose illnesses are very different from my own, so I imagine it'd be interesting and accessible even if you don't have a chronic illness.

Some board game podcasts I listen to more for the personalities & the random hilarity than for the board game content: The Podcast of Nonsensical Gamers and Shut Up & Sit Down. An hour of friends chatting, joking around, and talking about games they've played or want to play. The enthusiasm in the board gaming community never fails to put a smile on my face—people who love board games really, really love board games.
posted by stellarc at 1:53 PM on April 24, 2017

I really enjoy A Gobbet o' Pus, which consists of very brief case reports from an infectious diseases specialist in the Pacific Northwest. I mostly enjoy it because he's a curmudgeon.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:33 PM on April 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm glad to see that Adam Ruins Everything, The West Wing Weekly, and Song Exploder have already been mentioned.

Some of my favorites also include:
The Hilarious World of Depression - comedians talk about their experiences with mental illness, very funny, very frank
CodeSwitch - NPR's podcast about race in America
Criminal - Stories of people who've done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.
The Allusionist - words and dry British wit
The Memory Palace - short, bittersweet soliloquies about history and art that never fail to make me cry
Writing Excuses - a fast-paced, educational podcast for writers, The tagline, “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart” isn’t super accurate, time-wise, but it’s a haiku so we’re keeping it.
posted by faethverity at 6:57 PM on April 24, 2017

People aren't answering the question. An NPR blog as a "diamond-in-the-rough" that you've never been able to recommend to anyone? Song Exploder, whose every episode is sponsored? Come on now. What's next, Marc Maron's WTF?

Here's one:

Cum Town.

Definitely rough. I definitely haven't recommended it to anyone before. I'm ambivalent about doing so now, even. But I do often enjoy it.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:15 PM on April 24, 2017

For me, it's gotta be Cooking Issues. Sure, food/cooking podcasts aren't exactly untrodden territory, but it definitely fills the niche of having smart and enthusiastic hosts. Dave Arnold hasn't posted on his website in a long, long time, but if you like the content on there, you'll probably also like the podcast.
posted by kejadlen at 7:50 PM on April 24, 2017

I'd have to say Roguelike Radio and the Eaten by a Grue podcasts are the two most niche topics I subscribe to. They both focus on games that at least initially were constrained by 1970s computer technology (text on the screen, with no capacity for graphics beyond the grid of characters).

Of course, times move on: even Infocom made games with graphics and sound, and "roguelike" is now used for all sorts of games on Steam that wouldn't dream of even supporting ASCII-only play. But I grew up on the text-mode games and that's what I'm drawn to.

If you think Futility Closet is niche, have a go at Dan Carlin's Hardcore Histories! While Futility Closet is an absolute favourite, I remain astonished every time I finish listening to a five-hour ramble from this guy on something as specific as The Spanish-American War. My brother told me to start with his Kings of Kings series on the Persian Empire and I was hooked.

He releases infrequently, and his format is basically half "amazing lecture" and half "that guy who always sits in front of the fireplace at your local". I lump him in with Futility Closet in that both reveal a bit of the historiography in their tellings, which is something I value a lot.

I don't know if I could say I've never been able to recommend these, though, as I keep a rather weird circle of friends. If I were to share the one podcast I listen to that I can't usually recommend, it's the "Why Are People Into That" (or "YAPIT") podcast, which is an extremely frank discussion of specific sexual proclivities with a different practitioner each time.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:07 AM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

One that I wish I could recommend more often is Witch, Please--an academic podcast about the Harry Potter world. Intersectionality galore.

Also, Fansplaining, "a podcast about and for fandom", by which they mean the fanfiction sort of fandom.

And Overinvested, which isn't about fandom in the same way as Fansplaining, but comes from a similar fannish perspective.
posted by exceptinsects at 4:28 PM on April 26, 2017

New find: Teen Creeps, all about those trashy teen thrillers by Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, etc.

Thanks again for all the suggestions. I'm now subscribed to 68 podcasts and have about 5,000 episodes to catch up on.
posted by book 'em dano at 11:16 PM on May 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

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