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Year in Review Top Podcasts of 2011 by Ryan Roach

Podcasts are a relatively new medium in the world of entertainment, but one that is slowly but surely blowing up and becoming more and more mainstream. There are a few podcasts that have been around as much as five or six years, and they’re considered the grizzled veterans, but most podcasts are significantly younger than that.

I became aware of podcasts when KLSX 97.1 Talk Radio changed formats to some Top 40 bullshit in February of 2009. Never having been much of a music guy, I was content to listen to talk radio whenever I was in the car, or at work at my data entry job. I loved The Adam Carolla Show and Frosty, Heidi, and Frank especially, and it was in the pursuit of both those shows that I bought my first MP3 player and got my best computer techie friend to teach me how do download stuff onto it. Both Adam and Frosty, Heidi, and Frank had a podcast they put out, and for a long time I was content to just listen to those two only, but eventually I started branching out into the big bad podcast world all on my own. In fact, I’ve left both those podcasts behind entirely, as their shtick, and Carolla’s hard-right turn politically left me bored.

Now if you know anything about podcasts, you know that they can get a bit incestuous, with the same comedians doing each other’s shows over and over, and some of the supposedly popular and funny ones don’t do much for me at all (Podcast guest MVP: Paul F. Tompkins). All told, I probably listen to around fifteen or so podcasts in steady rotation, but there are only eight that are “must hear” week after week.

8.WTF with Marc Maron

Probably the most well known of my 8, it’s Marc Maron’s wildly successful and never boring long-form interview podcast, where Maron gets comedians and lately just famous people in general to come in for an hour and pour their hearts out. Often times Maron has a beef with the person he’s interviewing–some past slight that’s usually all Maron’s fault—and it’s riveting “radio” to hear it all play out.

 7. Savage Love

Dan Savage’s sex advice column in radio form. If you know Savage, you know what you’re in for. It’s also where he first announced his launching of the shockingly effective “It Gets Better” campaign.

 6. The Film Vault

What I like to think of as a “spin off” of the Adam Carolla Podcast, the sound effects guy from that show, Bryan Bishop, and the sound effects guy from Loveline, Anderson Cowan, have a weekly movie review podcast. The hook here is that they don’t review new movies, but instead give themselves categories, like “Top Five 80’s Comedies” or “Top Five Disturbing Movies” and then proceed to, uh, list their top five. Bryan’s picks tend to be a little pedestrian, but Anderson’s are always pretty unique and have on many occasions turned me on to movies I probably wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Their chemistry is pretty great, too.

5. Doug Loves Movies

Doug Benson, the pot smoking comedian, hosts a weekly show where very funny guests come on and riff about movies for about half and hour, and then quickly play a very fun movie trivia game called The Leonard Maltin Game. It is because of this podcast that I know and love a particular actor/comedian named TJ Miller. I know, I know. You’ve never heard of him. Well, you should.

4. Extra Great Hot

A pop culture podcast with three hosts; Tara, Dave, and Joe. Tara and Dave are married and Joe is their gay friend. Tara and Dave also created the website Television Without Pity, and Joe writes recaps there. The three of them are very personable and funny and while they quite unforgivably hate Community, they’re pretty much awesome in all other ways. Especially fun is “Game Time”, a pop-culture based trivia game Tara and Joe play against each other every week.

3. TOFOP (Thirty-Odd Foot of Pod)

A brand new discovery for me. It’s a “two guys in a room, bullshitting” podcast, but the two guys in this case are Aussies, and they’re very, very funny. They spin wild hypothetical scenarios every week that they make up on the fly, and then explore every facet of it. What’s the best way to break it to your girlfriend that you would like to be dressed as a horse and ridden around with a tail-butt plug up your ass and a bridle and saddle while she whips you?  In what order would you fuck the six Friends, and why? If Kathy Bates offered you instant fame and fortune as a Hollywood Superstar and all you had to do was have sex with her three times a day for the rest of your life, would you do it? Etc.

2. Stop Podcasting Yourself

Another “two guys chatting” deal, but this time they’re Canadian. It’s a “sister show” to the American Jordan Jesse Go, but in a rare reversal, the Canadian version is actually superior.

 1. Now Playing Podcast

Another movie podcast, but the twist here is that the three movie reviewers will break down an old movie, one a week, and really dissect every bit of it. They’ll do “retrospectives”, like Halloween, or Friday the 13th or Star Trek or Back to the Future and totally pour over every character and plot point. Sometimes, it’s a good old fashioned bash fest, and other times it’s real contentious. The two best reviewers are Arnie and Stuart. Stuart’s the intellectual and Arnie’s the populist and they’re often at very entertaining loggerheads.

Ryan Roach lives in Studio City and suffers through traffic indignities on a daily basis. He also has a cool movie blog: