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Five Recommended Pop-Culture Podcasts

by on June 12, 2018

I am surprised how much I like podcasts. I was never a fan of audiobooks, and therefore thought I would never get into podcasts either. And, if you are anything like me, constantly short on time, podcasts will keep you up to date and informed, all on your schedule.

Here I offer five podcasts that will help librarians to keep abreast of trends in the culture. You can use the information presented by these podcasts to improve user experience and help keep the library relevant to your community’s needs and interests.


Each episode starts with a discussion of a recently reviewed film and then the two hosts, Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larsen, will discuss their top 5 lists in a particular genre or by a particular filmmaker. Discussions have included: Classic Westerns, Musicals, Ingmar Bergman films, Billy Wilder films, Screwball Comedies, and Akira Kurosawa films. Certain films are not allowed to be picked for being too obvious a choice, such as The Godfather or Citizen Kane, and each host is allowed to put a favorite of the other in a penalty box if he mentions it too often. As we all know, libraries are about more than books and this podcast is a great way to learn about the different genres, keep informed about a variety of movies to recommend to patrons, as well as understand where there might be gaps in the collection.

Pop Rocket

This podcast is dedicated to covering pop culture. Each week, the hosts discuss the news in pop culture, which is usually a recommendation of a TV show, or coverage of an awards ceremony, or perhaps a political situation. They then move to a topic up for discussion. Past topics include: Bad Moms in Pop Culture, Westworld, Cults in Pop Culture, and Red Carpet Awards Season. This panel discusses everything from books to Netflix, to the latest blockbuster movies.  The episodes cover a wide variety of media and culture and librarians will find the information presented useful in keeping up with trends in the cultural zeitgeist.

You Must Remember This

Yes, you should remember this podcast! It is usually regarded in the top 100 podcasts on iTunes for a reason, it is a great podcast.  As opposed to the others I have mentioned, which function as talk shows, this is a seasonal exploration of a particular topic. The tagline is “The podcast about the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century.” The creator, writer, and narrator Karina Longworth began this passion project in April 2014.

Last season explored the careers of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Past episodes include: The careers of Jean Seberg and Jane Fonda; Dead Blondes; Six Degrees of Joan Crawford; and The Hollywood Blacklist. The show is also known for its intense exploration of the Manson Family in the multi-part episode “Charles Manson’s Hollywood.” Aside from being a very interesting and entertaining podcast, the level of research Karina does for each episode is amazing and she provides sources on the website for the podcast. Librarians will find much useful material in the in-depth coverage of topics and people, as well as the resources lists.

KCRW’s Bookworm

This radio show/podcast has been discussing books since 1989, with Michael Silverblatt as host and interviewer (although he prefers to think of them as conversations). Silverblatt’s childhood ambition was to become “king of the books” and one might conclude after thirty years doing this show, he may have achieved just that. Some of his recent interviews have included Andre Aciman on Call Me by Your Name; Mokhtar Alkhanshali and Dave Eggers on The Monk of Mokha; Joyce Carol Oates on A Book of America Martyrs; and Isabel Allende on In the Midst of Winter. Use this podcast to learn more about books and authors, to order new material for the library’s catalog, or perhaps find inspiration for a book club.

New Yorker Fiction Podcast

In this monthly podcast hosted by New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman, authors joins Treisman to discuss a fictional short story found in the past archives of the New Yorker. A sample of past episodes, Hari Kunzru reads Robert Cooker; David Sedaris reads Wells Tower; Akhil Sharma reads Jeffrey Eugenides; and Salman Rushdie reads Italo Calvino.

What are your can’t miss podcasts? Share in the comments.