Podcast Reviews: The Ezra Klein Show, The Rich Roll Podcast, and Real Time with Bill Maher
Review Cast is a newsletter for discovering new podcasts
In case there’s any doubt, we live in politically charged times. The conclusion of the 2016 US Presidential Election has only served to accelerate the rancor and divisiveness amongst the population. With cries of fake news, Russian hacking, racism, outright lying, etc… it can be a full time job to try and parse what’s actually happening regarding politics and policy in the US. While The Ezra Klein Show is not specifically dedicated to politics, it constitutes the lion’s share of airtime on the show and is a worthy addition to those looking to stay informed.
Ezra Klein is the founder of Vox Media and, while he is typically counted as one of the “liberal, east coast, media elite” (aka the very folks so institutionally biased as to be incapable of even considering the rise of Trumpism as a viable movement), I find him to be incredibly self-aware and reflective. His interviews, often with top civil servants and public figures, really get to the root of the issue at hand and consider the validity of both sides of the argument. In addition to lots of in-depth political interviews, Ezra also has some great conversations with various business leaders, technologists, and players in media.
Recommended episode: Stripe CEO Patrick Collison on management, rationalism, and the enlightenment
Rich Roll is a recovering alcoholic, an ultra-marathon athlete, and author (among other things). His books range from an autobiographical accounts to vegan cookbooks, so it should be no surprise that Rich’s podcast covers some ground as well.
If I were to try and describe The Rich Roll Podcast it would be as an attempt by one man to better his life — through diet, through exercise, and through an understanding of the human mind. If you roll your eyes when you hear people talk about meditation, or how gluten is responsible for all the sins of the world, this may not be the podcast for you. If you’ve already thought about going vegetarian, or have toyed with taking a few minutes a day to meditate, then you’re probably ready for Rich’s style of discussion and range of topics.
Even though I tend to skip over a fair number of Rich’s episodes, the ones I do invest in usually pay off for me with some small shift in mindset or willingness to consider a viewpoint I’m not predisposed to. Rich’s interview style is a bit meandering, but he’s a great communicator and seems to genuinely connect with each guest.
Comedian Bill Maher has been around for awhile, reliably delivering a crude and cutting form of leftist perspective on current events, but always willing to call a spade a spade independent of political affiliation. If you can stomach unabashed liberal commentary, paired with guests from all over the perspective (e.g. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager), then Bill is your man.
The Real Time with Bill Maher podcast is just the audio version of Bill’s show on HBO, but it works really well in the audio format. Bill’s unique blend of acerbic humor, crudeness, and willingness to really challenge guests, translates perfectly to the podcast format.
Recommended episode: Episode #410 — Election Commentary
If you enjoyed these reviews, please sign up to receive the Review Cast newsletter (delivered once every few weeks — promise!).