Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

In Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at

1947: The Meet The Press Podcast
Ari Fleischer: Media May Be Biased, But Don’t Tell The Press To Shut Up

Of all the media outlets frequented by newsmakers and pundits to dole out talking points, the Sunday network political talk shows house some of the most diplomatic and substantive conversations. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re any less of a battle royale of deflections, conflations, and fallacies for hosts like Chuck Todd of NBC’s Meet The Press to bushwhack through and contextualize for audiences in 60 fast minutes. All that logistical untangling doesn’t leave much time for analysis, so it was a welcome announcement last September when Todd launched his own podcast—an extension of “the big show,” as he calls it—where he can prod at knotty topics for however long he pleases. This week, President George W. Bush’s former press secretary, Ari Fleischer, calls in to rehash the conservative argument that public skepticism of the media can be attributed to widespread liberal bias among the political press. What makes the episode a must-listen is Todd’s reasoned, measured defense of journalism and journalists, particularly in the face of those who are eager to admonish “the media” without being able to articulate just who that is. [Dan Jakes]


Big Time Dicks
Welcoming Our New Dicktator

Now that we have entered The Age Of Unimaginable Dicks, a new and highly necessary podcast has arrived to stare dickishness straight in the face without flinching. In Jezebel’s brand-new series, writers Joanna Rothkopf and Prachi Gupta spotlight the pricks, putzes, and peckerwoods (both male and female) who make it their business to try rolling back the rights of women and people of color nationwide. For this inaugural episode, the co-hosts revisit the swearing-in ceremony of the country’s freshly appointed Chief Dick, as well as the inspiringly well-attended Women’s March that followed. One episode in, it’s clear that Big Time Dicks is full of promise, its hosts sharp and personable with a palpable rapport. It’s exciting to imagine how the show will build as Rothkopf and Gupta set their sights even beyond the White House and start drawing attention to those dicks who benefit the most from not being noticed. [Dennis DiClaudio]


Cal Cast
DRAKE Talks About His Past, Current Projects, And Future Plans

It is extremely rare for superstar performer Drake to agree to participate in podcasts, and the magnitude of this event is made even more curious by the one he chose to appear on: Cal Cast, an interview program hosted by none other than University Of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Coach John Calipari. Coach Cal makes for an amiable host, aware of the outsize influence he wields—connected as he is with so many of basketball’s brightest lights—but also conscious of the fact that, at the end of the day, he’s just a regular person. The dynamic between host and guest is a special one to behold, as Calipari is clearly something of a surrogate father figure to Drake: The latter asserts that Calipari is the one who inspired him to go back to school and get his GED. There’s much for listeners to learn about the musician from this surprising interview, not least of all that Drake’s ultimate desire is to become the next Johnny Carson. [Ben Cannon]


Chapo Trap House
Tabletop Game Theory Pt. II

The wisest move the Chapo gang made in its first year on the air—besides adding an essential female voice in co-host Amber A’Lee Frost—was bringing Brendan James aboard as producer, streamlining the show’s many meandering (though effervescent) conversation threads. In this two-part subscription-only special, James brings his editing skills to the fore as the boys play through a Call Of Cthulhu campaign written up by gamer co-host Virgil Texas. Felix, Matt, and Will are brought along a whirlwind 1915 noir adventure as hosts of the radio program Capone’s Speakeasy (har har), uncovering a plot by scheming Italian pizza chefs to hide terrible crimes within the basement of their restaurant. (And yes, Giovanni Podesta plays a role in the dastardly plot.) James inserts ambient music, world-building sound effects, foreboding flourishes, and dramatic swells at every turn, gifting listeners with a cinematic experience when they might otherwise have assumed this one-off audio experiment was simply not in their wheelhouse. It’s gratifying to see moments during the game when these typically unflappable hosts get taken by surprise, and even more importantly, to see them so delighted when there’s currently so little reason to be. [Marnie Shure]


The Untold Story Of One Of Uber’s Very First Drivers

This episode of Bloomberg’s Decrypted was initially a companion piece to co-host Brad Stone’s new book, The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, And The Killer Companies Of The New Silicon Valley Are Changing The World. Now, though, the recent #DeleteUber movement gives this half-hour look into Uber’s relationship with its employees an added relevancy. The episode begins with Sofian, an Algerian immigrant who found a bit of viral fame in Uber’s early days by driving the ride-sharing fleet’s only white car, dubbed the “Unicorn.” Drivers could make good money in those days, though the rise of UberX soon changed everything, with Sofian’s daily income diminishing by half. He nevertheless remains a high-earning driver, especially compared to the newer drivers currently flooding the app, who are finding it difficult to make anything more than pocket change in the face of Uber’s relentless, ever-evolving business model. “The only constant in this industry is change,” says Harry Campbell, the driver behind the popular Rideshare Guy blog, but interestingly, one of the company’s latest initiatives is to make 2017 the “year of the driver.” The episode ends with a discussion of what exactly that means and what the future might hold for today’s Uber driver. [Randall Colburn]


Director’s Club
Danny Boyle

One of the nice things about coming upon a well-established podcast late in the game is that there’s a well of previous episodes to rifle through. Director’s Club is now entering its sixth year of production, having released 123 installments that don’t really have a sell-by date. Each episode focuses on the filmography of one filmmaker, so browsing through its archives is like running a finger along the spines in a film school library. In the mood to gorge on Quentin Tarantino? Want to acquaint yourself with the works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder? Feel like falling into a Coen brothers wormhole? They’re all waiting to be checked out. The newest offering brings us a two-and-a-half-hour discussion on the works of English director Danny Boyle in anticipation of the high-profile sequel to his 1996 breakout hit, Trainspotting. This episode sees the hosting baton passed on to a fresh pair of cinephiles, who are still getting their sea legs as far as podcasting goes but obviously know their way around a conversation on the theory of cinema. Most importantly, they’re likable. Not a universal trait in film obsessives. [Dennis DiClaudio]


The Dumbbells
Finding The Balance Of Health And Fitness For A Busy Parent (With Kate Spencer)

“Train dirty, eat clean, and live in between” is the cheeky mantra uttered by comedy and fitness aficionados Eugene Cordero and Ryan Stanger at the end of their body-conditioning podcast on the HeadGum network, now in its 15th episode. Each week, one writer, performer, or podcaster (usually affiliated with Upright Citizens Brigade) visits the “weight room” to talk about their relationship with food and exercise, then gets a customized workout plan. Tangents in the conversation—this time, a momentary fascination with the logistics of having sex while skiing, escalating to an elevator pitch for a full-fledged Fuck Slopes film—keep the tone from getting self-serious, which is a breath of fresh air for any show produced by fitness gurus. Author and comedian Kate Spencer attests to the challenges of staying healthy as the parent of a young child, detailing the perfect post-pregnancy storm of back pain, atrophied core muscles, and dietary fluctuations. One strong takeaway: Fibbing to your physical therapist about following through on their stretching instructions, while tempting, is as futile as lying to your dentist about flossing. [Dan Jakes]


The Clock Strikes 13, And Donald Trump Is President

Adversarial political journalism has a very different role now than it did in 2014 when The Intercept was launched, but two very long weeks into the current administration, the site has stuck to its core principles and mission. It has more potential for a mainstream readership now than ever before, and the importance of its work is emphasized multiple times by the legendary Sy Hersh during his interview with host Jeremy Scahill on the inaugural episode of The Intercept’s official podcast, Intercepted. The show is an attempt to bring more people to the website and bring the website’s information to more people, and the interview is a solid one in which Hersh weighs in on specific elements of Trump’s presidency. The episode also features an exchange between Scahill, Betsy Reed, and Glenn Greenwald, offering even more insight on where we are as a nation and where we’re going, along with some even-handed analysis of the recent Women’s March on Washington. The work of The Intercept has always felt vital, but now it feels all the more so, in both its print and audio forms. [Colin Griffith]


Rose Buddies
Crystal Billy

On the latest episode of Rose Buddies, power couple Rachel and Griffin McElroy are done talking about the Corrine and Taylor drama. The hosts have always voiced their boredom with The Bachelor’s tired villain tropes recycled from previous seasons and have consistently rooted for the more positive fun of Bachelor In Paradise. This week, the hosts finally get an episode filled to the brim with genuinely enjoyable, hilarious moments and relish in them. Dismissing the “two-on-one date” theatrics as tight bookends rather than the crux of the episode, the McElroys have just as much fun as the Bachelor contestants, whether they’re discussing the spooky ghost group date, Nick and Rachel’s chemistry, or the incredible comedy that is Alexis. Griffin’s enthusiasm is on full display and endearing as ever, while Rachel’s loose approach to the episode leads to memorable tangents that are as much a part of the podcast’s appeal as its franchise-centric discussions. Perhaps it’s the overtired energy from being new parents, but there’s a particularly animated quality to the McElroys’ back and forth this week. That inimitable dynamic is what makes Rose Buddies a consistent delight. [Rebecca Bulnes]

We see what you said there

“Giovanni Podesta is not an unknown person. He’s a campaign organizer who’s close to New York governor Al Smith. Podesta, in fact, managed Smith’s recent successful reelection campaign. Public records have little about him. He’s a reclusive figure who shies away from the press, preferring to do his work behind the scenes. One detail about his personal life: He’s reputed to be an art lover. I think you have enough information where you can kind of piece things together.”
“Yeah? Okay. Uh, how do I do that?” —Game master Virgil Texas and Felix Biederman playing through a politically themed, tongue-in-cheek Call Of Cthulhu campaign, Chapo Trap House