Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Michelle Obama welcomes a familiar guest at the launch of her new podcast

Michelle Obama welcomes a familiar guest at the launch of her new podcast

PodmassPodmassIn 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 podmass@avclub.com.

Free Shakespeare On The Radio: Richard II

Richard II: Episode 1

Illustration for article titled Michelle Obama welcomes a familiar guest at the launch of her new podcast
Image: Apple Podcasts

With Broadway dark until at least 2021 due to the pandemic, New Yorkers are experiencing the first summer in almost 60 years without The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare In The Park. Luckily, what might seem like a stumbling block was transformed into a serialized radio play so euphonious, it’s hard to believe the actors did it all through Zoom. WNYC and The Public Theater have teamed up to take what was to be a live production and segment it into a thoughtful and accessible audio interpretation of Richard II. Each episode opens with actors, educators, and Shakespeare scholars discussing how the play connects to current events, how artists are reinterpreting this stalwart of the white canon with non-white actors, and tips on how to get the most out of your listening experience. This series begins with poor King Richard in a pickle: the Duke Of Gloucester has been murdered, and court members Bolingbroke and Mowbray need the king to referee their dispute over who’s responsible for Gloucester’s death. (It doesn’t go well.) Richard II is a stunning listen, and actor Miriam A. Hyman’s take on Bolingbroke’s famous opening speech is reason alone to tune in. [Morgan McNaught]


Speed Of Sound
How “Who The Let Dogs Out?” Conquered The World

Illustration for article titled Michelle Obama welcomes a familiar guest at the launch of her new podcast
Image: Apple Podcasts

This new music podcast forgoes discussion of songwriting and instrumentation to focus on what really determines the success of an immortal earworm: the marketing. Host Steve Greenberg drops an unbeatable debut because the story he tells is his own. He is the one person most responsible for unleashing “Who Let The Dogs Out?” onto an unsuspecting public in 2000. On the premiere of Speed Of Sound, he artfully treats every twist and turn as inspired shop talk, starting from the moment some white British guy walked into his office pushing his own cover of the song. Greenberg realized the song could sell if he changed the frantic Caribbean tempo to match “Whoomp! (There It Is),” and at one point he literally Asked Jeeves who let the dogs out. But the road to success is much bigger than one man: Greenberg’s tale about this divisive song involves everyone from Hanson to Lenny Kravitz to Sidney Poitier’s nephew. Though it never climbed higher than 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Who Let the Dogs Out” found an unlikely road map to world domination through sports and children’s entertainment. [Zach Brooke]


The Michelle Obama Podcast
President Barack Obama

Illustration for article titled Michelle Obama welcomes a familiar guest at the launch of her new podcast
Image: Spotify

For anyone who misses the presence of role models in the White House, The Michelle Obama Podcast is like a warm blanket. The former first lady describes her new audio offering as an exploration of “the relationships who make us who we are,” so it’s probably no surprise that her most public relationship partner is her first guest. Before introducing her husband, Michelle Obama teases that the inaugural episode will focus on “one of those relationships that can take some time to figure out,” but this is not a marriage podcast (though what makes a happy family—and how she dealt with hot flashes—will be discussed this season, as she welcomes other family and friends to the microphone). Instead, she and the former president discuss something far more on-brand for the couple: “our relationship to our communities and to our country.” There are no gimmicks or segments to the ensuing discussion, just a straightforward chat between a genial married couple about being raised to fight for the common good. “It is not enough that I succeeded on my own,” she says at one point. “I have to care about what happens to the kid in the desk next to me.” It’s nice to spend an hour living in a space that celebrates being and doing good. It’s almost hopeful. [Patrick Gomez]


Zack To The Future
Back To School

Illustration for article titled Michelle Obama welcomes a familiar guest at the launch of her new podcast
Image: Apple Podcasts

Saved By The Bell star and former teen heartthrob Mark-Paul Gosselaar has never seen an entire episode of the sitcom that made him a household name. Now, decades later, Gosselaar is revisiting the series with co-host Dashiell Driscoll to watch along for the first time. Driscoll, meanwhile, has seen every episode; he’s known for writing a Saved By The Bell spec script and the popular video series “Zack Morris Is Trash,” making him an ideal copilot for Gosselaar’s journey back to the ’90s. With a new reboot coming to NBC’s Peacock streaming platform (which Driscoll is writing on and Gosselaar is returning for), Zack To The Future is a timely companion series and a clever promotional tool. This is a national moment in which ’90s kids have plenty of time on their hands and are embracing the comforts of their own nostalgia, and listening to Gosselaar and Driscoll indulge that nostalgia is a pleasure. [Jose Nateras]

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

Cinematic Antihero

A.V. Club Editor in Chief...but really just a She-Ra, Schitt’s Creek, Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor, Big Brother, Top Chef, The Good Place superfan.

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