Podcast Choice #09 – The West Wing Weekly

I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I haven’t done a post like this for a while, let’s look, wow seven years ago…

I use to have a lengthy commute to work, and also travelled a fair bit for work, so it was nice to have something to listen to. Since about 2012 I started to commute by train, as a result I could do other things, in a car you drive and you can listen to podcasts. On a train you can do a few different things, but mainly you can look at a screen. 

Recently I have been travelling a bit more by car and have been rediscovering podcasts, most have been old favourites, some of which I have already blogged about. I have also found some new ones. So decided to resurrect this blog post series.

This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.

The West Wing Weekly

This week’s podcast is The West Wing Weekly

The West Wing Weekly is an American podcast hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Malina. In each episode, the hosts discuss one episode of the television program The West Wing, which originally aired on NBC from 1999 to 2006.

I really enjoyed The West Wing when it was first “broadcast” back in the early 2000s.  The West Wing was an American political drama television series created by Aaron Sorkin. It was broadcast in the US from 1999 to 2006.

The West Wing

I recently re-watched the entire first series having managed to get it for £4.99 on Amazon Prime. It was just as good as I remembered it and when the prices come back down I will probably get the rest of the series, or look for it on DVD.

It was whilst watching The Big Bang Theory when I wondered what else Josh Malina, who stars as President Sebert, had been in, as he looked very familiar. I saw he had starred in The American President, but also he had starred in The West Wing. On his wikipedia page it said

Malina co-hosts the podcast The West Wing Weekly with Hrishikesh Hirway. The series debuted in March 2016.

I was intrigued and interested.  So on a recent car journey, I loaded the podcast and listened to the fist few episodes relating to the first season. It often takes a couple of podcast episodes to bed in, and though I enjoyed the pilot episode, the next few I think were better.

Though I have listened to fan podcasts of shows, I think what I really enjoyed with The West Wing Weekly was the inside knowledge that Josh brings to the recording. He has worked with Aaron Sorkin the write behind the West Wing for many years including the stage version of A Few Good Men and the film, The American President. He also joined the cast of The West Wing in 2002.

The format of the show is based on the concept of having watched the episode in question, you listen to the podcast as Josh and Hrishikesh discuss the plot, the character development, the filming. They also bring in guests, so for example, in the third episode they bought in a guest, Dulé Hill, who played Presidential Aide, Charlie Young. 

Though I’ve only started to listen, over the last few years the podcast has featured various cast and crew members including series creator Aaron Sorkin, director Tommy Schlamme, series actors Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Marlee Matlin, and Dulé Hill, longtime series writer-producers Eli Attie and Lawrence O’Donnell, and many former government officials, academics, and pundits, among others.

It’s interesting to listen to the analysis, seventeen years after the show was broadcast, as so much had changed since then, and we know so much more about the White House, part of which is down to The West Wing. An early example of that was the use of the term POTUS, which back then nobody knew what it meant, today we do, part of which is down to the success of the West Wing.

Josh and Hrishikesh have covered one episode a week, so at the time of writing are well into the final season, number seven. I have a bit of catching up to do… both in terms of listening to the podcast, but also watching The West Wing.

Subscribe to The West Wing Weekly in Apple Podcasts App

Podcast Choice #08 – In Beta

I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.

Podcast Choice #08 - In Beta


This week’s podcast is In Beta.

In Beta is a talk show about the ever-changing state of web-based and open source software. We examine how “ship first, fix later” affects our tools and culture, with an emphasis on mobile, social, and web apps. Hosted by Gina Trapani & Kevin Purdy.

In another podcast choice I recommended This Week in Google, one of the regular hosts of that show, Gina Trapani along with Kevin Purdy have started their own podcast, In Beta.

If you enjoy This Week in Google then I think you will also enjoy In Beta, which though is different in terms of style and content, is familiar and comfortable.

The structure is quite simple, Gina and Kevin chat and discuss a variety of issues, some topical, some not. Their conversation is somewhat technical and developer focussed, rather than looking at the social implications of the beta culture. Not that they don’t venture into that area, but this is very much a geeky podcast and they wear the geek label on their sleeves. However this is not a heavy technical geeky podcast talking about code. No much more talking about software development and how changes by companies such as Apple and Google have an impact. Kevin and Gina in addition do discuss social tools such as Instagram and Twitter, but the focus is very much on the developer perspective and how changes to the APIs impact on third party developers.

I am not a developer and really know very little about coding and programming, however I have found this an interesting insight into the minds of programmers and developing software. This is a relatively new podcast, at the time of writing they are at episode ten, but the content so far has been good and I think it has settled into a enjoyable conversation about software, development and open source. If you are interested in coding from a developer’s perspective and how they approach software development in a conversational format, then do have a look at In Beta.

Subscribe to In Beta in the iTunes Store.

Podcast Choice #07 – This Week in Google

I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.

This week’s podcast is This Week in Google.

Leo Laporte, Gina Trapani, Jeff Jarvis and their guests talk about the latest Google and cloud computing news.

I have already mentioned in this series, This Week in Tech and MacBreak Weekly which come from the TWiT stable of podcasts. Whereas This Week in Tech covers the general tech news, MacBreak Weekly covers Apple, what you get with This Week in Google is, well you would think it would be Google, but it’s a lot more than just Google, it also covers the cloud, Facebook, Twitter and other social web services.

Though I listen to the audio version, it is also available as a video download too.

This Week in Google

Initially the episodes did just cover the Googleplex, but soon it covered cloud computing in general. It also covers some general tech news, but with a slightly different slant due to the regular panel members.

There are three regulars on the show, Leo Laporte, Gina Trapani and Jeff Jarvis. They are all very different individuals with unique personalities. Together they work well covering the different viewpoints of the week’s news. They certainly speak their opinions and are critical of both the US and European governments in their “treatment” of the internet. The podcast can be somewhat geeky in nature, but this is not a criticism, more one of the things I like about it.

Some people I know will probably listen to a recent episode and might not enjoy it. As with many podcasts you need to listen for a few weeks to get a feel for it, as a single episode may not be a true reflection of what the podcast is like. For me a podcast is more than a single episode as in a one off radio style show, it is the series of shows that really make a podcast. The growing relationship between the presenters and the listener over time is for what makes you want to subscribe to a podcast and listen on a regular basis.

Subscribe to This Week in Google in the iTunes Store.

Podcast Choice #06 – Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews

I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.

This week’s podcast is Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews.

Mark Kermode discusses the latest film releases with Simon Mayo. Lively, controversial and unmissable movie discussion. Broadcast live on Fridays at 2pm on BBC Radio 5 live.

I have often thought that the best movie critics to listen to are the ones that correlate with your own views on films. If you like films they like, then films they recommend will probably be ones you will enjoy.

Unfortunately I don’t go to the cinema as much as I use when I was younger, now that I have a young family. However I do find that I enjoy the weekly banter about what is coming out in the cinema between Mark and Simon. It keeps me informed about what is fresh and new in the world of cinema, whilst also enabling me to make a list of films that I will buy on Blu-Ray, download from iTunes or rent from my local library. I often refer back to previous shows when a new film is released on DVD to check what Mark thought of it before making a purchase decision.

On the surface I would not have correlated the films I like with the ones that Mark likes. He is a fan of horror films, in particular the Exorcist, and I really don’t like horror films and probably would never see the Exorcist. However I do remember when Mark reviewed Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro. A Spanish language film I would probably never have seen if I hadn’t heard Mark Kermode rant on about how good it was on what seemed at the time a weekly basis. When it did come out on DVD, I did go out and buy it and thought what a wonderful film it was. Since then I have listened and learned from Mark about films and cinema and have enjoyed many movies that I otherwise may have missed. I also enjoy the regular rants on those cinema releases that are not really up to scratch and the discourse is really entertaining to listen to. I also like the fact that Mark can surprise me, a film I would be sure he would hate, he loves and vice versa.

The show or podcast itself is though more than just a series of film reviews the banter and discourse between Mark and Simon is as much of the why I listen to the show as for the reviews. There are a few in-jokes that add to the enjoyment too; hello Jason Isaacs! You can tell this is an important part of the show, as I rarely listen to the podcast if Mark and Simon are on holiday and some other people are doing the show; I would even say I was disappointed to find that they are not doing the show. The key factor I think for me for the podcast is the fact that it is Mark and Simon. I also rarely watch or listen to Mark on other shows when he is on his own, it certainly is for me the relationship and energy that this pair have that makes this an entertaining and a must listen podcast for the week.

The show has “evolved” or “mutated” over the years, it use to be under one hour, but since Simon Mayo moved to drivetime on Radio 2 it is now a two hour show which equates to a 90 minute podcast. They have guests to talk about films, usually an actor or director who has a new release as would be expected. Within a typical show you will get a review of the top ten in the cinema box office, a good chance to hear what Mark thinks of the current films in the cinema in an amusing pithy one sentence usually. As well as the interview there will be reviews of the new releases, sometimes long, sometimes quick and a recommendation of the film of the week.

At the end of the day you will either really enjoy this podcast or hate it, and a lot of that will depend on what films you like. If you like what Mark likes then you will enjoy this, if you don’t you may find that even with the banter this isn’t the film review podcast for you.

Subscribe to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews in the iTunes Store.

Podcast Choice #05 – iPad Today

I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.

This week’s podcast is iPad Today.

Tech geeks Leo Laporte and Sarah Lane love their iPads so much they’ve created “iPad Today,” the TWiT network’s first show highlighting the best apps, most helpful tools, coolest tricks, and essential news surrounding the iPad revolution. “iPad Today” is smart, informative, and lots of fun.

If you have an iPad and are interested in news on the iPad and app recommendations than this is the podcast for you. This is very for the iPad user and isn’t really for anyone else…

I find there are lots of ideas to take away from the podcast on how to make better use of your iPad and what fun, useful and interesting apps that are out there.

This is one of the few podcasts I listen to where I actually prefer to watch it! The video version of iPad today is available in both a high res and low res format. As the podcast is looking at apps, the video version makes a lot more sense when the hosts are describing what they like about apps they are viewing. The audio version is still though eminently listenable to.

One of the “features” of iPad Today (and the other podcasts from the TWiT network) is that notes from the show are available within a few days on the show wiki. So if you are listening in the car or on your iPod and want to know the name of the app that was mentioned, it will usually end up in the wiki with a link.

So if you have an iPad and want to know what new apps are available and what the latest news is, then this is a great podcast to watch (and listen to).

Subscribe to iPad Today in the iTunes Store.

Podcast Choice #04 – This Week in Photography

I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.

This week’s podcast is This Week in Photography.

Join Alex Lindsay, Frederick Van Johnson, and friends each week as they discuss camera technique, technology, and news. With in-depth guest interviews, and discussion around everything from taking family photos, to understanding how state-of-the-art cameras work — you’ll hear it all on This Week in Photography.

Despite the name, this podcast is not from the Twit stable, but does feature some Twit regulars, which is how I heard about it.

I do like taking photographs, but compared to some people I know such as Mark Power, Ian Dolphin and Rob Stillwell I know very little about taking photographs.

What I like about this podcast is that it tells me about what’s new in photography as well tips and tricks on taking better photographs.

This podcast is aimed at people who already know about taking photographs and certainly isn’t recommended for those who are just starting out in photography as I am sure you will get lost. Hey I think I know something about photography and even I get lost in this podcast sometimes.

If you are interested in what new photography technologies are coming out, what professionals use to take photographs, tips and tricks to taking better photographs and tools and technologies to improve photographs through software.

Subscribe to TWiP on the iTunes Store.

Podcast Choice #03 – MacBreak Weekly

I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.

This week’s podcast is MacBreak Weekly.

Get the latest Mac news and views from the top journalists covering Apple today. Another great show from the TWiT Netcast Network.

I know I have a bit of a reputation as what some people would call an Apple Fanboy. I do have an iMac at home and one in the office, yes I do have an iPhone and an iPad. So in terms of using Apple hardware, yes I am a bit of a fan. However am I anti-Windows which is in my opinion what really make a fanboy, the answer is no. I do run Windows on my iMac, XP and 7, I do have an Android powered Google Nexus One. I also do use Linux.

Some people may consider MacBreak Weekly, a show about Apple, Macs and iOS as just one for the fans. I won’t say it isn’t about Apple stuff, as it is, however this is quite a balanced show with a focus on Apple stuff. If they don’t like it, they will say so, if they do likewise.

Each week a varied panel of Mac experts and journalists, chaired and hosted by Leo Laporte, review the weeks news, releases and occasionally rumours! They also have weekly picks covering hardware and software, both OS X and iOS.

It’s certainly the show I listen to, to find out what is happening with Apple and also what is happening with OS X and iOS software developers. I have picked up many ideas from the picks and made a fair few purchases. If you use Apple kit and software then you will certainly get useful tips and fresh ideas from the podcast.

As with many podcasts you might need to listen to a few episodes to get a feel for it. As you might expect there may be a few in-jokes that don’t fit if you only hear them once.

Unlike many podcasts each episode is a fair length, sometimes up to two hours, so be prepared for a lengthy listen.

Subscribe to MacBreak Weekly in the iTunes Store.

Podcast Choice #02 – Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4


I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.

This week’s podcast is Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4.

Bringing you a satirical take on the week’s news with the cream of UK comedy talent from BBC Radio 4.

Every Friday at 6.30pm on Radio 4 you can listen to (usually) either the News Quiz or the Now Show. These, if you like satirical comedy, are very funny and well worth listening to. The News Quiz was the inspiration for Have I Got News for You (on the telly) and is hosted by the talented Sandy Toksvig with a panels that changes every week. It’s a light hearted look at the week’s news in the form of a quiz!

The Now Show is a different kettle of fish, hosted by Punt and Dennis, if you enjoyed the Mary Whitehouse Experience (also from the Telly) then very likely you will enjoy the Now Show. It takes a satirical look at the week’s news and the running gags, “come on Tim” ensure a regular listen is a must.

The Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4 podcast alternates between these two shows, and occasionally with something less satisfying.

As a BBC Podcast one of the annoying aspects is that only the latest episode is available, if you forget to download it then you’ve missed it. I suspect that this is a licensing issue and the BBC can’t avoid it. I know I regularly check for new episodes in iTunes, however if you don’t subscribe to many podcasts it can be easy to forget to check on a regular basis. As it is a podcast, unlike iPlayer downloads, there is no DRM, so you can hold into past episodes. Unlike some of the other podcasts I listen to, these I will listen to again, so have a fair archive now of episodes going back a few years.

I usually listen to the podcast on the way into work on a Monday morning and it certainly has me laughing out loud as I trundle up the M5.

My only complaint, well, I wonder where the podcasts of Just a Minute or Sorry I Haven’t a Clue are? Would be great if they were available – they are occasionally as part of Radio 4’s Comedy of the Week, but would be nice if every episode was available to download.

Podcast Choice #01 – TWiT

I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. Last week I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.

This week’s podcast is TWiT.

Your first podcast of the week is the last word in tech. Join Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, John C. Dvorak, and other tech luminaries in a roundtable discussion of the latest trends in high tech. Released every Sunday at midnight Pacific.

TWiT or This Week in Tech is probably the first podcast I listened to. The first episode was released (broadcast) on April 17th 2005. Though I only started listening in June of that year. The podcast has evolved since then into a huge podcasting network and TWiT is still there and broadcast on a weekly basis. Released on a Sunday it is usually the first or second podcast I listen to on the way into work on a Monday morning. It’s quite a long podcast so it also covers my return home as well.

So what’s it all about then?

Well as you might guess from the title it’s the tech news from the last week.

However as with any good show, the reason it works and why I listen to virtually every week is the format, the panelists and the host.

The format is a panel format, tech pundits and journalists (mainly from the US, but sometimes the UK or other places) get together and discuss the news from the week. Tangential conversations are the norm for the show, so as well as news from Apple, Google, Facebook and others, the conversation also veers off into wine, food, television and comedy. Though the panel changes, as people come back again and again, it builds a familiarity that ensures that when listening it seems comfortable.

The host, Leo Laporte, is a US based tech pundit and journalist, whom has a track record in tech journalisim going back years. Though I have to admit the first I heard about him, was when I first started listening to podcasts and TWiT. He is very good at what he does in moving the conversations along and bringing the stories to life.

It is compelling listening and an enjoyable amusing listen too. Oh and in case you were wondering, yes I did base the e-Learning Stuff podcast on this format too.

Find TWiT in iTunes.

TWiT on the web.

Podcast Choice #00

Microphone

I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to.

In a previous job I use to listen to Radio 4, but after a while there is only so much of the Today programme and PM I can handle… Not that I don’t like those Radio 4 programmes, but listening to what was going to be the news that day on the way into work and then listening to virtually the same programme on the way back on what was the news that day, I decided it was time to change my listening habits. I use to record the radio a fair bit and listen to that, but back in 2005 something was happening to audio and that was the podcast. Though many will argue that Apple’s support of podcasts in iTunes that came about in June 2005 was more of a problem than a solution, it did mean that it was now much much easier for those who had an iTunes and iPod ecosystem to start listening to podcasts.

Now at the time I didn’t have an iPod connection in the car, so I use to burn the podcasts to CD and listen to them that way. Terrible from an environmental perspective, so moved away from that as quickly as I could.

Back in 2005 there weren’t that many podcasts as there are now, but some of those early pioneers are still here and still broadcast. Many mainstream broadcasters have jumped into the podcast arena and in many ways dominate the iTunes charts, however it is still possible for individuals and others to start podcasting. The e-Learning Stuff podcast is an example of how I have gone from consumer to producer.

So how many podcasts do I listen to a week?

Well it depends on the week, if I have a lot of travelling, as you might guess it’s a fair few. If I am on leave then it’s a lot less. One thing for sure though, is I treat podcasts more like newspapers than a TV series. With a TV series it’s important that you catch every episode, miss a week, and you’ll try and catch up. Now with some podcasts, you’ll want to listen to every episode, especially if is a dramatical or story based podcast. Most of the podcasts I listen to though, are more news like and as a result if I don’t listen to that week’s episode, I generally won’t try and catch up. It’s like last week’s newspaper, you could go back and read it, but to be honest who does, you’re much more likely to go to today’s paper and read that!

So what podcasts do I listen to?

Well I thought rather than just list them, I would write a little about each one, and publish them as a series of articles on this blog. It will also allow me to review new podcasts as and when I find them, likewise go back to old ones if they have changed a fair bit.

The first review will be here next week, hoping to do this weekly, but you know how it is, sometimes things will get in the way.

Always happy to hear podcast recommendations though, so what do you listen to?