Or: The Podcasts You Should Be Listening To: A Starter Pack.
There are very, very many podcasts available to listen to on the web and while I’ve been listening to podcasts for a few years – I only listen to two religiously. Why? To me, the majority of podcasts either seem too heavy (which there is nothing wrong with) or too bland (which, I’m sure, is riveting to someone else).
I used to listen to Z100’s Elvis Duran and the Morning Show on my drive into the office when I worked in Staten Island until 2015 when I started a new job in Manhattan. Since early 2015 I have barely listened to radio (public transportation and the iHeartRadio app was a combination that would have made my cellular data plan suffer), and listening to iHeartRadio’s Elvis Duran Replay Channel at work didn’t really cut it. I wished I could download and play or pause whenever I needed to, and at that time Elvis didn’t offer a podcast version of the show (I only just found out that there’s been a podcast version of the show available since March 2017). But I still wanted something similar to the Morning Show and I was determined to find something I’d be interested in. Enter RuPaul:
RuPaul: What’s The Tee? with Michelle Visage
While What’s The Tee? doesn’t really come close to filling my Elvis Duran and the Morning Show void, it’s definitely one of my favorite podcasts. The format of the show is very different: RuPaul Charles and Michelle Visage (usually, but not always) sit down and interview notable personalities but it doesn’t feel like an interview at all. It sort of just feels like RuPaul and Michelle are just sitting at a kitchen table and a friend of theirs just happens to stop by for a chat – and you’re just a fly on the wall.
RuPaul knows that his audience spans many age ranges, but he still is aware that he and Michelle have very young fans who could benefit from the knowledge of who guests are and what they have contributed to our world. These people aren’t necessarily gay icons or established (though that certainly helps) – RuPaul treats them all the same and asks each what knowledge they could impart on his young listeners.
I love listening to What’s The Tee? because RuPaul and Michelle expose me to so many talented and interesting people who I may not have otherwise known about. If you’re a fan of RuPaul’s, you’re probably familiar with his infectious laugh (not to mention Michelle’s) – but because the interviewees are comfortable enough to be themselves. It really does feel like you’re a fly-on-the-wall watching real friends laugh and chat for an hour or so.
Listen from the beginning here (or wherever you podcast) OR try this episode with special guest Jenifer Lewis:
Straight Talk with Ross Mathews
You might know Ross Mathews from his stint on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno as Ross the Intern, but he’s a lot more than that. Or, if you’re a fan of Dorothy’s (either the one with the ruby slippers or the one with the lanai – it doesn’t matter), you’ll recognize him as a regular judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Personally, I didn’t know anything about Ross until the day when my mom called me into the living room to see this happy gay guy from the Jay Leno show on House Hunters. “He’s just so happy, it’s infectious,” my mom exclaimed. Turns out (as always is the case) my mom was right: Ross Mathews tries his best to go through life being happy and he does that by making others happy.
Unfortunately, I missed out on a huge chunk of his career after I caught that House Hunters episode with my mom. I knew Ross had to have been working, but I just never really heard much about him until he was announced as a regular judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. After that, I really fell in love with him after he was a guest on RuPaul and Michelle’s podcast. And it turns out, he has his own podcast called Straight Talk with Ross Mathews. The show gets its name from the iconic Dolly Parton movie, Straight Talk, and it’s essentially the same premise: Ross acts as the friend you call up when you need advice and he is going to give it to you straight up with no-nonsense. The theme song actually kicks off with an announcer stating, “He’s the gay best friend you wish you had, and know you need!” It’s true – I didn’t know I needed Ross and his (as my mom said) infectious positivity and happiness, but I really did.
As far as the podcast goes, it’s the only thing that has come as close to (if not better) than Elvis Duran and the Morning Show. It has that morning-show vibe, where the topic can shift from seriously heavy topics to clutching-your-stomach hilarious conversations. The show has actually gone through many changes since it began in 2014, including a few co-host changes, but the bones of the show have never changed. Like morning radio you can expect: segments including ‘What’s Trending’ and games (complete with catchy jingles), opinions on current affairs and pop culture, and interviews with notable guests.
What I really enjoy about Straight Talk is that the co-hosts all bring something to the table. Straight Talk really offers up a great balance of opinions and personalities that even when someone is missing, their absence is definitely felt but it doesn’t bring the show to a screeching halt. Ross could easily hold the show on his own, but by having such a variety of regular- and sometimes- cohosts it keeps everything fresh and exciting.
If you’re looking for a morning radio show replacement, Straight Talk with Ross Mathews is it. Similarly to What’s the Tee?, it offers up interviews with special guests on occasion, which can be as wild as leprechaun experts or more timely and less bizarre such as Olympic figure skater, Adam Rippon. Plus, the podcast is usually recorded live and streamed either on YouTube or Facebook.
Listen from the beginning here (or wherever you podcast) OR try this episode where Ross reports on his experience meeting Celine Dion:
Deadly Manners is completely different from the above podcasts because it’s more of a mini-series or classic radio drama. Brought to you by The Paragon Collective (the production company behind RuPaul: What’s the Tee? with Michelle Visage), which is made up of Alex Aldea and Ali Garfinkel.
If you enjoyed the 1980’s film Clue or even the board-game it was based on, you’ll want to check out Deadly Manners. The cast is phenomenal and stars Kristen Bell, LeVar Burton, Denis O’Hare. The cast also includes Anna Chlumsky and Timothy Simmons from HBO’s VEEP, and even RuPaul Charles and Michelle Visage.
Deadly Manners had me on the edge of my seat with it’s cliff-hanger episodes and the sound production is so fantastically done that, at times, you’re actually looking over your shoulder to see who’s approaching or jumping in shock along with the characters. It’s a richly woven production that leaves you wanting more.
Listen from the beginning here (or wherever you podcast) OR give the trailer a listen below: