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Recommended Listening: The Sound of Young America.


I think we’re far enough from the dawn of the podcast era that most of the crappy, I’ll-read-my-blog-into-a-mic podcasts have been winnowed away and what’s left is the wheat. Or the chaff, I’ve never been clear on that. The good stuff. Most of the best would work on radio as well as they do on iTunes--This American Life, for instance.

The Sound of Young America is such a podcast from Jesse Thorn, who has developed his straightforward, warm, and quick-witted interviewing into a show that gets a wide range of guests to answer questions that aren’t just prompting for promotion. Thorn is like a younger, better-informed Robert Siegel. Recent episodes that were especially good included Louis C.K., who discussed the progression of his comedy to include foul family material, involving in particular his two daughters. The interview almost had my wife on board with C.K.’s sense of humor, despite his saying things we wished we could unhear. In another show, comics artist Adrian Tomine addresses the race and cultural identity issues that he deals with or chooses not to deal with in his work, and the criticism/hate mail he’s stirred up on that front.

Thorn’s top-40-countdown voice and post-radio schtick can wear a little thin on repeat listening, but he’s got a great manner that draws guests out beyond the usual talk show boilerplate.
Photo from Google's Life Magazine archive.

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