The Best Podcast Pick-Me-Up Suggestions To Get You Through Dark, Lonely Winters

Dec 8, 2018
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Where do you turn when you need something warm, fuzzy to read, watch, listen to or play? Well, last week, we asked you for your pop culture comfort food recommendations.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: My pop culture comfort food has always been the Jackson 5 "Christmas Album" in the holidays.


JACKSON 5: (Singing) Someday at Christmas...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: For me, that deeply satisfying, warm and fuzzy feeling starts with the theme song of my favorite show.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: I never get tired of Dick Francis books.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: My comfort food is British murder mysteries.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Mine is "All About Eve," my favorite movie.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: Watching old DVDs of "Hazel," that's what I come back to every time.

SIMON: To tell us about the podcasts that get them through forbidding winters, we have Sam Sanders, host of NPR's It's Been A Minute - he's out at NPR West, where they don't have winters - and Nora McInerny, who's host of "Terrible, Thanks For Asking." She's at the studios of Minnesota Public Radio, where they have enough winter for all of us. Thanks both very much for being with us.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Can I just really quick pick a bone?

SIMON: Yeah. Yeah, sure.

SANDERS: We do have winter here. It rained a lot this week. It was, like, in the 40s last night. It's not a game out here.

SIMON: I stand corrected as a Midwesterner.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Thank you.

NORA MCINERNY: If it were 40 degrees in Minnesota, my children would be wearing T-shirts...


MCINERNY: ...Like, to school.

SIMON: So what kind of podcast makes what we call pop culture comfort food, Sam?

SANDERS: So, OK, the first one is a wonderfully snarky pop culture roundup called "Who? Weekly." Their tagline is everything you need to know about celebrities you don't.

SIMON: And, Nora, do you have a contribution?

MCINERNY: OK, so I feel incredibly upset that I didn't go first because that was my pick.

SANDERS: Oh, no.


MCINERNY: That was my pick. I listen - I find it very funny but also not unkind, which is a very hard line to walk.

SANDERS: Yeah. It is more of a sendup of the celebrity industrial complex than of actual, individual celebrities.

SIMON: Now, Nora, on the offhand chance people are going to want more than one recommendation, is there another recommendation you can give?

MCINERNY: Another podcast that I very much enjoy listening to is called "Forever35." It's a podcast about the ways that we take care of ourselves but all of the things that fall within that, like organizing your kitchen. I don't know why that's compelling to listen to, but it's very soothing. And my other fave, and, Sam, I wonder if you've listened to this already.


MCINERNY: Have you listened to "Surviving Y2K" with Dan Taberski?

SANDERS: I keep hearing about it, and I'm just like, I can't take myself back there because it was such a weird time.


MCINERNY: It's by Pineapple Street and Dan Taberski, who hosted "Missing Richard Simmons."


MCINERNY: One part of what makes something sort of comfort food is either it comes out regularly and you can depend on it - like "Who? Weekly," which is twice a week, which is, you know, fantastic - or that it comes out in some sort of bingeable way where you're just, like, really desperately waiting for the next episode. And to me, that is "Surviving Y2K." And so he explains what actually happened. He talks to people who were really into Y2K, like Y2K preppers, and then also tells his own Y2K story. And it's just really lovely, and also I just love Dan Taberski's voice.

SANDERS: Another podcast that I have just binged recently, it's from the folks over at Gimlet, and it's called "Heavyweight..."

MCINERNY: Oof (ph) yes.

SANDERS: ...Hosted by Jonathan Goldstein. And the premise is very simple but beautiful. Jonathan has people call him up who are still trying to get over events or relationships from their past. There was an episode all about how one of Jonathan Goldstein's friends thought that he had broken his arm in childhood. But all of his family said no, you didn't break your arm. So Jonathan Goldstein goes about to find the truth and figure out if this guy really broke his arm during his youth. By the end of this episode, there are these lessons and morals and stories about life and love and family that have you in tears.

MCINERNY: I really loved that episode, and I sent it to my family because...

SANDERS: Oh, wow.

MCINERNY: ...I played saxophone growing up...

SANDERS: Me, too. Shut up. We're twins.

MCINERNY: ...And my whole family claims I didn't.

SANDERS: No (laughter).

MCINERNY: I'm like, Mom, you paid for the lessons. She's like, I have no - no you didn't. I'm like, why would I write about it in my diary? And my whole family's like, I don't know. Kids lie.


SIMON: Well - but this is a prolonged one it sounds like, yeah.

MCINERNY: I would lie about something cooler, I hope, than I played the saxophone...

SIMON: That's pretty cool.

MCINERNY: ...Not well.

SANDERS: That's pretty cool.

SIMON: Yeah, that's pretty cool.

SANDERS: Also have we given you, like, way too much content, Scott (laughter)?

SIMON: I wouldn't call it content, Sam, but there's a lot of material here, yeah.


SIMON: Sam Sanders, host of NPR's It's Been A Minute, Nora McInerny, host of "Terrible, Thanks For Asking," thank you both so much.

SANDERS: Thanks for having me.

MCINERNY: Thank you, and so nice to meet both of you.

SIMON: And during this holiday season, we're going to recommend pop culture comfort food every week whether you like it or not.


SIMON: We want to hear from you. What's your pop culture comfort food? It can be a movie, a book, a video game - anything. You can call us and leave a voicemail at 202-216-9217. Tell us your name, where you live, and you might hear it on the air. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.