Podcast Picks: Gilmore Guys, Millennials, Startups, Oh My!

Call it news from the niches. Binge listeners welcome.

By Shannon Rupp 4 Nov 2015 |

Shannon Rupp was a Tyee contributing editor. For permission to reprint this article please contact the author: shannon(at) 

While broadcast radio brings us breaking news and current affairs, podcasts do a bang-up job of delivering the latest info about our enthusiasms. I call it news for the niches, and the following four podcasts offer some revealing insights into the nooks and crannies of the world.

'The Strategists'

Am I the only one who felt slightly bereft when I checked my email on Tuesday Oct. 20 and there was no morning update on the popular vote from pollster Nik Nanos?

Turns out, that was another downside of a long election: it gave me time to develop a whole new set of habits. Now I'm jonesing for daily election news. But I'm managing my withdrawal with a delightful podcast by a trio of Calgary-based political strategists who offered some of the best insights to be had in the run-up to the vote: The Strategists.

Stephen Carter, Corey Hogan, and Zain Velji are PR pros who specialize in strategic communications for political campaigns. They're professional soothsayers and the podcast is political chatter done the way people who actually understand politics do it. So the weekly hour zips along surprisingly fast.

It's one of the best guys-yakking podcasts I've come across, partly because of the good, clean sound and the sharp editing. But some of the appeal lies in the fact that they're quick-witted commentators who actually know things. I've no doubt they go off on tangents while recording, but someone is editing out the boring blah-blah while maintaining the energy of a live discussion.

The latest episode has them planning a fantasy cabinet for the new prime minister, just in case JT needs a little help. It's not unlike listening to people planning a hockey pool.

But the episode I recommend is "Raiders of the Lost Campaign Arc," released Oct. 18, because it has an interview with a pollster that everyone who follows politics should hear. Quito Maggi, of Mainstreet Public Research, was the only pollster I saw call the Liberal majority with such confidence, a week before we voted.

Maggi also has the distinction of being the guy who predicted the BC Liberals would win in 2013, in defiance of the majority of the polls.

His technique involves picking a true bellwether riding and polling it thoroughly. His explanation for how he does it is well worth a listen and should be required research for anyone running a political campaign.


News media love to talk about millennials but rarely do we hear from one of the cohort, which is part of what sets the Millennial podcast apart from the usual investigations of the under-35 set.

Megan Tan is an American journalism school grad who is using the podcast as an extended audition for a job in public radio. She talks about the trials and tribulations of being a mid-20-something who wants a professional career but is currently stuck in a service job. (Which she is afraid she enjoys a little too much.)

Those of us over 35 might be inclined to yell "Suck it up, Princess! Life is hard!" as she goes on and on about how trying it all is. But I suspect her peers will appreciate her feeling the feels on behalf of them all.

The show drops every few weeks, and it has taken her 10 months to get to episode nine, where she finally turns into a reporter bent on exploring something other than her own navel. After she experiences the (often) weirdly arbitrary hiring practices of the journalism world she goes looking for an explanation.

Megan is confused when she learns the guy who got the NPR internship she wanted has no journalism experience. Or even much of an interest. The winning candidate was a teacher looking for a career change. He had begun listening to public radio in the last year and thought, hey, that seems like a fun job. So he threw his hat in the ring, and he got the gig.

Millennial is a great idea for a podcast. And I hope it gets her the job she wants. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to angsty young things just like her. But I'm not sure the rest of us want to relive that decade or so of our professional lives when we were always confused and terrified.

'Gilmore Guys'

Oy, with the poodles already! Netflix is planning a Gilmore Girls reunion. They're producing four 90-minute movies of the beloved TV series that ran from 2000 to 2007, and I suspect the amiable Gilmore Guys podcast played a role in that decision.

Gilmore Guys is part of the popular re-watch genre in which obsessive fans of TV shows chatter about their addiction, episode by episode. But few fans are as keen as the Gillys, who were reinvigorated when Netflix began streaming the series last fall.

The Guys are longtime fan Kevin T. Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe, a new arrival to Stars Hollow. They sound like just the sort of nice boys who might earn a cheek pinch from Miss Patty and they have found their tribe.

Due to their huge popularity -- they sell out live shows -- they attract a lot of the Gilmore Girls' former cast and crew, too.

This is another one of those guys-yakking podcasts, and they aren't for everyone: many listeners find them too rambling. But for fans, their interviews are great because they ask questions about things the devotees genuinely want to know. How was "Dean" cast? How did "Kirk" come to be? As well as being a hub for super fans, they offer some insights into the business side of television.

I recommend their June 10 Gilmore Gabs interview with Jane Espenson, one of the TV world's great writers. Her words have also given life to shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica, and she's currently producing the shot-in-Vancouver hit, Once Upon a Time. But she will always be a Gilly.

'StartUp' Season 2: Dating Ring

StartUp is a podcast about people trying to launch businesses and its second series looks at the fledgling days of Dating Ring, a new spin on a matchmaking service. They want to combine the wisdom of a human matchmaker with the efficiency of Uber. Just tap an app and you can call up a perfectly matched blind date.

The tension at the heart of the show is the question of whether these two young women -- Lauren Kay and Emma Tessler -- will succeed. Here's a confession: I was rooting for them to fail.

"Ugh," I thought. "More high-tech entrepreneurs trying to turn people into commodities. May they and their company both crash and burn."

Now, I am clearly alone in my views. As the show unfolds it's obvious that many people can't wait to throw money at Dating Ring. We hear how their idea excited the funders at Y Combinator, a conference that introduces tech company startups to venture capitalists.

We learn all sorts of things about business via the Dating Ring adventure. For example, what do you do when you slide into the "trough of sorrow"? That's the nickname for the funk that hits when all an entrepreneur's hard work seems to go nowhere. We also get a glimpse of partners fighting and clients kvetching. And there's a surprise ending.

Gimlet's Startup series is addictive for anyone who wants to learn about how business works, but more than that, it's good journalism. They follow these companies in real time and get some remarkably honest tape. So a happy ending is not guaranteed, but you can always count on an interesting story.

You need to catch this one from the beginning, but the 10 half-hour episodes go quickly and are a binge-listeners' delight.

© Shannon Rupp. For permission to reprint this article please contact the author: shannon(at)  [Tyee]

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