Arts & Entertainment

The PHOENIX’s Five Podcasts to Listen To

Patrick BreitenbachFrom true crime to in-depth film discussion, here are five podcasts to check out.

Podcasts have revolutionized the radio industry. Students can listen to them at any time, whether they’re commuting downtown, walking along Lake Michigan, shopping or working out. Podcasts can tap into largely unaccessed chunks of time in someone’s day and provide entertainment, education and laughs. To celebrate the medium, here are The PHOENIX’s five podcast recommendations, all of which can be streamed on the Stitcher podcast app and iTunes.

The Last Podcast on the Left

Three true crime nuts and longtime friends Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski host The Last Podcast on the Left. This horror-comedy podcast explores the creepy and the grotesque, both imagined and real, through the hosts’ hilarious banter and entertaining improv. From Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer to UFO’s and government cover-ups, The Last Podcast on the Left covers everything dark and spooky through a comedic lens. Zebrowski’s cartoonish impressions and Kissel’s dry humor blend perfectly with Park’s thorough research, resulting in a hysterical and fascinating hour of entertainment every week.

New episodes of The Last Podcast on the Left are released every Friday.

Off Camera with Sam Jones

Interviews with award-winning photographer Sam Jones couldn’t be more different than television’s short, sound bite-driven late night talk shows. His podcast places an emphasis on the organic back-and-forth between an interviewer and interviewee. With episodes sometimes running more than an hour long, Off Camera presents a unique style of in-depth conversation. Jones often sits down with some of the world’s best artists, including Jeff Bridges (“The Big Lebowski”), Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”), Will Ferrell (“Step Brothers”) and Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, and helps navigate the artist through his or her career for the listener to follow along. Jones proves himself to be one of the best interviewers in the business week after week.

Off Camera is currently in its tenth season and new episodes are released weekly.


The Chicago-based film podcast Filmspotting is acclaimed nationwide for its provocative, intelligent discussions of movies new and old and its charming hosts, Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larsen. With episodes lasting around a hour and a half and multiple weekly segments, Filmspotting feels like a well-produced television show. From debates about the latest “Star Wars” film to career retrospectives on Akira Kurosawa (“Seven Samurai”) and Vincente Minnelli (“An American in Paris”), there’s no area of cinema Filmspotting doesn’t try to include. With March Madness-style movie brackets voted on by fans and meet-ups with Kempenaar and Larsen in Chicago and around the country, Filmspotting has garnered a dedicated fan base that has stood by its side for more than 13 years.

New episodes of Filmspotting are released every Friday.

The Twilight Zone Podcast

A throwback to old, midnight-hour radio broadcasts, The Twilight Zone Podcast hosted by Tom Elliot covers all things “The Twilight Zone.” Even die hard fans of the 1960s show will learn new facts and stories behind their favorite episodes. Elliot’s deep, smoky narration is perfect for late night listening and his passion for Rod Serling’s iconic show is apparent in every episode. He delves into the careers of every lead actor on the show and the history behind each episode’s production. At the end of every podcast, he offers his take and unique perspective on each story and its themes, reminding listeners what makes “The Twilight Zone” stand the test of time.

New episodes of The Twilight Zone Podcast are released sporadically.

Song Exploder

Song Exploder is a music podcast hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway in which famous songwriters break down their writing process accompanied by audio clips of the song they’re discussing. Guests have included U2, Jack Johnson, Norah Jones and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Hirway is able to get honest, insightful comments from these artists in a well-structured, compelling podcast form where dialogue and music blend seamlessly. For music fans everywhere, Song Exploder is a must-listen.

New episodes of Song Exploder are released every other week.

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