I mentioned when I started this new blog that the Pop Culture Happy Hour was an early spark for creating it in the first place. For a long while I'd been thinking about doing something along these lines where I'd just talk about really wonderful things in pop culture and my life, but it was the PCHH podcast that pushed me to really do it.
The Pop Culture Happy Hour is part of the NPR podcast regiment, though it does not have a radio show connected to it. NPR, of course, has tons of great podcasts that are essentially just their radioshows (like Radiolab, On the Media, Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, etc.) but over the last few years they've added a bunch of podcasts that are podcasts only.
PCHH is a round table discussion between four people where they choose a couple of topics and spend ten minutes or so talking about it within the realm of pop culture. Usually I hate this type of thing because it almost always feels like a group of folks who have done absolutely no planning ahead sitting around yacking to one another. They can be funny at times, but then there are sections where you can tell they are struggling to come with something to say. This is why I generally prefer the story telling, very well produced shows to this sort of thing.
That being said PCHH does a couple of things that make the format much better. They obviously spend some time before the show coming up with topics to discuss and narrow that down to specifics. Then each of the participants spend at least a little bit of time thinking about what they want to say before they sit down and hit record. It also helps that they are all writers, editors and radio friendly so they know how to properly form cohesive and intelligent thoughts. Now they certainly go off the rails from time to time and certainly wander off script, but because they've done their homework the show is able to stay grounded.
I really do love it. I've been zooming through their back catalog as I'm riding around in my day job. I'm saddened by the realization that I'll catch up soon and have to wait a week between shows.