In honor of Radiotopia's kickstarter, I assigned all of my favorite podcasts a punk band counterpart.
So to start with the basics:
This American Life - The Ramones
Simple, classic, raw, powerful.
Both the Ramones and TAL are often young people's introduction, and most people continue to love each well after their dive into the depths of fandom. Always relevant.
Radiolab - The Clash
The alternate classic, with a more layered sound. Often relying on gadgety-effects to convey emotional moments, both set a precedent for sound design's role alongside energy and writing.
99% Invisible - Fugazi
Revitalizing the form, both present a huge shake up to the conventions, underpinning the early principles with enthusiasm.
Let's go nerdier.
Roman Mars - Ian MacKaye. The humble front-man. Idealistic but grounded. A good face for the way podcasting/punk rock should be. Pushes the form.
Sam Greenspan - Guy Piccoto. The out-of-the-spotlight front person. Champions the ideals, but is low-key about it and has probably hung upside down from a basketball hoop.
Katie Mingle - Brendan Canty. Holds down the fort, keeps it real.
Avery Trufelman - Joe Lally. The quiet one with a cool voice. Will likely start a solo career later.
Operating under the assumption that Roman Mars is Ian MacKaye, I think it's far to say:
Radiotopia - Dischord Records
Theory of Everything - Nation of Ulysses
Very cool. Experimental and contemporary but borrows from old formats (late night radio talk show and free jazz, respectively). Sometimes a little too out there for the casual listener. Lovable to a fan of the craft, but not the best introduction for people who aren't already into podcasting/punk.
Love+Radio - Dag Nasty
All about harmony.
An ultra-tasty blend of pleasing sound and "hell yes" moments.
After dropping into seconds of energetic muscle-tensing, both like to erupt with a catchy and totally accessible refrain.
(I haven't yet fully indulged in Fugitive Waves, Radio Diaries or Strangers so I won't force comparisons.)
I racked my brain trying to lump The Truth with a Dischord band, but it's not a podcast that really fits into that realm. So I went far outside of Dischord for this comparison.
The Truth - The Meteors
Reconstructing a classic format with a lot of modern flavor. What The Meteors did with Rockabilly (coining Psychobilly), The Truth does with radio drama – a complete reprise of the form with a killer new edge. Psychobilly, like radio drama, is theatrical and has to set a believable aesthetic to be successful.
Though not technically a Radiotopia show, I'm going to lump Memory Palace into the Dischord family in The Truth's place.
Memory Palace - LungFish
An interesting, innovative and unique sound. Publicly quiet, and sort of mysterious when releasing material – not often, but with consistency. Ambient and paced.
If you don't see your favorite podcast here, please do leave a comment with your own punk band assignment. Some ideas - Startup, Serial, the remaining Radiotopia shows, Snap Judgment, The Moth, Radio Ambulante. Have at 'em.