SVA’s Podcast Pros on Their Favorite Shows
November 30, 2017 by Emma Drew
three friends mixing music in a studio
Two young men are sitting on either side of a young Asian woman who is wearing a jean jacket. They are all at a desk or table with a computer keyboard in front of the woman. The room they are in is an office type set-up with musical keyboard, speakers and stands for music toward the back.
From left: BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects students Kenny Rosen, Suejee Lee and Matt Cerini set up the sound for On a Tangent, a podcast produced and hosted by students in the SVA undergraduate program.

We may be living in the golden age of podcasting, but that doesn’t make it any easier to find one you really like. The amount and range of choices remains decidedly overwhelming, whether you’re looking for something edifying or something more Buffy-related.

Smart, entertaining and well suited for long hours in the studio and what feel like even longer subway rides, podcasts have their particular devotees in the SVA community, many of whom, it turns out, often find themselves on the other side of the microphone. Design Matters, the award-winning podcast hosted by Debbie Millman, chair of MPS Branding, is taped live in a specially designed studio within her department’s facilities; MA Design Research, Writing and Criticism includes podcast production in its curriculum; and other departments use podcasting as a tool for disseminating ideas while exploring form, whether as a course assignment or an extracurricular activity.

We turned to the experts in our midst—those who make their own podcasts as well as those who listen obsessively as part of their job or their downtime—to get their top picks for art, design and cultural audio programming, available in a browser near you.

Leital Molad, MA Design Research, Writing and Criticism faculty member; executive producer, Only Human

99% Invisible

“This show looks at one design phenomenon each week, big or small—from Penn Station to the CD long-box. Every episode is a gem of a story, richly produced and well told. It opens your eyes to how much work goes into every object and place we see in this world.”

Song Exploder
“This podcast takes one song and has the artist break it down element by element, telling the story of how and why it was made. A delightful listen and peek into the creative process of a musician, which is extra fascinating if you are at all an audio geek.”

Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen
“I may be biased, since I worked on this show for almost 15 years, but there is no better radio show that I’ve heard that covers art and culture in a comprehensive and creative way, through features, documentaries, interviews and guest performances. If you love movies, books and music, it’s worth a listen.”

Liz Danzico, MFA Interaction Design chair; creative director, NPR

How I Built This
“A podcast about the stories behind innovative movements. Hearing about the early beginnings of successful entrepreneurs makes me feel like anything is possible.”

Twenty Thousand Hertz
“Stories about the world’s most recognizable sounds. It’s always thrilling to learn something new about something so familiar. Like seeing magic in the ordinary world around us.”

“This podcast on the science and history of food makes you feel like the third adventurer out in the world with these bright storytellers.”

Anna Kealey, MFA 2012 Design Criticism
; co-creator, Karaoke Theory; new market development specialist, Etsy

Reply All
“I love how they use the Internet as a launch pad to talk about (almost) everything! They investigate online culture—everything from phishing emails to YouTube celebrities. I got a lot of friends interested in the show by introducing them to ‘Long Distance,’ two episodes exploring a call center that tries to scam people out of money. It’s tense and fascinating and truly some of the best radio I’ve ever heard.”

The Allusionist
“This is a great podcast for anyone interested in language. Helen Zaltzman is witty and intelligent and her interest in the etymology of words is infectious. The episodes are short and snappy—usually about 15 minutes each—and often play with the podcast format.”

Gabriel Aguirre, BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects student; co-host, On a Tangent

The Bancroft Brothers Animation Podcast
“This is a great podcast for animation. These two brothers, Tom and Tony, interview many different animators, mostly 2D but there are also 3D animators as well. They talk about the thought process that it takes to create a short or feature film, the animation union and many, many other topics. As someone who takes part in an animation podcast, I think it’s interesting to hear what questions they ask and I get plenty of ideas as well for myself. As an animator myself, I like how deep they go into certain topics, things that may not come up in class or that a teacher won’t bring up.”

Saundra Marcel, MFA 2011 Design Criticism; managing director and creative director, Design Minded

The Bowery Boys
“For lovers of the Big Apple and architecture, The Bowery Boys takes you on highly entertaining jaunts through history. Learn about how Times Square became the neon capitol of the world, the birth of transportation systems, people and public places, and how the glittering city attracted many early masters of art, photography and culture.”

Internet of Things
“The IoT podcast with tech journalist Stacey Higgenbotham is straight-up essential for any creative or technologist who want to be a part of shaping the future. Listeners learn the real-deal from pros who know. Stacey’s show reviews all ‘things’ connected, interviews smart inventors and entrepreneurs and engages in honest, zero-fluff discussion about current technology questions and issues.”