I spend hours on the road every month. My boyfriend lives more or less 300km from Stellenbosch and I usually hop in the car around 3pm on a Friday, head to the N1 and turn off at Worcester heading towards Robertson. Being an avid podcast fan, I know that the road is about three podcasts long, and I tend to choose conversational podcasts because I find myself talking along and even responding to questions posed.
NPR, the National Public Radio in the US, is home to some of my favourite online pastimes. From their Tiny Desk music series – which you have to check out btw – to the TED Radio Hour, these guys are geniuses when it comes to creating content. One day, while enjoying a TED radio hour classic on Disruptive Leadership, an ad for their Pop Culture Happy Hour programme popped up and I was immediately intrigued.
Movies, series, comic books and more
A typical episode starts with the discussion of some brand new film, series or pop culture happening. NPR regulars, Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon, head chats on themes, production teams, cinematography, editing, film marketing, inside info and other takes on the film and hype surrounding it.
The team has a really good understanding of the entertainment industry and is able to not only talk about the film as a single entity, but also place it into a bigger context by discussing various role players, and situate it within the canon. I often find myself debating along, especially if I’ve been watching the same series – as is the case with the episode Haunting of Hill House, for example, which was one of my favourites.
The NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour team also does some amazing seasonal previews. For this year’s fall preview, they included a roundup of the most talked about films about to hit the silver screen. Included in the discussions are some predictions about whether or not something that is much anticipated will actually perform as expected. They also include some insights from the major film festivals and look ahead to award season.
What’s making us happy
Despite all the lovely commentary, reviews, banter and industry insights, my absolute favourite thing about this podcast is the ‘What’s Making Us Happy’ section! Each member of the team gets a chance to tell the audience what their favourite pop culture happenings of the week are, and they are fantastic.
In this section, I’ve discovered some amazing content; from comic books to the new Drake album, to Amazon Prime’s Forever (which I also reviewed). It is truly the highlight of my entire trip and each episode – I also find myself listing my own favourites along with the team.