Welcome to Podcast Portal: a spontaneous column that will highlight podcasts of all genres that are lesser known or new shows that are worth giving a listen. With the medium continuing to grow, it is hard to acknowledge all of them. However, I am going to try and find as many noteworthy titles as possible to share and hopefully expand your mind to the greatest growing medium out there. If you have any podcast that you feel is worth adding to the Podcast Portal, please make sure to inform me whether through the comments or through an e-mail (information in sidebar).
Before I dive into this week's introductory column, I would like to share the reasoning behind it. When compiling last year's Listmania series, I came across the issue of trying to include everyone while still leaving a good chunk out. It was also a laborious project that was too consuming and possibly even too subjective. Instead, I am going to try and shift focus to making a column, released whenever a noteworthy show comes out, that highlights the lesser known and newer shows.
What does this mean? Basically, I am going to try to avoid hitting all of the big shows, such as Comedy Bang! Bang!, SModcast, and The Nerdist. While there is a strong chance that I will cover shows that are on these podcasts' network, it will mostly fall into the criteria of "new" or shows with very few episodes. I would also like to say upfront that I may not like all of the shows that will be mentioned in Podcast Portal. However, I will attempt to be objective and find new content to enjoy for the readers. With that said, I felt like the recent launch of this new WFMU series was a fitting enough place to start.
SHOW: The Goddamn Dave Hill Show
HOST: Dave Hill
NETWORK: WFMU (Click here for archives)
EPISODE BEING DISCUSSED: "The First Goddamn Dave Hill Show Ever, with H. Jon Benjamin, Pantera's Phil Anselmo, Dick Cavett, Bobby Tisdale, and Doug Gillard"
Like many people before, I was a fan of the Tom Scharpling lead Best Show on WFMU, which ran an impressive 13 years. When it left the air last December, it created a big mystery on who would take over and would the show manage to capture the frantic energy and chaos that made Scharpling's three hour program so successful. Things were looking in order when it was announced that Dave Hill would be taking over. For those unaware, Dave Hill also hosted the Dave Hill Incident (on Maximum Fun), which almost made him the lackadaisical cousin of Scharpling in his admiration for music and comedy. Sure, it wouldn't be Scharpling and Wurster, but the appeal comes with the changing of the guard.
This past Tuesday, Hill took over the WFMU time slot of 9 PM with his three hours of programming. While it is debatable how much was a gimmick, his debut was full of errors. He spent a good portion of the time commenting on how to use sound equipment. He hung up on his first guest. There was an overabundance of "Good luck" type comments and plenty of celebration of the new host. Most of all, he wasn't all that much like Scharpling, which is sort of a relief and probably the most indicative reason on why he was hired as successor.
As the title, which follows in Best Show tradition of mentioning subject points in the header, it was jam packed with familiar guests. Hill received calls from several performers, though none more interesting than Dick Cavett. It is a rare treat and one that showed Hill's chemistry and know-how with unlikely guests. This could easily pave the way for even crazier selections in the future. Jon Benjamin actually was in studio for a brief moment, performing in a character, which showed the program reaching out into interesting concepts, though it quickly fell apart when Benjamin was more obsessed with Cavett and trying to find out if it was really him.
For a first show, it is mostly an understanding of how Hill operates. While the podcast version is condensed and doesn't include the music, it is essentially a three hour program with a new take on music, comedy, and call-ins. While it is unlikely that the radio DJ satire will ever reach Best Show peaks, Hill does seem to feel like he is going more for an embracing of rock music and commentary. He is a little laid back, and that may create some problems for those trying to get into the rhythm. It moves a little slow and without too much content, the first episode is mostly in how much you already like Hill.
I do believe that the show's unsuccessful elements are more because of it being the first show. Especially for a three hour program, it is asinine to thing that a program of this stature could start off in peak condition. I do believe that in time, it could be built into something almost cult-like and interesting. Hill definitely has a sense of purpose as a host, though he needs a sense of direction that should hopefully come with time. As it stands, the Goddamn Dave Hill Show is a decent replacement for Best Show on WFMU and it is exciting to see that the 9-12 AM time slot on Tuesday was replaced with something that has potential to be as captivating to the cross section of fans as Scharpling was.
RATING: 3 out of 5
WORTH A SECOND GO?: In a few months after the series has found its footing.