Podcast Reviews: Behind the Bastards, Cautionary Tales & Stuff You Should Know

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Podcasts offer a convenient, diverse, and engaging form of audio entertainment and information that appeals to a broad audience. It took me a while to catch on to podcasts, but once I did, I was hooked.

So, while I was trying to decide which three podcasts to review, I once again wondered how people listen to their podcasts and what makes some people podcast fanatics.

Tell me, do you listen to podcasts while doing the housework or while commuting to work and back? Or are you one of the so called super listeners who listens to 20+ hours a week?

listen up

 I am a Super Listener

As I am one of the “super listeners” and I have very eclectic taste, I’m going to make a few podcast recommendations/reviews every week so I can share the joy or discovering a great new podcast.

For the record – I listen to podcasts for information, education and entertainment, so if a podcast can cover all three areas, I’m a happy listener.

My main interest is True Crime, and I also love Culture, History, Hollywood, Scams and Heists and Cults. I sometimes listen to Music and News podcasts, even Gardening and Sport – hey, I’m an eclectic listener.

So, let’s kick off with a mix of podcasts. All three are established and professional with great research and interesting, quirky facts. Enjoy the listen!

Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford

My top discovery of the week is Cautionary Tales with Tim Hartford, another great podcast from Pushkin Industries where Harford, an economic journalist,  demonstrates that humankind mostly doesn’t learn from its mistakes.

He describes his stories as “education for grownups”. I know this sounds dull, but it is everything but.

Best idea is to listen to one episode and try not to get hooked. One of the more recent ones is Season 4. Inside the bizarre World of Dictators, where he poses the question, Why are so many dictators germaphobes?

He has an interesting theory about Putin and the Ukraine war that ties back to Covid and germaphobic brooding.

I also learned about Salami slicing tactics. My mind flew to a Charcuterie Board. Wrong!  Salami tactics refers to a divide and conquer approach which aims to split up opposition.

The phrase was coined by the Hungarian communist leader Matyos Rakosi as a way to describe his technique of dividing and isolating opposition parties during the 1940s. The phrase is strongly associated with Josef Stalin, who used salami tactics to divide the anti-communist opposition groups in order to realize his goals of creating more and more communist states near Russia.

Putin is a Salami Slicer Extraordinaire!

Cautionary Tales with Tim Hartford brings you stories of awful human error, tragic catastrophes, daring heists and hilarious fiascos. They’ll delight you and scare you, but also make you wiser.

Behind the Bastards

Behind the Bastards is an American comedy/historic podcast hosted by Robert Evans, a former war journalist and writer for Cracked (Not to be confused with the now-deceased producer of Rosemary’s Baby and The Godfather).

The research is excellent and although Robert Evans may be a bit potty mouthed and anarchic for some listeners, he is a great story teller.

I’m talking everything from Hitler’s drug problem (multiple drug problems) to Saddam Hussein’s erotic novels to the racist cult origins of the Celestial Seasonings tea brand.

Rabbit Holes on Reddit

If you want to descend into a warren of rabbit holes, pop into thesubreddit r/behindthebastards   and learn all kinds of stuff.

I’ve listened to pretty much the entire catalog of Behind the Bastards and really enjoy Evans and his guests. A listener describes it as sounding like a History Channel series hosted by a shock jock.

I enjoy the slightly different tactic Robert Evans uses. Instead of inviting experts on his show to share information, Robert is the expert sharing information with his guests.

That role reversal lets the podcast be a kind of comedic documentary. Episodes have titles like “How L. Ron Hubbard Made an Antichrist Using Sex Magic,” “Bill Cooper: The Man Who Killed Truth,” and “The Con Artist Who Invented a Country” and “How Nestle Starved a Bunch of Babies.”

The most successful guests are those who have a great rapport with Evans and similar senses of humor, so conversations flow much more naturally.

So, Behind the Bastards probably has a specific ideal audience very much left leaning. Come on, history is inherently political – What we are taught, what gets preserved, and what is suppressed, all of that serves an agenda.

Just in case you are not yet hooked, here is the Blurb for Behind the Bastards, “There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.”

Stuff you Should Know

If you are somebody who just accepts your lot and plods on through life, not really looking left or right, you are missing out on so much. Wake up! There I crazy exciting and interesting stuff out there.

Don’t any of these phrases tickle your curiosity?

  • The Alien Abduction Phenomenon of the Mid-20th Century
  • How Zero Population Growth Works
  • Selects: How Dyslexia Works
  • What Americans Ate When There Were No Food Laws
  • Is yogurt a miracle food?

Well first of all, there are about 2000 episodes which means a lot of binging if this podcast appeals to you. And the episodes are mostly around 30min. So this is really easy listening

Stuff you should know, by I HeartMedia Inc , is really is a masala mix of topics.

Since 2008, “Stuff You Should Know” has collected impressive awards including nine Webby Awards, AdWeek’s Podcast of the Year award and AdWeek’s Readers’ Choice of The Year award.

If you want to know how good it is, look at this little notification: “NEW YORK — February 16, 2023 — iHeartPodcasts announced today that its popular curiosity show “Stuff You Should Know,” hosted by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant , has surpassed three billion downloads.”

“That is a mind-boggling number of downloads and it kind of came up on us out of the blue so it’s been a really pleasant surprise,” said Josh Clark, co-host of “Stuff You Should Know.” “When we hit such big milestones, it always reminds us of how awesome our listeners are. They’ve kept us going this long and for the foreseeable future too.”

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