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WNYC Morning Brief  

Welcome back to Hodgepod, the only newsletter that combines a week’s worth of podcast recommendations with a day’s worth of weather in New York City:

Remember this thing? You should be seeing a fair amount of it today; foggy this morning turning mostly sunny, with a high of 85. But the big story is that the humidity will drop steadily throughout the day. Tonight, we get mostly clear skies with a low near 70. 

I’m actually on vacation this week, in a land that’s ten degrees cooler but with just as much traffic: Southern California. And though I’m here visiting family, I’m still listening to plenty of podcasts because my mom let me borrow her car and it has an iPhone jack. So consider this newsletter the Best of What I’ve Heard in My Mom’s Station Wagon. As always, if you’ve heard any podcasts in a station wagon that make for perfect summer vacation listening, let me know at

Jeff Krause/Flickr
I had a season pass to Disneyland for one year in college, and I could never quite figure out if it was the happiest place on earth, the most jingoistic place on earth, the most elaborate shopping mall on earth, or some odd combination of the three. This episode of Studio 360’s American Icons series does an excellent job of unpacking the history and mythology of the Disney parks in a way that’s informative yet doesn’t make you cynical about Epcot Center or giant turkey legs. The series, which covers other masterpieces like The Wizard of Oz, the Vietnam War Memorial and Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” is really worth a binge listen.
A fascinating article on The New Yorker’s website about the life, death and resurrection of the fern bar—apparently once-fashionable hangouts full of preppy singles and sugary drinks—led me to the author Nicola Twilley’s highly informative podcast, Gastropod, and this episode about...cocktails. As a food show, it’s wonkier than The Sporkful and less sensual than The Splendid Table, but in many ways, it’s kind of like a great cocktail—substantial, nuanced, and not over too fast.
Maria Bello


Since I’m using her car, I’d be remiss not to let my mother recommend something. About a month ago, she called me to rave about this interview on Fresh Air with the actress Maria Bello. Well, I just listened to it, and my mom was right. It’s a refreshingly open and personal conversation with a Hollywood star who’s usually brought in to plug her movies. The interview also happens to be guest-hosted by my mom’s favorite podcast personality: Death, Sex & Money’s Anna Sale.
Stephen Colbert


I don’t know how five episodes of this slipped past me, but Stephen Colbert launched a new podcast called The Late Show Podcast that’s nominally about the making of a new late night comedy show, but like all great late night television itself, it’s really an exercise in the art of killing time that’s somehow a blast to listen to. It’s very funny. It’s too weird to explain. Just start from the beginning.
Michael D Beckwith/Flickr
A consistent high point of the podcasting world is the fact that you can search just about any author or book title and find a trove of brainy folks talking about whatever it is you’re reading. And since my summer reading list has inevitably become a neat stack of Evelyn Waugh novels, I’m following along with Slate’s Audio Book Club episode about Brideshead Revisited (maybe my favorite novel of all time), and the BBC’s In Our Time episode about Decline and Fall, which I’ve yet to crack.
Keith Hamm/Flickr


Maybe the only thing more exciting than driving along the beach and listening to a conversation about English literature is driving along the beach listening to thumping dance music. Jason Bentley is a master on the ones and twos, and you don’t have to be within the signal reach of KCRW Santa Monica. His weekly Saturday night dance show, Metropolis, is available as a podcast, and KCRW’s Eclectic 24 stream is pretty much what it sounds like: a 24-hour stream of eclectic music. Man I love this station wagon.


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And remember, your recommendations, questions and musings are all welcome in my inbox! Until next week, I’m

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