Mike Comite is a producer and audio engineer at the Headgum podcast network. He writes, edits, and mixes the unimportant investigatory podcast Dead Eyes. He has won no awards or honors, but writes music under the moniker Old Best Friend, infrequently produces his own Star Wars podcast called Bantha Fodder, and airs his general conversations with co-host Jacob Tender on Podchasm. Mike feels uncomfortable writing in the third-person.
The 1.0x Speed List
I listen to a lot of podcasts, usually on 2.5× speed, with silences removed. That sometimes bumps the playback up to 3.25× speed. Some might say that’s sociopathic, and I’m inclined to agree! But I have many shows to get through, and a very small window of time in which to listen to them.
While most of my podcast-listening is driven by an innate fear of bad things happening to myself or my loved ones if I don’t make it through my weekly queue, there are a select few that I commit to listening at regular-degular old 1.0× speed. These are shows that I experience joy when listening to, best saved for a medium-aggressive tempo weekend walk in the park.
Love and Radio
This is my favorite podcast. They are the podcast producer equivalent of really, really, really cool rock and roll guitarists: virtuosic in technique and execution while projecting a couldn’t-care-less attitude about meeting audience expectations.
Recommended Episode: Relevant Questions – The reveal in the first few minutes is my favorite moment in all of podcasting.
Their sound-signature is unmistakable, thanks to a dedicated composer and consistent blend of polished interviews and yard audio. Earlonne and Nigel’s personalities and voices are perfect complements for one-another. There’s nothing sensationalist about the show, no “star-power” endorsements needed. They give their listeners the truth and a re-education.
Recommended Episode: Pick any of them, really. The latest episode as of me writing this is Are You Listening? Devastating, but not exploitative.
The Golden House
When I saw the trailer for this show—yes, a video trailer to advertise a podcast!—I told everyone about it. It’s fiction, I’ll get that out of the way in case it’s a big turn-off for you. Most audio-fiction that goes for “realism” ends up sounding studio-perfect. The Golden House clears that hurdle by presenting as a studio-produced, public-facing podcast for a secretive tech startup/cult. Fans of Welcome to Night Vale will recognize the style, but might appreciate the addition of the meta-game played in between episodes, solving puzzles to unlock the actual narrative. Learning “the rules” of the puzzle-solving is frustrating, but once you get it (with or without help) you feel SMART. The best part is, after you’re done with the whole thing you have the rest of Ross Sutherland’s Imaginary Advice feed to enjoy.
Recommended Episode: just listen to the whole six-episode feed from start to finish, and try to find the bonus episodes. There’s no other way to experience it.
I don’t fool myself into thinking all of Dead Eyes couldn’t have been condensed into one episode of Heavyweight. But knowing what goes into trying to resolve just one person’s hang-up, I cannot imagine the amount of pressure Jonathan Goldstein has faced episode after episode. These are satisfying, self-contained presentations of personal dramas, sometimes petty, sometimes grave.
Recommended Episode: Gregor is typically recommended due to the “star-power” and semi-petty premise. I recommend Scott, one of the show’s heavier eps.
the memory palace
I started listening to the memory palace when I was living in Silicon Valley for a few months. I didn’t have a car or friends, so there was a lot of alone time, and a lot of walking through quiet, dimly lit suburban neighborhoods on summer nights. Nate DiMeo is a minimalist with production, but his prose and nonchalance are what pack the punch. Any writing that I do on Dead Eyes, I’m trying to channel his voice. The show is understated and subtle, and usually clocks in under 20 minutes if you’re looking for “quick and poignant.”
Recommended Episode: Play roulette with the feed. Episode 94 (Numbers) was my own haunting introduction to the show.
Let me be clear here: I am completely biased. But I am completely serious about my love for Geoff and Reilly and their improv scenes based on the ridiculous product reviews found on the internet. It’s that thing in podcasts where sometimes you listen because you just want to feel like you’re hanging out with the hosts. I mean, come on, the show has a fan-requested Patreon tier where you can pay to listen to expired ad-reads. That alone should tell you they’re entertaining.
Recommended Episode: Sandals Beach Resorts, which features Survivor host Jeff Probst.
We Hate Movies
Another Headgum show, sure! I was listening to them even before I started at Headgum. I was listening to them before they even started at Headgum. They’ve been reviewing “bad” movies for ten years. Yes, there are other movie review podcasts. But the show’s hook is its in-speak, impressions and invented characters that recur throughout the feed. When I started listening, it was very difficult to suppress laughter in a crowded subway car. Now no one can see me laugh or smile beneath my mask!
Recommended Episode: The best thing to do is find an ep reviewing a movie you either really love, or at least one that gives you a strong sense of nostalgia. For me, that was Episode 161 – Mortal Kombat.
Tiny Desk Concerts – Audio
This show has a podcast feed, so therefore it’s technically a podcast. For me, it’s important to break podcast-listening up with music. This feed was my primary source for new music discovery until the pandemic, and I missed it. The at-home concerts just started showing up again in my queue, so that rules.
Recommended Episode: Nilüfer Yanya’s record Miss Universe was my favorite of 2019. I wouldn’t have heard of her if it weren’t for Tiny Desk.
Song Exploder is everything I ever wanted in a podcast. Even more than music by-itself, I’m fascinated by what goes into writing, recording and mixing it. Similar to Tiny Desk, I have found new music through Song Exploder, but I think its greater power is helping me find a way to appreciate music that I wouldn’t listen to otherwise.
Recommended Episode: The Long Winters – The Commander Thinks Aloud episode is reported to have brought many listeners to tears in public places. I am one of those listeners.
Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates
A couple years ago I found myself really wanting to listen to podcasts where speakers openly disagreed with one another. Enter IQ2US Debates, where two parties have to present their contrasting arguments in a moderated debate. And if THAT doesn’t sound exciting, here’s the kicker: at the end a live audience votes on a winner! I’m on the edge of my seat every time.
Recommended Episode: Is Death Final? No, they’re not going to definitively answer the question in the debate, but one side is going to try and persuade you that nothing happens after you die.