Turn It Up And Rip The Knob Off! Podcasts for Nerds


     I work inside a 100+ year old building.  I don’t know what’s in the bricks they used back then, but whatever it was, it isn’t conducive to great radio reception.  Luckily, I’ve got an office in the dungeon that I share with no one so I can pretty much listen to podcasts on my computer all day long. If you could sit and talk about your hobbies and interests for hours on end, then the next best thing while you’re shackled to your desk or stuck in traffic is firing up a podcast.

     Here’s a laundry list of eight podcasts I regularly tune in to during my mind-numbing workday…

Comic Geek Speak

What is it?:  Comic Geek Speak is a podcast that covers all aspects of comic reading/collecting, movies, television, toys, and many other geeky pursuits.

Frequency:  CGS is probably the most consistently & frequently updated podcast I’ve run across. Very rarely do I jump on their website and NOT find a new show.

The Good:  The Previews shows where the CGS guys go through the latest issue of Previews and offer their recommendations. Sometimes these picks are obvious but often the guys point out books flying under the radar.  I’ve taken their advice many times on books I’d overlooked or ignored and have rarely been disappointed.

The Bad:  Shows frequently focus on a very narrow topic (a specific comic issue, for example) and if you’re not interested in that topic, you’re out of luck.  But again, you won’t have to wait long for a new show.

The Ugly:  “Uncle Sal” episodes.  I’d never heard of Sal Abbinanti until I started listening to CGS.  He’s the writer/artist of the comic Atomika and the exclusive dealer of Alex Ross’ original artwork.  Besides that, he’s freaking hilarious!   I have to keep the volume down on these episodes as Sal is what you’d call “Not Safe For Work.”  If there’s a record for the number of times the term “jag off” gets mentioned in a podcast, Sal owns it.  These shows often veer far off the topic of comics, but I’ve rarely laughed harder at a podcast.

The 2 Half-Squads

What is it?:  The 2 Half-Squads (2HS) is, as far as I can tell, the only podcast devoted to the game of Advanced Squad Leader.  Manned by the duo of Jeff and Dave, this one is only for the hardcore gamer.  Which, if you have any interest in ASL at all, you’re a hardcore gamer–one doesn’t simply walk into Mordor and one doesn’t “dabble” in ASL.  These guys cover every possible topic associated with ASL.

Frequency: 2HS posts two-three times per month and have recently started posting video podcasts through their YouTube channel.

The Good:  “What’s in the Box?” & interviews with luminaries within the ASL world

The Bad: “Box Art Review”–You either love it or hate it.  I tried to love it but I just can’t do it.

The Ugly: Jeff’s one-liners. Let’s face it.  ASL just isn’t a topic ripe with opportunities for humor. I applaud the guys for trying and so does the cricket population.

Secret Identity Podcast

What is it?:  The Secret Identity Podcast has been around since 2006.  Produced by Brian LeTendre and Matt Herring, SIP is a great source for news, reviews and an occasional rant.  The guys cover mainly comics but also branch out into television, film, etc.  Their website doubles as a blog and expands on much of what they discuss on the show.

Frequency?:  SIP is updated at least weekly if not more often.  Very consistent.

The Good:  News & movie reviews.  I tend to get alot of my comic book news by listening to Brian and Matt.

The Bad:  Comic book reviews.  OK, I like these guys alot. But their comic reviews tend to be page by page, re-tellings of the story. I prefer a short synopsis followed by a reviewer’s opinion of the book (or movie).

The Ugly:  There isn’t.  Audio quality is excellent and Matt & Brian post new episodes on a regular basis.

Two True Freaks

What is it? Two True Freaks (TTF) is something of a hot mess…but I mean that in a good way.  Their interests, much like my own, are all over the map.  Star Trek, Star Wars, Comics, Sci-Fi & Horror movies…the list goes on.

Frequency? All the time.  Seriously, I rarely find a lapse of more than a couple of days.  No moss grows on these guys.

The Good:  The movie commentary episodes.  If you’re like the typical nerd, there are movies you’ve seen so many times, you can recite the lines by heart.  I mean, do you really need to see Aliens to know what’s going on?  Listening to these guys sit there and talk about a movie while they’re watching it is actually quite entertaining.

The Bad:  Detailed break downs of oldddddd comics. Similarly to Secret Identity, these guys will pull a comic out of a longbox, read it, then talk about it.  And talk about it. And then talk about it some more.  Not my thing but hey, rock on nerds.

The Ugly:  The TTF guys always Photoshop their faces onto some image for each episode’s cover art.  Seeing a pasty white-dude’s grill on Slave Leia’s body can be…disturbing.

Roll For Initiative

What is it?  Roll For Initiative (RFI) is, as far as I can tell, the only podcast devoted to 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons .  I’m a 1E devotee and if you are as well, this is the podcast for you.

Frequency? About weekly.  Sometimes a little less but generally pretty consistent.

The Good?  Regular segments Sage Advice, Table Manners, interviews, and listener e-mail.

The Bad?  The guys on RFI tend to have a thin skin.  They often read iTunes reviews and rip anyone who criticizes them. DM Will in particular gets pretty bent out of shape if someone calls him out.  Granted, some of the reviews veer out of bounds, but if you aren’t leaving a 5 star review, watch out.

The Ugly?  Occasionally can’t get the episodes to download.  Windows Media Player says “Me no likey file” and I have to move on.

40K Radio

What is it?:  40K radio is (surprise) devoted to the Warhammer 40K tabletop miniatures game by Games Workshop.  and if you’re into 40K, this should be on your list.  Topics range from casual discussions about the hobby to detailed rules analysis with an occasional “WTF is GW doing” rant.

Frequency?: Roughly twice a month but sometimes the gaps are longer.

The Good: Hobby tips and Games Workshop rants (who doesn’t love those)

The Bad:  Sound quality is dicey at times.  Very often it will seem like one host is all up on the mic like Oprah on a McRib sandwich while other guys sound like they’re sitting across the street.

The Ugly:  Humor on the show can sometimes get real 3rd Grade-ish. I’d give you an example but It Came From The Nerd Cave standards & policies frown upon that kind of stuff.

Paper Money Podcast

What is it?  The Paper Money Podcast (PMP) is a show devoted to the business side of gaming. As a gamer and game collector, I’ve learned quite a bit about the industry in the short time I’ve been listening to these guys. If you’ve ever wondered about the nuts & bolts of the gaming business, there’s a good chance PMP has your question covered. The even had an episode devoted to the seemingly boring topic of boxes. Sounds dull, but as a gamer, I found it pretty interesting.

Frequency? Not very often.  The delay between the two most recent episodes was three months.  On the bright side, the guys have vowed to get after it in the new year.

The Good: If you ever wondered “what were they thinking?” about why a game company did X, Y, or Z, chances are you’ll get an answer here.

The Bad:  The delays between episodes.

The Ugly:  Having a co-worker ask “What’s that you’re listening to?” and having to answer “A podcast. About boxes. Game boxes.”

The Plastic Scale Modeling Hour

What is it?: The Plastic Scale Modeling Hour is pretty self-descriptive. I’m pretty new to this podcast and it took me awhile to find a show devoted to modeling. There are quite a few YouTube channels devoted to the hobby but I need something that’s audio only as I suspect my boss isn’t all about me watching someone build a B-17 model at my desk. This show is part of WarbirdRadio.com which hosts several hobby-related podcasts with an apparent focus on the R/C (that’s “radio controlled”) side of things.

Frequency?:  Anywhere from weekly to bi-weekly.

The Good:  It’s guys talking models. What’s not to like?

The Bad:  Audio quality.  Many of the show’s guests appear via phone and I’ve had problems having to crank the volume to hear them.  That’s great until the host speaks  up and blows me out of my chair.

The Ugly:  That there aren’t more scale modeling-related shows out there.

Copyright 2013 It Came From The Nerd Cave 2013