3 GREAT STORIES: Starring a banner month for podcasts

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

Episode 613: President Barack Obama (6/22/15, WTF with Marc Maron): June was the month of the podcast.

When media historians write about the growth of podcasts, they will mention various key moments: the rise of independent comedy, the impact of Serial, and the monetization and legitimization of a once-mocked form of media.

They will definitely mention this: the first time a sitting president arrived for an hour-long, podcast-specific interview — in a garage, no less.

I really don’t care for the WTF podcast very much, but I cannot deny its — and host Marc Maron’s — effectiveness. This episode is particularly impressive because of the depth of conversation it reveals from its guest. President Obama has always been capable of analytical, thoughtful discussion, and for anyone curious to his worldview and reasoning for decisions, this is a great introduction. This is an A+ performance from both host and guest, and a milestone moment for this brimming medium.

Steve Kerr on winning the title (6/24/15, The Lowe Post): Every episode in this week’s “3 Great Stories” list is a podcast, and this one features a “get” nearly as impressive as Obama.

One week after coaching the Golden State Warriors to the NBA title, Steve Kerr sits down for an hour with Grantland’s Zach Lowe.

Here is someone who, after spending nine months on a grueling quest for a championship, has finally reached an off-season theoretically free of pressure and media commitments. And yet here he is, chatting with Lowe about his team’s post-game celebration and more.

It is a fascinating interview for any NBA fan, in no small part due to the interviewer. I have sung Lowe’s praises before, and here he exhibits so many qualities I admire: maintaining relationships with sources across the league, landing a rare interview with a meaningful guest, and probing said guest with questions that show both astute preparation and a fan’s mindset.

It’s a win all-around.

Freud’s couch (6/16/15, 99% Invisible): How could I share a list of podcasts without referencing the one that always seems to pop up here?

Roman Mars and his team at 99% Invisible produced another beauty last month, once again pulling off the seemingly ordinary trick of asking a question that seems obvious and then answering it with depth and enthusiasm.

This week’s question: who came up with the idea to sit psychiatry patients on a couch?

The answer? Well … it’s never that simple.

Mars and his team discuss not just the couch’s origins in the field (spoiler alert: they trace back to Freud) but its eventual fall from grace. They also reveal a neat twist midway through, examining why we associate the couch with psychiatry even though it’s rarely used there anymore.

Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com.

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