• Trenton L. Bice

Keeping the Focus - Four Podcasts for creatives (and plenty more you'll enjoy)

Approaching the end of Trimester is a stressful time as the pressures of deadlines and the quality of one's work begin to mount. We can very easily lose sight of why we are here and the common goals we share.

This is far too resembling of the ‘real world’, when time with ourselves as creatives is often sacrificed for making ends meet as well as trying to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Keeping our brain fresh and focused with balancing that creative and thinkings of ‘greater life’ is a challenging task.

One way I try to maintain and grow this higher focus whilst constantly absorbing new concepts that lead to my own ideas is through podcasts. I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of a podcast aficionado, as have been listening to the form for 11+ years, episodes covering specific topics such as sports (notably NBA & NFL), comedy, betting/gambling, food, more food, books, reality TV, golf, Hip Hop, Music in general, astronomy, greater thinking/philosophy and business. The world of podcasting leaves no topic unturned, with the best covering most of the above, not just giving the people what we want, but what we need, Hey!

The ease of access of the medium means I can easily multi-task; modern day radio that I can have playing whilst I do mundane household chores such as the dishes or laundry, driving to school or even whilst going to bed. (There’s only so many times I can WORK with this favourite song of the week on repeat).

Some of my originally downloaded Simmons ESPN podcasts from 2007,                                                                                          found on my old CPU but that have now seemed to vanish from anywhere                                                                                                         on the interwebs since Simmons left ESPN in 2015.

I have listened to every podcast broadcast by Bill Simmons, since his very first “Eye of the Sports Guy” podcast on ESPN, through his days at Grantland with the BS Report up until now with The Bill Simmons Podcast as part of his "The Ringer" website and podcast network under HBO.

His guests range from loveable friends and family characters that appear weekly such as “Cousin Sal", “Joe House”, “JackO” and his father, “Dr Bill”. Over the years he has had a revolving door of who’s who of the NBA, NFL and broadcasting become regular contributors (Steve Kerr, Jalen Rose, Steve Nash, Mike Lombardi, Al Michaels and Kevin Durant first come to mind). This provides expert analysis and behind-the-scenes access to these leagues whilst making the guests feel relatable to us as the audience through Simmons' ‘on-the-couch-fan” type of observations.

Image via https://crowworthy.com/posts/our-plea-to-cousin-sal-and-our-week-10-picks/

Simmons and Cousin Sal doing what they do best, talking NFL Over/Unders season bets from Las Vegas.

Image via https://crowworthy.com/posts/our-plea-to-cousin-sal-and-our-week-10-picks/

He has also been graced with A-List Guests from the world of entertainment and beyond, including:

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Malcolm in the Middle), Seth Myers (Saturday Night Live), Trey Parker & Matt Stone (South Park, Team America, the Book of Mormon), Jimmy Kimmel (The Man Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Oscars), Kurt Russell (Tango & Cash, Vanilla Sky) and Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie freakin' Nights!).

Then there’s the regular contributions from the jizzy Adam Carolla and Simmons-doppleganger Michael Rapaport that no doubt bring cringes to the bosses but ultimately the greatest laughs to the audience.

I could go on about Simmons and his influence on my life, writing style (note the endless amount of hyperlinks), sports fandom and perceptions of the world for pages upon pages.

But alas, this blog post does have a point other than my far too Simmons-towards-Boston like fandom of “The Sports Guy”. Simmons' tweets and pod's are a great way for us on the opposite side of the planet to keep up with what's happenning when we sleep- updates on sports, pop-culture and tech (due to SImmons being based in LA and his connections he often has tips into thoughts coming from Silicon Valley & Hollywood).

There have been some amazing podcasts this year that have been very relatable to our current course; particularly in regards to the record industry, acting/Hollywood, the creative process and some great insight on fame and success by those at the very pinnacle of each of their individual fields.

These in-depth conversations delve deeper than your standard 10-minute talk show appearance most of these guests are familiar with. This really shows the value of the long form podcast format- getting the guests into a comfortable and relaxed environment-and as it is not airing live the guest also ultimately gets say over the final edit. For the sake of their career they can trim down times when they feel they may have been too loose-lipped.

This seems to rarely happen which has lead to some of my favourite episodes of the year. Without further ado, here are my top four most recommended podcasts from the past six months or so, that I feel are especially related for those studying any creative field at SAE or just any of us with aspirations to be better at life.

Scooter Braun (February 14, 2018)

The man who has managed Justin Beiber and (at the time of recording/until yesterday) managed the self-proclaimed un-manageable Kanye West.

Any music lover, especially pop and hip-hop enthusiasts will really love this one which balances humility with a brash level of confidence, coupled with determination into what is true happiness in life.

Some great anticdotes about Justin Beiber's first hotel room, what went in to making Kanye's floating stage for his latest tour, the important reasoning that went into bringing "Desposito" to the mainstream without over-American-ising it, the future of rock bands and why "Basketball. Is. Life."

Al Pacino (March 26, 2018) - A great one for film students. Along with director Barry Levinson promote their new "Paterno" movie. They discussed Pacino's first TV interview and their perception of "Scarface". The trio then go through Pacino's IMDB page, leading to him sharing stories of Marlon Brando's influence and Meryl Streep's brilliance.


Kevin Durant (March 28, 2018) (Part One & Part Two) - An amazing week of podcasts on The Ringer as this came just days after the Pacino pod.

Fantastic takes on prioritizng the importance of ones craft before worrying about external factors and what can be leveraged, after taking care of the primary focus. Eg Basketball leads to other business opportunities, not the other way around.

Durant's feelings towards Fame and being a normal person, juggling normal life and that he is merely mortal like the rest of us are comically confronting. Whether it comes to sleeping, putting on pants or taking a shit, we're all the same when it comes to being on the path to trying to reach your goals. He is just happens to have one really unique quality.

If you isten to any 5 minutes of any of these podcasts, this is IT (from the 24 min mark).

Jerrod Carmichael (April 25, 2018)- Comedian/Actor/Writer (I hadn't really heard of Jerrod before this pod appeared in my feed but from the 30-minute mark (The first half-hour is great NBA talk as Simmons disccusses the Sixers advancing and "Trusting the Process") they discuss how we now listen to albums vs making playlists, the "UnPlugged" releases that were amazing in the mid-to-late nineties, and the final five-minutes has some great insight into creating content that stands out whilst staying true to our individiual mission statements.

Hopefully some of you can see the value in these podcats as I did. This is a growing medium which is helping to expand our minds, and without realising it Simmons has become a staple in my life, just as he (or other future podcast-hosts) may soon too become in yours. So Cheers to Bill, for all the great insight and entertainment he has provided, or led me to, over the past decade-plus, hopefully there's many more in the future.

Just as importantly, our future's are now, so all the best to those creative craniums crankin out those extra study hours over these next few weeks. It's easy to lose focus of our goals, hopefully this has helped you to re-caliberate.

Then in our holidays it'll be that much sweeter to watch the Sixers do their business in the second round.

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