Somehow it has happened that I never made a post about TBTL, which seems a shame, since it is one of my favorite things in the world. What is TBTL? It is a podcast, formerly a radio show, hosted by former NPR personality Luke Burbank. To describe it any more than that is really hard to do, but I’ll give it a shot.
You know those morning drive zoo shows? It isn’t that, but people who don’t like TBTL have compared it to that. They have also compared it to your typical “hot talk” talk radio show. And while there are comparisons, it isn’t really that either. And it isn’t really a news show, although they definitely cover news, and it isn’t really a celebrity gossip show, although they do that as well. It isn’t a call in show, although they have had call ins from time to time.
What it is, I guess, is the ramblings and mind dumps of Luke Burbank and his friends and coworkers. There will be episodes where all they do is talk about what they did over the weekend, or episodes where all they do is talk about how much of a screwup the previous episode was. But they will also have interviews with people from Fran Lebowitz to Patton Oswalt to Ira Glass to a random guy talking about Scientology. They will solve mysteries and do radio cooking shows and break the news down into two categories for you: awesome or not awesome.
I’m doing a terrible job of selling it. And I would say that over the two and a half years of listening, I’ve only managed to get one person to agree that it is any good, and she is married to me, and probably has no choice but to agree with me. But I love it, and it is really the only thing I listen to.
There are around 1250 episodes, going back to the start of the show as a radio program in January of 2008. I started listening in August of 2010, so I missed a lot, which I have been working my way through for the past two years. I would say I’ve heard probably 800 of the episodes, so I still have a long way to go, but I’ll get there probably in the upcoming year. That will be a sad day for me, and yet also pretty exciting to know that I’ve listened to everything that these people have to say.
Yeah, that sounds really lame. And at times it definitely is. But the show has become a really important part of my life. It is a huge part of my daily routine. I almost don’t know what to do in my car when I don’t have it to listen to, and when I’m cooking at night with no TBTL on, things just seem off. I would say that one of my proudest “boxes” that I put myself into is that of a “ten”, which is the term given to listeners of TBTL. As the claim goes, they have “tens of listeners.”
Anyway, if you want to get a taste for what the show is like, may I humbly suggest listening to episode #850. In it they talk about sun damage, the book Go The Fuck to Sleep, oh, and they interview this fellow from St. Louis who is really into artistic roller skating.