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Podthoughts: The Danny Baker Show

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Format: Danny Baker, his co-host, his callers, and a bunch of (mostly British) celebrities talk football — but mostly go on tangents therefrom
Episode duration: ~1h30m
Frequency: erratic

“Because all of the subjects are British, there are qualities that leap out for an American viewer,” Roger Ebert once wrote about Michael Apted’s Up documentaries. “One is how articulate the subjects are [ .. ] they speak with precision, and often with grace and humor. One ponders the inarticulate murkiness, self-help cliches, sports metaphors and management truisms that clutter American speech.” As an American all too eager to run down his less fortunate countrymen, I certainly ponder those things. Yet I also ponder something I heard Lewis Black say years ago: the Brits need those accents to mask a stupidity even deeper than ours. Best, I think, to see each side of the pond as expressing its dimwittedness in different ways. Here in the States, we compulsively elevate the least thoughtful and (therefore) least articulate among us to the highest planes of media exposure. We consequently become colonials again, genuflecting to almost every Englishman sitting before a microphone. This goes for their workaday non-celebrities like those in the Ups as well as their craggiest, most donnish and experience-curmudgeonified broadcast hosts — or, as they call themselves, “presenters.”

Danny Baker may qualify as one such genuflection-worthy presenter, though you wouldn’t call him craggy or donnish. (As for the state of his curmudgeonification, it varies with the topics.) “It’s almost inconceivable that Colin would be interested in covering this particular podcast,” a certain Alistair Johnson wrote on the Maximum Fun Forum, “but I’d love to see him take on BBC’s The Danny Baker Show [RSS] [iTunes].” He went so far as to make a list of the reasons for my probable disinterest, including its being “an edit of a radio show,” “a phone-in show,” one whose “subject is (supposed to be) football,” and on top of all that, one that’s “British, and deals with British topics.” Though no Anglophile, I like to think I relish the opportunity to step outside my own culture in any medium possible, and Alistair added that “Danny Baker is considered a genius of radio by many in the U.K.,” and that his show is “not really about sport.” His personal testimony: “I have no interest in football, but listen every week.” Holding fast to my principle that few behaviors make one lamer than only taking interest in one’s interests, I began listening immediately.

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