Let me first start out by saying I’m a massive fan of several of The Ringer’s podcasts including the flagship, The Bill Simmons Podcast, The Watch, The Ringer NBA Show, The Ringer NFL Show, and occasionally Channel 33. This still means several podcasts in the network I have zero interest in.
The most glaring of these misses is probably the newest podcast to the network, Against All Odds with Cousin Sal. Again, I’m a big Cousin Sal fan and often laugh during his appearances on the other Bill Simmons properties and on Jimmy Kimmel. I’m obviously into sports, and I also gamble on occasion so it’s not like my Venn Diagram of interests doesn’t intersect with the subject matter. It’s very much geared towards me. That said, the podcast falls a little flat with the (seemingly) regular guests and a podcast devoted 100% to gambling. It’s still early and I’ll give it every chance, but so far it’s not for me.
What I would have preferred — especially given Cousin Sal’s comedy and interview chops — would have been an interview and joking style podcast with a different guest each week. Besides The Bill Simmons Podcast, which has regular guests and only occasionally a special guest, this is the podcast format the network is missing.
The Ringer likely wants to compete with the prestige podcast networks like NPR, Gimlet, This American Life, and WNYC Studios. Landing Larry Wilmore gave them just that.
It took all of one episode for Larry Wilmore to find his podcast footing and give The Ringer probably their most prestigious interview-style podcast to date (special shout-out to Bill Simmons’ interviews with Kevin Durant, but this was very different). Wilmore’s guest was the notorious TV producer, Norman Lear, responsible for iconic shows such as The Jeffersons, All in the Family, Good Times, One Day at a Time, among several others. Even at 94 years young, Lear was a consummate podcast guest.
Together they touched on similarities between society and politics in Trump’s era with that of Nixon’s era that led to the creation of All in the Family, and the polarizing “lovable bigot” character, Archie Bunker. Wilmore — rising to stardom as a correspondent on The Daily Show — is going to touch on race (see: podcast title) and his politics will unsurprisingly skew left.
Along with political prestige (The Ringer is also at least partially-responsible for the launch of Crooked Media’s Pod Save America et al founders), Wilmore is an accomplished interviewer that brings an undeniable clout to the network. The Ringer’s announcement teased Lear, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Bernie Sanders as future guests, and we’re excited to see what this podcast has in store for us.
Give the first episode a listen. If Wilmore’s humor and political savvy is the right blend for you, this will become one of your new favorite podcasts.