Incoming Transmission: Four Podcasts for Trekkies
As a person without many opportunities to do so in my day-to-day, there’s something energizing about hanging out with another Trekkie and discussing the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise (or Voyager, or Discovery, or Defiant, or the Protostar, or… you get the holo-image). It often starts with a “what did you think of [insert latest episode here],” but it never stays in that quadrant. The conversation tends to get out-of-phase pretty quickly, as moments and memberberries trigger tractor beams that pull our subspace chatter into new trajectories.
As much fun as it is to be a part of those conversations, it can also be interesting to eavesdrop on those interactions, which is why I love Star Trek podcasts. And the good news is there’s a shit-ton of them (a shit-ton, by the way, is a standard Starfleet measurement which is equal to five thousand wrappages of Cardassian yamok sauce or one hundred gross of self-sealing stem bolts).
My podcatcher is full of Star Trek shows. Some are slick, scripted and sponsored affairs that sound like they’re being recorded in a plush communications suite aboard the Enterprise-F. Others are labors of pure love being shouted into a broken combadge from a janitor’s closet on Starbase 80. But no matter where these fans are or how expensive their equipment is, their commitment to the mission cannot be questioned.
So, where should you start? How do you choose a show to listen to on the treadmill, in your car, or while you’re doing some meaningless task like scanning isolinear chips or rerouting EPS conduits? If I may be so bold, mon capitan, here are a few podcasts — in no particular order — that I have come to know and love:
Here’s the thing about Star Trek podcasts… they can be quite long. It’s not uncommon for a show to spend ninety minutes recapping a twenty-four-minute Lower Decks, which is fine if you have a long walk planned, or are thirtieth in line for take-off from LAX. But there are times when you live in an apartment building with a coffee place on the ground floor and you’ve already placed your order online and it’s exactly two minutes from your place to the shop… when a short show is just perfect. Hosted by Izaak (from another great podcast called “Unplaaaned Trek“) and his son Jack, this show is usually a reaction to a recent episode of Star Trek and it’s over in two minutes flat. Apparently, they’re very strict about the duration of podcasts in Tasmania, where they live, because even if they’re still talking… once that clock hits 120 seconds… it’s over. Look, is this a comprehensive analysis of the underlying sociological ramifications implied in the subtext represented by the dent above Boimler’s bunk? No. It’s a sweet, quick, lo-fi recording of a dad and his kid bonding over a TV show in terrific Taswegian accents, and I think it’s worth two minutes out of your week.
Animator Mark Farinas and Journalist/Screenwriter Ryan T. Riddle come at Star Trek in the same way Q comes for Starfleet captains: with omniscient glee. Ship Full of Jerks is a quiet, well-researched discussion that leaves me with at least one “Ah-ha!” in every listen. Mark and Ryan examine episodes and the characters of Star Trek from the script up, with an eye toward present-day cultural mores. They’re critical, but not cruel, and they’ve done their homework. One of my favorite episodes features a deep dive into Spock and how his inner conflict with his bi-species heritage has changed as the role shifts from timeline to timeline, from actor to actor, and from script to script. They can definitely get pretty deep… but I promise you’ll look at Star Trek, all of Star Trek, differently after listening to this show.
I’m an unabashed fanboy when it comes to this pod — so much so, I recorded a congratulatory message for the hosts, which was actually featured on their “200th Episode Specialtacular”. The winning formula for this series is simple: friends + Star Trek + hysterical soundbites = nerdy comedy gold. Patrick, Dan, and Jesse have an easy, comfortable style of banter that gives their recaps of current and classic Trek a friendly, accessible vibe. But it’s Dan’s perfectly clipped and hysterically timed pops of sound from all your favorite characters that sets this show far apart from any others I listen to. Shouts of “Chief O’Brien” or “holograms” or even well-spotted, rhythmic language — like the phrase “how deadly these bomb tubes are” from the Lower Decks episode “In the Cradle of Vexilon” — take on whole new meaning and become punctuation marks in their dialogue. Do they take that too far sometimes? 100 percent. But it’s worth it to endure the occasional tortured bit in order to hang out with these three buddies for an hour or so every Monday.
Full disclosure: I’m online friends with one of the hosts of this show, and was even a guest co-host for a recent episode.
Let’s Talk About Treks is usually hosted by two guys who go by the clever noms-de-podcast “JaQ D’rino” and “Earl Grey”. These guys caught my attention because they approach Star Trek from very different perspectives. JaQ is a black, gay, Navy vet living in D.C. and Earl is a neurodivergent, white dude who hails from somewhere in the Great Lakes region. I normally would not bother putting those identifiers in their bios, but in this case, it speaks to the nature of this fandom: IDIC in action. Together, they tell the story of Trek by sharing parts of their human experience with each other, and with us. I’ve heard both JaQ and Earl, pretty bravely, share some extremely personal touchstones that connect directly with, and give new weight to, the stories of Starfleet. It’s not always that deep… sometimes it’s just a straight riff on whatever Paramount Plus has pushed out that week… but I think Let’s Talk About Treks really shines when these two get into areas that add unexpected perspective to the STU.
These four shows barely scratch the surface of the cacophony of voices available for you to download. There are as many Star Trek podcasts as there are problems with the computer on Deep Space 9… but I had to start somewhere.
I can’t guarantee that you’ll also love them, or even like them, right off the bat. (It’s been my experience that it takes listening to at least four episodes of something until you really know if it’s your cup of Earl Grey tea, hot.) Let me know what you think.
Grayson Thagard is a sci-fi fan from the US who is currently looking for his next mission after a twenty-five-year career in cable news, where he wrote and produced for several national broadcasts, including Morning Express with Robin Meade. Grayson also managed social media for HLN (CNN’s sister network) and served on the team that created digital content for Investigation Discovery. Star Trek has been a part of his life since he watched Spock mind-meld with a ‘lasagna monster’ on The Original Series in syndication in the ’70s. More recently, Grayson can be heard reviewing “the Moopsie episode” of Lower Decks as a guest-host on the Let’s Talk About Treks podcast.