An Open Love Letter to the Stuck in the 80s Podcast

Most people who know me will tell you that my pop culture sensibilities are firmly rooted in the 1980s. That's not to say that you'll see me walking around the streets in a Frankie Say Relax t-shirt, parachute pants, and Adidas Gazelles. Uh-uh. Besides, I can't get my 43-year-old frame into those nylon pants anymore and you bet they make my ass look big. No, I listen to newer bands and keep up with all that is happening in pop culture just like all of you. But, like you and the writers here, I find I have an affinity for all things '80s: music, movies, culture. I won't say that I'm firmly Trapper-Keepered in that decade, but my love of synth pop and John Hughes movies knows no bounds.

Finding kindred spirits in this world is not hard. Stop any Gen Xer on the street and you'll undoubtedly find someone who responds to "Bueller...Bueller," has a favorite hair metal band and isn't ironic about it, or sees in him- or herself some qualities of Bender, Brian, Claire, Allison or Andrew. Two of my favorite compadres in this love affair with the '80s are Steve Spears and Sean Daly of Stuck in the 80s fame, a podcast that isn't shy about its Day-Glo fetish. From their Top 10 countdowns of Phil Collins songs or Horrible Hits of 1983 to their interviews with '80s icons Martha Quinn, Deborah Foreman, Debbie (Deborah for the rest of you) Gibson and more, Sean and Spearsy (or Spearsy and Sean depending on whose team you're on) deliver what is, since 2006, my favorite podcast. Stuck in the 80s is no two-bit, done-in-a-tin-can podcast either: production values are tight, music and film clips are top-notch, and the banter is witty and spot-on. Whether Sean is talking about his 18 kids and life with the Forever Fiance™ or Spearsy details his lonely nights with Wild Turkey and new cat Nick Rhodes, you'll be instantly drawn in and feel like you've known them for years.

Steve, the Times online editor, and Sean, Times pop music critic and Massachusetts native (have to throw that in there), often welcome former co-hosts, Times journalists and, when the mood is right, ardent fans into the studio. Kathy Wos, an '80s pop culture queen and an unabashed lover of The Smiths, can often be heard chanting "Puppies, puppies" when the conversation veers into the blue and she needs to find her happy place. Times sports writer, Tom Jones, and Times film critic, Steve Persall, third mike denizens on more than a few shows, lend their unique perspectives and cough credibility cough. Loyal listener, fan and, sometime caustic critic, Bassnote, was welcomed to the studio a while back to sing the praises of Peter Gabriel's So album, just one example of how friendly and tight-knit this '80s nation is.

It's hard for me to nail down my favorites over the past several years, but if you want a quick sampling and to better understand the in-show jokes, listen to their 200th episode recorded a few weeks ago. Better yet, listen to the Martha Quinn interview, the tribute to John Hughes or, more recently, the 25th anniversary of Live Aid. Or just do yourself a favor and subscribe via iTunes. You'll be a better person. And you won't be asking, "Where's the beef?" Trust me.

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