I'm nowhere near committal enough to be able to actually rank these, so I'll just present them chronologically. But as we approach 6yrs and 70 episodes of NNR Ch 1 (most of the rest of the year is already planned out), I think I have finally managed to successfully identify what I personally believe to be the top 20 episodes of Ch 1 over the course of its run to date.
They are (again, presented Chronologically, rather than ranked):
Season 1 (2017 - Episodes 1-20):
C1E2 - "Twisted Sine" (FM synth music focus)
C1E16 - "Mishmash Monday - vol 2" (Freeplay)
Season 2 (2018 - Ep 21-40):
C1E28 - "Sense of the Scene - vol. 1" (focus on stuff "just outside VGM")
C1E30 - "The Big Sound of the Little Guy" (indie game music focus)
C1E32 - "Mishmash Monday - vol 5" (Freeplay, but guest curated in collaboration with "St. Jodee" for her and St. John's 19th wedding anniversary - outro guest hosted by St. Jodee and a much younger St. Chloe!)
C1E35 - "The Floppy Show" (computer game music focus - the episode title also being a great double entendre which references a great piece of "Des Moinesicana"!)
C1E40 - "Listener Picks - vol 1" (a community curated Freeplay - and probably the most FUN I've ever had with an episode!)
Season 3 (2019 - Ep 41-50):
C1E41 - "Mishmash Monday - vol 7" (Freeplay)
C1E47a - "Turbotastic" (pt. 1 of 3 TG16/PCE music focus - co-hosted / co-curated by Bryce Dumond of the Turbotastic Podcast)
C1E47b - "The Little Engine that Could" (pt. 2 TG16 focus w/ Bryce)
C1E47c - "Tidal Wavetable" [aka "The Continuing Adventures of Buzz Light-year] (pt. 3 TG16 w/ Bryce)
C1E50a - "The Golden Episode pt. 1: Popular Picks" (story-heavy retrospective of the first 50)
C1E50b - "The Golden Episode pt. 2: Personal Picks" (the rest of the story on the first 50)
Season 4 (2020 / 2021 - Ep 51-60 - 5/yr):
C1E51 - "Mishmash Monday - vol 9" (Freeplay - also, my 40th birthday episode - intro and outro guest hosted by "St. Jodee", "St. Chloe", "St. Chuck", "St. Val", and "St. Jesse" - aka, St. John's wife, daughter, parents, and brother respectively. Also, the first appearance of then infant "St. Wyatt"!)
C1E52 - "Backtracks" (VGM played in reverse - ostensibly as an April Fool's gag - also what I personally consider to be my best episode EVER)
C1E56 - "Mishmash Monday - vol 10" (Freeplay)
C1E60 - "Listener Picks vol 2" (a very non-standard format Listener Freeplay - co-hosted by Trey Johnson of NintenDomain and W.A.R.T. Radio)
Season 5 (2022 - Ep 61-70) - CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS:
[CURRENT EPISODE] C1E64 - "ThreeFer Thursday" (a Freeplay, but in triplets)
[SPOILER - FUTURE] C1E68 - "They're Coming to Get You, Barbara" (spooky and dissonant Halloween themed Freeplay)
[SPOILER- FUTURE] C1E69: "Mishmash Monday - vol. 12" (Freeplay - also the long-lost "Original C1E41")
Honorable mentions that each ALMOST made my list:
4, 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 19, 22, 24, 27, 33, 43, 44, 46, 48, 54, 57, 58, 59, 61, 63, 67.
If you have only either just started listening or listened forever ago and stopped, and if you were interested in listening again (or for the first time) to Ch 1, these would be where to start! The production value and track sort quality are WAY better the more recent you get. But there is a freshness and energy and optimism that is stronger the earlier you go.
I would say the "production quality 'epochs'" of Ch 1 (from worst to best) are 1-10, 11-20, 21-40, 41-58 (59 was guest produced, and 60 we had to rely on lower-quality "fallback audio"), 61-63, and then finally 64 and onward. From a production quality standpoint, 64 is the best thing I've ever done in any context ever.
As for the stuff outside of Ch 1: there haven't been enough Channel 2 episodes, or even Channel F "F-isodes" to make a similar list for them. But I will say my standout F-isodes have been "Chandlerfest" (my celebration of the life and music of my long-time friend, Chris Chandler, and a rerun of C1E10, which has been made in his honor), "Nerd Noise Game Club" (the one-off with Hugues that ended up retroactively becoming something of a "beta" or "pilot" for Channel 2), "Backtracks - the OTHER 50" (an additional 50 pieces of VGM played in reverse to supplement "Backtracks"), and "An Introduction to Channel F" (our first ever "F-isode, back before the term "F-isode" was even coined.) And as for Ch 2, I think C2E2: "Deck the Halls" had the best overall consistency in the music block, though a number of episodes had individual tracks that I liked even better than anything in C2E2. And as far as conversation quality and theme, I don't even know that ai could pick any winners. They've all been great, in my opinion. Maybe in several years when we plan to shut down NNR, I'll be able to do a similar list for Ch 2. We'll see!
So, that's that! Long-time (and especially all-time) listeners, what do you think of the list? Anything you would hope to have seen there that's not there? Anything that baffles or alarms you for being there?
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