I’ve been a fan of podcasts for the past decade, but despite having a background in radio, it’s taken me a while to get around to launching my own: as a professional blogger and radio producer, I knew how much time and effort goes into making the kind of podcast I’d listen to even if I weren’t the person making it.
So that got me wondering… what are you listening to? You know, beside the LPX Show.
Here, I’ll kick things off. Here’s a list of podcasts that I currently subscribe to. Note that some of these shows are between seasons, and many that appeal to me may not be for everybody… I also zip through some podcasts as soon as new episodes appear, while others stack up on my phone for later binge sessions.
These are arranged alphabetically, not in order of preference:
- 99% Invisible
In-depth, surprisingly engaging story telling about design… it should be boring, but it’s fascinating.
- Alternative Airwaves
So far I’ve only used music I created myself in the podcast, but if I were looking for podsafe songs from better musicians, this would be a great place to start. It’s like listening to a good radio show… except all the music is easy to license.
A partnership between Marketplace and Tech Insider that asks one question about a variety of topics each season. The first season asks “is it evil?”
- Current’s The Pub
This one’s pretty niche… it’s a podcast aimed at folks that work in public broadcasting. But it’s so well put together that it could be almost as interesting for people that listen to public radio as to those who make it.
- Everything Is Stories
Each episode is a story of one person living an unusual life, telling their story in their own words.
This one’s also pretty niche. It’s a podcast about audio production.
This show from Wyoming Public Radio features interviews with people telling stories about humans interacting with nature… but there’s a spontaneity to the interviews that comes from the fact that the host doesn’t prepare any questions for the interviews ahead of time.
A producer from RadioLab teams up with one from This American Life to investigate the hidden forces that govern our lives in this NPR podcast.
Featuring in-depth interviews with writers, Longform talks to journalists, novelists, radio producers, podcasters, and more.
- Love + Radio
I’m not sure there’s a good way to describe this show: but listen to it. At it’s most basic level, it’s an interview show. But like Everything Is Stories, it features the kind of interviews that help put you in the head of people you never expected to understand.
- Modern Love
WBUR and The New York Times bring the popular column to life, featuring dramatic readings by actors and follow-up interviews with the essayists telling stories of love in all its facets.
- Mystery Show
Solving the mysteries that really matter, like how tall is Jake Gyllenhal, really, and what happened to that old video store that disappeared overnight? The fun is in the journey.
- Note to Self
WNYC’s Manoush Zomorodi examines the intersection of tech and humanity.
- Oh No Ross and Carrie
Investigating cults, fringe science, and other weirdness by signing up… I’ve been following the ongoing series on Scientology, but plan to dig into the archives soon for more investigations.
- Planet Money
This NPR podcast does something crazy: it makes financial news interesting by exploring the stories and the people behind the numbers.
This radio show and podcast used to be about science… sort of. Now it’s about “curiosity.” It took me a while to get into it, because the liberal use of music and weird sound effects caught me off guard. But like the best audio storytelling shows, RadioLab comes to life with people explaining things they’re passionate about in their own words.
- Reply All
Former On the Media/TLDR staffers produce this “show about the internet” which features some of the best narrative storytelling around. (The only reason On The Media isn’t on my list of favorite podcasts is because I listen to it live every Sunday morning).
Yeah, I’m a sucker for Gimlet media podcasts… I even listen to their podcast about podcasts. It helps that I interned with one of the producers back in the dark ages… and that the show has an engaging way of finding hidden gems of the podcast world.
One story told over the course of a season, one episode at a time. The second season doesn’t seem to have captured the public’s attention as much as the first, perhaps because it’s a little harder to put yourself in the shoes of the major players. But I’m only one episode in so far, so no spoilers in the comments!
Former This American Life producer Alex Bloomberg documented his efforts to start a podcasting company in season one. Now it’s a show about other people starting companies… with some updates on Gimlet media as well.
- The Moth
Real people telling first-person stories without scripts.
- The Write Gear
My friend K Tempest Bradford talks about gear that writers use… and sometimes interviews writers for their thoughts on everything from laptops and tablets to pen and paper.
- The Truth
This ironically-named (but not really… maybe) podcast features short audio drama tales.
- This American life
Do you really need me to describe this one?
- What’s Tech?
Tech news site The Verge producers a bunch of podcasts, but this one is my favorite. Chris Plante interviews people to get an in-depth answer to one simple question each time. For example, one recent episode asked what’s up with re-usable rockets? Another explored why Dota 2 is such an addictive game… and why it’s so hard for newcomers to get into.
I don’t expect anyone to write a list quite as long as this one… but what are some of your favorite podcasts? Let us know in the comments!
Nate Hoffelder says
I don’t subscribe to any podcasts (most people don’t talk fast enough). Yours is the first.
Brad Linder says
Haha, I don’t know if I should take that as a compliment or not. 🙂
FYI — a lot of podcast players have adjustable speed controls. I don’t usually like to use them, since it seems weird speeding up people who are talking at their natural speed, but they do exist.
I do like to speed up audiobooks though, since most professional narrators do speak slowly enough that you can go at 1.2 or 1.3x normal speed without making their speech sound unnatural.
Sai Gautam says
Google Play now officially supporting podcasts?
This Week In Computer Hardware (part of TWIT)
The Internet of Things Podcast
LPX (of course)
How to do everything (NPR)
Wait, Wait, don’t Tell Me (NPR)
There are a few others that I can’t remember their titles. I use an old phone and leave it in my car. I don’t like to tie up my main phone and mostly listen in the car anyway.
Brad, are you a completionist with so many subscriptions? 😉 I’m more interested in the above software you use (I don’t recognize it) and most importantly if it supports adding single MP3 files offline (from ‘non-proper’ podcasts)?
Instead of giving you a full list (and besides non-English podcasts, and single episodes of whichever interesting discussions I find on YouTube and make an audio out of them), rather some recommendations:
https://duncantrussell.com/ – This is deep. Duncan survived cancer, is a stand-up comedian, takes too many drugs and is into spirituality.
https://www.aboveavalon.com/podcast/ – Wall Street meets Silicon Valley. This may be too much Apple for some tastes, though. Neil has a very good grasp on where technology is heading though, inside Apple and outside, most notably cars and wearables.
Another interesting question is, if you listen to your podcasts in the foreground with full attention, or more as background noise? I have podcasts for this and that, too, I also use different equipment for the different listening circumstances.
Brad Linder says
a) There are a few podcasts I listen to every episode of (This American life, Reply All, and a few others), so I set my podcatcher to hold an unlimited number and if my phone starts running out of storage space I know it’s time to play catch up. But I usually only save 2-5 episodes of other shows like Planet Money, Note to Self, and others that I’m OK with just listening to when I have time. I do keep up to 10 episodes at a time of 99% invisible, because they come out so often and they’re short enough that sometimes I’ll go months without listening, and then binge-listen.
b) BeyondPod is pretty much a traditional podcatcher, in that you add a subscription and it automatically grabs the latest episodes for you. If I want to listen to a long MP3 and not worry about losing my place between listening sessions, I treat it like an audiobook and use Smart AudioBook Player for Android instead.
c) I typically listen to podcasts when I’m going for a walk or a bus ride or exercising. I listen to live radio when cooking or doing other household chores, because I don’t usually care if I miss something in the background. But since most of the podcasts I listen to are in-depth interviews or long-form narrative, I don’t want to risk missing too much when my attention is focused on other tasks.
This strategy also motivates me exercise and/or walk more 🙂
I have a friend who listens to podcasts all day while he’s working, but I think that’d drive me crazy. I usually listen to music during my workday.
Thanks for the info, Brad, esp. b)! Well, actually, I have a similar listening strategy to yours. I have to go on lots of walks. 😉
Brad Linder says
Things get even more complicated when I decide to listen to an audiobook. I tend to put podcast listening on hold while I try to plow through a 10-20 hour book in a few weeks or less!
Brad, check this out: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/06/the-rise-of-speed-listening/396740/
Brad Linder says
Yeah, I do that for audiobooks, but find it super annoying with most podcasts.
For me it works well when a professional narrator is reading at a slow, deliberate pace…. because speeding it up just makes it a quicker, deliberate pace. Some narrators I can handle at up to 1.6x, others no more than 1.3x.
But podcasts typically involve natural speech… people talking at varying rates. The rhythm gets weird when you speed it up… and even more so if there’s musical scoring involved.