A search engine for podcasts… Handy.
It’s been a couple of years since I wrote about my favorite podcasts, but a recent discussion with Jonathan has nudged me to document my current recommendations.
(in no order…)
Radiolab focuses on a single “Big IDea” per episode, using the medium of sound to the fullest extent possible. It is indescribable, so I will simply say that if you subscribe to nothing else on this list, you must experience Radiolab.
How can you beat a show hosted by a man with over three decades of experience in espionage made up of interviews with “ex-spies, intelligence experts, and espionage scholars.” It is a truly fascinating glimpse into the shadows.
Most people reading this have likely been listening to This American Life for a while, but just in case you haven’t experienced what is quite possibly one of the best shows to ever ride the radio waves, I list it here.
Being the history geek that I am, I love this series, which traces “the history of the Roman Empire, beginning with Aeneas’s arrival in Italy and ending (someday) with the exile of Romulus Augustulus, last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire.”
This BBC podcast covers an amazing array of topics under the banner of discussing “the history of ideas”. Isaac Newton, the samurai, genetics and the philosophy behind Communism are a small sampling of the topics you can hear each week.
The Moth is a series of storytelling events held in several cities around the US, from which they take some of the funniest and most poignant to place on the podcast.
More Awesome Podcasts
You should get these too. They may not be in my top five, but the fact that I listen to them still speaks highly of their value – I’m pretty brutal about cutting out shows that aren’t amazing.
John Lienhard’s stories and perspective on the history of our technology and its impact on culture are inviting and informative. It’s a nice short podcast, every episode of which teaches me something.
While I like to watch some sports (football and boxing for the most part), Frank Deford can hook me no matter which sport or aspect of the business of sports he decides to talk about. He is an amazing story-teller who truly cares about the subject and the people who play.
Yet another NPR show that fills my iPod. If you care in the least about how the media works nd its impact on those of us who consume it, you need to listen to the show. On the Media ‘explores how the media “sausage” is made, casts an incisive eye on fluctuations in the marketplace of ideas, and examines threats to the freedom of information and expression in America and abroad. For one hour a week, the show tries to lift the veil from the process of “making media,” especially news media, because it’s through that lens that we literally see the world and the world sees us.’
While this is a bit of a niche, Dave Rupert and friends put together a great show highlighting the Web design and development community here in town. It’s a great way to keep up with the future.
Exactly as their names imply, each of these podcasts come in bite-sized chunks, ready to make you smarter and help you understand how things truly work in the world at large and the world in our brain.
Lars Brownworth’s love of the subject is clear from the first minute and will quickly attract anyone interested in history. As noted on the site, Mr. Brownworth’s “passion for Byzantine history has taken him on travels from the furthest reaches of the Byzantine Empire right into Constantinople, (present day Istanbul) the very heart of Byzantium. He has traveled and studied Byzantine history extensively and produced this lecture series giving us an overview of Byzantine history as seen through 12 of its greatest rulers.”
Another great history podcast from Lars Brownworth, starts with the humble beginnings of the Normans traces the path of the Normans over the two centuries that they “launched a series of extraordinary conquests, transforming Anglo-Saxon England into Great Britain, setting up a powerful Crusader state in Antioch, and turning Palermo into the dazzling cultural and economic capital of the western Mediterranean”.
What am I Missing
What are your favorite podcasts?
Here’s a list of some of the podcasts I currently subscribe to, all of which are available via iTunes in addition to the links below. I’ve set up a smart playlist (which I occasionally tweak by hand) to shuffle the shows, allowing me to interleave long episodes and short episodes, providing a nice bit of variety, while keeping the episodes in chronological order per-series.
- 12 Byzantine Rulers is a great podcast by Lars Brownworth, whose love of the subject is apparent from the first minute. Anyone interested in history should check it out. As noted on the site, Mr. Brownworth’s “passion for Byzantine history has taken him on travels from the furthest reaches of the Byzantine Empire right into Constantinople, (present day Istanbul) the very heart of Byzantium. He has traveled and studied Byzantine history extensively and produced this lecture series giving us an overview of Byzantine history as seen through 12 of it’s greatest rulers.”
- 43 Folders “is Merlin Mann’s site about personal productivity, life hacks, and simple ways to make your life a little better.”
- All in the Mind is “Radio National’s weekly foray into the mental universe, the mind, brain and behaviour – everything from addiction to artificial intelligence.”
- American Experience brings the amazing PBS series to our iPods.
- APM’s Marketplace provides a perspective on economic and business news unavailable anywhere else.
- Barbecue Secrets is new to me, but I enjoyed the first podcast I listened to.
- BBQ Forums is also new to me, but is proving a great addition to the list.
- Digital Debates from the National Constitution Center is one of my favorites as it provides an hour long Q&A with some of the foremost experts on the U.S. Constitution, the Founding Fathers and the current political landscape.
- The Engines of Our Ingenuity provides a gret snippet of the history of how culture and our current world was formed. John Lienhard’s stories and perspective are inviting and informative.
- The Seanachai / How to Succeed are two podcasts from a heluva story teller. How to Succeed in Evil is a spin off of the Seanachai, both are well worth the listening time.
- In Our Time is an always informative weekly show from the BBC that covers a wide array of historical topics. This is one of my favorites.
- NOVA ScienceNow brings NOVA to iTunes.
- NPR: Food provides “the story behind your favorite foods from Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other award-winning NPR programs.”
- NPR: Sports with Frank Deford is a great podcast highlighting his weekly commentary on NPR that goes much deeper than the normal sports news.
- On the Media‘explores how the media “sausage” is made, casts an incisive eye on fluctuations in the marketplace of ideas, and examines threats to the freedom of information and expression in America and abroad. For one hour a week, the show tries to lift the veil from the process of “making media,” especially news media, because it’s through that lens that we literally see the world and the world sees us.’
- Slate Explainer provides great answers to interesting questions in about five minutes. I love mixing these in with the longer podcasts for variety.
- The International Spy Museum’s Spycast provides “interviews and programs with ex-spies, intelligence experts, and espionage scholars.”
- This American Life is one of the best shows on radio, and I am exceedingly happy that they finally started publishing a podcast.
- To the Best of our Knowledge is “smart, entertaining radio for people with curious minds. “
- U.S. Senator Barack Obama is harnessing technology in his presidential bid, which is exciting for a geek like me to witness. I’m really interested to see how he uses it as the campaign progresses.
- Radio Lab is downright amazing. Easily on par with This American Life, with a bit more of a science and technology twixt. “Each episode is a patchwork of people, sounds, stories and experiences centered around One Big Idea. On RadioLab, science bumps into culture… information sounds like music.”
Please add any of your favorites via the comments!