Kris’s Podcast List 2015

2014 was the year of the podcast , with Serial hitting a million downloads per episode, and Gimlet launching as a business whose vision was for high quality podcasts that where podcast first (not radio shows that re-issued as podcasts like This American Life or Planet Money. A lot of podcast networks also came into being or became more popular last year, and the subject matter has gotten a lot less geeky. Podcasts are no longer two guys talking about gadgets or comic books but cover a wide range of subjects. Certainly most have lower production values than their radio counterparts but because the barrier to entry is so low there can be very niche markets can be served. To be fair, the only niche markets I listen to are the various specific programming podcasts, however I love the fact that if I wanted I could listen to a podcast about a TV show that ended 13 years ago or that over 10 Podcasts about a show not even in the Top 25 running on the CW: Arrow (which are, if for some reason you are interested: Quiver,
Rogue Arrow, Green Justice, ArrowCast, Queen Consoldated, The Undertaking, Tip of the Arrow, The Green Arrow Room, Green Arrow Talk, Arrow Afterbuzz). This mix between the new highly professional podcasts and the fact that the bar to entry for podcasts is so low makes it an exciting time for podcast listeners. So without any more preamble, here are the bulk of the podcasts in my current podcatcher (which is Pocketcasts BTW, an excellent podcast client and well worth the cost). There are a few repeats here from last year, and some of the podcasts that have dropped off of the list I still listen to but perhaps more infrequently. Really this is a list of what I would recommend you listen to if you are interested in the field of the podcsst.

News and Culture

This American Life - While really an NPR radio show, the Podcast has the advantage of including being able to include swearing which may or may not be a plus for you. Since this is the #1 podcast for the past few years, I probably don’t need to say any more about it.

Serial - The first season is over now, but it is coming back. This mini-series was excellent, and as stated about probably the main reason for the Rise of the Podcast this year.

Invisibilia - Another new Podcast/Radio show from the producers of This American Life, this show looks into various interesting scientific phenomena from an angle you wouldn’t expect. Only a few episodes have aired, but they have all been excellent.

Radiolab - This show has been running for more than a dozen years but I just discovered it this year. Similar to Invisibilia (the hosts of Invisiibilia had worked on Radiolab in the past), yet a little more mainstream and less scientific.

NPR: Planet Money Podcast - Although they lost Alex Blumberg to the StartUp life, the show continues to produce excellent (in my mind best in the business) reporting on the world of economics. Even if you have 0 interest in the field, listen to an episode or two and see if you are not drawn in. Highly Recommended.

Freakonomics Radio - If you are fans of the books, listen to the podcasts. If you love Planet Money and can’t get enough economics this would be my second choice (followed by the Slate Money podcast).

**Slate Money** - Another economics podcast, however rather than doing actual reporting and interviews this is more of a traditional roundtable podcast. Kind of like the week in review for economics (rather than news or politics).

Reply All - Another excellent Podcast from Gimlet Media, where stories about the internet are told, hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. I thought I lived in this world, but I always learn things on this show. Particularly awesome is the segment “Yes Yes No” when the two hosts of the show explain an internet phenomenon (the first was parsing the Tweet: “What if Leah gets a Pulitzer for doxxing the fridge?”). I had no idea what it meant, but if you listen to the episode you will (it also contains a fascinating story of the French proto-internet, Minitel.

Start Up - Currently it is the story of how Alex Blumberg started Gimlet Media, but it promises to morph into a podcasts following other startups (Serial style, where it won’t be just one episode per startup but an in depth look). It is very confessional, and personal, but also very interesting and honest about itself.

The Gist - Mike Pesca daily take on the world. You will either enjoy his worldview and turn of phrase or you will hate it. Sometimes I kind of wish they would do a weekly best of, as a daily dose may be a little much.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History - Dan Carlin does long (the last podcast was over 4 hours) and rare (these things pop out about once every 4 months) deep looks into various parts of history. If you are a history buff you will love it, otherwise it may be a little dry.

Slate’s Political Gabfest - Weekly round table from Slate and Ex-Slate writers about American politics. This year I have tried to ween myself from following American as it is basically very depressing, but to keep myself from being completely ignorant I still listen to this and the New Yorker podcast.

New Yorker: The Political Scene - A shorter, but more in depth podcast where Dorothy Wickenden interviews various New Yorker writers about one particular story of interest of the week.

Tech Podcasts

Hanselminutes - Scott Hanselman covers a variety of topics in the programming, tech and geek worlds. Although Mr. Hanselman works for Microsoft it is hard to spot any bias in the show, and if you looked at the topics covered the past few episodes you would never know it (the last few podcasts have been on Ruby with Yukihiro Matsumoto (Matz), the Dart Language).

Accidental Tech Podcast - Apple centric podcast (ironic, since I particularly dislike having to work on a Mac and switched from iPhone to Android a year and a half ago) with Marco Arment, Casey Liss, and John Siracusa. Part of it is to keep in touch with what is going on in the Apple world, part of it because the podcasts are actually quite engaging, and part of it because it is funny to hear what it sounds like to live in an Apple bubble.

Windows Weekly (MP3) - Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley discuss the Microsoft and Windows world. If you are interested in Windows and future of Microsoft it is worth listening to, if not, give it a miss. Kind of the opposite of the Accidental Tech Podcast above, and fascinating listening to them in contrast.

Developing Perspective - Short (15 minutes or less) podcast on the life of a serial IOS app developer.

Javascript Jabber and Adventures in Angular - If you work in Javascript or Angular these podcasts are great, if you don’t, then they will be of no interest to you. The most technical of the podcasts listed here as the rest of the Tech Podcasts listed here could be listened to anyone with an interest in tech.