Let’s take a moment and talk about Podcasts, shall we?
(Author’s note: I had to do a check to make sure I hadn’t posted about this before, because I had thought about posting this a bazillion times. Clearly never did.)
I rely on podcasts for the bulk of my audio entertainment. I probably spend 2-3 hours a day listening to them: the morning run/workout, the commute to work, the commute from work; then there’s weekends driving 75 miles each way to/from my son’s father’s house.
I have three tranches of Podcasts:
- Podcast Vegetables
- Podcast Main Course
- Podcast Dessert
The largest group, of course, being Podcast Vegetables.
Understand that I like Vegetables. As a kid, not so much, but as an adult, I recognize them as a tasty low-calorie low-fat low-carb way to fill my stomach. My absolute favorite are roasted broccoli, followed by roasted carrots and then pretty much roasted every other vegetable you can name. Don’t give me your sauteed stuff. Gimme your charred-end-bits, slightly-salted, roasted-in-the-oven veggies. They’re good for you, they take up (relatively) little attention, and did I mention they’re good for you?
In the podcast world, I give you:
- Up First With NPR News: 10-12 minutes of encapsulated news, alive and in your feed by 5am (yes I checked), personable. Few interviews so Steve Inskeep doesn’t interrupt so many people.
- Marketplace Tech with Molly Wood: 5-7 minutes, up to 10 if you include the “Related Links” section (my fave), of tech-related news.
- Marketplace Morning Report: You get three (3)! of these, one or two from London (BBC partnership) and one from New York (usually with David Brancaccio), each is 7-15 minutes long and spans from the morning markets to the news of the day.
- Marketplace with Kai Rysdaal: 20-30 minutes each afternoon, a good mix of what happened and what to think about. Also: listen for the market song (“We’re in the Money” for a good day, “It Don’t Mean a Thing (if it Ain’t Got That Swing)” for a mixed day, and “Stormy Weather” for when it’s down. One thing I really appreciate is Kai interviews folks on the ground who really have to deal with the brunt of economic choices. And he’s unfailingly polite.
- The Indicator by Planet Money: a daily 5-7 minute podcast revolving around some statistic, indicator, or other numeric thing in marketplaces and/or economics and an exploration therein.
- Planet Money: a weekly (ish?) 15-30 minute podcast that started right around the 2007 crash; super useful to understand why some things work the way they do (or don’t) in economics, trade, and monetary policy.
Main Course Podcasts
But Bobbie! I hear you saying. Bobbie, I need some real deep-dish, filling, main course!
I give you:
- Hidden Brain with Shankar Vidantham: 30-45 minutes, roughly weekly, of why we act the way we do, with studies and experts.
- The 538 Politics Podcast: 30-70 minutes of what the F happened in politics from a data scientist’s view (and or political analyst’s view). Incredibly un-partisan, hyper-logical, almost infuriatingly so. Claire Malone is my fave.
- Freakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Leavitt: although it’s more Dubner these days. The authors of the book series (Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics, etc.) have a podcast about… economics.
- Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell: Not just accepting what your history teacher taught you, Malcolm Gladwell looks at what we thought happened and what probably happened. Example: the great Toyota acceleration problem, or why LA has a lot of golf courses and very few parks.
- Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly: The Host of Marketplace and the Hostess of Marketplace Tech spend about 10-20 minutes with an expert in the field on a current event (or movement) and then discuss.
- This American Life with Ira Glass: 60 ish minutes weekly (drops Saturdays or Sundays). Usually features stories with a common theme, broken up as “acts” (e.g. Act 1, Act 2, etc.)
Of course, there are the ones I save for the long slog to go and get my kid (and return). Often an aggregate four hours in the car, I reserve these for my Sunday dessert.
- Factually with Adam Conover (NEW): 60 minutes of Adam Ruins everything crossed with interviewing an expert on the thing he’s ruining.
- Radiolab with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwitch: Science for ears.
- Every Little Thing from Gimlet Media: How did Cheerleading start? Why are flamingos badass? Why do we reserve blue for boys and pink for girls?
- Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me: 45 ish minutes weekly, dropping Saturdays, of a news quiz with 3 guests (usually comedians).
- No Such Thing as a Fish (the QI Podcast): 45-50 minutes on Fridays of four brits talking about facts unearthed for the QI show and riffing off of each other’s discoveries.
- Science VS. from Gimlet Media: Common debates of the day (is alcohol good for you? what about colonics? what about juice cleanses or intermittent fasting or keto diets?) on a roughly weekly basis for about 40 minutes. Hosted by Wendy Zuckerman.
- The Nocturnists: I have to admit I only listen to the first part, which is about ten minutes, where the doctor in question is relating a pivotal story from their practice. After that the host interviews the doctor but I find that less interesting.
- Reply All from Gimlet Media: a 45 minute fortnightly delve into the latest internet meme, concern, or drama.
- Invisibilia: All the things that surround you that are intangible but you have to deal with. Like differing opinions, psychosomatic pain, and how we perceive things. But it’s fun.
- More Perfect: Jad Abumrad investigates different stories of the Supreme Court. It’s a lot better than that sounds.
Some Ephemeral Notables: