Podcasts I Listen To, 2012 Edition
It's been a while since I took the time to write about the podcasts I listen to, so I thought I'd update my list. If you're interested in comparison, here's the original post I did describing podcasts I was listening to on a regular basis, in September 2009. Many of them are the same; notable absences are the LOST Podcast (show's done) and Mugglecast (no more Harry Potter books). Clearly, I need to find some great, new podcasts to listen to.
In roughly decreasing order of preference (favorites first), here is what I'm listening to these days.
TEDTalks (audio, video)
I've written a lot about my favorite TED talks (from the Technology, Education, Design conferences). Many of these talks are interesting. Some are actually pretty crappy. And some - more than you might think - are truly amazing. Like, they might change your life amazing. If you don't already know about the TED Conference, it's this conference where they invite amazing people to give fantastic talks about whatever. Usually it seems to be about their life's work, but sometimes it's a comedy skit or a musical performance. The best of these talks are probably my favorite of all of the podcasts that I listen to or watch.
The Solid Verbal
Two guys talking about college football. Don't get me wrong: the two guys actually make a living talking about sports, and they know their college football really well. Plus, they're a great duo. Learned about them last year, and I look forward to a new podcast from them every week. Two problems for me: one of them is a big Notre Dame fan, the other a big Oregon fan. The saving grace: they still manage to stay objective about my team (USC) and others. They really are a lot of fun to listen to when you want to talk college football.
Onion Radio News
If you have never read "The Onion" online, go for that right now because you're in for a treat! The Onion is a satirical newspaper; I find it hilarious. These are bite-sized, daily podcasts, about one minute long. Each podcast is a single "news" story: the standard Onion style: hilarious news headline, followed by a fake news story to fill it out. This one's easy; I usually listen to a few of them at a time, especially when I need a chuckle. Oh, and by the way, not all of the "news" is news; sometimes, it's just them making fun of some dork who lost his girlfriend, and put it in the from of a news story.
NPR Programs: Planet Money
One of my favorite podcasts these days, it's one of several NPR shows I listen to in podcast form instead of on the radio, so I can listen whenever I want to. The podcast started as a series of "This American Life" special episodes to explain the financial crisis of 2008. But they kept going, and I'm glad they did. Their tagline is "The Economy, Explained," but really it's all kinds of topics related to economics or money that are surprisingly easy to understand. For example, they talk about Ticketmaster's monopoly on the ticket broker business as a way of explaining monopolies and their side effects. One of my favorite episodes is when they interviewed a guy was the accountant for Crazy Eddie's stereo chain on the East Coast, who later became an FBI witness telling them how he helped the company commit fraud. The company's owners? His cousins. I listen to every single episode, and they do one a couple of times a week.
Weekly podcast by two Brits, covering the week in world news. It's satire, and I find these guys really funny. One of them is John Oliver, from The Daily Show. I listen to these guys each week, and I also learn about world news as a nice side effect!
NPR Programs: Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
I used to listen to this every week, but as fun and clever as the show is, you kind of get tired of the formula after a couple of years of listening every week. Still, great show: it's a weekly news quiz humor show hosted by a guy with an incredibly fast wit, Peter Sagal. Man, that guy can think on his feet! Funny guy. Anyway, if you want to catch up on the week's news, sort of, and hear it in a funny way, this is a fun way to do it.
Originally a 30-minute radio broadcast on public radio, it covers the financial news of the day. Kai Ryssdal is an entertaining, sharp host of the show. Plus, it's broadcast from the University of Southern California, so you *know* it's gotta be good. I don't listen to it every day, but it is a good way to keep on top of the daily business news.
Kevin Pollak's Chat Show
Why Kevin Pollak? I dunno; I think he was one of the first celebrities to get into the podcast format. He does long (and I mean long, like 2 hours long or more) interviews of people in the entertainment industry whom he finds interesting. I pick and choose here, too; some of his interviewees I like, some I don't even know. And I can only take this show in small doses because Kevin Pollak himself really likes to talk. Also, when he interviews people he pretty much spoon-feeds them their own answers. Dude, just ask the question in the form of a question and let the talent talk!
NPR Programs: Fresh Air
I definitely pick and choose episodes. Some guests are phenomenal, some topics are fascinating. Other guests just don't interest me, and some of the topics bore me or seem too preachy. Friends know that I'm no fan of Terry Gross; I think she has improved as an interviewer but overall injects way too much of herself into the interviews and asks too many closed-ended questions. But other times, she gets it right on. And overall, the quality of the guests she gets makes the show definitely worth listening to.
Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
How to describe this podcast? It's an interview show, with Christopher Lydon talking to writers, politicians, sometimes artists. I learned about Christopher Lydon only about 3 years ago; he focused this podcast on Indiia for a whole year, and he had a fantastic set of interviews on many aspects of Indian current life and history. I realize I'm not doing the podcast justice, so I'll just tell you what stands out to me about Lydon and the podcast. When he's interviewing somebody, you can actually hear Lydon enjoy the interviewee talk, and he always thanks the guest as if they've done him the biggest favor ever to agree to be on his show. He's an intelligent interviewer and when I hear a topic that interests me, I often find the quality of that show excellent. I definitely recommend this one.
60 Minutes - Full Audio
I don't watch "60 Minutes" on TV anymore, but I like listening to the stories in podcast form (the audio portion of the TV broadcast). The show works surprisingly well in audio-only form; it's rare that I feel I'm missing the gist of any particular story.
Manager Tools / Career Tools
I've mentioned these related podcasts before. I still think they're excellent for managers and people wanting to manage their own careers. And I still think that the two hosts take longer than they need to for each podcast (okay, mostly it's Mark who goes on for too long). But, they stick to their promise of making every podcast actionable and clear. Just about any area of management, they've got a podcast on it. Also, podcasts on how to pack for business travel, how to shake hands, how to eat at interviews, are just a sampling of other topics they cover that I've found really valuable.
In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg
Thanks to Chris Ryan for turning me on to this podcast from BBC Radio 4. Melvyn Bragg hosts a podcast about, well, anything. It's about a one-hour weekly show with a panel of experts on the subject of the week. Some example topics: The Cell (like, cells that make up every living being), The Trojan War, Game Theory, Custer's Last Stand, the Origins of Infectious Disease...I could go on. If you want your brain expanded (or blown apart), this is the podcast for you. Great podcast, but it is not light listening.
Nerd Alert: one of the first podcasts I started listening to (thanks to my friend Stergios for the tip), I pick and choose from the list of new episodes. Basically what these guys do is go to tech conferences and record the sessions, then post them. They go to good tech conferences so there's always some good stuff to choose from, if you want to get a little more in depth on the technical topics of the day. But you gotta pick and choose, because it's not all going to be of interest.
Engadget / Engadget HD
Nerd podcast; they cover the latest news in consumer electronics. Tons of focus on mobile phones, tablets, personal computers, digital cameras. In some ways, Tough call lfor me whether it's better now with Tim Stevens as the host, or before when Josh Topolsky hosted. Josh just couldn't let anybody else talk but he had some great talent surrounding him. Tim Stevens is much better about sharing the mic but I find the supporting cast less interesting.
The Engadget HD podcast is hosted by a guy who's not a great host, but he knows a fair amount. His co-host, Richard Lawler, is actually a much better presense. I wish he'd be the main host.
I don't always listen to the podcast because sometimes the podcast just kind of drags on. But if you ever want the skinny on the latest big-news gadget, they're talking about it. I'm finding I listen to these podcasts less and less; they'll probably be off my list within six months; if I could find a better gadget podcast, I'd go to that one immediately.
Another niche podcast, it is part of the TWIT Network of podcasts, and talks about open source software. Each week they interview the owner of a different open source software package. It's a great way to get introduced to that open source package if you're interested in learning what it does and how it does it.
Red Hat's podcast about cloud computing. I follow it to keep in touch with what Red Hat is doing with cloud computing. Some episodes are good, others not as good.
President Obama's Weekly Address
President Barack Obama's weekly radio / video address. They're always short (about 5 minutes long), so it's an easy opportunity to hear our President talk. I'd watch this one no matter who the President is, although I don't watch every week.
DCI Field Pass
I'm a big fan of drum and bugle corps, have been since high school. Last year, the Drum Corps International (DCI) organization created a great podcast to cover activity during the drum corps season, in summer. If you like drum corps, you'll enjoy this podcast. If you're not a drum corps fan, this podcast just isn't going to make much sense for you. Really good production values, by the way; I'm a big fan of this podcast.
Vic Firth Marching Percussion VIDEO Podcast
Okay, another podcast with perhaps not-quite-universal appeal. Vic Firth makes drum sticks, mallets, other gear for percussionists. This podcast is a series of short videos showing drumlines and individual drummers using their stuff. I like watching some of the drumlines, and some of the individual drummers and what they can do. But I'll admit: as much as I'm a fan of drum corps, even I don't like all of this stuff. I pick and choose. (that doesn't really help, does it?)
This is a podcast I should listen to more. I started a while ago but didn't like it much, mostly because I felt it was spending too much time on audio gimmicks and not enough time on telling the damned story.
This American Life
Another NPR show available on podcast. I don't listen to this one very often because most of my other podcasts are usually more enjoyable for me. Still, I save them and sometimes I'll play one to hear the stories. I should probably listen more, because I love the Planet Money podcast, which originated with This American Life. There's only so much time in the day, you know?