Just to cover my bases: What is a podcast? Think of it like a TV show, except subtract the visual part. Usually a show releases an episode every week or so and those episodes can be found on the internet or downloaded automatically to your phone through an app. I like to listen to them when other people might listen to music, like when I’m commuting to work or washing dishes.
These are in no particular order.
This is relatively new podcast hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, and has quickly risen to be one of my favorite podcasts. They call it “a show about the internet” but I think a more accurate descriptor would be “a show that is really about anything at all because the internet is so ubiquitous in today’s society that anything can be traced back to the internet.” Every one of their podcasts is different, so I have a difficult time explaining why I like it. They have aired stories about everything from documenting someone accidentally losing their dog to a rescue agency to (possibly) helping to solve a medical mystery to a woman that trains rats for use in staged viral videos and makes you question pretty much everything you thought you knew. Podcast #50 “The Cathedral” made me cry, as referenced in this tweet, so be careful about listening to it in public.
This show is hosted by Steven Dubner, who has the remarkable talent of making literally anything sound compelling (I’m serious, he could make a podcast on the economics of growing carrots and it would top the iTunes charts). I found it relatively recently, which is surprising as it’s been going on since 2010. I loved the episode called “The True Story of the Gender Pay Gap” from January 6th, because it takes what seems like a very controversial topic and breaks it down into incontrovertible facts.
This American Life
One of the first podcasts I ever started listening to. Hosted by Ira Glass since 1995 when it was only a radio show, the show has been releasing weekly, one-hour episodes that made me fall in love with storytelling. This show makes me believe that every person on the street will have something interesting to say, as long as you have the talent to find and ask the right questions.
Chances are you’ve already heard this show’s name before, whether it be from the news or a millennial raving about it on social media (aka me). It was created by Sarah Koenig, who worked at This American Life for several years before realizing she’d found a story that wouldn’t fit into the one-hour format of that show and was too good to not tell to the world. She, with the blessing of her former bosses, broke off and created Serial, which became the fastest growing podcast in history. Each podcast had an average of 3.4 million downloads as of Dec 2014, and honestly, it lives up to the hype. Are you going on a road trip anytime soon? Download all 12 episodes of the first season and binge it.
This is one of the first podcasts I found back in 2008. Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich’s style of combining narration and sound effects to explain incredibly complicated scientific concepts in a way that makes them seem straight-forward is mind-blowing to me. You have to listen to their episode from September 21st, 2015 called “Darkode.” There’s a lot in there, but the interview with the elderly russian woman who had her data held hostage by the hackers is my favorite interview ever.
I remember excitedly sitting down in my first economics class in college and then being incredibly disappointed when I found out that real-world economics is nearly as interesting as Planet Money made it sound like it was. The team is great at finding interesting stories about relevant topics and sharing them in a way that makes you want to keep listening. One of my favorite recent episode was Episode 590, “The Planet Money Workout” in which the team roots out all the ways gyms entice us to buy a membership and then dissuade us from showing up once we do. Episode 677, “The Experiment Experiment” completely changed everything I know about famous studies and science as a whole.
In 2013 Alex Blumberg of This American Life decided he wanted to start his own podcasting company. Being very new to business world, he started where he knew best: by creating a podcast. Start-Up went on to document him creating his start-up in real time. Part of the entertainment was not knowing if there would be another episode released or if his endeavor would fail. Thankfully, because he is a rather well-known individual in the world of radio and because of the podcast Start-Up’s popularity, Alex was successful and now runs Gimlet Media, a podcast company that produces the previously mentioned Reply All as well as several other wonderful shows that love. If you’ve ever been interested in what it takes to start a company, this is the podcast for you.