Podcast discussions & recommendations! What are you listening to?
Tildes has had a couple of threads about podcast recommendations in the past, but most of them are over 18 months old now, and podcasts are always evolving, and we have new members who may not have participated in those threads before—I certainly only picked up podcasts in the last few months.
So. Three questions!
- What podcasts are you listening to?
- What podcasts have you dropped, or picked up, in that time?
- If you had to recommend a couple of podcasts to others, which shows would you pick? Why do you recommend them? Got a favourite episode?
I recently got back to listening the Stuff You Should Know podcast. Not only because of the great content but because Josh and Charles are always so nice and hopeful it gives me a perspective on reality that’s very needed right now. And their output was not really affected by covid.
I also listened to The Habitat about a NASA simulated mission to Mars. It was great like most things by Gimlet. And oddly relevant if you’re isolated.
Oh, yea. Those two dudes are super wholesome. Even though the podcast kinda just feels like a read-through of a Wikipedia article, their personalities are enough to make listening worth it.
Not exactly, they’re good at researching but they don’t hide the fact that time constraints make it impossible to consider them reliable sources. At the same time they’ve been doing this for quite some time so they have accumulated some knowledge and developed a good nose for bullshit.
They also seem open to criticism, which improves their credibility.
I meant, just in terms of breadth. Haven't listened in a bit. The podcasts I did listen to, though, had a good general overview and discussion on a subject, but they weren't really deep-dives. They're laymen giving a good layman's perspective.
Yeah for sure. But they do read articles and book sections from specialists in the field, and frequently consult them. So it’s quite a bit more than reading a Wikipedia page.
I used to listen to this to go to bed! haha. Such a chill podcast.
I'm a podcast fiend. I have history and politics/current events podcasts on most of Eurasia. Though i typically avoid EU/UK/US stuff.
I've been trying to get into India/expand my knowledge on an area i previously knew nothing about, so to my rotation i have recently added:
Grand Tamasha. Which is generally a current events and politics one, that talks about stuff that is in the news now.
South Asia Conversations at Cambridge University. This is a relatively new podcast that interviews academics, authors and journalists who focus on the South Asia region, generally about a single topic.
Diplomat podcast. This is focuses on all of asia but it was one of the first i found that touches on india.
Today i listened to:
In Moscows Shadows. My favourite Russia watcher, Mark Galeotti recently started this podcast and im glad he did. I've been a fan of his written work and his audio stuff when he appears on other shows for years. Funny, well informed, articulate and not afraid of going against the awful takes in mainstream media (this sounds conspiracy but its not). He's a very prolific writer who does a lot of work for Osprey and i highly recommend his 2018 book The Vory: Russia’s super mafia. Not going to lie, i have a bit of man crush on him.
Barbarians at the Gate "is a semi-serious deep dive into Chinese history, language, and culture broadcast from Beijing and hosted by Jeremiah Jenne and David Moser. " It reminds me of early Sinica shows, a bit less topical and neither is as charismatic/irreverent as Goldkorn or as up their own arse as Kaiser.
History wise i have been grinding though The History of Byzantium whenever i find myself without any interesting, recent releases to listen to. I'm up to about 135 now. Good podcast especially when played on 1.4x speed.
You seem like a good person to ask - do you have any recommendations for learning about culture and politics of modern China? You mention Sinica but I’m wondering if there’s others. Also interested in the same for Japan.
Other than Sinica and Barbarians a the gate the only other "cultural" one i listen to is The China History Podcast by Laszlo Montgomery. It's a history one but he touches on everything from the bronze age to modern times. He tends to do mini-series within the podcast. He did one on Tea which should have won awards. He's also 6 parts into a History of Xinjiang. He's just (today) started a new series on modern US-China relations from after WW2.
On the politics side its a bit more academic/thinktanky and so focus on a single more topic an episode so i only listen them if im interested in the topic. I'll just list them without much detail
China21 From UC San Diego quite dry.
China in the World.
JawJaw - Been cancelled now or on hiatus at least. From a security adviser to Biden, focuses entirely on China-American interactions, mostly in the policy/security world.
Net Assessment & Diplomat podcast. Neither focus on china but both often have episodes related to china.
Thanks for these recommendations! I am going to check a few of them out.
Since COVID19 lockdown? Not a lot! That's only half a joke. I tend to listen to podcasts when I'm driving (which I'm not doing much of now) or sitting at my desk in the office (which I'm not working in now). That said, I'm trying to keep up on the ones I like the most.
Giant Bombcast/Giant Beastcast - Smart, fun video game discussions. I've been a listener from the start of both podcasts and I can't imagine skipping them. They're both "current events" focused, and extremely low on in-jokes, so pick up on the latest episode.
Race Chaser with Alaska and Willam - I love RuPaul's Drag Race, but I don't really engage with the fan community. I love Race Chaser because Alaska and Willam were on the show, have tons of insight on their seasons, tons of insight on drag and Drag Race, friends feeding them inside information, and they're both very funny. Since they do one episode per episode of the show, you can pick it up on whatever episode of RPDR you just watched. I skip Hot Goss though, which is their gossip podcast on the same RSS feed.
My Brother, My Brother, and Me - I just love those McElroy boys. I picked it up a couple years ago at whatever their current episode was, and I haven't gone back to listen to old ones. They occasionally do a "best of" episode.
When I recommend podcasts, I recommend the above, but those are based on my tastes. I also recommend Serial, S-Town, and Bundyville, because they're limited series and a bit more accessible than a video game podcast that's been running for 500 weeks.
In the last year or so, I've dropped a few just because I didn't have time to keep up on them weekly. Those were Tights & Fights, and the Cultaholic Wrestling Podcast. They're both wrestling podcasts that are pretty WWE centric. I sometimes listen to Cultaholic in the background. And I'm not exactly keeping up on Waypoint Radio anymore, but it's another video game podcast that stays in my queue. It just gets deprioritized if I have one of the three above.
Yup. Overcast recorded a 16% drop in weekly listenership across all members on the platform after lockdown began, which probably correlates to a complete annihilation in commuter podcast listening.
Here are some of my favorites that I listen to. I recommend all of them, if you find the subject matter interesting.
NEWS AND POLITICS
Democracy Now! - Daily news from a left-wing perspective without any corporate sponsorship.
Intercepted - Weekly news that focuses more on big picture stuff. This is from Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept. Have you ever wondered what it would be like it you turned a Rage Against the Machine song into a podcast? If you consider yourself left-wing and need a little motivation to be active, this should do the trick.
Pod Save America - Biweekly coverage of major headlines and their impact on politics from four former Obama administration officials (employees?). Unlike the previous two podcasts, this one covers politics from a more grounded and moderate approach for those who are idealistic but pragmatic.
The Press Box - Biweekly discussion on the media and how major stories in news, politics, and sports are covered.
The Daily - NYT daily podcast that covers one big story for about 20 minutes.
The Bill Simmons Podcast - Semi hot takes on sports, pop-culture, and occasionally the news
Book of Basketball 2.0 - Another Bill Simmons podcast about, you guessed it, basketball. This is an update to the widely popular Book of Basketball which was published in 2010.
The Rewatchables - Again, another Ringer/Simmons podcast. This one is about classic movies that are "rewatchable"
Small Town Murder - This isn't very laugh-out-loud funny, but it's amusing. Two comedians go on a deep-dive of a small town and the murder that took place in it. It's a little edgy and not recommended for people that don't have a morbid sense of humor.
Joe Rogan Experience - I've made comments in the past about how frustrating this podcast can be, but it has a lot of cultural significance and is still pretty entertaining, especially when the guest is a comedian. Even if you disagree with the politics (as I assume many Tildarians will) it's nice to get out of the information bubble at listen to what other people have to say.
Radiolab - Iconic radio show/podcast that covers interesting topics and stories, often in the world of science.
This American Life - Another iconic radio show/podcast that covers interesting topics and stories.
Revisionist History - Malcolm Gladwell's podcast that examines a wide range of topics that have been overlooked or forgotten about.
Against the Rules - A podcast from Michael Lewis about the concept of fairness and how many systems in America seem less fair than they were in the past.
Wind of Change - Did the CIA write an iconic pop song from a hair metal band in 1990?
Boom/Bust - A look at HQ Trivia and what went wrong.
PODCASTS I WOULD RECOMMEND TO ANYONE
Wind of Change, Boom/Bust, This American Life, The Press Box, The Daily.
Seriously, Wind of Change is the best podcast I've heard since Serial debuted in 2015.
Honestly, I've pretty much dropped everything. Most of my podcasts are news-related or informational, and they all basically became Coronavirus podcasts. I was also listening to a comedy podcast, but without the small audience of the producers laughing in the background they seem to have lost a lot of the energy that attracted me to it.
The only podcast I still listen to only gets released once a month, and it's a music podcast called Pixelated Audio which specializes in video game music - particularly the retro live-sequenced type, but they do modern games from time to time as well. They go into a lot of the detail about the production of the music and often go into quite a lot of detail about the people involved in creating the music; they've even done interviews with a number of composers (which is a really big accomplishment for a tiny podcast like this, especially considering most of the composers they listen to are Japanese and do not speak English). It's hard to recommend a particular episode because there are going to be different kinds of music, but I would probably pick out a Music Disk episode because it's almost certainly going to offer you information you didn't know about before.
This is a reasonable response. I've seen many podcasts be both chastised for not covering recent events either too much or not enough—Accidental Tech Podcast recently got some (actually, in my view, pretty unfair) criticism for not making mention of the protests or BLM movement; which I can kind of understand, but podcasts/media should also be a place where people can escape current events too.
One of my favorites is Wireframe. It's about UX design. Generally short and concise, but always a pleasure to listen to.
Lore - Old legends, mythical creatures, ghosts, stuff like that. What I like about it is that it isn't really supernatural podcast, but more of a historical podcast with a focus on old events, tales, and legends. Each episode is also extremely well written and narrated.
Low Society - Crated by some breadtubers: Peter Coffin, Ashleigh Coffin (Peter's wife), Angie Speaks and some dude called Jake (Angie's partner). I have a love-hate relationship with this podcast. It is just a group of leftist friends having a good time while talking about current events in a casual way, but I hate when they get in vary snobish and circlejerky mood when talking about other groups on the left.
Gayest Episode Ever - Two gay friends talk about LGBT themed episodes in american sitcoms, they don't do deep analysis about them they just talk, and is really fun and entertaining. It is also a great way to learn about old media or even other podcasts.
A bit surprised no one else listens to Citations Needed.. They often take critical looks at many social, economic, political, and other topics, usually from a leftist perspective. Between it and the 538 podcast, I feel like I get enough politics outside of reading articles and it's nice they aren't consumed by Coronavirus like others are.
Looks like I got another podcast to throw on my ”serious listening” pile. Thanks!
My 2 favorite podcasts are The Skeptics Guide to the Universe which is a science/skepticism-themed podcast, and Crap From the Past which is a show about obscure music from the past (mostly 80s, but goes back to the 70s and forward to the 2000s a bit).
I don't know that I could recommend a specific episode of The Skeptic's Guide. They often discuss recent news topics related to science and skepticism. They're all pretty good.
For Crap From the Past, the website highlights some of the best episodes in green. I recommend any of those. There's lots of obscure stuff in there including demos, songs done by original artists before they were hits, songs you've never heard from well-known bands, etc. And whenever someone passes away, he does a great tribute show. I recommend both Aretha Franklin's memorial and Eddie Money's.
Edited to Add: I stopped listening to the design podcast 99% Invisible because while I liked the content, the ads kept getting longer and more invasive to the point where I was spending more time fast forwarding through ads than listening to the content.
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History - surprised this wasn't mentioned yet and just had to make sure it gets a shout-out. Don't even know where to start. Dan's episodes are performative, yet conversational. Professional, yet humble. He's always quick to point out he's not a historian but a "fan of history." He embraces the "fan" moniker by indulging in the drama bits of historical moments big and small. But make no mistake, these are highly researched, well-planned, and insightful. If you haven't listened, I highly recommend it. Maybe try a "blitz" episode first. They're all good, but "Prophets of Doom" is an amazing one to start.
Spitballers Podcast - this is a comedy podcast based around 3 mid-thirties guys just talking through a series of "would-you-rathers," funny situations, or other lines of questioning. It sounds basic, they're just lovely people with excellent chemistry. Especially once you know their personalities, it's just hilarious and positive. They try directly to make it family friendly, which never takes anything away, and only adds to it. Andy, Mike, and Jason are better known for their fantasy football podcast, which I also love, but it's niche. Spitballers pod is their side project that deserves a whole lot more love. It stands on its own as a fantastic weekly show. They borrow a fantasy football concept of "drafting" and apply it to everything else, so each episode they "draft" stuff based on a theme and poll twitter to see who won. It works really well and it's fun to vote on. Give it a shot, I haven't found any other comedy shows quite like it.
The ones currently in my rotation are:
My Brother, My Brother And Me - A comedic "advice" podcast where three brothers just do a bunch of bits for an hour. The only podcast able to keep my interest for as long as it has. I have been listening to it for like 6 years now and still get excited to listen to each new episode.
Dead Eyes - A comedic satirical serial podcast about the time the host was fired from an acting job by Tom Hanks. It is very well done. There are 8 episodes out now, currently on hiatus due to coronavirus. Listen to this one, just start at the first episode.
If I Were You - Another comedic "advice" podcast, this time less bits but still kinda enjoyable. I don't listen to this one very often, but I still will put on an episode every now and then. It's hosted by Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld of Jake and Amir web series fame, so if you liked that series you'll probably like this. Probably don't start at the beginning though, I don't remember the start being that good.
'Til Death Do Us Blart - A yearly review of Paul Blart Mall Cop 2. It's dumb but fun.
The ones I used to listen to:
Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend - Conan talks with a guest for an hour, pretty funny. Most episodes end up having the same discussion about fame and comedy and it gets very boring to listen to so I haven't listened to it in like 3 months.
Dissect - A podcast that analyses the meaning of albums with seasons dedicated to an album and an episode per song plus an episode intro to the season. I listened to seasons 1, 2, and 4 but realized I wasn't really enjoying myself a lot of the time and I prefer to get the meaning out of songs myself instead of some dude telling me the meaning.
The McElroy Brothers Will Be In Trolls 2 - It's over now, but it was a podcast started by the hosts of MBMBaM to get them roles in Trolls 2. It is pretty funny I recommend listening to it still, but it has lost some of it's luster now that they are in Trolls 2. Still worth it if you enjoy MBMBaM.
My old, funny stand-bys are Comedy Bang Bang and Doughboys. Been preferring Doughboys, lately.
Started picking up Hidden Brain, again. Listened to the latest 7 episodes straight while playing Civilization VI yesterday. It's a well-produced, well-considered podcast.
Another good "serious" podcast (that I haven't listened to in a while) is Open Source with Christopher Lydon (not related to software).
I weaned myself off of podcasts a few years back as it's simply too easy for me to want to listen to everything and drain my free time. I have started to listen to the odd one again here and there in the past year but they're exclusively soccer-related. Among those, The Totally Football Show is the cream of the crop. I don't have my old subscriptions on this computer so I couldn't even tell you what the good non-soccer ones were.
The one absolute must-listen I would recommend, though, may technically not be a podcast - it's BBC Radio 5 Live's long-running World Football Phone-In, which you can usually listen to live during their Friday night/Saturday morning Up All Night broadcast or download upon release the following day. Sadly, it's been on hiatus for the first time in 23 years during the current pandemic, along with almost the entire football/soccer world... but I would recommend this to any internationally-minded person regardless of their knowledge of or interest in soccer. It's a living testament to globalization; the mainstays - the incomparable Tim "Legendinho" Vickery (also a.k.a. the Vikipedia, an Englishman living in Rio de Janeiro and expert in South American football) and host Dotun Adebayo (Nigerian-born, fluent in Swedish, and one of the most interesting broadcasters I've ever come across) - are joined by a rotating cast of guest experts covering soccer in the Europe, Asia & Oceania, Africa, and North America & Caribbean soccer regions, as well as callers from literally around the world. Dotun's finesse and personality matches with Tim's encyclopedic knowledge and lyrical ability to provide insight into the sport's influence on and by language, politics, economics, music, and culture at large, and when you throw in the contributions of both the guests and the passionate community, many of whom have no real interest in soccer, it produces a wonderful mix of news, opinion, humor, and wisdom that truly transcends journalism and entertainment. Seriously, if I had to convince an alien of the worth of our species, I would genuinely start with this podcast.
Maddeningly, they never keep more than the most two recent episodes available at one time. I just found a channel on YouTube with a few episodes archived though, so you can have a taste here.
I used to listen to 6-8 hours of podcasts each week, and I tried most of the popular ones. Went through phases of loving Welcome to Night Vale and This American Life and Death, Sex, and Money and ReplyAll and RadioLab, etc. etc. etc. They're all good, but the only one I listened to consistently across years was NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour. It's extremely smart, warm takes on mostly movies/TV but some music/books too. It's helped by having a rotating fourth chair and usually avoiding negative reviews. I have no intention of consuming 90% of the pop culture they discuss, but I love listening to them anyways. I got rid of my commute and stopped listening to podcasts much at all, but want to start up again soon.
One other recommendation people might not have heard of - Gravy is a great podcast (and quarterly magazine) from the Southern Foodways Alliance about trying to rethink southern food into including marginalized voices of the past and present.
I've cut back on Podcast time, but I have a few I don't miss. These are my recommendations:
Here's what I listen to, though I've been listening less lately since I used to do that while commuting to work and that's not happening anymore:
I don't listen to many, but when I'm going to have a few hours where my ears are unoccupied, I'll listen to the Crime Pays but Botany Doesn't podcast. It's more of a companion to his YouTube channel, where he'll upload a bunch of 20-50 minute videos detailing plants he finds exploring an area, but he'll also often focus on a part of botany, sometimes a family, or just vent about stuff that's frustrating him. Most of the time he's talking about botany, though. He tends to get extremely political on occasion, but maybe since I agree with his (very progressive) views, it doesn't bother me, but he's usually funny in these moments, too.
One to start on would be with his roommate, mycologist Alan Rockefeller, or his podcast with Martin Grantham, who used to be the nursery manager and propagator at the UCSC arboretum. This one got me through a five hour flight delay in January.
Reply All: by far my fav. Various stories and investigations loosely based in the technology world, though it's not tech podcast at all. I like to think of it as This American Life made specifically for people that have any interest at all in the internet.
Opening Arguments: deep dives into legal topics, for dummies. Basically a lawyer and a "dumb guy" talk about the week's news and explain it in plain English. It's a lot more interesting than you'd think.
The Lowe Post: the premier NBA basketball intelligentsia podcast. More nuts and bolts, Xs and Os talk than typical sports guy hot take blabber.
Because I haven't seen it mentioned yet, The Film Reroll is some of the purest joy you can experience in podcast form. A bunch of people take existing movies, turn them into a roleplaying game, and improv their way through the story, diverging from the original in many weird and wonderful ways. They're currently doing Ocean's Eleven, which has been one heck of a ride so far.
Other particularly brilliant rerolls are Aladdin (there's a twenty minute segment where the GM and the Genie player discuss the grammar of a particular wish to decide how badly to fuck over the wish-maker), E.T. (turns into a planetary siege movie), Goonies (off the wall chaos exactly in the spirit of the original), Weekend at Bernies (praise the sun god!), Friday the 13th (the players didn't know they were in a horror movie!), and Jumanji (things go horribly right, and then horribly wrong).
One that might not be the most sensible listen given the current situation in America, but that I think is absolutely fascinating is It Could Happen Here. It's a sort of future-history documentary that discusses how a second civil war could easily break out in the USA within the next few years. A lot of it makes for decidedly grim listening, but it does break you out of the mindset of thinking that Western countries have grown beyond internal wars. Bleak stuff, but it's one of the best limited-run podcasts I've listened to in years.
I also listen to Joe Rogan, Armchair Expert, Tim Ferriss and Indie Hackers when the guest is interesting.
And one last recommendation, if you are at all interested in startups, you have to listen to the first season of the StartUp podcast.
If you are going to listen to one podcast episode, I'd say it should be The Case of the Missing Hit by Reply All.
I've really fallen in love with the Our Fake History podcast. It's a one-man show where the host digs into the evidence backing common misconceptions about history. He strikes a pleasant balance between levity and accuracy, and the bumper music is all fantastic.
In addition, Cortex is just a great show about productivity and leading life the way you actually want, it's reframed a lot of the ways I view decisionmaking and task management.
The History of English Podcast
This is probably my favourite podcast. Highly recommended to anyone interested in language or European history. The host's treatment of topics is not just a dry recitation of historical events in time order. While the overall arc of the podcast (through all the episodes) does take the listeners slowly through history from the origins of English up to modern day English, the host often takes time to describe interesting facts and linguistic phenomena about future centuries not yet covered, if they would shine some light on the current topic being discussed. I also like how he clusters together several related words when discussing etymologies, often giving me "oh cool!" moments as I learn about where a given word meaning or grammatical feature actually came from. The podcast contains a great balance between language and history, and is very well researched, well organized, and delivered nicely. Again: highly recommended.
The British History Podcast
I'm still in the early going with this, but am enjoying it so far.
I just listened to the first episode The History Of English Podacast and am totally hooked! Kevin's voice is easy on the ears, paced perfectly, and the content fascinating. Thank you for posting about it!
Aside: Does anyone know if there a way in the apple universe to have podcasts play from episode 1, chronologically?
Sorry to bump an older discussion, but earlier today I posted a similar question and then answered it myself with a tool I found online. Might be useful for you as well. Seems like a good resource to have in mind when browsing these "best podcasts" topics.