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Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:36 pm UTC
by Ranbot
I thought it would be interesting to see what podcasts folks here enjoy and would recommend to others. I've become a podcast junky over the past year or so. I'm on the look-out for more to add to my queue. I personally favor podcasts that jump right into a subject with less time-filler banter, but don't let that stop you if like a more conversational style of show, since the suggestions and discussion is for everyone. Please post the podcast and name and brief description. Suggesting one or two of the better episodes to start with might help people too.

I'll start... All of the links below are to the shows' websites, but you can find them on any major podcast app (e.g. iTunes, Stitcher, Google, Spotify, etc.).

NPR Planet Money - breaks down complicated economic subjects in understandable parts and makes it fun. They do a great job of showing how markets and economics impact our lives, past, and futures. Their topics are very eclectic cover big world-wide issues to local small towns. Two years ago I would never have imagined I would enjoy a show about economics so much, but it's fantastic. There's not really a bad episode; just scan through the titles/descriptions for a subject you are mildly interested in and listen... you will come back for more. If you want a small taste of Planet Money they have an off-shoot show called "The Indicator" which is just a quick 10 minutes on smaller subjects don't make it into the 45 minute main show.

From Planet Money I got hooked on Freakonomics, another economics-based show, but focuses on where psychology/sociology of people meets economics. That's where the classic rational economic concepts break down and things get interesting, because people are not as rational as we like to believe (i.e. behavioral economics). A great episode to start with is #311, which will relate to anyone who has ever bought a live concert ticket (probably most people).
(If Freakonomics sounds familiar there were several popular books by the same name and this podcast grew from those books.)

Science Vs. - they explore the science behind many questions and controversies society faces... some serious (like vaccines, fracking, nuclear power, gun control, etc.) and some less serious (like Bigfoot, ghosts, and cures for baldness). The host is pretty funny too... well if you like puns she is funny, if not, you've been warned! The fracking episode (July 27, 2016) is very good and I personally have enough professional experience in that field to know they mostly nailed the science, which gives me confidence in the show's other topics.

The Memory Palace- The host finds interesting little pieces of history and presents them in 10-15 minute storylike explanations. The subjects are things that are generally too small to get into history books, but interesting nonetheless or related to bigger events. It's like diving into a historical footnote for a few minutes and some of topics are very moving. The host is an excellent storyteller and adds a lot of emotion to history that could be very very dry. Try episode #110 (Lost Camels) or #92 (Oil, Water) to start. The episodes are short, no big commitment. (edited for better link to the show)

Reply All - A podcast about the internet, which may sound kind of dumb, but it's actually amazing. I'm a pretty internet savvy person, but they take incredibly deep dives into online social groups, history, and technologies that I thought I understood, but often I was only scratching the surface of. The hosts can be pretty funny too. The current episode, #126, and episode #109 are great examples of the show.

(edited for typos)

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:01 pm UTC
by sardia
538 podcast is pretty good for statistical take on the news. My favorite segment is "good use of polling?"and model talk. It's good for crystalizing political news into useful knowledge. Ex candidate A has a fighting chance to win becomes candidate A is going to lose 80% of the time given polling and fundamentals.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:29 pm UTC
by Zohar
I listen to quite a few podcasts... Here's my list:

2 Dope Queens - no other podcast makes me laugh as much as this one. They bring in comedians that are usually OK, not necessarily great, but they are hilarious.
Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me! The NPR News Quiz - the other podcast that makes me laugh a lot.
My Dad Wrote a Porno - British guy's dad writes terrible erotic fiction, guy and his friends read it, hilarity ensues.

News and journalism:
This American Life - kind of hit-or-miss. Sometimes they do amazing stories, sometimes they're just boring. More good than bad.
Nancy - generally interesting LGBTQ reporting. Not as in-depth or high-quality as I would have liked, but usually very good.
Up First - pretty much the only news I listen to, every day while walking my dog.
Code Switch - fascinating coverage of racial and ethnic issues in the US (mostly).

Dear Hank & John - advice podcast from John and Hank Green. If you like their videos you might like this.
Stuff You Missed in History Class - great content on pretty diverse historical topics
Where Should We Begin with Esther Perel - Fascinating recorded sessions of a couples therapist helping people out. It's tough to listen to sometimes, but makes me think about myself and my relationships a lot.
The Anthropocene Reviewed - John Green looks at culture things waay too closely and poignantly
Every Little Thing - I'm still on the fence on this one. People call in, ask questions, they try to find answers.
Buffering The Vampire Slayer - Two married women discuss episodes of Buffy in chronological order. I'm not up to date yet, but working on it!

Here are some things I enjoyed but I'm not sure if they'll do more seasons of
A Piece of Work - Reviews art in a funny and accessible manner.
Explore a Story - Emily Graslie from the Field Museum and The Brainscoop YouTube channel talks with scientists at the museum about their work.
The Habitat - Six people go into a dome for a year as part of a NASA experiment.
Drawn, The Story of Animation - This was so-so, a recounting of how cartoons are made and their history. A bit more oriented towards kids.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:10 pm UTC
by Ranbot
Zohar wrote:Comedy:
2 Dope Queens - no other podcast makes me laugh as much as this one. They bring in comedians that are usually OK, not necessarily great, but they are hilarious.
Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me! The NPR News Quiz - the other podcast that makes me laugh a lot.
My Dad Wrote a Porno - British guy's dad writes terrible erotic fiction, guy and his friends read it, hilarity ensues.

I need more comedy... definitely going to check these out.
I like "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell me!" when I catch it in the same week it was aired. They riff on current news events, but I'm not disciplined enough to tune in every week and the jokes lose their punch when it's for old news...that's my problem not theirs, but most other podcasts I can miss for weeks or even months and then catch up/binge later.

Zohar wrote:This American Life - kind of hit-or-miss. Sometimes they do amazing stories, sometimes they're just boring. More good than bad.

Agreed... hit and miss.
FYI, Planet Money was born out of This American Life. Specifically, there was a series of amazing and critically acclaimed episodes (here, here, and here) about the 2007 financial crisis done by Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson. The success of those shows inspired them to found Planet Money and Gimlet Media.

Zohar wrote:Every Little Thing - I'm still on the fence on this one. People call in, ask questions, they try to find answers.

I listen to this occasionally... and it's just OK. I've never been wowed, but I've never disliked it. It's kind of a lighter version of Science Vs.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:31 pm UTC
by Ranbot
Zohar wrote:My Dad Wrote a Porno -

Absolutely hillarious. Thanks.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:22 am UTC
by Quercus
Thanks for the suggestions everyone - I'll have to check those out!

For me some of the ones I listen to:

  • 99 percent invisible - fantastic design-themed podcast. So interesting, and Roman Mars' voice is just delicious.
  • No such thing as a fish - the QI researcher team made a podcast based on the best facts they've found each week
  • what Trump can teach us about con law - basically using Trump's presidency as a vehicle to teach constitutional law, often by asking the question "can Trump really do that?". Another Roman Mars podcast
  • This is a bit of a cheat, as it's not really a podcast, but I've started downloading the audio from the Aircrew Interview YouTube channel and listening to that as a podcast - basically this guy does really in-depth interviews with former aircrew on all sorts of interesting aircraft, from the SR-71, to the F-111 to Concorde. I do make sure I let an as or two play on the channel before downloading the audio, so the guy still gets some revenue out of me.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:08 am UTC
by Ranbot
Quercus wrote:99 percent invisible - fantastic design-themed podcast. So interesting, and Roman Mars' voice is just delicious.

3 episodes later and I'm still liking it. Thanks for the recommendation

If you like Roman Mars' voice, he sounds like an understudy to Nate DiMeo, the host of The Memory Palace, which is another RadioTopia show that I mentioned above. ( )

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:29 am UTC
by cephalopod9
there was a thread in the music sub forum, but podcasts aren't music, and I'm not sure there's a correct way to organize things.

I've been getting more into Baby Geniuses, which is Emily Heller, who's a comedienne, and Lisa Hannawalt, who draws comic and is the... art person for Bojack Horseman. Maximum Fun has tons of stuff, people have mentioned some of it.

I'm not sure if I'm going to listen to more of Harmontown, but I kind of want everyone to listen to Dan Harmon get coached on how to rap by Open Mike Eagle, in episode titled The Only Enemy is Stopping from 2/22/17 It's what the academics call scatological. NSFW, etc.

Snap Judgment has Halloween type horror episodes, Spooked.
The host also did a series on Heaven's Gate, the suicide cult, a lot of trigger warnings for that one, but it's real interesting.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 3:57 am UTC
by ConMan
These are what I have in my podcast app. They fall into two broad categories.

  • Childproof - A comedy festival performance of what was originally conceived as a TV sitcom (that no network wanted). 6 episodes total.
  • Dragon Friends - A bunch of comedians do a live show playing Dungeons and Dragons, currently in its fourth season.
  • Free To A Good Home - Making fun of weird classified ads from sites like Craig's List and Gumtree, featuring a lot of references to an Australian horror-movie-themed theatre restaurant.
  • How Did This Get Made? - Three hosts watch bizarre and bad movies and talk about them, often with guests.
  • My Dad Wrote A Porno - Already described by others. Be careful about listening when driving.
  • Myths and Legends - Telling traditional folktales, with a heavy emphasis on going back to the original source. I put it in comedy because the host often riffs or points out some of the weird and funny aspects of the stories.
  • Til Death Do Us Blart - Every US Thanksgiving, the McElroy Brothers (of My Brother, My Brother and Me) and Tim and Guy (of The Worst Idea Of All Time) watch the movie "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" and discuss it. Currently 3 episodes, with the 4th dropping in a couple of months.
  • Sizzletown - The "late night call-in podcast", parodies the kind of people who call in to late-night radio shows along with some more general random comedy. It's a slow burn and maybe a bit niche for non-Australians.
  • Story Club - From a live show where various comedians and other guests tell stories from their lives (about 90% comedy, 10% punch in the gut)
  • The Worst Idea Of All Time - Two New Zealanders watch a bad movie every week for a year and talk about it. The main series has finished (first year was "Grown-Ups 2", second year was "Sex and the City 2", third year-and-a-bit was "We Are Your Friends") but they still release some side content semi-regularly. The first season will be coming out from its paywall soon hopefully.

Board Gaming:
  • Cognitive Gamer - Applies concepts from cognitive psychology to game design and play.
  • Flip The Table - Now wrapped up, four guys play weird old games and review them, with a game show segment at the end of each episode. Includes such classics as the "Batman Forever Audio Game"; the "Star Trek: The Next Generation VCR Board Game"; and "Gone Fishin'", the bird watching board game.
  • How To Play - Also wrapped up, contains teaching guides for 46 different board games.
  • Ludology - A semi-academic discussion of board game design covering a lot of different aspects (plus guest interviews from both the board gaming world and beyond, like episodes on pinball and poker machine design)
  • Shut Up & Sit Down - The podcast of the video and text review site, featuring some of Britain's most British board game reviewers.
  • The Dice Men Cometh - A weekly Tasmanian radio show looking at board gaming (often from a local perspective).
  • This Game Is Broken - I've just picked this one up and it seems not bad so far. It's a game show in the same vein as "Never Mind The Buzzcocks" but focusing on board games, often quite funny.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:04 am UTC
by cephalopod9
ooh, there's a new season of Serial. It's a broad look at a court house... sounds like it'll be interesting and raise my blood pressure.

Handsome Rambler - it's Hannibal Buress. He has a theramin, and here he's jamming with Jon Hamm.

On The Media - it's an NPR show, and they did an episode that involves describing what Fortnite is.

Night Vale Presents recently launched a podcast based on the works of Chuck Tingle (NSFW, in case you're not familiar with that name)

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:29 am UTC
by Obsoal
I find it hard to concentrate on podcasts but The Adventure Zone is a great ongoing D&D podcast. Their first campaign ran for just under four years of bi-weekly updates and since then they've been bouncing around with one-shots and shorter campaigns.

The Awesome Comics Podcast is another one I recommend if you're into indie comics discussion. They try to cover as much of the UK indie comics scene as they can.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:20 am UTC
by ryanbryandyin
I've been listening to The History of Philosophy, Without Any Gaps by Peter Adamson, a professor of philosophy at King's College London. Absolutely love it. Prof. Adamson goes over philosophers that rarely get even a footnote in popular philosophy books - Zeno, Parmenides, etc. It's at about 312+ episodes for western philosophy, plus over a hundred more for Indian and African philosophers. Each episode is about 25-30 minutes which is perfect for my morning commute.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:59 pm UTC
by Ranbot
I've been listening to episodes of Judge John Hodgman recently and I think it's very funny. Listeners send in problems or dilemmas they are having, and "Judge" John Hodgman listens, comments, and makes a ruling. Some rulings are fast, some slow, many times he interviews the person(s) on the air, there are always jokes. I like John Hodgman's subtle sarcastic humor style and how he dives into geeky stuff at times. He also writes a weekly editorial column of the same name for the New York Times, but he covers far more in the podcast.

If you like John Hodgman and/or learning esoteric yet interesting facts, check out the "Surprisingly Awesome" podcast episodes hosted by Hodgman, particularly Extinct HockeY (#15) and Cardboard (#19). (Gimlet canceled the show in 2017, but the archives are worth combing through)

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:24 pm UTC
by Zohar
I listened to him for a while but I just found him so unapologetically Straight White Man that I couldn't keep doing it. I felt all his advice was posted from a narrow point of view. Which he tried to combat and be aware of, yes! But it was just such a bro-y show.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:12 pm UTC
by Ranbot
Zohar wrote:...I just found him so unapologetically Straight White Man... it was just such a bro-y show.

I can see that... I think the stereotypical middle-aged nerdy button-down straight white man is part of Hodgman's "brand" and it might not be to everyone's sense of humor, but I don't think he needs to apologize for it either. His sarcasm bites at the male side too. It's a humor style that feels [to me, at least] authentic on Hodgman and I think it he would lose authenticity trying to be different. Hodgman is like combining the stereotypical straight white man of Jim Gaffigan with white male geekiness of Brian Posehn or Patton Oswalt, but it's all "shades" of white which might not appeal to all.

Regarding the show being "bro-y" I don't see it, unless you just mean white male. To me "bro" is a sub-category of white male, which leans more to the machismo, cliche jock/sports fan, frat-boy alumni, tough persona, arrogance, etc.; and exclude the nerdiness and geekdom Hodgman enthusiastically dives into. White and nerdy can certainly be its own sort of narrow-minded worldview, of course.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:42 pm UTC
by Zohar
I think I was remembering a lot of the mailbag episodes. Anyway, yeah - it's a perfectly valid thing to like, it's just not something I'm interested in. Personally I find Hank and John Green (in Dear Hank and John) to be a little bit more aware and careful in their privilege, and more up to date on social justice issues I care about, even though they too are straight white men. This doesn't have to appeal to everyone though.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:24 am UTC
by Janx
Hand-down my favourite podcast is "The Waking Up" podcast with Sam Harris. He is rational to a fault and leans a little too much to the left for me, but I thoroughly enjoy the discussions and very much appreciate the resurrection of the lost art of conversation. I agree with Sam's premise for doing this, which is, to get through these troubling political times, we must have more and better conversations.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:25 pm UTC
by Ranbot
Two more good podcasts...
1. Twenty Thousand Hertz - "The stories behind the world's most recognizable and interesting sounds." I was skeptical at first, but I'm hooked now. I, like probably many people, am more focused on visuals and take sounds for granted, but they are far more interesting than I thought. The subjects are surprisingly eclectic... movie trailer sound tropes, history of telephones and their tones, overly noisy restaurants/bars*, football radio systems, classic cartoon sounds...check it out.

* - This episode was how I found 20k Hertz, because it was featured on 99% Invisible, for design factors that contribute to overly noisy places, which is a particular pet-peeve of mine. (in part due to popular minimalist designs with bare wood/steel/tile that don't absorb any sound.)

2. NPR recently started Throughline. They take a modern issue/event and discuss the full history that leads up to it. It's history that is forgotten or barely understood by the average person because it's to long and complicated to present in a news story, but still impacts events today.

Re: Recommend Your Favorite Podcasts

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 2:59 am UTC
by dzamie
Might repeat a few from earlier in the thread, but of the 20-something I follow, my favorites are:

  • Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio - As an American, I don't get a lot of overseas stuff in my normal news, and I certainly don't get it with humor. This fills both of those gaps. It's sometimes a panel news quiz, sometimes a skit show. Very good, though of course archive dives aren't that great (as Ranbot mentioned, news comedy loses its impact the further away from it breaking). I'm surprised they've managed to continue to make jokes about Brexit, and have done so rather well.
  • No Such Thing As A Fish - Random trivia! Funny hosts! Entirely useless random trivia! What's not to like? Did you know that the clock on Big Ben was once slow by 15 minutes because a bunch of corvids were perched on the minute hand, thus slowing it down?
  • Says You! - A team quiz show featuring really esoteric facets of English-language-related things. Has included rounds about etiquette from the 1800s, as well as internet lingo from the last 5-10 years. Every episode features two rounds (one per team) in which a rare and unfamiliar English word is given with 3 definitions by one team and the other team has to guess which two were made up. Occasionally has a running joke of a contestant remarking that a word is "of Scottish derivation" when a word is... well. Yeah.
  • The Penumbra Podcast - They make a few radio dramas. My favorites are Juno Steel (a distant-future sci-fi detective noir type thing, VERY reminiscent of Johnny Dollar, if you've heard it), and The Second Citadel (somewhat high-fantasy adventure thing, features a conflict between Humans and Monsters, some nifty ideological clashes, and the cutest awkward love triangle between a pair of engaged humans and a four-armed lizard monster who manages to accidentally seduce and fall in love with them both in different ways without realizing). Highly recommended. Currently on hiatus after finishing their second season a month or two ago.
  • Unorthodox - The world's leading Jewish podcast. Largely about American Jewish culture, starting off with some recent news stories about Jewish people or Judaism in general (and these can be anything from a synagogue shooting to "a man in Israel, while building a sukkah, fell from the third floor and his life was saved because he landed on his ground-floor neighbor's sukkah a couple dozen feet below"). I don't know how much foreknowledge of Judaism is recommended for listening to it, but my Reform/Reconstructionist ass is able to follow along on pretty much all of it, so I suspect interested gentiles should have little trouble. When they can, they try to interview one Jew and one Gentile (non-Jew, the French version of the Yiddish "goy") every week. It's very nice. Definitely check out #177: What's In A Name? as it goes into some history and myths around the whole "immigrants get their name changed by ignorant immigration clerks at Ellis Island" thing. And mentions a sick burn given by a judge (surname Levi) to a man who was trying to get his name changed... from Levi.