June 6, 2015

podcasts

Reading time:
5 min. | 931 words

A couple of years ago I wrote about some of my favorite podcasts, and I thought it would be good to update the list. Some of those podcasts have ended, others still keep on, and I’ve added new ones to my podcatcher of choice.

I’m currently subscribed to thirty-two podcasts. I might have a problem.1

  • Back to Work, 5by5: Back to Work was on my last list, and it still remains. I love this podcast. Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann have wonderful chemistry together, and I usually end up with a lot of things to think about after each show—not only about #productivity, #creativity, #barriers, but also enjoy their detours into parenting, comic books, and Dan’s phobias.
  • The Dan Benjamin Hour, 5by5: A newcomer to my list, DBH sometimes strikes me as part The Frequency, part Geek Friday. Dan and Haddie Cooke cover a range of topics regarding technology, gear, entertainment, and culture. Plus, the on-air chemisty between Dan and Haddie is great.
  • DLC, 5by5: Yes, another 5by5 show. No, this isn’t the last one. The DLC podcast hosted by Jeff Cannata and Christian Spicer is among my favorite gaming-focused podcasts, and every week they talk to somebody in or near the gaming industry. And lest you think it’s all about video games, it’s not! Although video games are often the focus, they also have a regular Tabletop Time where they share their favorite boardgames. I’ve picked up many suggestions from that segment of the show.
  • Additional 5by5 shows: Although they’re produced less often, both The Frequency and Grit are great shows—The Frequency for its news, and Grit for it’s discussions on work culture. I’m also an occassional listener of the Latest in Paleo show hosted by Angelo Coppola.
  • Roderick On the Line: What can one say about Roderick on the Line with John Roderick and Merlin Mann? Just keep a small bag packed, and keep moving or get out of the way. #supertrain.
  • Accidental Tech Podcast: I was sad when Hypercritical and Build and Analyze came to an end, but delighted when Marco Arment, Casey Liss (who?), and John Siracusa started a new tech podcast. These are, as you might expect, frequently long shows, but also good for keeping up on Apple news or playing in the background while I do some C-level writing.
  • Reconcilable Differences, RelayFM: Launched just this week, this is one of the shows I always dreamed about. Hosted by John Siracusa and Merlin Mann, the show pitches itself as “try[ing] to figure out exactly how they got this way.” The first episode is excellent, and I only expect that future episodes will remain that way.
  • Nerds on Draft: Technology and beer, in one podcast. Hosted by Gabe Weatherhead and Jeff Hunsberger, the show opens with a particular beer or style before doing a deep dive into a technology topic. I enjoy the perspectives Gabe and Jeff bring, and their beer recommendations are top notch. (They even built a great app.)
  • Talking Machines: Recommended to me by Lincoln Mullen, Talking Machines is an excellent podcast on machine learning. The shows are very well produced, and feature interviews with researchers in the field. For starters, check out their episode with David Blei.
  • This American Life, NPR: Probably among the most famous (or, at least, most subscribed to) podcasts. Ira Glass always produces great shows, and TAL is usually a weekly listen for me.
  • Radiolab, NPR: Radiolab is also probably a contender of most-famous-podcast, covering topics on science, philosophy, and human experience. Again, it likely needs no introduction.
  • Backstory: Backstory with Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh is probably my favorite history-oriented podcast. The show interviews historians whose work often relates to some issue straight out of today’s headlines.
  • Who Makes Cents?: Hosted by historians Betsy Beasley and David Stein, Who Makes Cents is a monthly show focusing on the history of capitalism. They interview historians whose work explain how capitalism has changed over time. An excellent show that always seems to add another book to my ever-growing “To Read” list.
  • You Are Not So Smart: Hosted by David McRaney, You Are Not So Smart is a show about self delusion, cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies. A well-produced and entertaining show that mixes stories, monologues, and interviews with experts.
  • The JuntoCast: Although I’m not an early Americanist by training, the JuntoCast is excellent listening for anyone interested in the history of the early American republic. Their roundtables on historiographical discussions have to be the best out there right now (their episode on Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom is wonderful. It was like being back in a graduate seminar.)
  • The Incomparable: The Incomparable is a weekly show on geeky topics regarding movies, books, television, comics, and other topics. Usually a rotating panel of guests anchored by Jason Snell, I don’t catch every episode but I often enjoy their discussions on popular culture. Their Star Wars series include my favorite episodes. And how many pdocasts out there can record for an hour and a half about a two-minute long teaser trailer?
  • The First Draft Podcast: An odd show. But worth listening to from time to time.

There are many more shows I didn’t cover in detail here, but if you’re interested: Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project, Buddhist Geeks, 5by5 at the Movies, 5by5 Specials, 5by5 After Dark, The Talk Show, You Look Nice Today (which might be coming back?), TeeVee, usually for the Game of Thrones discussion, Serial, Mac Power Users, The Dalrymple Report, Cortex, Digital Campus.


  1. In my defense, I don’t listen to every episode. [return]
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Greetings! My name is Jason Heppler. I am a Digital Engagement Librarian and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a scholar of the twentieth-century United States. I often write here about the history of the North American West, technology, the environment, politics, culture, and coffee. You can follow me on Twitter, or learn more about me.

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