I love podcasts. For me, they provide a great source of entertainment and an awesome wealth of knowledge and new perspectives. I’d rather listen to a good podcast than watch something on TV (especially since I don’t own a TV). Part of the appeal of podcasts for me is that they can be hyper focused on topics that interest me, and they have to keep your attention with the content itself, as they have less visual distractions. Also, since they are much easier to produce than other forms of media and have a grass-roots distribution network online, anyone can make a good podcast if they have interesting content.
Let’s take a look at my top ten favorite podcasts (for the time being). Who knows, you might even start listening to a few of them!
10) Slate’s Working
Slate is an online magazine site that has controversial and interesting (mostly left leaning) articles on whatever is happening in the public eye. To be honest, most of their content feels a bit forced, but they do have a lot of interesting podcasts. The one that I really like is called Working: which goes into the lives of people just doing their jobs. It’s not a super original concept, but they do ask really interesting questions having to do with routine and common conceptions about whatever job is covered in that episode.
The majority of episodes are about professions, but oddly enough their first (and my favorite) episode is about the working habits of a person: Stephen Colbert. I wish they start doing more episodes on successful individuals (this is foreshadowing to my current favorite podcast). All in all it’s a good podcast, but again nothing too out of the box.
How Does Stephen Colbert Work: http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/working/2014/10/stephen_colbert_on_his_improv_background_and_how_he_gets_in_character_for.html
This is your run-of the-mill good podcast. Hosted by Stephen Dubner it covers random topics related to economics and life. If I had to describe it, I would it’s a show like This American Life or NPR’s All Things Considered, that also tries to deconstruct interesting socio-economic questions like Do Babies Cause Divorce or What Makes a Donor Donate. It’s not super entertaining or super interesting all of the time, but it does a decent enough job of exploring an issue.
Does religion make you happy?
8) Ear Biscuits
Rhett and Link are awesome! For those who don’t know them, Rhett and Link are a duo of Youtubers who have several channels that look at different interesting subjects. I particularly like their Youtube show Good Mythical Morning. Their podcast is a lot of the same. It’s fun listening to them play off of each other, and they have great chemistry. For a podcast to go from good to great, it has to have great guests, and Ear Biscuits has just that (mostly famous Youtubers and Web celebrities).
Ep. 54 Rain Wilson (known for The Office and his site SoulPancake) – In this episode they talk about zonkeys of all things: http://podbay.fm/show/717407884/e/1422638522
7) Star Talk Radio
“I’m a man that’s on a mission.” He said, “Son, you’d better listen…” I can’t think of anyone that would dislike Neil Degrass Tyson (except maybe if you’re a fundamentalist). He’s the Carl Segan of our generation, but more in touch with the people. While his show Cosmos is great, I’m also a fan of his podcast Star Talk. Star Talk is a podcast about (what else), the universe!
What I like about it, is that it goes into detail about individual fields of study (like gravity and how science relates to religion) and like most great podcasts, often has interesting guest appearances.
Cosmic Queries: Gravity
I like this episode, as it deals with a topic that I recently really got interested in (yes, because of Interstellar): the concept of gravity and space-time.
6) Hansel Minutes
Developers are often (and rightly so) accused of not being very social. Scott Hansleman breaks that mold. Not only is he a great Microsoft Developer, but his podcasts are very entertaining as well. My favorite is Hansel Minutes, but I also found This Developer Life nice to listen to. He covers a lot of technical topics, but for me his podcast comes alive with the guests he brings on.
An Internet of Inclusion with Channelle Henry:
This episode is a great example of Scott’s strength of bridging the gap between developers and soft skills in the work place & the world.
Sponsored by MailChimp, Serial is an amazing podcast that is a throwback to the old days of the classic radio shows (before TV). Brought to you by the creators of This American Life (which you won’t find on this list). While I found This American Life mostly boring, and Ira Glass’s voice too monotone, Serial is both exciting and engaging. Hosted by Sarah Koenig, the whole season follows one story (unlike the multiple story This American Life), of Adnan Syed who was accused of murdering a 17 year old girl when he was only 19. That was in 1999. He’s been serving a life sentence since then, but did he do it?
I’ve never came across a podcast that had everyone talking about it like Serial. Is Adnan innocent, is he guilty? No one may ever know, but Sarah Koenig does take you on a very interesting ride. I’m really curious to see what happens in Season 2!
It’s all a part of a series, so all episodes are crucial to the story for me. If you’re starting out, I of course would recommend episode 1: http://serialpodcast.org/season-one/1/the-alibi
4) Hardcore History
“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” If you’re even a slight history buff, you have to listen to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. It is the most entertaining telling of horrific historical events I have ever came across. Each episode puts you right in the middle of world changing events like the Mongol invasions, and the World Wars. The show is heavily researched, and tries to give as complete a picture of the events as it can.
Hardcore History is a wakeup call to how horrific human beings can be to each other. It wasn’t that long ago that millions upon millions of people got killed in senseless wars, and although killing is still as apparent as ever due to our modern news media shedding light on injustices across the world, it is almost unbelievable how far we have progressed as a race. Although I do wish we were moving much faster.
It has got to be the “Wrath of Khans” series, which details the bloody battles of the Mongols in which millions of people were killed and the course of history was changed forever. Not only is it his magnum opus, but it also has a great pun and pop culture reference in the title, which of course I am a fan of:
3) The Drunken Peasants
Disclaimer: this podcast is not family friendly or SFW, and that’s kind of why I like it. The premise is that a group of stoners come together, and discuss the news from “an altered perspective”. It stars TJ (aka, the Amazing Atheist), his brother Scotty, and the mysterious host Ben (who always wears a mask). This is probably the craziest podcast on the list, because of both the nature of the hosts, and the stories they cover.
One running theme is they play videos of conspiracy theorists on YouTube, and comment on how insane they are. Some of the regular conspiracies they mock include “The Church of Gail” who believes the Jesuits are controlling the world, “The Vigilant Christian” who believes that the Illuminati are controlling the world, and Gorilla199 who believes that all successful people on earth are either part of the Illuminati or the Tares (a mysterious alien race).
Out of all of the podcasts on this list, The Drunken Peasants is the most “grass-roots” of them all. It is completely funded by its fan-base on Youtube, and their Patreon page. I like how each host brings something to the table. Scotty is the impatient hothead, Ben is the neutral arbitrator, and TJ is typically the voice of reason. Many people might be turned off by their crude language, and sometimes juvenile behavior, but if you get into it, it is both entertaining and intellectual when it wants to be. The guests can also be really great. My favorite being Paul’s Ego (who is my favorite vlogger/story-teller).
I really like when they have deep discussions with their guests. One that stands out to me is the episode that guest stars Paul’s Ego and Tim Black: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9JhBgGqzN4
2) The Joe Rogan Experience
Out of all of the podcasts mentioned here, I think none of the hosts are better at interviewing and just having conversations with the guests than Joe Rogan. Joe Rogan has an impressive bio. Starting off in martial arts, he has since moved on to do stand-up, act, emcee events, and even host tv shows like Fear Factor. For me though, his greatest accomplishment is his amazing podcast. I love how he gives his stoner philosophy (nothing wrong with that!) take on big issues, and how he always searches for the truth. He always speaks his mind, and he’s a great conversationalist.
The power of this show is with the guests. The only episodes I can’t really get into are the ones that talk about MMA and wrestling, since I’m not really a hyper fan of either. Not to fear though, because Joe Rogan interviews so many interesting people, that there are countless amazing episodes, and Joe Rogan interviews all of them in the most entertaining way possible, by having honest conversations with them. What can I say, except: “Train by day, Joe Rogan Podcast by night… All day!”
They are too many to count! I really like the episodes with Ali Rizvi , Cenk Uygur, and Louis Theroux but the one that I found particularly entertaining was the last interview he did with Dan Carlin, in which they talk about everything ranging from the JFK conspiracy, to the nature of reality.
1) The Tim Ferriss Show
For those that know me, this might not come as much of a surprise. While I liked Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Workweek, I found many parts of it not practical, and I hate how it gave justification to a whole generation of “slackprenuers” (lazy entrepreneurs). It’s a shame though, because I really find Tim’s philosophy on Stoicism inspiring. I feel that a lot of people just read the footnotes of his philosophy to justify not working hard (or maybe I just need new friends).
I really love his podcast though. Although he’s not nearly as good a conversationalist as Joe Rogan, what sets him apart are the types of questions he asks (and of course the successful guests he has on). The goal of his podcast is to extract as much value from each guest as possible, so the questions he asks are always questions that you can use in your own life to become better. Some popular questions I really like, are when he asks his guests what their morning routine is, and what types of books they read. The guests themselves are all people that are successful in their fields, so you can always learn new perspectives from them on how they get things done.
At the end of each episode, he also posts notes with highlights, and beneficial links to follow up on the topics discussed. Although admittedly, there are more entertaining podcasts, for me no podcast gives you as much value to make your life better as The Tim Ferriss Show.
With guests like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Robbins and Dan Carlin, it’s hard choosing just one, but the one that I remember the most was the episode with Ryan Holiday: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/05/06/the-tim-ferriss-podcast-episode-4-ryan-holiday/
What podcasts do you like to listen to? Let me know if I missed any good ones!