A selection of podcasts worth listening to.
The podcasts below are a selection of programs with episodes often relating to engineering, technology, science, society, innovation, design, story-telling, and entrepreneurship. It's assumed you're looking to connect with streams of information outside of the typical social media and pop culture buzz; therefore, the list and tips below are quite opinionated and tend towards podcasts that tune out much of the popular culture noise in an effort to carve out room for content that is hopefully more intellectually stimulating.
Detailed show information, including an exhaustive list of ways to subscribe using any app, can be found by following the "Podnews" link next to each podcast title.
Though the details of the podcast industry have changed over the years, the underlying value of podcasts remains strong. At their best, they offer high-quality audio content, often presented with a level of detail and immersion on par with visual content, without requiring your visual attention. The biggest challenge, though, as producing podcasts has become so easy, is finding podcasts worth listening to.
If English is your first language, you'll likely get the most out of the ever-growing number of podcast episodes available in the universe by listening at warp speed (1.5x or greater). You'll still catch most of the details of the episode while being able to squeeze more into your commute, workout, or procrastination session.
If English is not your first language, some English-language podcasts may be challenging to follow at speeds faster than real-time, but I'd still recommend pushing yourself to listen at a speed greater than 1.0x, as there is simply too much interesting podcast content and too few hours in the day to have any other relationship with your favorite podcasts.
Use podcasts to help you think new thoughts, learn new things, and reflect on the world. Seek podcasts that are not echo-chambers. If chosen wisely, podcasts can help fuel insights and intuition applicable to many facets of your personal and professional lives.
Listen on a mobile device with a player that downloads episodes, can playback off-line at variable speeds, remembers where you left-off, and allows you to easily skip forward through ads.
Seek well-produced podcasts with a good ratio of content to advertising. A 15-minute episode shouldn't have 5 minutes of advertising (or you should have a good player that helps you skip those ads).
Keep searching for new podcasts. After a couple years of listening to the same podcasts, if you're not seeking new content, you're missing out. It's also ok to stop listening to podcasts, even blockbusters, chart-toppers, and life-long favorites.
Don't underestimate the value of story-telling podcasts. Despite often sharing user-generated content, the stories are usually well-curated, well-produced, and engaging views into the lives of others. Great way to better understand your fellow human.
Beware of ANY podcast with episodes longer than 1 hour. Long-form podcast episodes should be well-structured and contain professionally-produced content. Your day (and life) is too short to listen to the ramblings of influencers, life hackers, and charlatans; you have other things to do. That said, some podcasts actually do offer 3 solid hours of well-research, masterfully-presented, high-quality content in a single episode; however this is the exception, not the rule. Only consume longer-form podcasts if they are truly high value; split extended episodes across multiple listening sessions to fit them in your life.
Beware of comedy, sports, gaming, pop culture, politics and lifestyle podcasts. They're some of the worst time-wasters; episodes are almost always longer that 1 hour, are very loosely structured, and rarely offer insights into concepts that would otherwise be challenging to access. Keep subscriptions to these types of podcasts to a minimum. Essentially, these are low-nutrition brain candy that, though entertaining and engaging, can become all-consuming. Producers can create episodes just by pressing record on their phone and riffing with entertaining friends for 3-hours or posting an unedited mid-quality recording of a 2-hour live show or conversation.
Beware of loosely-structured, long-form, interview-style "talk show" podcasts. Episodes are always longer than one hour, and the host's goal is to keep listeners from "changing the channel" for hours of "spontaneity". Keep the number of subscriptions to these "talk show" podcasts to a minimum. These are often produced daily or multiple times per week and can become echo chambers whose (strategically) very long run-time makes it hard to engage honestly with ideas from outside the show's bubble. These podcasts are essentially modern interpretations of long-form, stream-of-consciousness, shock-jock era, call-in AM talk radio shows from a bygone era. Draw your own conclusion about the value these shows provide and to whom, but it shouldn't be too controversial to suggest that their hosts and content is often divisive, and often intentionally so.
You can download an OPML file with links to all the pocasts below here (Updated 2023-11-24).
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