Favorite Podcasts - 2019 Edition

In March of 2017 some folks did a thing called “Try Pod.” It was an effort to get more people listening to podcasts. I shared my favorites, then and have now published updated lists for 2018, and now for 2019. It’s mostly the same, but a few have been added, some removed.

Two quick things, before the list:

1. What’s a podcast?

To avoid the dreaded trip to Webster’s, I’ll just say that a podcast is an audio recording of one or more people talking about a subject they care about. You can use an application on your phone or your computer to subscribe so that you automatically get new episodes of the podcast as they come out.

2. Why do you care about them?

I love hearing other perspectives. I have a few trusted sources that I can listen to as they review new products. I love hearing stories told by the people who lived them. I listen on my commute, while I’m doing household chores, any time I have a few free minutes, I’m listening. They improve my life, and I’d like for them to be a part of yours.

These are a few of my favorite podcasts, the ones I listen to just about every week. I’ll listen to these before I listen to any others. I’ve included a link where you can go to listen to a recent episode, or where you can subscribe to get the latest episode each week on your phone. By the way, I can’t more strongly recommend Pocket Casts for your podcast subscription and listening needs. It’s my go-to app, and available on both Android and iOS - along with a nice web portal, so you can listen at your desk at work.

Top 6 7

(In no particular order.)

Reply All and This Week in Google (TWiG) are both largely about consumer technology, and how that impacts our lives. TWiG is hosted by Leo Laporte, as part of the TWiT Network, and features cohosts Jeff Jarvis and Stacey Higginbotham as they cover the latest news about Google, Facebook, Journalism, and connected smart home devices. Reply All is part of the Gimlet Network, and is hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. It covers the internet, and all of the weird things on it. Shows have covered trained rats used to make hoax videos, why one house in particular showed up as the location for lost iPhones, and a regular segment that helps you understand why that dank meme is so dank.

The Dream is a fantastic deep dive into the world of multi-level marketing. TL;DR, they’re all scams and you should run screaming if someone wants you to be in one. But definitely listen to the series to see just how crazy things are.

Judge John Hodgman (of The Daily Show and Apple’s Mac vs PC ads) is a fake internet judge. People bring him disputes - from who should drive during a road trip to whether or not a husband should take up taxidermy as a hobby to how often a couple should eat at the in-laws house. It’s funny, and honest, and a great listen.

Stuff You Should Know is one of the most informative shows I’ve ever listened to. Josh and Chuck take on a topic, do their own research, and then sit down in front of microphones and share their takeaways from their research. I’ve learned about serial killers, microscopic organisms, anesthesia, and even DB Cooper.

Hello From the Magic Tavern is an improvised podcast from some improvisors in Chicago. Most podcasts I would recommend starting with the most recent episode, but with this one, you really need the full story. The premise is that Arnie fell into a dimensional rift into a magical land (think Narnia or Middle Earth) called Foon. He’s joined each week, from the local tavern, by his co-hosts Chunt, a talking badger, and Eusidore the Blue, a powerful wizard, as they interview the local inhabitants of this magical land. They send the podcast back through the dimensional portal via a faint public wifi signal. This podcast is definitely not for kids, and if you choose to listen at work, you’ll probably need headphones to keep your job.

Levar Burton Reads is exactly what you think it is. Your favorite Reading Rainbow host reads short stories - this time for grown ups - that he hand selects. There is something that will always be comforting about hearing his narration. I also really enjoy most of the short stories, often from writers I haven’t yet discovered. They usually have a supernatural or Sci-Fi twist, too.

A few more of my favorites

  • Pop Culture Happy Hour - NPR writers and a rotating series of guests discuss pop culture - movies, tv, books, comic books, and more.
  • Science VS - Science Vs takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.
  • All About Android - Weekly show about Android phones and apps
  • Ask Me Another - a fun trivia show from NPR - Saw them live this year! That makes 2 NPR podcast recordings attended this year.
  • Dead Pilots Society - comedy tv shows that were written, sold to networks, but never made it to the pilot. They get a staged reading on this podcast (Potentially NSFW)
  • OH NO Ross and Carrie - They try out fringe science (healing crystals, electric brain stimulation, cults) so you don’t have to (NSFW)
  • This American Life - one of the original shows that got me into podcasts. Stories about just about everything
  • This Week in Tech (TWiT) - Weekly show about (mostly consumer) tech news
  • Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me - NPR’s weekly news quiz show - Saw them live this year! That makes 2 NPR podcast recordings attended this year.
  • Bubble - A narrative fiction podcast from the Maximum Fun network. Sci-Fi and funny. (NSFW)
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