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What are your top podcasts?

Podcasts are by far my favorite medium right now. I listen to them constantly – from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed. I'm a sick, sick man. An audio-story junkie. So let's commiserate. Here's my top 15, in no particular order:

1) Fresh Air (npr.org/programs/fresh-air). Terry Gross is the best interviewer out there, and her show Fresh Air consistently brings on the most interesting people of the moment. Her interview with the despicable frontman of KISS is a classic (Gene Simmons NPR Interview FULL Part 1 of 3) and instantly made me an even more loyal Fresh Air listener than I already was.

2) Radiolab (radiolab.org). Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich host this eclectic show that revolves around science, philosophy and society. The sound design is top notch, and the show's curation is the best out there right now.

3) This American Life (thisamericanlife.org). What more can be said. I've been listening to this classic since the 90s. Many a Sunday morning have been spent listening to Ira Glass' program, which highlights Americana in vignettes revolving around weekly themes.

4) The State We're In (rnw.nl/english/dossier/thestatewerein). Jonathan Groubert hosts this program out of Radio Netherlands Worldwide. His hosting and interviewing skills are on par with Ira's, but instead of being limited to American life, this show's scope is global. The personal stories of people and the "state we're in".

5) 99% Invisible (99percentinvisible.org). Roman Mars hosts this short podcast which explores the hidden side of design. I learned about it from a Radiolab segment, which makes me a not very hip podcast-junkie, because I discovered it so late. Really, it's very good, and pure brain candy.

6) Love and Radio (loveandradio.org). Love this podcast. It's the raw and scrappy version of This American Life, with more interesting music and edgier subject matter. It's not as consistent in delivery as TAL, but is always surprising in a good way. The last episode of season two, The Man in the Road (loveandradio.org/2011/05/manintheroad), is fantastic. Season three is starting any day now. The host, Nick van der Kolk, also posts non sequiters on Twitter: twitter.com/nickvdk.

7) On the Media (onthemedia.org). An NPR staple examining the media, with Brook Gladstone and Bob Garfield hosting. This is my way of catching up with the news, now that I spend less time reading, and more time listening.

8) The Drilldown (thedrilldown.com). For super geeks interested in technology, this is a great show hosted by Andrew Sorcini, which includes a round table of tech journalists opining on the week's news in tech. Since I don't have time to regularly peruse tech blogs, listening to the well-informed dialogue on this show keeps me up to date.

9) Snap Judgement (snapjudgment.org). I think this is the show I first learned about Love and Radio from. Glynn Washingto hosts, and it's a mix of highlights from other shows and original stories. It's underlying theme is the "snap judgment" that changes our lives.

10) Hardcore History (dancarlin.com/disp.php/hh). Dan Carlin, who hosts Common Sense, another podcast, lovingly and painstakingly puts together perhaps the most epic podcasts ever created. His show on the fall of the Roman Republic was about 8 hours total – and it was totally engaging, all the way through. For history lovers, these are a must. Carlin is incredibly insightful and I often find myself rethinking his podcasts for days afterward.

11) BBC Global News (bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/globalnews). Every weekday morning. My daily injection of news.

12) Stuff You Should Know (entertainment.howstuffworks.com/hsw-shows/stuff-you-should-know-podcast.htm). Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, two dudes in Atalanta, covering a variety of esoteric and not so esoteric topics. They're like the Starsky and Hutch of podcasting.

13) WTF (wtfpod.com). Hosted by Marc Maron, a comedian who's like an angrier, edgier Woody Allen. He brings on the who's who of the comic world, as well as actors, writers and you name it, and cross examines them in extensive interviews.

14) Third Coast International (thirdcoastfestival.org). Not really a podcast, rather an über podcast. It's Re:Sound program is a selection of the week's best podcasts from around the world, and a great way to find out about other shows. Well-curated and I always look forward to new episodes.

15) NPR: Intelligence Squared (intelligencesquared.com). Oxford-style debates on the most topical issues affecting us. Irregular in output, but always entertaining to listen to. For example, this speech from Stephen Fry on the Catholic Church (Stephen Fry on Catholicism, from the Intelligence Squared debate.)

I listen to other podcasts, but these are the ones I can say I listen to with regularity. What about you?

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3 Responses to What are your top podcasts?

  1. Drew Minh March 18, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    I'll probably keep adding to this. Another great podcast I should have added is Hearing Voices – soundscapes covering a variety of themes, also from NPR: npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_detail.php?siteId=89697159

  2. Martin Broadhurst March 18, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    Freakanomics is a good one and I regularly listen to Harvard business review's idea cast.

  3. Drew Minh March 18, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    +Martin Broadhurst I'm going to check the Harvard one out. Freakonomics is also on my playlist.

    Another great podcast is Planet Money.

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