I am a huge fan of listening to podcasts. I do it whenever there is a stretch of time where my primary job is doing something else, but that task is not fully engaging.
How I recommend listening
This is an easy choice. The app is free and well designed, in fact the developer has his own podcast ATP (which is pretty good!). It includes a bunch of custom settings if you are nerd, but it is easy to setup and get listening if you don’t care for the extras.
Android: Pocketcasts ($4.00)
When I use to own an android phone this is what I used. Easily the best four dollars I spent, the clean and simple UI made it totally worth it. I honestly sometimes still miss the tiled view of pocketcasts. This is also your best bet if you need cross platform compatibility.
Computer: Web Players
While Spotify, google play, and iTunes all offer the ability to play podcasts, I don’t recommend you do it this way. I would either listen to them using the Overcast Web Player, which will keep your feeds synced with the overcast app, or the podcast’s own website/soundcloud feed. There is also a Pocket Casts client which is $9, a little steep if you ask me, but fine if you use their apps on other platforms already.
On both pocket casts and overcast, there is a smart speed feature. This essentially shortens the silence in a podcast, by speeding up the playback during silence. I use this on almost every podcast I listen to on Overcast, and it has never been an issue. It simply saves you a little time, which can really add up:
I also personally listen to most podcasts at 1.5x speed. Podcasts which I love (ones in the top 3 spots usually) get the 1.0x treatment, everything else gets played at at-least 1.5x speed. After a while you stop noticing the difference and everyone sounds normal. Some podcasts that are really long or the hosts talk very slowly even get bumped up to 2.0x. While this may seem counterproductive, there are benefits to making the content harder to understand. “The Benefits of Cognitive Disfluency” are a well-documented phenomenon ([http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/22/6/437.abstract]), and this basically means that you are MORE likely to retain things that your brain has to work harder on understanding.
These are my suggestions by category, I kept it two a piece, with a links to some great starter episodes.
Pop culture + News, riffed on by John Oliver and Andy Saltzman. Funny as f***, unfortunately because HBO is taking over John Oliver’s life, it is going to be changing.The backlog is still totally worth it
The Mortified Podcast
People share their childhood writing as adults. It amazing, beautiful, and truly cringe inducing.
Number 35 and 45
This is where I got started listening to podcasts. Stephen Dubner does a great job with each episode, they are excellent without having read the books (if you have read them there are couple episodes you will probably skip, most of the content is unique however). Each episode can be enjoyed on its own. If we ever talk after you listen to this, you will understand where my argument style originates.
Solid economics reporting, understandable, relatable and told very well. I don’t think I have missed an episode in two years.
Five Thirty Eights Elections Podcast
Super relevant right now. The 538 crew sits down every Monday to break down the election using our good old friend Math. Listening to Nate Silver and Harry Enten go at it makes it totally worth it. In my opinion you don’t need another source for election news. (Side benefit of it being weekly, you can drown out the constant noise of the election)
I have not listened to this podcast recently; I was accidentally dropped from my feed so I stopped listening. BUT I did listen to the first 90 episodes, and they were all excellent. If you want to know what real politics is like, unmarred by news, partisanship, and propaganda, this is the correct podcast. Really nothing else has looked so carefully at how the sausage gets made.
Science and Tech (no surprises here)
Easily the best mainstream podcast around. They are consistently up top on iTunes for good reason. They make amazing content, each story makes you think and wonder.
A radio show about design shouldn’t work, but Roman Mars is a true wizard. Weekly, I am amazed by the quality of work they produce. I have listened to every episode and loved every minute of it. This is currently my third favourite podcast.
The Memory Palace
I love this podcast. I can’t even quite explain why. They are these beautiful moments in history taken out and put on display. These stories got lost in the noise but Nate DiMeo found them and dug them up for your enjoyment. This is my second favourite podcast.
(I really like this one but it’s very creepy: http://thememorypalace.us/2013/10/im-still-alive/ )
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
Dan Carlin tells these huge narrative arcs about big historical events. He recently wrapped up a six part series on the First World War. Each part is about 4 hours so it is not for the faint of heart. Carlin brings the colour to history, so if you don’t have a solid base of knowledge, it can be hard to tell the fact from fiction. He does do an exceedingly good job of warning the listener of parts that are disputed in the annals of history.
Good Job Brain
Great weekly trivia show. Always fun segments and quizzes, good to play along. Usually the trivia is decently challenging, offers a good mix of tough and easy content. Four friends are essentially quizzing each other for the enjoyment of the listener.
Ted Radio Hour
Guy Ross makes the TED content come alive on the radio. The TED talks are reimagined for radio and he always goes deeper asking the really interesting questions of the speakers trying to reach places of deeper understanding that you don’t always get to with just the vanilla TED talk.
The Knowledge Project
I very recently started listening to this but it is kind of engrossing. Shane Parish interviews really successful people weekly and you get to look behind the curtain. My product has actually increased after listening to this.
Myke Hurly and CGP Grey break down different parts of their self-employed lives. Consistently funny, and genuinely useful, it is an instant listen when it is my podcast feed.
This is hands down my favourite podcast. Phoebe Judge has the most wonderful voice for radio. The podcast is about true crime stories. Each episode leaves you wondering and hungry for more. I can’t recommend this enough.
A fun and funny podcast about words, etymology and the roles language plays. Genuinely comical and truly insightful.