Podcasts are a wonderful way to kill time on long journeys and there has been a renaissance in the medium in recent years.
Like many creative professions, the old systems of distribution that required audiences in the millions to be sustainable are being cast aside by the power of the Internet. Smaller, niche shows are able to rise and thrive, catering to interests that traditional mainstream radio just couldn’t cover.
New networks, such as Dan Benjamin’s 5by5, are leading the way in the Podcast revolution and it’s only a matter of time and technology before traditional radio disappears and this new, on-demand medium catering to a wide variety of tastes and interests rises to replace it.
I listen to a broad range of podcasts, covering everything from Apple geekery to celebrity interviews, and here are some of my favourites.
For The Nerd
Featuring Marco Arment, Casey Liss and John Siracusa, this show focuses on technology news and technical discussions and has one of the catchiest theme songs basically ever. Siracusa in particular is a nerd’s nerd, often baited by Arment and Liss, with a tendency to head off into hugely entertaining hypercritical rants about technology.
Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin’s weekly ninety minutes are ostensibly about creativity and productivity but in reality are an in-joke filled riot of randomness peppered with life lessons, Glengarry Glen Ross references and Howard Hughes comparisons. Way of the future.
Brett Terpstra, hero of Markdown and a machine of production, features a weekly guest to talk about nerdery and pop psychology. The top 3 picks at the end of the show are often a gold mine of great new apps and services to try.
For The Intellectual
Science! Presented in the fun and interesting way that it deserves! Heading in to some of the weirdest corners of our worlds, Abumrad and Krulwich deliver stories on science with a magical audio accompaniment.
Economic nerdery with a human touch, Planet Money provides insight and analysis on world economic trends and stories. As well as visiting Bangladesh in the process of following their T-shirts from the source, they also took a trip to Myanmar to find out about the newly installed ATMs and how locals were dealing with the newly reformed banking system.
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For The Irreverant
An interview show based in Los Angeles, Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist has secured guests such has Tom Hanks and Dave Grohl. Relaxed and informal, the show often covers alcoholism, celebrity in the world of the internet, creativity and mental blocks. And dick jokes.
Merlin Mann gets together with John Roderick of The Long Winters where they discuss world issues, John’s insane travel adventures and the problem with liberals. Offensive, controversial and hilarious—listening is mandatory if you want avoid being recycled by Supertrain (there’s probably a word in German for that).
Another Merlin Mann show, this time with Adam Lisagor and Scott Simpson, is an erratically released Journal of Emotional Hygiene. Covering topics like hotels and getting old, there’s often a deep dive to the darker parts of the human soul which actually turn out to be a lot of fun to laugh at.
So that’s what keeps me going on torturously bumpy bus journeys but I’m sure I’m missing some great ones, so feel free to chime in and let me know what I need to be adding to my playlist.