Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Published  December 8th, 2011

Audiobooks are great, but sometimes I'm not ready to commit to a multi-week book. Music is also great (obviously), but I listen to music while I code during the day so I'm prone to burning out on how much music I can listen to in one day. The one thing I can always listen to is podcasts. I love them. I listen to podcasts on the way into work to wake my brain up. I listen to sports podcasts at the gym to pass the time faster. I listen to podcasts on the way home from work to help my mind decompress. Doing laundry, running errands, etc. - there are many reasons to listen to podcasts. Here are some of my favorite (free) podcasts that you should check out.

Casual Listening

If you enjoy learning about random people and events as well as having awesome tidbits of information at your disposal at any time, then the HowStuffWorks.com staff are your best friends. They have two podcasts that are absolutely killer. Stuff You Should Know is a podcast explaining how both normal and complicated things work. Sometimes you'll have a podcast like 'How Ponzi Schemes Work' that is relevant to mainstream news and sometimes you'll have a podcast like 'How the Moon Works' that seems mundane, but ends up being extremely fascinating.

In the same vein, their sister podcast, Stuff You Missed in History Class, is an informative journey of people and historical events that provides much more insight than typically found on a Wikipedia article. When I was younger, I loved to sleep through history class. Now I find myself hanging on every word when they discuss the lives of people like Nikola Tesla or John Dillinger. Some examples of other topics they cover are famous shipwrecks, assassinations, and my personal favorite - military battles.

Sports Podcasts

Bill Simmons is awesome. He's a podcaster, an author, and the founder of Grantland.com. He's a blend of sports fanatic, degenerate gambler, and pop-culture enthusiast - my kind of guy. Plus, his mailbags are awesome. Anyways, Bill's podcast is the B.S. Report. He usually has one-on-one conversations with analysts of all the major sports, but he also likes to have fun podcasts with his friends. My favorite is during the NFL season when he and his friend, Cousin Sal, break down the weekly NFL gambling lines and also comment on the previous week's games. Hilarity often ensues. During the MLB season, he brings on his buddy Jack-o who is a die-hard Yankees fan and they go back and forth ripping into each other's teams (Bill is a Red Sox fan). It's awesome, trust me. If you love sports and pop culture, this is a must-listen.

I used to listen to the ESPN's PTI and Around the Horn podcasts for daily sports commentary, but they overlapped too much on content and didn't spend enough time on things I wanted to hear extended commentary on. Enter Mike and Mike in the Morning. I don't listen to them every day, but when an event occurs that I'm interested in (like a great MNF game or a big trade), I listen to their podcast so I'm able to hear what the public consensus is for the topic. Also, in the Summer, they do a series called 'two a-days' which breaks down every NFL team and talks about their off-season - it's incredibly helpful for preparing for fantasy football drafts.

Tech Podcasts

I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't name some tech-related podcasts. I used to listen to about 10, specifically surrounding start-ups or web development, but I've found that after a long day of coding and working at start-up, the last thing I want to hear about is more code or people speculating about start-ups. I read the TechCrunch RSS feed for start-up news and I rely on professional development goals to further my coding knowledge. With that being said, there are two tech-related podcasts I listen to.

The first is Build and Analyze. This show is hosted by Dan Benjamin (founder of 5by5.tv) and Marco Arment (founder of Instapaper and co-founder of Tumblr). Marco is an incredible developer and there is a lot to be learned when he talks about his development philosophies. They typically discuss iOS development, Apple, and general web development topics. The only downside is that they bash Android pretty hard.

I listened to This Week in Tech (TWiT) for over 2 years. I'm sad to say that I don't listen to it that often anymore. I love Leo Laporte (the host), but the show moved away from intelligent people dissecting Tech news and moved towards (pardon the hyperbole) old people going on irrelevant tangents about the good 'ole days of tech. The only shows I tune back in for are those that include Baratunde Thurston or Kevin Rose. I've heard that Tech News Today (TNT), which is also on the TWiT network, is very good though. It's a 45-minute daily podcast hosted by Tom Merritt. If you like tech news, definitely give TNT a try.

If you listen to some good podcasts that I didn't list, please post a comment below so I can check them out!