In 2008 I did a page listing my favourite podcasts, which I subsequently updated. Now though, there are just so many podcasts that I have decided to a new page. Here are my new choices:
99% Invisible is a Radiotopia production, which looks at unseen and overlooked aspects of design, architecture, and activity in the world. Presenter Roman Mars goes into the things that you don’t normally think about such as McMansions, Ouija boards, Freud’s couch, barcodes and revolving doors. The length of the shows is kind of on the short side, especially with ads and credits, but I suppose it’s better to be left wanting more.
ABC Radio Australia’s All in the Mind examines the mind, brain and behaviour, and the fascinating connections between them. The presenter, Lynne Malcolm looks into such topics as dreaming, depression, addiction and the psychology of conspiracy theories. If you find the workings of the human mind fascinating, this is the podcast for you.
If you want a show just focussed on economics, then I recommend Planet Money. Freakonomics has become more wide-ranging, but I do enjoy it. The economist, Steve Levitt now appears rarely, so it is Steve Dubner, who features mainly. Some of my favourite episodes have been Bad Medicine, In Praise of Maintenance, Why Uber Is an Economist’s Dream, and The Economics of Sleep.
In The Hidden Brain Shankar Vedantam uses psychology and storytelling to look at the unconscious biases that shape human behaviour. Topics have included boredom, slanguage, losing face, the perils of power and the science of deception.
The panel take a current news issue and look at the moral background to the question. Topics have included selfie culture, political discourse, virtue signalling and fake news. Host Michael Buerk does a great job.
This show’s host, Christopher Lydon, is credited with creating the first podcast ever recorded in July 2003. I can’t remember when I first started listening to Lydon’s program The Connection, but I used to love Lydon’s interviewing style. He then got involved in a contract dispute and he left. I did rather lose touch with his career but recently I have started listening again. His interviews deal with the big ideas in culture, the arts and politics.
NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour is a lively look at books, comics, films, music television podcasts etc. The panellists delve into pop culture themes and topics such as Oscar documentaries, Justin Timberlake, the S-Town podcast, memes and the TV show, The Americans.
Social Science Bites is a podcast by David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton, who are also behind the Philosophy Bites podcast. For the last five years social scientists have been presenting their perspectives on humans and society. Each 20-minute podcast includes a downloadable written transcript of the conversation. Topics have included: race, violence, the happiness industry and behavioural economics. They have some very prestigious and insightful speakers such as Steven Pinker, Paul Seabright, Danny Dorling and Robert Schiller. With its March 2017 Gary King Big Data Analysis podcast, Social Science Bites reached its 50th episode.
This is the perfect podcast for word nerds. This is another Radiotopia production. Programmes have included features about romantic novels, the political lexicon and puns.
I am not particularly into food podcasts, but I like the BBC’s Food Chain which looks into the economics, science and culture of what we eat. It has looked at such topics as vegetarianism, bottled water, junk food and food fads.
The Human Zoo is a BBC podcast Michael Blastland, the man behind the More or Less podcast, and Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University and looks at the fascinating area of psychological research, especially those hidden human biases. If you like Daniel Kahneman, this is the podcast for you.
This programme, which is presented by Jonathan Freedland, uses history to compare to current, showing that there is nothing new under the sun. For example, a medieval blood libel is compared to fake news, Donald Trump’s border wall to the 1840s Great Hedge of India and modern military drones to the Nazi V1 and V2 weapons.
The conceit of the Philosopher’s Arms is to look at philosophical conundrums in front of a live audience in a pub. The term “pub philosopher” may have a derogatory connotation, but I have become a fan of the abovementioned drinking establishment and its much-loved landlady, Gladys. Host Matthew Sweet and guest philosophers look at the prisoner’s dilemma, moral disgust, free will and more importantly, is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit. But remember: think responsibly.
I love language podcasts and this BBC podcast, which was created by the Irish writer and broadcaster, Frank Delaney. It is now presented by children’s novelist and poet, Michael Rosen. Topics have included Roald Dahl’s language, taking turns in conversation, inventing brand names and PR – How Not To Do It.
There are many more I could have mentioned – Serial, S-Town, and You Must Remember This spring to mind but I didn’t want to make the list too long. Indeed while researching this week I discovered that the satirical magazine Private Eye also has a podcast, Page 94. Where will I find the time?