Since I was a teenager, I have been a bit of a political junkie. I grew up in a politically active family, I studied political science at university, and I have lobbied Congress more times than I can recall. So as you might imagine, I absorbed every ounce of news coverage and reading that I could during the last U.S. presidential election. By the time the party conventions arrived in July 2016, I was so burned out on the divisive and toxic nature of the whole thing that I was desperate for something new.
I turned to podcasts. Podcasts were the perfect way for me to stay engaged, get inspired, and continue the pursuit of knowledge while on the go or while busy with other tasks like cooking, cleaning, or getting ready in the morning. The political podcasts go deep into the issues and the debates. The business podcasts really help you learn new tangible skills and ways of thinking. And the entertaining podcasts are as quality as anything you would find on Netflix.
NPR has recently been promoting a #TryPod challenge. The premise of the challenge is that those of us who listen to podcasts should share our favorite podcasts with our friends, family, and the world. Well NPR: challenge accepted! Here is my #TryPod answer, and my list for Best Podcast 2017.
Please leave a comment below about what your favorite podcasts are.
1. How I Built This
Frequency: Weekly | Produced By: NPR | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
This podcast is a weekly discussion with innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists who have launched global movements ranging from airlines to clothiers, and from early computing to the latest sharing economy trends. How I Built This has become my favorite podcast because I always learn something fascinating, I get inspired to continue work toward building on my own passions, and most importantly, we come to understand how some of the most well-recognized people and products all started with humble beginnings. The lessons to learn here are that if they can do it, so can you. So listen to How I Built This and find the inspiration and strength to follow your own passions!
2. ProBlogger Podcast
Frequency: Weekly | Produced By: Darren Rowse | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
Host and producer Darren Rowse is an early adopter to blogging. He has been blogging for some 15 years and has learned a lot along the way as he blazed the trail for other would-be bloggers. His podcast is full of tips, insights, best practices and encouragement for you (yes, you!) to write a blog and, if you so desire, to monetize it. He is currently nearing his 200th episode and I can hardly think of a topic he has yet to cover. The first 30 episodes are a “30 days to built a better blog challenge,” where he goes through the best actions you can take over a 30 day period to get your blog up and running and generating traffic. Even if you are not interested in blogging, some of the tips he shares are very useful in other areas of life. I highly recommend you give ProBlogger Podcast a listen!
3. Freakonomics Radio
Frequency: Weekly | Produced By: WNYC | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
From the authors of the Freakonomics book series which has found a way to explain the essence of economics to millions of people in an interesting and engaging way, this podcasts explores the hidden side of everything and lays out the rules of economics as they apply to every aspect of life and human development. More than just interviews and high-level learning, the Freakonomics Radio podcast is storytelling at its finest.
4. TED Radio Hour
Frequency: Weekly | Produced By: NPR and TED | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
If you are familiar with TED Talks, then you are already familiar with the TED Radio Hour Podcast. This is the radio version of the popular TED videos. What I think makes this even more interesting is that rather than focusing on a single talk, they focus on a topic and then highlight various TED Talks which are on that topic. You will hear excerpts from the original TED Talk in addition to interviews with the speakers for the purpose of this podcast. Even if you have watched every TED Talk, you will get the opportunity go dive a little deeper into each topic here.
5. More Perfect
Frequency: Weekly / Seasonally | Produced By: WNYC’s Radiolab | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
I just recently started listening to More Perfect and think it might be one of the more important podcasts you can listen to. It did a limited-run mini-series in 2016 but season 2 is slated for launch later in 2017. The podcast covers important Supreme Court decisions in America. This may sound very dry, but I promise you that More Perfect paints a vibrant picture of how these decisions impact the daily lives of “We, the people.” There are court rulings here that you are aware of and ones you have never heard of, but what you are sure to learn is that indeed, this far away court does influence your life in more ways than you likely appreciate today.
6. This American Life
Frequency: Weekly / Seasonally | Produced By: Chicago Public Media | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
A great classic! This American Life has been produced for over two decades, has more than 600 episodes, and yet somehow the topics never seem to overlap or repeat. This American Life broadcasts on Sundays, so I listen to it on Monday mornings. Indeed, it is my Monday morning ritual to start listening to This American Life the instant I wake up; it is the best way for me to start off the week on the right foot! Their typical format is a story in three acts where they follow a general theme and then report on three stories which speak to that theme.. but often in very unexpected ways that will leave you pondering about life, the universe and everything!
7. Revisionist History
Frequency: Weekly / Seasonally | Produced By: Malcolm Gladwell | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
From the author that brought us such books as The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, Revisionist History explores well-known events and retells the tales which have formed modern life. This podcast is especially focused on the details of these events which have been nearly forgotten. This perspective on the “what if” and the “let us not forget that” historical storytelling is both entertaining and educational. Most importantly, you will come away from every episode with greater knowledge of our past and more appreciation that the devil truly is in the details.
8. Without A Path
Frequency: Bi-Weekly | Produced By: Joe Baur | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
From adventure-seeker and author Joe Baur, the Without A Path podcast is one of my favorites because it uncovers unique travel stories that are off the well-trodden tourist path. Joe recounts his own travel tales and interviews many other adventures and travel industry professionals. If you have ever dreamed the dream of travel but not yet taken that first step, or if you have already traversed the globe and are seeking the next thrill, Without A Path has a story for you that will get you off the couch and out exploring the world.
9. Posh Corps Podcast
Frequency: Sporadically | Produced By: Alan Toth | Links: Website and iTunes
As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I must admit that this podcast speaks to my inner soul in a way that it won’t to those who have not had this shared experience. That said, the stories do take on more of a universal tone than just Peace Corps service and history. The stories are of the human experience and how the those in privileged positions can change the world through acts of kindness and volunteerism. If you are thinking to join the Peace Corps, have been in the Peace Corps, or know anyone who has served, then this is a great place to gain perspective on what it means to serve.
10. Hidden Brain
Frequency: Weekly | Produced By: NPR | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
Combining science and storytelling, the Hidden Brian Podcast examines the triggers of human behavior by taking a deep look at biases, trends, research, and storytelling. I find that the lessons uncovered here about the human condition leave me pondering for hours about myself and my own bias. What behaviors do I unknowingly have? What should I change? What shouldn’t I? The answers to all this and much more are what I get out of the Hidden Brain Podcast.
11. The Compass
Frequency: Weekly | Produced By: BBC | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
The world is a big place, full of events and stories which don’t make the cut into the mainstream media. Even when there is broad coverage of a situation, it is too often packaged into a 2-minute snippet. The Compass looks around the globe for circumstances shaping our world which need to be expounded upon. Their reporting is seemingly unbiased with interviews of leaders, locals, and everyone in between. Give The Compass a listen to open your mind to the world and the people in it.
12. True Story
Frequency: Weekly | Produced By: Will Rogers | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
People do the darndest things! Everyday people like you and I expose their most embarrassing moments, their saddest memories, the inspirations, and the little things in life that bring them joy in this podcast. Storytelling meetups have become a popular trend in the USA and this podcast is about bringing those living room tales out of the shadows and into your ears. You will laugh, you might cry, and you most certainly will learn that it is ok to be a little vulnerable!
13. The Dinner Party Download
Frequency: Weekly | Produced By: American Public Media | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
Ever go to a dinner party or an event where small talk is not only a skill but also a survival tool? The Dinner Party Download is the best resource for filling your toolbox with interesting factoids, anecdotes, and current events facts which will make you the center of an evening’s conversation. Trust me, listening to this podcast’s mixture of culture, food, and conversation will serve you well!
14. Authority Self Publishing Podcast
Frequency: Weekly | Produced By: Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport | Links: Website, iTunes. and Stitcher
Another podcast for the would-be or veteran writer. If you would like to publish your writing in any medium, or are looking for tools, tips, and inspiration for your next publication, then this podcast is for you. The dual-hosted interview format keeps interviews moving briskly through interesting topics and focuses on helping you be the best self-publisher possible.
Frequency: Daily | Produced By: NPR | Links: Website, iTunes, and Stitcher
This is a new podcast from NPR covering daily political and newsworthy events. They pick a theme or just one or two stories, then go deep into a conversation about that theme. The conversation is expertly delivered and I really enjoy listening to 1A. The only warning I would give is that, if me, you are looking for podcasts as an escape from the political conversation in America, then 1A will not help you to that end. However, if you want to deeply expand your knowledge on what is truly going on, then this is a great resource for you. I also recommend listening to their Friday News Roundup, as that weekly episode will give a great rundown of everything that happened during the week.
16. WTF with Marc Maron
Frequency: Twice Weekly | Produced By: Marc Maron | Links: Website and iTunes
Looking for some honesty? Well, you found it! Marc Maron has leveraged his legend-status from his comedy career to land some of the most coveted interviewees in modern times. From entertainers to President Barack Obama, it seems like there is no one Marc Maron has not had the opportunity to interview. What makes it even more interesting is that this podcast is produced from his home garage!