Friday, June 18, 2010

Top 5 Podcasts

UPDATED - I've produced an even better list HERE

I love talk radio. Almost all my car's presets are set to "more talk, less rock". Back in college, I had a talk radio show with my radio buddies. I've always loved it. I have to say that the way "popular" talk radio has devolved in the last decade is much less interesting. However, something else has picked up the slack.


I listen to hours of podcasts every week, and so I figured I should crank out a top 5 list of podcasts. Let's be clear; this is MY top 5, not anyone else's, not based on listenership, or anything else.

Of course, I'm ethically bound to disqualify my podcast (sci-guys) even though it is better than all these put together! (That's sarcasm just in case I was unclear)

And, you'll probably notice something about my top 5 - some of them are actually radio programs. So I guess talk radio really isn't dead, just the stuff that is on when I'm in my car...

Honorable mentions: Out of the Game, A Life Well Wasted, and the Official Lost Podcast. These only make the honorable mention list because they are basically defunct. I guess "A Life Well Wasted" may still be going, but the updates are so damn infrequent it may as well be done. Robert Ashley's take on gaming culture is always awesome, when it actually turns up.

"Out of the Game" was basically the "Computer Gaming World" / "Games for Windows" magazines podcasting crew's attempt to keep it going after they all moved on to "better" things. I guess they have all really moved on by now, because they haven't done one since the end of 2009.

And since the TV show "Lost" is done, it is unlikely that the producers of that show will do more of their podcast. But when it was running, it was insightful, informative, and above, all funny. The gold standard for this type of podcast.

SO here are the top 5:

5: Radio Lab Documentary radio at its finest. Hosts JAd Abumrad and Robert Krulwich always deliver a thought provoking show with the highest possible audio production values. They tend to focus on scientific or psychological topics, but they do mix in all sorts of stuff.

4: The Moth True stories told live without notes. The Moth is a group that is dedicated to the art of storytelling. They host numerous events where all sorts of people get together to tell and listen to stories. The podcast showcase some of the best ones. This is a short one, normally around 15 minutes or so. Recently they have launched a public radio show.

3: Maximum PC No BS Podcast Maximum PC is a tech magazine that caters to hard-core PC users/modders/fans. But don't let that drive you away. The No BS Podcast is a weekly take on the tech news across the spectrum, and is damn funny. Gordon Mah Ung's rants are a must listen.

2: Planet Money I will admit this one isn't for everyone. How do CDOs work, and how did they cause the financial crisis? How is Haiti's economy doing post earthquake? Why is it so hard to do business in India? Sound interesting? If you answered no, then you must not be listening to the Planet Money Podcast, because they can break down complex financial and/or economic issues in a way that is both accessible an entertaining.

1: This American Life I almost feel bad putting this at number one. For one thing, it is a radio show first, with the podcast being just another way to get it. Another issue for me is that TAL often showcases the great work of others (like Planet Money, or Radio Lab) to produce their show. Full disclosure, I was turned on to some of the other podcasts on this list by TAL. And the big reason to feel bad at putting this number one? It is expected. It is the New York Yankees of Podcasts - it always wins. Everyone expects it. Oh well, sometimes the "best" is the best for a reason...

But those really aren't knocks. This American Life is the one hour of Podcasting each week that is "can't miss". Always entertaining, riveting, horrifying, depressing, or hilarious, WHATEVER they try to do with their podcast that week is always on the mark. There is a reason that it is that 400,000 people a week download this Podcast, and you should be one of them.

There you go. The top five podcasts available today. Now go subscribe to the Sci-Guys podcast.

EDIT: Of course, as soon as I actually get around to posting this "A Life Well Wasted" gets around to putting up a new podcast


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