My interest in podcasts began in 2005 with listening to The Brewing Network on a second generation iPod Mini. What began as a way to pass the time cycling 11 miles to and from work grew into a way to zone out during all exercise. Instead of listening to music, I was thinking. Instead of thinking about technique or heart rate zones though, I was lost in distraction. My list of subscriptions grew over time from one to nearly twenty shows covering various topics such as religion, beer, self-improvement, economics, and storytelling. I couldn’t consume enough!
Now I actually enjoy solitude when I exercise, so mainly listen in the car. Unfortunately though, because I feel compelled to keep up with any podcast to which I’m subscribed I’ve culled my subscriptions back down to eight. Not all of the below shows are still in my queue, but they’ve each shaped the way I think and were not mentioned in previous lists:
- Gospel in Life: Tim Keller has been called the Yoda of Christianity and three decades ago he left rural Virginia to plant a church in Manhattan. He has a gift for teaching 2,000 year old Biblical lessons through a modern, mainly urban application. His view can be summed up by his frequent quote: “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” Most of his sermons were previously behind a paywall, but are now released free each week.
- The Art of Manliness: Brett McKay teaches true manliness – not the shallow interpretation we often see – and I first came across his website when looking for thank you notes in 2016. Many interesting interviews later I’ve learned of my male potential to “become better friends, mentors, husbands, fathers, and citizen, and live a life of eudaemonia – skill, flourishing, excellence, and virtue.” Needless to say, this is a process that is never complete.
- Freakonomics Radio: So often, the human behaviors you cannot understand are driven by hidden incentives. Through the research of Steven Levitt and well-produced interviews of Stephen Dubner I learned that life is much more complex than I believed, likely because of the bite-sized format of mass media. Freakonomics showed me the need for long form analysis, separated in time from the event itself.
- Planet Money: I heart NPR! If Freakonomics taught me that I should have paid more attention in macro and micro economics in college, Planet Money taught me how to apply them to current events in a fun way. Also, not only is long form analysis separated in time from the event itself important, but even more so is independent journalism.
- Revisionist History: If you haven’t read any of Malcom Gladwell’s books, please do. This podcast revealed that history is a narrative, usually written by the winner (but not always) and the ideas that make it up spread like a virus. How much of what you assume to be truth is actually just one interpretation?
The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.Albert Einstein
One response to “My top five most interesting podcasts”
Good recommendations. I also enjoy AOM, and used to listen to both Planet Money and Freakonomics regularly.
I also struggle with a sense of obligation to listen to anything I’ve subscribed to, and frequently cull my list. The best time I’ve found to listen is working alone out in the yard, blowing and shoveling snow, e.g. I’ll get another chance tomorrow.
I live in continual tension between the desire to learn more and the need for quiet.
May I also recommend Dan Carlin’s “Hardcore History” for super-long-form gritty history–Ghosts of the Osfront is incredible–and his rarely updated “Common Sense” for current events.