Apparently September 30 is International Podcast Day? What a great prompt for writing today.

I am currently subscribed to … far too many podcasts. They fall into a few general categories:

  1. Economics (Behavioral and Macro)
  2. Ficton
  3. X-Wing
  4. Science
  5. Culture/Spirituality
  6. History
  7. Tech

I have found that podcasts are a great way for me to “learn by osmosis”. I have them on while I’m getting ready in the morning, walking the dog, driving, doing house or yard work, and when I’m oncall, burning down the ticket queue. I wouldn’t say they get 100% of my attention, but I do pick up little bits of information. I do think I am becoming a more well-rounded, informed person for it all.

So, in honor of International Podcast Day, I present ten podcasts I enjoy, that you may not be aware of. They are not presented in any particular order. I’ll also include links to recommended episodes.

1. The Past and The Curious

This is a monthly history Podcast, mostly for kids, but its such high quality, I think anyone would enjoy it. The creator, Mick Sullivan, works at the Frazier History Museum in Lexington, Kentucky. Each episode includes two stories or profiles, “Quiz Time”, and a song — sometimes an original composition. While the episodes may profile names you recognize, Mick finds parts of their stories you may not have heard before. The episodes are inclusive of many stories from around the world, too. Two episodes worth checking out:

2. Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda

Yes, that Alan Alda. Some day I’ll write a post about how certain TV characters from the 80s filled in for an absent father, but until then, sufice it to say that Hawkeye Pierce was one of those characters (particularly in the later seasons of MASH). Turns out, Alan Alda isn’t just a great actor, he was a major supporter of the ERA and a prolific science communicator. This podcast is an extension of his work at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Each episode, Alan interviews scientists, entertainers — or just whomever the heck he pleases! — and pulls such interesting details from them. He’s a warm, intentional interviewer, and I love listening to him. Two recent episodes I enjoyed, that you may, as well:

3. The Fitzroy Diaries

The is a little ficiton podcast from the Austrailian Broadcast Company. The protaginist is a suburban mom, going about her frantic life. There’s neighborhood intriegue, but nothing too dark, or edgy. Each episoide (usually) starts with her rattling off some little afirmation. It’s just kind of a slice of idealized normalicy. (I mean, who actually talks to all their neighbors?) They just released the third season, but I would recommend starting with season one.

4. Flash Forward

I have tried so many times to describe what this show is about, and never do it justice. It’s culture and science and futurism. For the longest time the show was produced soley by Rose Eveleth, but she has brought on an extra producer for the past few seasons. Rose takes a topic, makes some speculation of how that topic may play out in the future, and starts the episode with a small fictional pience to illustrate it. Then she interviews experts in the related fields to talk it through. I really appreciate that Rose find diverse voices for her peices. She makes a real effort to highlight how these futures will affect existing marginalized people, or what new marginilizations may be created. Two episodes to check out:

  • Bot for Teacher This came out in June 2016, well before the hell that was school in 2020. While my kids didn’t have horrible experiences, I know there were plenty of kids out there that did, and I know that technology sure didn’t help. This episode (and the followup in February 2021) dive into what could have been and what we got.
  • BODIES: InkRx Medical tatoos sound so cool, don’t they? A good dive into just what that could look like.

5. The Truth

Great storytelling with compelling voice actors. A little bit like The Twilight Zone. Most of the stories are one-offs, but there have been a four (so far) in a post-apocolyptic series called The Hum. Two episodes to check out:

  • Into the Hum “When the sky itself becomes deadly, survival depends on how much you can trust strangers.” The second episode of the series.
  • Poofed “After helping a woman on a subway platform, a busker discovers that her ukulele has a strange power.”

6. Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast

Andy Stanley is the lead pastor at North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. Each month he discusses different methods for effective leadership, often with interviewing other leaders. Even if you aren’t religiuous, Andy has a lot of great advice, backed up by the successful organization he has built, by trusting, empowering, and empathizing with his teams. And his presentation is humble, no-nonsense and practical. Two episodes to check out:

The 5 Lies of Corporate Culture with Ginger Hardage, Part 1 and Part 2 Ginger Hardage was the SVP of culture at Southwest Airlines and is now the CEO of Ronald McDonald House.

7. Encyclopedia Womanica

A daily pdocast that highlights known, and not so well known, women from history. Each month has a theme (September 2021 was Educators). Such a great way to learn about amazing women who have shaped our lives, even if we didn’t know it. Three episodes I enjoyed:

8. Conversations with Tyler

I learned about Tyler Cown by way of NPR Planet Money. Tyler ends every interview with an “Under Rated / Over Rated” segment, which Planet Money appropriates (with permission) every once in a while. Tyler is an interesting interviewer: he does tons of research on his guests, asks in depth questions, yet unapologetically brings his own opinions and biases to the table. And his questions are rapid fire. I am learning a lot from this, a lot that I don’t agree with, but it’s not advesareal, so it is stretching my mind. I found these two recent episodes insightful:

9. Meanwhile in Security

Many people know of Corey Quinn, the founder of The Duckbill Group and snarky “Cloud Economist” and that is very proficient at “punching up” with Amazon, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. However, people may not of the new cloud security podcast also produced by The Duckbill Group, hosted by Jesse Trucks. Jesse does a great job of describing common computer security issues in an approachable way that I can understand.

10. Small Things Often

The Gottman Group has been a leader for years in researching what makes marriages and relationships work. Even if you are not married, or in any sort of romantic relationship, you are in some sort of relationship with someone, even if it’s just coworkers. These short episodes are great reminders of how to treat others, and yourself, with love and respect.

Bonus: X-Wing

X-Wing is a table top minatures game, developed originally by Fantasy Flight Games and now developed by Atomic Mass Games. In short, you push little plastic spaceships around a 3’ x 3’ mat for 75 minutes, rolling dice , flipping cards, and having a great time. I try to play once a week at my Friendly Local Game Store, Huzzah Hobbies.

Easily, most of my Podcast hours are spent on X-Wing Podcasts. I listen to the “big ones,” often one or two hours long, but I want to hlghlight two others that I really enjoy:

First, Worst Coast Children is produced by two teenagers in Southern California. They do so much more than talk about the game, but instead interview people that have done interesting things in X-WIng or people that have influenced them personally. They also have a few episodes talking about X-Wing and philosophy. It is really quirky, refreshing, and do I dare say optimistic.

Second, Radio TCX will cover new product releases, a little bit of tournament coverage, and some strategy talk. But best of all, unlike most other X-Wing podcasts, their episodes come in at 30 to 45 minutes.