Some podcasts I’m listening to in 2019

Every year or so I recommend some podcasts that I’ve been listening to.  Since today is International Podcast Day, it seems a good time to issue a blog post update.  (previous posts: 2018, 2017, early 2016, mid-2016, 2015, and 2013)

And there are a bunch, nearly 50.  I’ll break these out by category.  Some programs really fit in two or more, so I made do.  I’ll also add episodes I’ve been on.  (And yes, planning continues for my own podcast series or two.)

What follows are either currently running programs or ones that concluded very recently.

podcast bunny(And can I saw how awesome it is to see this current, second wave of podcasting grow and develop?  What a splendid development in digital storytelling!)

Storytelling (nonfiction)

Risk! Personal stories about, well, risky stuff: sex, drugs, violence, madness, fun, and horror.  It’s as if the Moth showed up at your door at 3 am, drunk, half dressed, waving a stick of dynamite, and insisting that you have to listen.

The Story Collider: fine personal stories about science, performed Moth-style.

Storytelling (fiction)

Clarkesworld Magazine podcast: beautifully read fantasy and science fiction short stories, with many women and non-US writers represented.

The Magnus Archives: excellent British horror stories. Each episode is a single recording from the titular archives, a first-person relation of some creepy event.  All stories knit together into larger arcs involving the archives, their hapless staff, and their own mysteries.  Excellent audio performances.  Meanwhile, the same group is responsible for the very, very silly Stella Firma, an improv science fiction show.

NoSleep: scary short stories, initially told as campfire tales, and now as something like anthology horror.  Excellent MC-ing.  Very funny riffs on sponsors.

I meet another SFF Audio guest

I meet up with another SFF Audio guest, Paul Weimer.

SFF Audio: the indefatigable Jesse Willis hosts readings of and discussions about classic and little-known science fiction and fantasy stories.  I’ve been a guest a bunch of times.

Starship Sofa: science fiction stories short and long, plus poetry, science, discussion, and the awesome MC-ing of Tony C. Smith.  The first science fiction podcast to win a Hugo award, and the first denizen of the District of Wonders.

Tales to Terrify: horror stories long and short, plus some commentary and bouts of ghost hunting. Also in the District of Wonders.

Politics and current events

Arms Control Wonk: a group of experts probe current developments and recent history.

Behind the News with Doug Henwood: host and guests discuss current events (American and international) from a left perspective.

The Daily: each episode looks into a current story, then adds a summary of leading events.  New York Times.

The Dream: a deep dive into the grift-heavy world of multi-level marketing.  This is important stuff, alas.

Economic Update: a look into major economic issues from current affairs from a left perspective.  Richard Wolff is very engaging.

On the Media – analyses of contemporary journalism and related issues, from a progressive perspective.

podcast group

Radio Open Source : not about technology, but a wide range of current events and culture, with a strong Boston flavor.

Slate’s Political Gabfest: an elite, East coast, urban, liberal look at current politics.


Beyond the Book – a look into the book publishing industry.  It’s clearly biased in favor of strong copyright policies and practices, a bias I don’t share, but the program is also very informative.

In Our Time – superb, high-speed conversations about history, science, and culture.  One of my favorites.

Reading Envy – a librarian and her friends discuss what they’ve been reading.  I’ve been a guest several times (2014, 2014 again, 2015, 2016, and 2017) and still Jenny allows me back.


13 Minutes To The Moon: a detailed look at Apollo 11, with the nifty narrative device of focusing on the titular moments, which serve as a springboard to understand the US space effort as a whole.

BackStory: each episode explores a major theme across American history, often starting from current events.  There are now new and more diverse historians on board, and each program is more fluidly structured than it was at the start.

Behind the Bastards: stories of terrible people, mostly mass murderers and/or grifters.  Robert Evans hosts with a mix of historical curiosity, moral passion, and a cruel sense of humor; comedians guest.

HardCore History: excellent, thoughtful, detailed explorations of intense historical events, from ancient Persia to the Cold War. Host Dan Carlin is mesmerizing in a growling, thoughtful, passionate late night radio way.

History Extra podcast: interviews with writers covering a range of historical topics with something of a British perspective.

Revolutions: excellent, accessible, rich history of revolutions in Britain, America, France, Haiti, and south America, among others.  Mike Duncan is very good, offering well organized and compelling presentations laced with a mordant sense of humor.  Currently he’s on the Russian Revolution and doing a fine job.

podcast setup in black and whiteStuff You Missed in History Class: each episode covers a historical incident from a wide range of time, with an emphasis on relatively modern and western subjects.  Hosts Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson are splendid: deeply knowledgeable, humane, funny.


The Disruptors: a look into visions of the future, through interviews with a wide range of people .  Matt Ward’s a fine host. (my appearance)

Flash Forward: a nice mix, with each episode focusing a particular “what if,” offering a story taking place in that world, followed by a discussion from the present.

Spark: a CBC exploration of the future.  Norah Young is a great host. (thanks to Ken Bauer)

Seminars about Long-term Thinking: presentations to the Long Now Foundation on a variety of topics (history, science, culture) through the lens of very long-term thinking.


EdSurge on Air: this education reporting and analysis team also has a podcast.  They cover K-12 and post-secondary education. (my appearance)

EduFuturists: a British team looks into ed tech.  I think the emphasis is on K-12.

FutureU: interviews with people researching and/or leading changes in higher education.  Jeff Selingo and Michael Horn are genial, thoughtful, and energetic hosts.

Higher Ed Social: conversations about different aspects of education.

Research in Action: Katie Lindner’s show is hosted by Oregon State University Ecampus, and does what it says.  Every week dives into cutting-edge research about higher ed. (my appearance)

Teaching in Higher Ed: Bonni Stachowiak interviews a wide range of guests involved in postsecondary instruction. (my first appearance)

Technology and science

99% Invisible: plunges into architecture, infrastructure, and the built environment, always finding good stories. (thanks to Chris Lott)

a16z: a look into emerging technology from the perspective of Silicon Valley venture capital fund Andreessen Horowitz.

The Contrafabulists: Audrey Watters and Kin Lane critique technology with attention to education, APIs, and business.

Engines of our Ingenuity: short, well done monologues on technology, inventions, and people.  Every single episode has a transcript and references.  Did I mention they’ve done more than 3,200 shows so far?

Radiolab: fine storytelling about unusual ideas in science.

Reply All: looks into the digital world, pulling out cultural or whatever stories it finds interesting.  It’s energetic, friendly, trend-obsessed, and hard to stop listening to.

The Story Collider: fine personal stories about science, performed Moth-style.

Techdirt: conversations about various digital topics. This can include rich details about technologies and policy.


EconTalk: interviews with major economists conducted by a puckish, provocative MC.  Every single episode has an annotated, hyperlinked transcript completed with time markers, references, and suggested readings: bravo!

Slate Money Podcast: very useful, both informative and engaging, with a healthy amount of self-deprecation, although I miss Cathy O’Neill.  The only Slate podcast I genuinely like, on balance.


Have you heard any of these?  What else are you listening to?

(images by Alan Levine, Montclair Film, David Shortle; one correction thanks to Warren Blyth)

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5 Responses to Some podcasts I’m listening to in 2019

  1. Warren Blyth says:

    quick note: “Research in Action: Katie Lindner’s show is hosted by Eastern Oregon State…” is actually hosted by Oregon State University Ecampus – the distance learning part of OSU. (not sure we have an eastern campus. I googled up a separate entity here in the state called Eastern Oregon University, but they have nada to do with this podcast).

  2. Ed Webb says:

    My overlaps here are On The Media, Radiolab, 99% Invisible, Revolutions. I dip into The Long Now every so often.

    I listen to a lot of politics & economics, from straightforward NPR stuff to the raucous Trash Future, and particularly stuff from the Deep State Radio stable. Also Lawfare, Rational Security, The Report. Mehdi Hasan’s Deconstructed is good value.

    BBC’s Africa Today and various Middle East and Africa weeklies.

    Recently started Brian Klaas’s Power Corrupts, and highly recommend it for a hit of comparative politics.

    Enjoying the NPR history podcast Throughline and BBC Radio’s The Long View, although the latter hasn’t put out anything recently.

    On sound and design, 20,000Hz is good.

    Fiction: King Falls AM.

    Some veterans’ stuff, mainly Hell of a Way to Die and the Warax and Natasha Podcast.

    Intrigued by the new And Now The Hard Part, attempting to apply social science to hard problems, but haven’t heard enough to have a strong opinion.

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