Some podcasts I’m listening to in 2018

It’s been too long since I last wrote about podcasts.

Last March I shared what was occupying my phone’s Stitcher client.  A few months before that came a list of some then-recent podcasts.  Two years ago this month (!) I wrote up a gigantic list of recommended podcasts.

Yep, an update is overdue.  Bonni Stachowiak and Robin DeRosa on the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast have encouraged all of us to share.  Alan Levine has egged me on as well.

So here is a selection, focusing on podcasts I’ve started listening to after those previous posts.  Go back through them for more recommendations.  Maybe I’ll synthesize all of these posts into a super-list.

podcasting with Alan Levine

Alan Levine prepares to podcast in style.


Spark – a Canadian radio look into different trends and stories shaping the future, hosted by the excellent Nora Young.  I really like this kind of horizon scanning, and even though the show’s ambit is global, always appreciate the Canadian perspective.

Politics and current events

Best of the Left – a grab bag of left/liberal/progressive political commentary.  Uneven but very useful and generous in its inclusion of other podcasts’ content.

The Dig – left-wing news analysis.  Part of the Jacobin world.

Economic Update – a look into major economic issues from current affairs.  Richard Wolff comes across as very concerned about the topics, but also that you understand them.

Intercepted – furious discussions about current events from a left/civil liberties point of view.  Part of The Intercept media world.

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

The World Next Week – a thoughtful reflection on international relations from the Council for Foreign Relations, looking ahead to new developments.


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.

Very Bad Wizards – two thinkers and, sometimes, a guest brood about deep questions concerning human psychology, philosophy, and ethics.  It’s not my usual fare, so I enjoy learning.


Drama of the Week – a BBC effort that provides a different story each time.  By “different” I mean the genre changes, there are different actors, the tone shifts, etc.  Very well done.


The ContrafabulistsAudrey Watters and Kin Lane critique technology with attention to education, APIs, and business.

Reply All – it’s hard to say what this one is really about.  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.

Team Human – Douglas Rushkoff interviews people he’s interested in, with an eye towards technology, humanity, and… stuff.  It feels random at times, and I can skip the Rushkoffian intro rambles, but the guests are sometimes fascinating.

Techdirt – a deep dive into various digital topics. This can include rich details about technologies and policy.

Genre fiction

The Magnus Archives – excellent British horror. 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.


BackStory – I’ve written about them previously, but the show ambitiously reorganized after its first generation.  There are new and more diverse historians on board, and each program is more fluidly structured.

Before Your Time – stories about Vermont history, for the 1 or 2 Vermont people who read this blog.

Heaven’s Gate – a narrative history of the cult, featuring generous helpings of primary source audio.  There’s also the narrator, Glynn Washington, who reveals his personal background of a family cult history.  (I’m using the cult word here, because the program does; otherwise I prefer the more difficult yet accurate term “new religious movement“)

…and that’s it for now.  My podcast habit, like my book habit, is beyond my ability to assess in terms like “too much”, “enough”, or “cry for help.”

Looking back on the list, I note that many of the programs are part of some other media entity, be it public radio (US), national media (Canada, Britain), or new digital enterprise.

Want some more recommendations?  Check my previous podcast listening posts.

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8 Responses to Some podcasts I’m listening to in 2018

  1. Mark Wilson says:

    I don’t listen to podcasts unless I have to, but I don’t commute anymore either. AI transcripts are getting pretty good, I read them instead. And not just because I’m old; I read faster than anyone can talk and I can scan the text to see if the speaker has anything interesting to say.
    Here’s one to expand your political spectrum and it’s on topic too.

  2. If you’re looking for other recommendations (and I also find that my favorites tend to come from other media entities), I strongly strongly and elegantly recommend my three absolute favorites–
    Left, Right and Center–Political punditry from the different sides, but generally intelligent and civil. From KCRW radio in Santa Monica, recently expanded to a full hour a week.
    In Our Time–History, ideas and the history of ideas from BBC Radio. I learn so much from this one. The recent episode on Hamlet was fantastic and so was Feather Dinosaurs, and I’ve got Moby Dick, The Picts and Picasso’s Guernica cued up.
    Amicus–The US supreme court and other legal issues from Dahlia Lithwick on Slate. Really helps to understand the arguments and decisions (even before they come out).

  3. Ed Webb says:

    A complement to World Next Week for that foreign policy/international relations space is Deep State Radio, with mostly alums of the Foreign Policy Editor’s Roundtable podcast.

  4. Pingback: 2018 Podcast Greats - My updated list of favorite podcast

  5. Pingback: Links: September 30, 2018

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