A Few Favorite Podcasts

Back in September I shared several of my favorite blogs: blogs on teaching, technology, and visual thinking. When I started that series, I intended to share a few of my favorite podcasts, too. Better late than never, right?

  • The World’s Technology Podcast – The tagline for this podcast from the BBC/PRI/WGBH co-production The World is “Tech that matters.” Each week host Clark Boyd shares a fascinating set of stories on the intersection of technology and society. If you want gadget news, look elsewhere. If you want to learn about human connections to emerging uses of technology around the world, this is your podcast.
  • On the Media – This WNYC production explores the media landscape, tackling everything from the news media coverage of presidential elections to troubles facing government whistle blowers to the use of social media in political protests to how music conveys emotion. They have a broad definition of “media,” which makes for a stimulating podcast each week.
  • Radiolab – Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich host this other WNYC production which features… well, it features stories. Stories “where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience,” as their website says. The stories are fascinating, as are the methods the Radiolab team uses to tell those stories. They are, perhaps, the best audio-only explainers around these days.
  • Click – Formerly known as Digital Planet, this BBC World Service production is hosted by Gareth Mitchell and Bill Thompson. Although they cover the technology gadget scene more than the World’s Technology Podcast does, Click also does a good job of discussing “tech that matters.” And lately, as part of a series on the technology of radio, they’ve been sharing nicely atmospheric audio recordings made by listeners using AudioBoo, including one of mine.
  • Marketplace Tech Report – Hosted by John Moe (who, on Twitter, is absurd, funny, and sometimes absurdly funny), this American Public Radio show runs for about five minutes every weekday. It’s a fun way to keep up with the latest technology news. Regular segments include According to a Recent Study, Tech Report Theater, and Robots!.
  • NPR 7AM ET News Summary – Speaking of short, daily podcasts, I have to recommend this one from NPR. When I started listening to podcasts on my daily commute several years ago, instead of live radio, I realized I needed a way to keep up with the news. NPR’s morning headlines work great for this.
  • The World in Words – Unlike most of the podcasts listed here, there’s not a ton of technology in Patrick Cox’s weekly language podcast, but it’s a great listen nonetheless, providing snapshots of language and culture from around the world.
  • To the Best of Our Knowledge – This Wisconsin Public Radio show provides two hours of content each week, each hour focusing on a different theme. TTBOOK is an interview-based showed, usually featuring interviews with authors. (Thus the “BOOK” in TTBOOK.) I find some hours far more interesting than others, of course, but I can credit TTBOOK with introducing me to about a dozen books that I added to my bookcase this past year.

“Chance favors the connected mind,” as Steven Johnson says. I’ve found that by listening to these and other podcasts, I’m more connected to new ideas and perspectives from around the world, and I think that has helped me do my job better. I know for a fact that I’ve included examples and stories from many of these podcasts in workshops and talks I’ve given.

What’s missing from this list? Podcasts about teaching, learning, and education. The NPR Education Podcast is, I think, the only education-focused podcast I subscribe to. I’m not opposed to listening to podcasts that fall squarely within my own field. It’s just that there don’t seem to be that many of them these days. If you know of any good ones, please suggest them in the comments below.

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