My Favorite Podcasts of 2010

After some of my favorite bloggers wrote posts talking about their favorite books of 2010, here and here, I’ve decided to do the same but with a twist.  I don’t end up reading more than 5 books a year, but I do listen to numerous podcasts while on the daily walks with the dog and on the daily commute. This adds up to around two hours a day of free time, so I can get some audiobooks in from time to time as well (this year it was mostly Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy and re-listens of JK Rowling).

Here’s the list (alphabetical order of favorites):

  1. NBC’s Meet the Press.  While I don’t enjoy David Gregory (or his whistle nose) as much as the incomparable Tim Russert, it’s an very good show that provides fair coverage to US politics. The show obsesses TOO much on stupid politics covering candidates 18 to 24 months before their election, but otherwise they do an excellent job of asking the hard questions.
  2. NPR’s All Songs Considered.  I don’t listen to every minute of this podcast, as they get a bit too inside baseball with indie music, but they have provided me a first listen to some of my favorite music over the past 3 years.  The end-of-year rankings are the best shows; where the commentators geek out in their debate over the songs of the year.  Companion podcasts to this one include Tiny Desk Concerts, and Live in Concert.
  3. NPR’s Car Talk.  My mom got me on to this show a long time ago, and it still holds up.  Excellent car advise, hilarious commentary, and amazing puzzlers are all part of this classic.
  4. NPR’s Fresh Air.  Great interview show with Terry Gross.  I don’t listen to every show, but some of the interviews are unmatched in their depth and un-NPR-ness, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, Jay-Z, etc.  Even the more NPR-er shows are great, topics include: economy, government, politics, sports, etc.  Plus very good movie and TV show reviews.
  5. NPR’s Planet Money.  Great material for economics and making it “real”.  I would bet that the show producers and contributors would make excellent educators.  They convert very dry topics to human interest stories, and they do an excellent job with dumbing down some very complicated economic concepts.  Really.  I’m also willing to bet that I have a better grasp of this current recession’s causes and impacts, than 90% of people who read the newspaper.  This news source is really that good (and entertaining), and only in ~60 min per week.
  6. NPR’s On the Media.  This show is a bit like the media critique part of the Daily Show, only in more detail (and less funny).  Really a great show, what I like most is the in-depth look at the topics.  The most recent show was entirely focused on video games, how they have developed, and where they are going.  This episode is important enough that I’m going to have my Computer Programming class take a listen.
  7. Stuff You Should Know, from the howstuffworks.com people.  Topics include: volcanos, migraines, dreadlocks, wicken, prohibition, bounty hunters, braille, ninjas, muppets, lobotomies, deja-vu….  Each week they put out 2 or so podcasts, each of which on a specific topic.  Very hard to describe, but Chuck (Chuckers) and Josh are simply awesome.  Hilarious, witty, and the banter is great.  Can’t say enough about this podcast.
  8. The Talk Show. John Gruber and Dan Benjamin talk about Apple news.  Yes its nerdy, but their insights into the world of Apple are unmatched.
  9. TED Talks.  The world’s experts talking about their most interesting material for 15 or so minutes.  Can’t go wrong.
  10. Radiolab with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich.  Hard to describe.  A bit like Ira Glass (from This American Life), meets Stuff You Should Know, but with interviews, production, and no conclusions.  Best show to date: Words, with companion video.  Easily one of the best videos of the year.

That’s it for now.  I do listen to some others, but when these show up in iTunes, I get excited to get listening.

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