Top 7 Podcasts

Audio content has one major advantage over video or written content: you can fully consume it while being engaged in another activity. Of course you can, say, also read a magazine while watching something on TV, but in that case it will be impossible to grasp the full details of both sources of content. Another example where watching video or reading is clearly not possible is in the car – if you are in the driver seat in this unfortunately still pre-Google-self-driving-car-for-commercial-use era. Listening to audio on the other hand is perfectly possible when you are behind the steering wheel.

That is probably why cars are usually equipped with some sort of audio device and why there are no regulations against consuming audio whilst driving. For a very long time I have used these facilities to listen to radio or a personal selection of music on a wide variety of storage devices: audio cassettes (I’ve been driving cars for a while, yes, no need to remind me), audio CDs, CDs packed with MP3s, SD cards and an iPod. But as professional circumstances have caused a substantial increase of the number of longer drives I had to make, I was thrilled to discover podcasts – not in the initial first wave 10 years ago, but in the more recent second wave of relative popularity.

One of the major upsides is that I no longer feel like time spent in the car is wasted time. Even when stuck in a traffic jam, I now feel much more at easy because I can enjoy listening to something I have willfully selected (and not the same 3 items every 30 minutes in the radio news on slow news days). I find the podcasts I listen to via iTunes, and in the course of the last two years or so I have made a selection of content that covers topics I am interested in, keeps me updated on specific domains and/or brings me knowledge I did not have before (knowledge is my drug – total addict, I have to admit).

I hope by now I have made you curious enough to allow me to briefly present some of my favourite podcasts (in random order):

Planet Money
A podcast just the way I like it: interesting topic and episodes that are not too long. It’s not – as you might incorrectly deduce from the title – one of those how-to-get-rich-quickly podacsts, but a podcast on various aspects of economics in general (which are by nature often linked to money of course). The Planet Money episodes are about 20 minutes long, and that is my favourite dose for a weekly podcast. Some podcasts really sound as if they want to get a full hour filled for every single episode, even if this means adding some less interesting bits (no examples of those in this list, though).

The Allusionist
Language and linguistics are a life long passion for me, so some of the items in this list are bound to be related to that. One of them is Helen Zeltman’s The Allusionist, a podcast about language and etymology from the PRX Radiotopia collection. It’s got humor perfectly integrated into all segments, even the advertising (resulting in me listening to the ads instead of skipping them – interesting factoid for marketers, if you ask me).

Six Pixels of Separations
Speaking of marketers: Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separations is definitely a podcast they should be listening to. I’ve never been in a real 100% marketing job, but most of the time in jobs that have a marketing component to them, and so I like to follow up on what’s happening in the world of marketing. Mitch Joel has a refreshing view on the matter, and both his views and the questions he asks his guests (it’s a podcast in the interview format) are very clever and highly appreciated by audience and guests alike. Books either written by the podcast guests or discussed in the course of the show regularly end up on my reading list. None of those have turned out to be a disappointment up to now.

Top-Thema mit Vokabeln
Another language related one, but this time linked to my efforts to learn German and to get acquainted with Germany as a country. The podcast is just one of the many excellent German(y) related pieces of content made available by Deutsche Welle. Each episode is only a handful of minutes long, and explains in an easy to follow way a topic that has been prominent in the headlines of the German press that week. An excellent way to get a good insight into some aspect of everyday life in Germany that are not explained as such in newspapers or TV news because they are ‘supposed to be known already’ by the audience.

‘The hidden side of everything’ is the subtitle of the Freakonomics podcast and that is quite a nice description. Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, the authors of the book Freakonomics (and already featured in one of the early quotes on this blog) also have a podcast with the same title since a number of years. It is a show about economics, obviously, and it often brings you answers to questions you might already have had, or wished you had come up with yourself once you’ve heard them.

PNR: This Old Marketing
Apologies to Mark Schaefer and Tom Webster of The Marketing Companion, but one of the self-imposed restrictions for this list was ‘maximum 2 entries from the same category’, and the second marketing podcast I want to mention here is Joe Pulizzi & Robert Rose’s PNR: This Old Marketing, if only because of their consistency in releasing an episode every single week for over two years now (a crucial apsect of gaining an audience according to all marketing podcasts on that topic). Although this podcast looks at marketing specifically from the content marketing perspective, it gives a good overview of what’s new and interesting in marketing in general, based on articles that have been published in the week before.

Re/code Decode
To finish the list, a tech podcast: Re/code Decode, Kara Swisher’s weekly podcast. High profile guests (often CEO’s of top – or quite possibly soon to be top – tech companies) and an interesting look at what’s happening in Silicon Valley and the world of tech, without being too tech to be followable only by supernerds.


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