Jason’s Great Podcast Roundup: 2016 edition

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

I’ve been listening to podcasts since the middle of the last decade, before iTunes. I love them, and I’m glad that they’re in the middle of a boom period.

I’m also in the car for 2.5 hours a day, so I need a lot of them to keep me company.

Here’s what I’m spending most of my listening time on right now.

Disclaimer: I work for NPR, so I have a professional interest in how people listen to audio, and podcasts specifically. That said, this is my personal playlist — I’m sure the folks in the newsroom would like to add a couple of others on to it…

My Tech World

The Pub podcast, from Current is about as niche as personal radio can get. It’s all about the business and art of public radio and public media. Almost everything Adam Ragusea talks about is directly relevant to my day job. (And, I know a decent number of the guests.)

On the Media is the very-well-named podcast covering all manner of issues surrounding the media today.

The next group of podcasts are all around the tech and startup industry.

This Week in Tech with Leo Laporte and a roundtable of guests is one of the very old-school ones. TWiT accompanies my Monday morning drive each week.

Exponent with Ben Thompson and James Allworth is a deeper, more strategy-focused take on the week’s news. Thompson is the writer of Stratechery, one of the news sources on the web that I actually pay for.

PandoLIVE is a weekly show with Sarah Lacy and Paul Carr. Pando is another site I subscribe to.

On a side note, both Stratechery and Pando are doing interesting experiments around enabling subscriber sharing of paywalled content.

Security Now is another old-school podcast. Steve Gibson gets incredibly technical and detailed. This is usually my Wednesday morning commuting podcast. I also threaten to put this on when the children are misbehaving in the back seat.

The Codebreaker podcast is a new one from our friends at Marketplace. It is a series asking the simple question of "Is it evil?" They’ve gone after email, data tracking, going viral and more.

The A16Z Podcast is from Andreessen Horowitz, one of the top venture capital firms in the country. They will usually focus on the business dynamics and structures of the tech startup world.


I also try to keep up with politics, as best I can. Because of my role at NPR, I’m not allowed to advocate in any political way, but I can share what I listen to.

The Slate Political Gabfest is another first-generation podcast that I’ve been rolling with for a long time.

Common Sense with Dan Carlin brings a different Gen-X take on politics.

From the public media world, I listen each week to the NPR Politics podcast, to The Ticket from KUT in Austin, and to Left, Right and Center from KCRW in Los Angeles. All are welcome alternatives to the shoutiness of the commercial world.


I don’t listen to too much straight news in podcasts, but I do catch up on The Economist Editor’s Picks each week. It’s the top 3-5 stories from that week’s edition.

I listen to the NPR One app in the shower each morning and it gets me caught up immediately. It starts with NPR National Newscast, then follows it up with the local Newscast (from WBUR, in my case — the app will pick up your local station automatically). Then, it will go into stories that it’s learned I’ll be interested in.

Boston News and Politics

The Boston Public Radio podcast sends out the highlights of Jim Braude and Margery Eagan’s daily show on WGBH.

The Scrum from WGBH does a great job covering Boston and Massachusetts statewide politics.


This is the last weekend of the regular season — through the Patriots will keep rolling for a while. These are the podcasts that keep me company.

The Ross Tucker Football Podcast is my favorite of the daily football podcasts. I’ve been listening since he was on ESPN’s Football Today podcast, and he’s only gotten better since he’s gone independent.

The Around the NFL podcast comes from NFL.com, the media arm of the NFL. They have a good vibe, even when they are making fun of Gregg Rosenthal (the lone Patriots fan) sitting on his throne of ease.

ESPN’s Football Today podcast was the first football podcast that I started listening to, almost ten years ago. It’s still good, but it’s gone downhill since Ross Tucker left. Now, Matt Williamson is leaving as well, so this one may end up getting dropped next year.

ESPN’s First Draft podcast features Mel Kiper and Todd McShay doing their draft thing. It keeps me going through the long dark season leading up to the draft.


Pop Culture Happy Hour is NPR’s weekly pop culture show (and is my wife’s favorite — she’s the proud owner of a set of PCHH drinking glasses). Always welcome on a Friday.

Movie Date from our friends at The Takeaway is a weekly movie-review podcast. We’ve found their sensibilities mirror ours pretty well.

Cheap Heat is the podcast to meet all your Pro Wrestling needs. It was originally from the dearly-departed Grantland.

It’s all Connected covers Agents of Shield each week, along with all the goings-on in the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.

General Interest

Hardcore History may be my favorite podcast of all. Once in a great while, Dan Carlin will drop hours of storytelling on you. We got through all of World War One earlier this year, and I’m currently re-listening to Wrath of the Khans.

Planet Money from NPR covers the world of the global economy with great storytelling.

The Broad Experience covers the world of women in the workplace.

The Longest Shortest Time, formerly of WNYC, now of Earwolf, I think, is a smart parenting podcast. I hope it does well in its new home.

Brains On is a great science podcast for kids.

Then, in the general category of "podcasts that engage your mind," I enjoy Hidden Brain, Invisibilia, Intelligence Squared, Note to Self, and Only Human.

Ok, that’s what I’m listening to now. What else should I be listening to? Please add a comment below, or drop me a line on Twitter.

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