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Podcasts I'm Listening To: Spring 2018

Here’s the list of podcasts I’m listening to in spring of 2018.

It’s split into two parts. First are the podcasts of general interest. Second are the podcasts for practising Japanese.

General Interest Podcasts

  • Amicus with Dahlia Lithwick: I’ve only recently started on this and, to be honest, I’m close to unsubscribing already. The promise is for in-depth analysis of legal matters in the U.S. but as a Slate podcast it probably needs to maintain enough of a general interest that it’s never going to reach that ideal.

  • Core Intuition: A podcast about development and developers, primarily focusing on Apple platforms. Daniel Jalkut is the developer behind MarsEdit (among others) and Manton Reece is the developer behind Micro.blog. As a wannabe programmer, I often find this energises me and gets me motivated to actually write code.

  • Exponent: I’ve been listening to this since it first started and there are times now where I skip episodes because I feel like I’ve heard it before. Hosts Ben Thompson and James Allworth spend most weeks discussing Ben’s latest article on the website Stratechery. Ben’s angle is typically to look at things from a business perspective and, while this makes him different from most other tech pundits, it can lead to a certain degree of monotony in the analysis.

  • Off Message: This is another one that’s only very recently made my rotation. Isaac Dovere from Politico has an interviewing style that’s somehow both relaxed and probing.

  • On Margins: I met Craig Mod at a party last year and it was honestly one of the most exciting things to happen to me in ages.1 As well as being an amazing human being, Craig has a voice he stole from someone at NPR. In On Margins, he explores the changing nature of the making of books with a variety of guests.

  • Revisionist History: If Malcolm Gladwell has a ‘thing’, it’s being counterintuitive and with this show he’s seemingly found nirvana. Even if you’re sceptical of the conclusions he wants you to draw, it’s difficult to deny he knows how to spin a good yarn.

  • The Rewatchables: A podcast about rewatchable movies. I skip the episodes for films I haven’t seen but the ones I have listened to have all been good. It eschews the more ‘standard’ recap format where the hosts discuss the film chronologically. Instead, there’s some general impressions and then ‘segments’ where the hosts discuss various categories (eg. most rewatchable scene). The show benefits from being a production of The Ringer: rather than having the same hosts (or even a single consistent host), a varied panel of Ringer staffers come together for each particular episode.

  • Slow Burn: When I first heard of this show it was pitched as being as to Watergate as season 1 of Serial is to the murder of Hae Min Lee. That’s not what it is. Really it’s a series of vignettes on lesser known elements of the Watergate story. Host Leon Neyfahk is great, the episodes are still incredibly engrossing and, for those of us in 2018, it provides some hope that America has recovered from horrible times before.

  • The Talk Show: The original Apple-focused tech podcast continues irregularly dropping episodes. John Gruber of Daring Fireball discusses recent tech news with a different guest co-host each week. Speaking of which, the show would be improved by broadening that universe of guests and dropping a couple from the rotation.

  • TECHnical Foul: Ben Thompson from Exponent and Manton Reece from Core Intuition both like the NBA and both had the equipment so, since it’s the 2010s, they started a podcast. Unfortunately, no episodes this season and they’re probably done but I remain subscribed just in case.

  • Upgrade: Myke Hurley and Jason Snell present a tech podcast structured around a few recurring segments. That might sound stifling but in practice it prevents the show descending into the kind of rambling mess into which other tech podcasts often devolve.

  • We Heart Hartnett: The most delightfully silly of the shows I listen to. Patrick Willhems, he of eponymous YouTube channel fame, hosts a discussion reviewing the films of Josh Hartnett in chronological order of release. The premise is that Hartnett’s career spans such a variety of movies that structuring the show around his performances is an excellent opportunity to discuss a range of genres, directors and costars. It was rough going at the start but the show has steadily improved.

  • The Weeds: Three hosts from the website Vox (typically involving one or more of Ezra Klein, Sarah Kliff and Matthew Yglesias) discuss a particular topic in the news in far greater depth than journalists usually do. That’s the idea, anyway. When it’s good, it’s very good but there are times it feels like the emphasis is on the ‘lost’ rather than the ‘in the weeds’.

  • The West Wing Weekly: I’ve put this on hold for the past couple of weeks after listening continuously for (checks) two years but that shouldn’t take away from the quality of the show overall. The hosts, Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Molina, are an excellent combination. Hirway has a deep love for the show that permeates every episode while Molina, a star on the show and a longstanding member of the troupe of actors Aaron Sorkin regularly uses, gives insight into the production.

  • You Look Nice Today: It’s a complete hipster move, I’ll admit: remain subscribed to a show that hasn’t had a real episode since 2013. Hope springs eternal.

Japanese Podcasts

  • JapanesePod101.com’s Learn Japanese:2 I’ve been subscribed for years at this point and the fact that my Japanese is still middling speaks to its limitations. It’s really an ad for the paid service and as such features episodes from all different levels to give you a hint of what they have available. I do like how the contemporary nature of the service allows for it to be far more up to date with current Japanese usage than most other learning materials.

  • mozaic.fm: A show about web technologies that really goes deep. This used to be a lot more irregular but has recently become a pretty reliable monthly schedule. The audio quality isn’t great but it at least doesn’t have annoying muzak under the entirety of the discussion.

  • NHK Radio News: Like many news organisations, NHK makes its radio news bulletins available as a podcast. The RSS feed features four of the bulletins from across the day. Since the content doesn’t change much from bulletin to bulletin, I’ve made a feed that is just the 7 pm bulletin.

  • Rebuild: This is the one Japanese podcast I truly wish I had the language chops to fully enjoy. Perhaps because he’s been in the U.S. so long, host Tatsuhiko Migagawa puts together a podcast with the production values you’ve come to expect from English-language podcasts (this is a bit of a low bar but listen to most Japanese tech podcasts and be prepared for really crappy audio quality). He has a good rotation of regular guests that keep things varied and a breadth of interest that avoids retreading the same material again and again.

Happy listening! ✺

  1. Welcome to the life of a parent of very young children.

  2. I’m linking to the page on Overcast because the actual site might make it seem like you need to sign up for an account which isn’t true.