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A listing of the podcasts I’m listening to in spring of 2020.

Podcasts I’m Listening To: Spring 2020

Here’s the list of podcasts I’m listening to in spring of 2020.1

Like last year’s list, I’ve broken this year down into ‘Currently Subscribed’ and ‘Previously Subscribed’ sections.2 Podcasts that are new to the list are in bold.

Happy listening!

Currently Subscribed

  • Accidental Tech Podcast: I added this to my podcast rotation somewhat begrudgingly last year and then lo and behold it became my favourite tech podcast. I mentioned last year that Marco’s unwillingness to cut Apple the customary slack that other Apple watchers do was a big part of the reason I tuned in and that remained true this year.

  • All the President’s Lawyers: This show about President Trump’s legal issues is one of my favourites. I use Overcast’s smart playlist feature to ensure that the latest episode is always at the top of my queue. Josh Barro and Ken White are brilliant together.

  • Against the Rules: I’ve waited patiently for the second season of this podcast from Michael Lewis and have just listened to the first episode yesterday. That was only one episode but if it’s any indication, I don’t think I’m going to enjoy this season as much as I did the first. That said, I know I’ll stay subscribed if only for that Louisiana accent.

  • The Anthropocene Reviewed: Every month, host John Green ‘reviews’ one or two aspects of the human-centred planet. Green is an incredible essayist and every episode is amazing.

  • The Bike Shed: When I wrote last year’s list, I hadn’t yet listened to any episodes featuring the (at the time) new co-host, Steph Viccari. I was a little apprehensive that it was going to ruin what had drawn me to the show: relatively deep discussion of web development, typically with a Ruby angle. I needn’t have worried. Chris and Steph have amazing chemistry; a fact that I think the rest of the Thoughtbot consultancy recognises because despite Chris recently leaving the firm, they’ve kept him on as a host.

  • The Book of Basketball 2.0: If there’s a theme this year, it’s that I greatly prefer irregular podcasts. This is the only basketball podcast I’ve stayed subscribed to this year and it’s because I feel that Bill Simmons releases episodes based on when they’re ready rather than because it’s a particular day of the week.

  • California King: You Look Nice Today is one of my favourite podcasts of all time: one that consistently made me laugh until I cried. The depth of my affection for the show was the only reason I stayed subscribed to a feed that, by all indications, was at an end. And then the impossible happened and it returned. Well, sort of returned, sort of rose from the ashes with a new name. The hosts are the same. The format is the same. The weird robot-voice interstitials are the same. I am so happy.

  • Cautionary Tales: I listen to three podcasts from Pushkin Industries: Revisionist History, Against the Rules and Cautionary Tales.3 They all share a similar sensibility: this one with a British lilt courtesy of its host, Tim Harford.

  • ClojureScript Podcast: Jacek Schae (whose name I still can’t pronounce despite listening to him say it every episode for the past few months) interviews figures involved in the ClojureScript world. It’s not as good as The REPL but I still listen to every episode.

  • Exponent: I think this has now become the podcast I’ve been continuously subscribed to for the longest period of time. In it, Ben Thompson and James Allworth discuss topics at the intersection of tech and business. The schedule is a little irregular but I prefer it. I often think more podcasts would benefit from letting the heart grow a little fonder between episodes.

  • Full Stack Radio: After having spent years struggling to find good programming podcasts, I’m as surprised as anyone just how many are on this list now. This one is from Adam Wathan, a web developer and one of the architects of the Tailwind CSS framework. Each episode, Wathan interviews a different guest, using his knowledge of the ‘full stack’ (ha!) to go into depth regardless of the language or framework.

  • Functional Design in Clojure: For a good chunk of last year, the show moved away from the format that had initially drawn me to it: multi-episode arcs where hosts Christoph Neumann and Nate Jones worked through a programming problem in Clojure. Thankfully, they’ve returned to that of late with a terrific series on websocket programming. I do miss the puns that used to end the episodes!

  • MusicalSplaining: YouTube essayist, Lindsay Ellis, has cajoled Kaveh Taherian, a former classmate from USC film school, to see a musical each episode and discuss it. The joke being that Taherian hates musicals almost as much as Ellis loves them. It occasionally gets a little too distracted with its tangents.

  • On Margins: I’m still subscribed to this one but the last episode was July 2019 and the show looks well and truly dormant. Craig Mod is a brilliant writer, though, and honestly, if I have to choose, I want him to keep doing that more than I want to listen to his amazing voice interview people about book production.

  • Panic Podcast: This is such a strange one. Indie software developers, Panic, have a podcast that is about… Panic? Host Christa Mrgan makes every episode into a special snowflake. No show that is about a company should be this good.

  • The Philosopher’s Zone: I’ve debated numerous times whether I should unsubscribe from this philosophy-oriented podcast from ABC’s Radio National. What stops me is that at the end of every episode I feel smarter than I did at the beginning. It makes a refreshing change from multi-hour discussions of Apple minutiae.

  • The REPL: I always look forward to Daniel Compton’s interviews with people in the Clojure community.

  • Revisionist History: Like its Pushkin Industries’ stablemate, Against the Rules, I’ve spent most of this past year waiting patiently for the next season of Malcolm Gladwell’s eclectic podcast about various incidents that tickle his fancy. It’s not here yet but hopefully soon.

  • The Rewatchables: I unsubscribed to this podcast about ‘classic’ movies from Bill Simmon’s Ringer Podcast Network last year and then resubscribed to it this year. My solution to finding it repetitive was to skip the episodes for the movies I’m not interested in.

  • Software Sessions: Another programming interview show might sound repetitive at this point but if you have any interest in the subject, I’d strongly recommend this one. Like all great interviewers, host Jeremy Jung excels at prompting his subjects with insightful questions before getting out of their way.

  • The Talk Show: I made such a big deal last year out of unsubscribing from John Gruber’s irregular talk show about Apple and tech and yet here I am and it’s back on the list. As with The Rewatchables, the other podcast I started listening to again, I fit this in by skipping any episode that doesn’t appeal.

  • TECHnical Foul: I’m almost certain that this very occasional basketball podcast isn’t coming back but, well, you never know, right?4

  • You Look Nice Today: IT CAME BACK.5

Previously Subscribed

  • Analog(ue): I said last year that I wasn’t sure this would stick around and it didn’t.

  • Core Intuition: I was a little sad to say goodbye to this one after listening to it for years but, as is apparent at this point, I’m not short of programming-related podcasts. I don’t do any programming for Apple-related platforms and the focus on the business of indie software never held much appeal for me.

  • Deep Background: This was one that suffered because of the pandemic in two ways. First, I had less time for shows. Second, its constant focus on COVID-19 (particularly in the context of the United States) wasn’t for me.

  • Greatest of All Talk: Unsubscribing to this one almost felt like a betrayal. It’s the spiritual successor to Open Floor with the same hosts, Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver, but with a fee: $5 per month. Sharp and Golliver are still brilliant; the episodes are just too long and too frequent and with no NBA being played at the moment, my level of interest is not where it otherwise might be.

  • Open Floor: I was only ever listening to this for the interplay between the aforementioned hosts, Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver. Sharp left Sports Illustrated (and the show) and I immediately unsubscribed.

  • Slow Burn: I was worried that I wouldn’t want to listen to this if it wasn’t hosted by Leon Nayfahk and I was right.

  • Thinking Basketball: It might appear that I lost interest in this because of the suspension of the NBA season but the truth is I stopped long before.

  • Under the Radar: For similar reasons to Core Intuition, I decided to drop this in favour of software-related podcasts that are relevant to the programming I do.

  • Undisclosed: I used to be a loyal listener to Undisclosed but lost interest after the show moved away from following a single case of (probable) wrongful conviction for 10 or so episodes. Well, last year they were back in classic form with the ‘State v Greg Lance’ and I was right there with them.

  • Upgrade: This had been my favourite Apple-related technology podcast but that position was usurped by Accidental Tech Podcast. I became increasingly frustrated with host Jason Snell’s eagerness to consistently explain the news of the day in a way favourable to Cupertino.

Well, there you have it. Until next year! ✺

  1. This is being written while the world remains gripped by a global pandemic. While at first this might have seemed a boon for podcast listening, that’s not been the case for me. Without a regular commute and lunch hour, I’ve built up a huge backlog of episodes.

  2. Eagle-eyed readers might notice that there are a couple of podcasts on the unsubscribed list that weren’t on last year’s subscribed list. How can that be possible? Those are the shows I started listening to after last year’s post but that, for whatever reason, I stopped listening to before hitting publish on this one.

  3. For a good period of this year I was actually subscribed to four. The fourth was Deep Background. It’s discussed in more detail above.

  4. See: You Look Nice Today.

  5. Yes, yes. The show is now California King and I discussed that already but I wanted the vindication.