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A listing of the podcasts I’m listening to in spring of 2023.

Podcasts I’m Listening To: Spring 2023

I’m squeaking in again with the sixth annual1 list of podcasts I’m listening to in spring of 2023.

As I’ve done in past iterations, the list is broken down into ‘Currently Subscribed’ and ‘Previously Subscribed’2 sections. Podcasts that are new to the list are in bold and paid podcasts are marked with a 💰emoji.

Happy listening!

Currently Subscribed

  • 22 Goals: I love Brian Phillips’s hilarious, freewheeling, inventive and poignant exploration of the history of the World Cup. I’ve never tried so hard to get friends to watch or listen to a piece of media (none of whom did so as best as I can tell). I love the series so much I’m putting it in the ‘Currently Subscribed’ section even though it’s almost certain there will be no more episodes.

  • Accidental Tech Podcast: I’m still a devout listener of the pre-eminent Apple tech podcast (and a very happy paying member) but I have felt the show has lost a tiny amount of its verve now that Apple has largely fixed all of the Mac hardware problems of the late-2010s. Perhaps the rumoured upcoming headset will provide more grist for the mill.

  • Against the Rules: This podcast by author Michael Lewis (of Moneyball, the Big Short fame) was pretty quiet over the past year as he worked on a book about Sam Bankman-Fried. While the fourth season still hasn’t been released, Lewis has started releasing recordings of research interviews he’s conducted in connection with the aforementioned book and these are tiding me over.

  • Astral Codex Ten Podcast: More than a year in and I remain grateful that the pseudonymous Solenoid Entity puts in so much time to reading blogger Scott Alexander’s prolix posts and disappointed so few bloggers have replicated this approach. Perhaps generative A.I. can help?

  • Cautionary Tales: I really like the idea of podcasts having ‘seasons’ and while pop economist Tim Harford’s does, its in name only. Harford puts out a show practically weekly rather than giving you time to miss him. That’s a real shame because last year’s ‘The South Pole Race’ and ‘The Inventor Who Almost Ended the World’ deserve to land with a more forceful impact than I fear they did.

  • Cold Takes Audio: Holden Karnofsky does what I’m begging more bloggers to do and reads his posts about A.I. and the problems of the modern world. The name is a play on ‘hot takes’. Karnofsky writes his entries a month or more before he publishes them and tries to avoid being overly reactionary.

  • CoRecursive: I wrote last year that my Currently Subscribed list had a lot of programming interview shows. Famous last words because there are now just two. Adam Gordon Bell’s made the cut.

  • Decoder Ring: Host Willa Paskin’s masterful podcast about pop culture mysteries continues to churn out fantastic episodes. This is easily the podcast I bring up the most in conversation with my wife.

  • Dithering 💰: John Gruber and Ben Thompson’s paid podcast remains appointment listening for me. I mentioned above that ATP had lost some of its verve; not so Dithering.

  • Exponent: I worried last year if James Allworth and Ben Thompson would ever release another episode. Then, like an early Christmas present, die-hards were rewarded with an episode about ChatGPT in early December. Nothing since and I suspect we’ll be lucky to get more than one in the next 12 months.

  • Greatest of All Talk 💰: I was a regular listener to Open Floor, the NBA podcast from Sports Illustrated that first paired Ben Golliver and Andrew Sharp. I even followed Golliver and Sharp behind the paywall of this show at first. But once the pandemic struck in 2020 and the NBA temporarily stopped, I found it impossible to justify and dropped it. That was until its inclusion in the Stratechery Plus bundle. Golliver and Sharp are still great; I do worry if my interest in basketball will wane again once we hit the off-season.

  • Hi-Phi Nation: It took me a long time to start listening to Barry Lam’s philosophy podcast but I’m glad that I eventually got there. The wait between season 5 and season 6 was long but I’m excited that Lam is back (pay attention Gladwell and Harford!).

  • Hit Parade: This is such a well-produced show. Chris Molanphy reads a meticulously researched essay each month on some aspect related to the U.S. pop music charts. Each episode is peppered with precisely the right number of samples (a playlist of which is alas only made available on Spotify).

  • MusicalSplaining: I have wondered more than once if I should keep subscribing to this show reviewing musicals given that I am not especially interested in musicals. Hosts Angela Meehan and Kaveh Taherian make me laugh just enough to keep me subscribed.

  • One Year: I listen mainly because I love host Josh Levin’s voice. Each season, he retells stories from a single year in American history.

  • The Party Room: I’d fallen out of touch with Australian politics until a friend recommended this show from Radio National mainstays Patricia Karvelas and Fran Kelly. Just the right length and its gimmick of a special guest each week ensures it avoids becoming stale and repetitive.

  • Philosopher’s Zone: I leave this one off my primary playlist and then catch up on the episodes when the mood strikes. Host David Rutledge keeps on having interesting, in-depth conversations with academic experts about philosophical ideas.

  • The REPL: I cut a lot of programming podcasts out of the rotation this year and if I had to explain why this Clojure-related interview show avoided that fate, I’d have to admit that it’s almost entirely due to host Daniel Compton’s New Zealand accent.

  • Revisionist History: Like Cautionary Tales, this podcast needs to leave longer gaps between its seasons (and not stuff its feed with so many ‘special episodes’ cross-promoting other Pushkin shows). That quibble aside, I still enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s brand of ‘well, actually’ explorations. If you like Gladwell, you’ll like this.

  • The Rewatchables: This past year, I continued my strategy of only listening to episodes for films that take my fancy and it’s worked great. If you listen to any other movie discussion show, you’ll realise how talented Bill Simmons and crew are at this.

  • Serious Trouble 💰: I was a huge fan of Josh Barro and Ken White’s previous show, All the President’s Lawyers. That one focused on the U.S. President but this show doesn’t restrict itself with so narrow a scope and is all the better for it. Barro and White have terrific chemistry which makes the annual subscription a no-brainer.

  • Sharp Tech 💰: While the combination of superstar tech analyst Ben Thompson and ex-sportswriter Andrew Sharp doesn’t sound like it’d make a great tech show, the secret is that Sharp is also an ex-attorney (!) who is both happy to play second fiddle to Thompson and confident enough to push back against Thompson’s laissez-faire instincts. Another regular listen that comes as part of Stratechery Plus.

  • Slow Boring: I desperately want Matt Yglesias (or someone he pays) to read his blog posts and stay subscribed to this feed in the apparently vain hope that will one day happen. Podcast platform Curio was doing it for a time but they’ve stopped.

  • Slow Burn: Season 7 was an extremely timely look at Roe v Wade and showcased what this show does so well: put an extremely well-known event into the appropriate historical context. I’m looking forward to season 8.

  • The Stratechery Podcast 💰: The initial plank around which Ben Thompson has been slowly building his budding podcast empire at Stratechery Plus. The premise is simple: Thompson reads his blog posts.

  • The Talk Show: I’m still subscribed to John Gruber’s long-running podcast about Apple but I do feel like there are fewer classic episodes than there used to be.

  • Under the Radar: I dropped this in 2020 but picked it back up again (perhaps subconsciously dismayed at the number of programming-related podcasts I cut out of my rotation this year). Marco Arment and David Smith spend about 30 minutes every two weeks talking about the issues they’re facing as developers on Apple platforms.

Previously Subscribed

  • Björk: Sonic Symbolism: Björk dominated my listening in the late 90s and early 2000s and her albums from Debut to Vespertine remain some of my favourites. I thought I was exactly the target audience for her miniseries about her discography. Instead, I bailed after the first episode.

  • The Book of Basketball 2.0: As is true of a couple of other podcasts in this section, I’m still technically subscribed but there have been no new episodes in a year and I’m not confident there will be.

  • ClojureStream Podcast: I wrote last year that this was a bit of a hit and miss show and in the end it had too many misses.

  • Hollinger & Duncan: I keep going back and forth between subscribing and unsubscribing to the free feed of this NBA podcast from hosts John Hollinger and Nate Duncan. As of this writing I’m unsubscribed in Overcast but I keep an eye on its feed and do grab the occasional episode.

  • More Or Less: This felt like a more pertinent listen during the height of the pandemic. Since then, I’ve found myself far less interested.

  • On Margins: I’m pronouncing this one dead. I’ll keep subscribed for another chance to listen to Craig Mod’s whispering voice but I’m not hopeful.

  • Panic Podcast: Another podcast I’m confident has carked it. Sometimes it’s good to know when you’re finished.

  • Pop Culture Detective: Audio Files: I enjoy the thoughtfulness that Jonathan McIntosh brings to his analysis but with three kids under 10, I’m too time poor to keep up with the media he’s discussing.

  • Sharp China 💰: I’ve listened to this show since it debuted as part of Stratechery Plus but cut it the week I’m writing this. While the rise of China is one of the most important geopolitical developments in my lifetime (and I want to understand it better), a truly great exploration of the impact of this needs to feature specific subject matter experts rather than a generalist like Bill Bishop.

  • Software Sessions: I did indeed curse this show by proclaiming it my favourite programming interview show of 2021.

  • Swift by Sundell: John Sundell’s interview show with people in the iOS community was another casualty of the complete lack of time I’ve had in the past year to do almost any programming work.

  • Swiftly Speaking: Still no new episodes since last year’s post. Put this show down as one I’m cutting because it died.

  • Thinking Basketball: Ben Taylor of the Thinking Basketball YouTube channel has a podcast of the same name. I couldn’t justify the time it was taking up but I have very pleasant memories of spending late summer and early autumn listening to the 10-episode series on the top 40 NBA careers of all time.

  • Thrilling Tales of Modern Capitalism: This was the Slate infotainment podcast I loved before all the others. I’m not sure what happened but there’ve been no new episodes since July 2021 so I’m declaring it over.

Are you surprised I’m still doing this? Let’s see if I’m back again next year! ✺

  1. Previous years: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018.

  2. Extremely alert readers may notice that the ‘Previously Subscribed’ includes podcasts that weren’t in last year’s list. This is the dirty little secret of these lists: they’re really about what I listened to in the previous 12 months.