Five Culture-Focused Podcasts You Need to Get Your Ears On

Podcasts have never been more popular. Here are five helping to advance the conversation about the cultural world.

1. The Design of Business/The Business of Design

Launched in October, this podcast from Michael Beirut and Jessica Hefland (who also help the popular and terrific Design Observer website) is a hotbed for stimulating conversation on the convergence of design and business. An outgrowth of their work teaching design thinking principles at Yale School of Management, The Design of Business/The Business of Design features a weekly guest who has applied design in one form or another to the business field. Highlights include the architect Deborah Berke recounting her experience designing 21c Hotels across the Midwest, and Leslie Koch, former CEO of the Trust for Governors Island, on how she re-invented what public park space could be mean in the land-locked city of New York. The Design of Business/The Business of Design makes for riveting listening with insights from some of the smartest minds thinking about what it means to be creative in today’s market-driven world.

2. Still Processing

Still Processing is a relatively new podcast from Jenna Wortham, tech writer for NYT Magazine, and Wesley Morris, Pulitzer Prize winner and The New YorkTimes’ critic-at-large. Billed as a “culture conversation,” the show has Wesley and Jenna chatting about what’s new in the worlds of culture, art, film, television, music, and more; Facebook, RuPaul, Moonlight, Solange, and awkward Thanksgiving dinner conversation have all been past topics of discussion. Check out their insightful, moving review of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African-American History and Culture (or as Wortham and Morris calls it, the “Blacksonian”), as well as a missive from their visit to the recent Kerry James Marshall exhibit, Mastry, at the Met Breuer.

3. Getty Art + Ideas

From The Getty in Los Angeles, Getty Art + Ideas is hosted by James Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. Cuno is a serial museum director — he also helmed the Art Institute of Chicago and Harvard Art Museums — and brings a suitably intellectual tone to interviews with choice art historians, artists, and curators. Sit back, relax, and let Cuno’s calming, cerebral voice grace your ear buds as he interrogates renowned art historian T.J. Clark on the joy of Poussin, or architect Frank Gehry on his seventy-year history of living and working in the city of Los Angeles. But it isn’t all stuffy art and architecture: a recent episode about Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a pan-city exhibit focused on the Latino experience in LA, illuminates the role traditional institutions can play in grassroots art movements.

4. The Curbed Appeal

From popular architecture outpost Curbed, The Curbed Appeal focuses on architecture, design, cities, and urbanism. Hosted by Asad Syrkett and Jeremiah Budin, the show is decidedly for architectural wonks, but feels accessible and engaging enough to also appeal to a mass audience (Syrkett and Budin’s humor helps). Favorite moments? Episode 2.9, when David Rockwell, principal of Rockwell Group, discusses how he improbably channeled his passion for theater into building a 250-person architectural practice; Episode 2.5, an interview with Herman Miller archivist Amy Auscherman (can you say dream job?); and episode 2.10, which features architect Vishaan Chakrabti discussing how urbanism and public space can impact the critical issues of our time.

5. Arts and Ideas

Arts and Ideas isn’t always about culture, but when it is, it’s particularly engaging. Produced by the BBC, the show tackles issues in today’s society in consistently fascinating ways. Case in point: an episode devoted to the selfie, and hosted at the Tate Modern, brings together a sociologist, a neuroscientist, a novelist, and a painter to examine what identity means in the twenty-first century. The episode begins with this question: “What if there’s no self for the selfie to photograph?” Enjoy.