No Radio, No Problem: 10 Podcasts that Deserve Your Attention

Carlo Villarica
Mar 7, 2016 · 6 min read
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*This post was originally published in

I’ve stopped listening to the radio.

Am I alone in feeling tired of the back to back to back advertisements? The fifty or so songs played on repeat? The DJ’s talking, but not really saying anything? For the longest time, this was a quiet frustration of mine. The twenty or so stations available stopped being interesting. This frustration didn’t make my commute any better. Then I discovered podcasts.

Podcasts are audio recordings uploaded to the internet. The beauty of the medium is that you can subscribe to a multitude of shows and the latest episode is downloaded automatically into your phone. Podcasts are one of the fastest growing forms of media in the world.

When I discovered podcasts, I was skeptical. I thought of the DJ’s who would drone on as I was waiting for a song to play on the radio. The skepticism faded quickly as I realized that I could tailor the podcasts to match my interests. NBA news? Check. Interviews with interesting people? Check. Entrepreneurial tips? Check. Entertaining stories? Check.

Here’s a list of podcasts that are currently on my player:

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(1) WTF with Marc Maron

Marc was one of the first to start a podcast. He did it way back in 2009, long before it was hip to have one. WTF also happens to be one of the first shows that got me interested in the medium. One of the earlier ones I remember listening to was an interview with Radiohead frontman, Thom Yorke. Considered a master interviewer, he has since talked to many notables like President Obama, Will Ferrell, Lorne Michaels and Keith Richards to name a few.

Note: His latest 50 episodes are available. For the older episodes, there’s a paywall.

(2) This American Life

Widely regarded as one of the top podcasts in the world, This American Life spawned a storytelling style that was imitated throughout the podcasting universe. Generally every episode has a theme and different stories based on that theme. They are true masters of the art of storytelling. Personal favorites are 129 Cars, Birds & Bees, and Abdi and the Golden Ticket.

(3) The Tim Ferriss Show

The 4-Hour Workweek was a book that changed my life. Since then, I’ve been an avid consumer of everything Tim Ferriss, which can be difficult at times. Many of his blog posts are a thousand words long and cover a wide range of topics. When he started The Time Ferriss Show, you could tell that he was still trying to get the hang of interviewing, but he quickly found his stride. Tim ‘deconstructs world-class performers — teases out routines, habits, favorite books, breakfasts, whatever it might be that you can apply to your daily life.’ Favorites include interviews with Jamie Foxx, Derek Sivers, Jimmy Chin and Seth Godin (another idol of mine).

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(4) Planet Money

There is no better way to explain this podcast than ripping out a piece from their About page.

“Imagine you could call up a friend and say, ‘Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.’ Now imagine that’s actually a fun evening. That’s what we’re going for at Planet Money.”

They do a wonderful job talking about a typically boring topic: economics. You’ll get a better picture of why the price of oil is so low these days, how to game the lottery, and the secret of buying a real Birkin Bag.

(5) The Bill Simmons Podcast

For those of you who don’t know Bill Simmons. Quick recap: hired by ESPN. Became one of their top journalists. Started Grantland, a popular website under the ESPN banner. Then butt heads with execs. Got fired from ESPN. Grantland was shut down (RIP). Hired by HBO. Relaunched The Bill Simmons Podcast, the most downloaded sports podcast of all-time. His new website The Ringer is just around the corner.

This is my favorite source of NBA news and pop culture.

(6) Reply All

If Planet Money had the best description, Reply All has the worst… in a good way. Reply All: A Show About the Internet. After listening to the show, you will understand this oversimplification and be reminded that most of everyday life has something to do with the internet. Reply All is a warm embrace to those stories. A few choice listens Quit Already!, I’ve Killed People and I Have Hostages, and Love is Lies.

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(7) Nerdist

Have you ever sat inside a coffee shop to do boring work and, thankfully, the people sitting beside you had good fun natured conversation to keep you entertained? Hosted by Chris Hardwick, The Nerdist is just like listening in to a coffee conversation. The only difference is sometimes the conversations include stars like Tom Cruise, Quentin Tarantino, and Daniel Radcliffe.

(8) Smart Passive Income

Part of my personal interests deal with running an online business. These days it is very possible to make a living working online. A good starter point for the topic is the always perky Pat Flynn. Not only do his interviews allow you to learn broad tactics to gain an audience and grow a business, but you also get a sense of what it is like living the particular life of an entrepreneur.

(9) Death, Sex and Money

Expect thoughtful personal stories about, you guessed it, Death, Sex and Money. Anna Sale is the perfect person to host this show. She has a knack for gaining the trust of the interviewee like when Brooke Shields talked about her struggles with her mother. In turn, her audience has given her the same trust as shown when they submitted testimonies on why they aren’t having sex.

(10) StartUp

For anyone who has started or plans to start a business, you need to listen to this. To get the best from StartUp, listen to the very first episode and work your way down. It chronicles the journey of Alex Blumberg, formerly of This American Life and Planet Money, as he starts a business. He records everything including discussing their uncertain future with his wife, their awkward talk of how to divide the shares of the company with his business partner, and his spine tingling pitch to billionaire venture capitalists.

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(11 BONUS!) Serial

When I was asked to do this list, they told me to write about podcasts that I like listening to… except Serial. The truth is you can’t have a list of podcasts without including it. Serial became the world’s most popular podcast in a very short span of time. The first season followed the real life story of Adnan Syed and took a look at the circumstances involved when he allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. You’ll need to start from the very beginning. Download everything from Season 1. You won’t be disappointed.

Originally published at on March 7, 2016.

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