Looking for what to listen to over your summer break but not sure what podcasts are worth listening to? We’ve got you covered. These are all the podcasts listened to and loved by the Crikey team. We have deliberately excluded ABC-produced podcasts of existing shows, along with Serial and This American Life because they already get enough attention.
On Wilosophy, comedian Wil Anderson has long chats with many interesting people about their lives and what makes them tick. He asks them who they are and what their philosophy for life is, then sits back and lets them do all the talking. Some of the best episodes recently have been with Alice Fraser, Annabel Crabb (where she discussed the outrage over Scott Morrison appearing on Kitchen Cabinet) , and asylum seeker activist Jarrod McKenna. The best episode this year, by far, however, was the chat with paralympic gold medalist Kurt Fearnley.
On the Media
An insightful analysis of the week of US news. Think ABC’s Media Report if it were hosted in New York. This year the podcast analysed how the media reports on tragedy, Donald Trump and the US Supreme Court. This week’s episode on how the media uses polling was a wonderful insight into the process of how polls are taken, used, and how they should be treated by a discerning public.
Bring A Plate
Rebecca Shaw (aka Brocklesnitch) and Peter Taggart are two of the most hilarious people in the world. On Bring A Plate, they discuss news, pop culture and their favourite ’90s movies. It is far too infrequent for such a funny podcast.
Chat 10 Looks 3
This feels technically like cheating because these are two ABC personalities, but Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb host a very enjoyable podcast full of their favourite things: singing, name dropping, and eating.
The Silent Majority
Triple J’s Alice Workman and the Herald Sun‘s Rob Harris both work in the press gallery and have teamed up for the most popular Australian political podcast of 2015. The pair interview politicians and journalists in the press gallery and often find out things we never knew, like Joe Hockey’s fondness for dancing well before the table incident, the weirdly political names of Sam Dastyari’s pets, and that time Wyatt Roy hit on Ewen Jones’ daughter.
If jovial chats with politicians as though they are human beings is not to your liking (as many people seemed to argue in 2015), former Crikey bloggers Jeremy Sear and Dave Gaukroger’s increasingly lengthy weekly podcast on Australian news, media, and politics is where you want to be. They don’t hold back on their disdain for the current government — and well, most of Parliament — and the media. Although we particularly liked the long debate a few weeks ago over whether Obi-Wan Kenobi was an evil liar.
Like I’m a Six-Year-Old
Former Triple J Breakfast host and comedian Tom Ballard gets quite a few interesting guests on his podcast to talk about their lives and their philosophies, and they are not all people he agrees with. Some of the best episodes have been with David Marr and Peter Reith, for wildly different reasons. But we have to point out that we think he let the most recent guest, the Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton, get away with far too many misleading statements.
This one is for the journalism nerds. The team at Longform interview mainly US writers about their work. One of the best episodes recently was with New York Times Magazine‘s Jazmine Hughes, who talks about being where she is at such a young age, and dealing with imposter syndrome. On the other end of the spectrum, Carol Loomis’ podcast on retiring after 60 years at Fortune magazine is a must-listen.
This is, first and foremost, a podcast about the internet. They dive deep into big issues online, as well as explaining the trends and memes of the day. Some of the best episodes recently include: the issues with posting political opinions on Facebook, how the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is leading to people being charged for the most mundane of online activity, and how one weird call from an internet service provider demanding tweets be deleted led down a rabbit hole of online trolling.
Here’s the Thing
Finance and economics types around the world rave about Russ Roberts’ weekly Econtalk podcast — and with good reason. Roberts is an economist at George Mason University, and for the past nine years he’s been producing a wonky podcast covering the latest in economic thinking as it applies to real-world phenomena and events. Roberts leans libertarian and certainly wears his conviction on his sleeves. But he’s fair-minded, curious and intelligent, which is why he gets the big guns. His guests have included figures as diverse as Paul Krugman to Milton Friedman to Thomas Piketty. Some of the best podcasts have included sports journalist David Epstein on how some countries excel at particular sports, fellow economist Arnold Kling on the US housing market, food academic Rachel Laundan on how some foods came to rule the world and Christopher Hitchens on George Owell.
If you prefer your economics podcasts a bit more bite-sized, then NPR’s Planet Money is for you. They are able to break down complex financial topics into a form that is understandable to almost anyone, and they manage to find interesting things in even the most seemingly mundane topics. This year, for example, the team devoted several episodes to the development of a T-shirt. Last week the team dissected how A/B testing works by doing a podcast using A/B testing.
For those who can’t let Serial season 1 go or just aren’t that into season 2 yet, Undisclosed carries on the season 1 investigation, taking apart piece by piece every aspect of the investigation into the murder of Hae Min Lee and the arrest and conviction of Adnan Syed. Where Serial penciled the outlines of the case, Undisclosed seeks to colour it in. Though be warned, if you were 100% certain after listening Serial that Adnan was guilty, this probably isn’t the podcast for you: the team at Undisclosed are working hard to have his conviction overturned.
Starlee Kine’s episode of This American Life in which she attempted to write a break-up song by speaking to the king of heartbreak, Phil Collins, remains one of the podcast’s most popular. Now in her own show for Gimlet Media, Kine investigates everyday mysteries, like the case of why Britney Spears is holding a certain book, or how tall exactly is Jake Gyllenhaal. All Gimlet Media’s shows are great, including its first podcast, StartUp, which goes through the process of getting funding for and creating Gimlet Media.