Favorite podcasts of 2016


* = added after original publication of this list

Top favorites

  • Vox’s The Weeds (policy analysis)
  • Crimetown (true crime)
  • Planet Money (economics)
  • Homecoming (drama)
  • StartUp Podcast (stories about startups)
  • In the Dark (true crime)
  • More Perfect (stories about the Supreme Court)
  • Radiolab (stories about science-ish stuff)
  • Casefile (true crime)
  • Reply All (stories about the internet)
  • Serial, Season 2 (story of Bowe Bergdahl)
  • This American Life (stories about all kinds of stuff)

Would be a top favorite if I didn’t know most of the content before it airs because the host is my girlfriend and we talk sometimes

  • Rationally Speaking (interviews with intellectuals)

I like >20% of episodes

  • The Bugle (comedy)
  • Stranglers (true crime)
  • Accused (true crime)
  • Up and Vanished (true crime)
  • EconTalk (interviews with intellectuals)
  • The Ezra Klein Show (interviews with intellectuals)
  • Waking Up with Sam Harris (interviews with intellectuals, usually)
  • FiveThirtyEight Politics (political analysis)
  • The Economist Radio (news/analysis)
  • Finding Tammy Jo (true crime)
  • The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads (longform journalism)
  • More or Less (quick analysis of statistics reported in the news)
  • Conversations with Tyler (interviews with intellectuals)
  • Criminal (true crime)
  • Freakonomics Radio (social sciences, some medicine)
  • Meet the Composer (interviews with composers)
  • Reveal (investigative reporting)
  • Mystery Show (investigations of weird but unimportant mysteries)
  • Working (basically the podcast version of Gig)
  • This is Actually Happening (first-person stories)
  • Someone Knows Something (true crime)
  • Missing & Murdered (true crime)
  • Unsolved Podcast (true crime)
  • Nature Podcast (science news)
  • *Phoebe’s Fall (true crime)
  • *Thin Air (true crime)
  • *Detective (true crime)
  • *BackStory (history)

Promising, but not yet enough episodes to evaluate:

  • Pessimists Archive
  • Doing Good Better

Shows other people like, but which never grabbed me, for whatever reason:

(explanations given for just a few)

  • 99% Invisible
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
  • Embedded
  • Philosophy Bites (too often about subjects I don’t care about)
  • Invisibilia
  • Song Exploder (too often music I don’t like)
  • Surprisingly Awesome
  • Longform
  • Undone
  • Heavyweight
  • Savage Lovecast
  • Snap Judgment
  • The New Yorker Radio Hour
  • Fresh Air
  • Science Vs. (not actually that good at interpreting scientific literature)
  • Revisionist History
  • WTF with Marc Maron
  • Love + Radio
  • TED Radio Hour
  • Guys We Fucked
  • Sampler
  • Twice Removed
  • The Joe Rogan Experience
  • The Moth
  • In Our Time
  • Tim Ferris Show
  • Hello Internet
  • My Favorite Murder
  • Trumpcast
  • Welcome to Night Vale
  • Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
  • Intelligence Squared (too often about subjects I don’t care about)
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • a16z
  • The Dollop
  • Flash Forward
  • The Heart
  • Science Magazine Podcast
  • The Memory Palace
  • Monday Morning Podcast
  • Hidden Brain
  • The Naked Scientists
  • You Are Not So Smart
  • StarTalk
  • Skeptics’ Guide to The Universe
  • Science Friday
  • Story Collider
  • They Walk Among Us
  • Unsolved Murders
  • Keepin’ It 1600
  • What’s the Point
  • Here’s the Thing
  • All Songs Considered
  • Very Bad Wizards
  • A Partially Examined Life
  • Philosophize This!
  • *History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps
  • Inquiring Minds
  • The Generation Why Podcast
  • Lore
  • Sword and Scale
  • The Trail Went Cold
  • True Crime Historian
  • Alice Isn’t Dead
  • *Last Podcast on the Left
  • *Real Crime Profile
  • *Thinking Sideways
  • *True Crime Garage
  • *True Murder
  • *A New Winter
  • *Undisclosed
  • *FT Alphaville
  • *The Anthill


  1. Aryeh Englander says

    Have you tried History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps (www.historyofphilosophy.net)? Entertaining, clearly explained, covers a lot of material you won’t easily find elsewhere. I know history of philosophy professors who listen to this one.

    • says

      Thanks for the recommendation! While searching for it, I also found “History of Philosophy in India,” which looks to be a spin-off. Not sure if you were aware of it, since it wasn’t mentioned, so I thought I would let you know.

  2. says

    Oh my. Thank you for the recommendations! I *finally* got a smartphone for the first time, so I’ve been branching out and looking for more podcasts now that it’s easier to listen to them.

    Two other podcasts that you (or other readers of this blog) may enjoy are “History of Rome,” which is what it sounds like, and “Revolutions,” which focuses on a different revolution each season (currently Simon Bolivar and previously the English Civil War, American Revolution, French Revolution, and Haitian Revolution).

    History of Rome: http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/
    Revolutions: http://www.revolutionspodcast.com/

  3. Seb Nickel says

    No Talking Machines? You’ve described it as excellent a while back on this blog. I do recommend it (but not so much for machine learning noobs).

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