Recommended Podcasts: 2015 End of Year Review
For a long time, I held out on listening to podcasts. Many people recommended major podcasts to me like This American Life, but every time I tried listening to them they failed to capture my ongoing attention. Finally, this year I was able to come across a couple of podcasts I really enjoyed, and the list has started to expand since then. Just in case any others have similar interests to my own, and maybe have also had difficulty finding podcasts they enjoy, I wanted to put together a list of my favorite podcasts. So here it is, my favorite podcasts of 2015, split up by category.
Disclaimer: I was in no way approached by the creators of the content below or asked to list any content. This post is entirely based on my actual opinions.
First, a major part of enjoying podcasts is having a good app. iTunes is a popular way for people to subscribe to various podcasts, but iTunes isn't really designed for heavy podcast listening. For a better experience, here is what I recommend.
Pocket Casts is a beautiful, cross-platform (iOS, Android, Windows, web) podcast app. It has features like automatic downloading of new episodes, variable speed of playback, and much more. Everything has a very fluid feel, it's very visual, and the podcasts themselves are the main focus of the interface. It's a separate payment per platform, but each payment is only one-time and well worth it.
There are other great podcast apps out there if Pocket Casts doesn't seem right for you, so get one setup and get ready to add some podcasts to your library!
Unfortunately, the landscape of psychology podcasts seems to be a little bleak. Some of the more regularly updated podcasts I've listened to weren't great (in my opinion), and others are very rarely updated. In the upcoming year I plan to continue searching for psychology podcasts (and may release some psychology-related episodes of my own, if there's time). But for now, here is what I recommend.
Neuropod is a podcast that I've stumbled upon just in the past week. It's produced by Nature, and it focuses on neuroscience. There isn't too much I'm able to say about it quite yet, but I've listened to a couple of episodes and found them to be well done and very interesting. They seem to release a new episode every month, so it's not very frequent unfortunately.
Speaking of Psychology
This is another podcast that is only updated about once/month. I haven't listened to very many episodes yet, but the fact that it's managed by the APA lends credibility to the episodes. There also seems to be a wide range of topics that are covered, so I recommend taking a look.
For any of you who are interested in data analyses and critiquing how research is conducted, there are a couple of great podcasts that discuss data analysis techniques. As part of that, they highlight how research should be interpreted with caution. It's normally a boring topic, but these two make it engaging and interesting.
What's the Point
This first podcast has a stronger focus on the data interpretation piece, and what interesting findings we're able to get from data. For those who are new to data analysis, or are just interested in how scientists make judgments based on data, this is a great podcast to start with.
For those who are more interested in data analysis techniques, or are more familiar with data analysis in general, Data Skeptic is a great podcast. In the episodes, they discuss different analysis techniques and how to use them appropriately, and they make it easy to understand what the analyses are doing conceptually. If you're unfamiliar with data analysis though, I recommend starting with What's the Point (above).
Not very surprisingly, there are a lot of great technology-related podcasts out there. I'm also a tech person, so there are several suggestions I have for this category. If tech isn't really your thing, then you can skip past this section.
The Material podcast, as you can probably guess, is a podcast about Google (including their Material design framework, which is the basis of my site's design). The hosts are fans of Google, but they're not blind followers and have valid critiques of the company as well. They also have good interactions with one another that keep the podcast engaging and fun. Oh, and one of the hosts is the creator of Pocket Casts, my recommended podcast app.
The Web Ahead
For anyone involved in web development, especially website creation/design/maintenance, this is a great podcast. This podcast is one of the main reasons I finally got into listening to podcasts regularly. The episode schedule is a bit irregular, but the topics are always very helpful and relevant to current web trends. The host and her guests are also very enthusiastic, knowledgeable about web development, and have great critiques of different trends.
The Big Web Show
As a sort of honorable mention, there is also The Big Web Show, which is similar to The Web Ahead. However, I feel like there is enough overlap that I didn't want to highlight the two separately, and I personally prefer The Web Ahead. Just know that this is an option.
Upgrade is a podcast that sells itself as covering topics related to major tech companies, though in reality they focus most of their time on Apple. I'm personally not an Apple fan (just a matter of preference), but I do like to keep updated on what's happening in that area. The hosts sometimes favor Apple a little more than I think is warranted, but I can't knock them too much for that because I'm sure some people feel I'm the same way about Google. And to be fair, they are very open about their dislikes and struggles with Apple. This podcast is a nice compliment to Material.
Internet of Things
The "Internet of Things" (a phrase used to describe more and more devices connecting to the internet, like light bulbs and thermostats) is a huge growing trend in the tech industry. This podcast covers a wide array of news in the area, and does a great job of summarizing what it means for consumers. The host and co-host are also fun to listen to, and are very honest about the challenges that the IoT area faces.
Android Police Podcast
For those who prefer Android (like myself), or are just generally interested in Android, you've almost certainly heard of Android Police. They're a major all-things-Android news site with a great reputation. Their podcast covers a lot of the same content the site does, but with more candid input from the hosts. If you like the AP website, I highly recommend checking out the podcast, even just to hear more honest opinions than are sometimes mentioned in their written posts.
There are podcasts that cover a wide range of topics, all of which are educational and provide interesting information.
If you've read the book, then you'll have a good idea of what the podcast is about. Freakonomics goes into detail about what has influenced the formation of current trends, norms, and so on in society. The focus is primarily on the economic forces that play a role, helping to show the influences economics has that most people don't realize.
Similar to Freakonomics, 99% Invisible looks at hidden factors behind things. However, the focus isn't solely on the economics. There have been episodes about low-income housing, small pieces of land that go between belonging to different countries, and a large number of other topics. As long as it's something that is 99% invisible to people going about their daily lives, it could be a topic for an episode.
TED Radio Hour
If you like TED talks, then TED Radio Hour is a great podcast. It's TED talks that NPR has adapted to be more verbal, including interviews with the presenters to get even more in-depth information about their topic.
Science Vs. (which is transitioning to a new location, so even if you're already a listener then make sure you're subscribed to the right feed) is almost like Mythbusters. The host takes ideas that are popular in society, then takes a look at the scientific evidence to see if they are true or not. Episodes are short, but well done and challenge some interesting things that are taken as "common knowledge."
For anyone with an interest in medicine, Only Human is a great podcast to learn about the functioning of the human body and some of the quirks that can happen when things go wrong. It does't require knowledge of medicine, so anyone with general interest in this type of information will find the podcast accessible and fun.
Similar to 99% Invisible and Freakonomics, but focused more on the mental aspect of things. I wouldn't describe the podcast as being about psychology necessarily, but instead focuses on the outcomes of some psychological ideas. If you're interested in things like 99% Invisible, and especially if you have some psychology interest, this one is great.
If you do any writing, you've almost certainly heard of Grammar Girl. The site offers quick tips for how to be grammatically correct and how to improve your writing. The podcast is a great way to get this information in quick listening sessions, without having to remember to read the posts.
Finally, here are other great podcasts that I wasn't sure how to fit into the other categories.
This is a fairly new podcast, but one that is already showing a lot of promise. The host is a designer for many popular apps, and he has interviews with other developers and designers. Rather than focusing heavily on the development aspect, like The Web Ahead, this podcast focuses on some of the underlying principles that designers consider when creating a UI. If anyone does any form of designing, it's an interesting podcast to hear the perspectives of others.
Resident Call Room
This podcast is targeted to those in medicine, especially those who may be on residency and working in emergency medicine. However, a lot of the topics that are discussed are more generalizable, and I've found a lot of the information to be helpful for those in doctoral programs as well. If you're in a graduate program, or if you're interested in going into medicine, this podcast is great.
PhD In Progress
This is a podcast I just recently found, and really wish I had known about sooner. PhD In Progress covers the experiences of a few different doctoral students, who discuss what it's like to be in a doctoral program and the advice they have for others in similar programs. The topics they cover are similar to the ones I've posted about specific to clinical psych. It's a must listen for doctoral students, or those thinking about going into a doctoral program.
For any bloggers out there, this is a great podcast that covers tips for growing your blog/website. I'll admit that the content is a little more focused on those who are interested in blogging full-time, so for others like me who have other major priorities it can be difficult to apply all of the ideas and suggestions. They're still great, though, and it's a nice constant reminder to be making improvements to your site and keep your content fresh.
That's my fairly long list of podcasts that I've found myself listening to regularly throughout this year. There are a few others I'm interested in checking out soon, but I don't want to recommend them until I've had a chance to listen to several episodes. If you're reading this post, chances are good that you have some of the same general interests that I do, so hopefully you've been able to find some new podcasts to enjoy!
Are there any podcasts on this list that you already listen to? Are there great podcasts I didn't list and you think are worth checking out? Let me know in the comments!