I’ve listened to podcasts for several years now. On my way to work or while running, I find them to be a valuable way to learn about new topics and events from around the world. Below are some of my favorites – ones I’ve followed for a long time – and some new ones I’ve only recently found but highly recommend.
These six podcasts have several years of episodes, so you’ll have plenty to sift through and learn.
- Planet Money, from National Public Radio (NPR)
- The most entertaining podcast I’ve found. Although billed as an economics podcast, Planet Money explores every aspect of society. With over 700 episodes, there’s lots to learn. Producers and journalists have followed the story of how t-shirts are made and how oil is refined, among others.
- The Documentary, from the BBC World Service
- A seemingly endless supply of stories about people from around the world. Stories in the past month have included African ivory, Israeli technology and hunger in Venezuela. There’s something here for everyone – music, sports, history, government, and more. Two other great BBC podcasts: Analysis and Discovery.
- Reveal, from The Center for Investigative Reporting
- Thoughtful stories that are rarely heard. Reveal has investigated a Danish cult that does international charity work, private prisons and gun violence in the United States, places in the world without laws, and children crossing borders alone. Each episode illuminates essential problems facing the world.
- Tiny Spark, hosted by Amy Costello
- With its tagline “Investigating the Business of Doing Good,” this podcast examines how the non-profit sector is run and whether international aid works. Episodes have looked at companies, like Toms shoes, and charitable foundations, as well as the volunteers who work overseas.
- Radiolab, co-hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich from WNYC Studios
- A wild variety of stories with hilarious commentary, Radiolab is hard to summarize. Some favorite stories include ‘The Rhino Hunter’ on poaching, ‘Birthstory’ on international surrogacy, and ‘Darkode’ on cyber crime. Recently, they’ve added More Perfect, exploring the history of the U.S. Supreme Court.
- War College, co-hosted by Jason Fields of Reuters and Matthew Gault of War is Boring
- A weekly look inside the world of war, the weapons systems and tactics that both endanger the world and keep it safe. War College discusses topics rarely examined in public: the price of aircraft carriers, the challenge of closing Gitmo, warplanes from the Cold War era, among others.
I’ve only recently found the following podcasts, as many are in their inaugural year. All are excellent to listen to and hopefully will continue long into the future.
- Everyday Emergency, from Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
- The first nine episodes of this podcast have covered the real-life stories of MSF field staff. From TB patients in Uzbekistan to refugees in the Mediterranean, MSF staff provide medical care to people in need, everywhere. Stories are raw and emotionally, exposing the complexity of MSF’s work.
- The Uncertain Hour, hosted by Krissy Clark from Marketplace’s Wealth & Poverty Desk
- Seven great episodes so far, the Uncertain Hour has dedicated its first season to exploring American welfare following the 1997 assistance program TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Episodes have ranged from college grants to couples’ counseling, showing a complex network of effects.
- ProPublica Podcast
- Another investigative journalism podcast, where reporters share their latest investigations published by ProPublica. Each episode is eye-opening and the journalism is top-notch. Recent episodes discuss higher education cheating, Donald Trump’s foundation, and the court that handles international trade disputes.
- Center for Global Development (CGD) Podcast, hosted by Rajesh Mirchandani
- The CGD Podcast is a rare find; a podcast that discusses global development and inequality, while also engaging the listener. Each episode features CGD researchers discussing their recent work. Discussions can be complex, but more accessible than reading the in-depth research.
- The Ezra Klein Show, from Vox Media
- Largely focused on American national politics, Ezra interviews a different public figure for each episode. Ezra spends around an hour speaking with guests on both sides of the political spectrum, as well as those who work above and beyond politics, such as World Bank.
- Belabored, from Dissent Magazine
- Dissent takes a radical look at politics and culture and this podcast provides current events within the trade unions and workers’ rights. Hot & Bothered, another podcast of note from Dissent, looks the movement to tackle climate change.