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Podcast Picks of 2017

Listening to people discuss their ideas and opinions is something I truly enjoy. Podcasts are great for this and make it easy to hear the most current stories from North America to the Middle East, from Europe to Australia. All from the comfort of your smart phone or computer.

Last year, I made a list of twelve podcasts (A Podcaster’s Dozen). These were some of my long favorites and some that were great new finds.

Since it’s nearly the end of 2017, I though I’d make a new list. So, here’s another dozen podcasts that I’ve listened to this year. My hope is that you’ll give them a try in 2018.

Plenty to Explore

Below are six podcasts I’ve listened to for many years, which cover a range of topics, from architecture and medicine to philosophy and history. Each one has hundreds of episodes going back many years, so you’ll have a hard time running out of things to learn about.

  • Memory Palace, with Nate DiMeo
    • With a superb radio voice, Nate brings to life stories of all kinds–from the true to the re-imagined. Stories focus on historical characters, from the infamous, like the Donner party and P. T. Barnum, to the unknown people we should remember–and who, thanks to Nate, are.
  • World Dispatch, from the Outline
  • 99% Invisible, with Roman Mars
    • Nearly 300 discussions about “all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about”. 99pi has explored the vastness of design, from architecture and cities (La Sagrada Família) to history and objects (stethoscope) to visuals and technology (emojis). Always read the plaque!
  • This Is Hell!, with Chuck Mertz
    • With a mission to manufacture dissent, Chuck talks to journalists, authors and activists working to make this world a slightly less hellish place. In-depth conversations about the forces that drive politics, like the logic of misogyny, force us to question our world.
  • White Coat Black Art, with Dr. Brian Goldman
    • I’ve listened to this medical podcast for many years and, as a medical layman, find that it reveals an unknown world with a welcoming host. Dr. Goldman explores issues that often go beyond the hospital and, like the anti-vaccination movement, concern public health.
  • The Minefield, with Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens
    •  Who bears responsibility for vast inequality? Can nationalism be redeemed? Why does sport matter so much to us? These are the type of difficult political, economic and social questions we must address. Luckily, The Minefield provides reasoned and logical arguments using philosophy to do just that.

Some to Start

Although the podcasts below might have fewer episodes than those above, they have just as much heart. They also show what’s possibility with podcasts, as they are rich in story-telling and cover issues outside the mainstream.

  • In The Thick, with Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela
    • A new political podcast where journalists of color discuss what’s missing from mainstream news. Recent conversations cover Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day, and the anti-Semitic roots of white nationalism.
  • Revisionist History, with Malcolm Gladwell
    • Stories from far and wide. The first season opened with the story of an English painting, but soon expanded into the idea of “moral licensing” and how this plays out in politics and throughout society. The second season featured an investigation into the unique addition of rich people: golf.
  • People Fixing the World, from the BBC World Service
    • Part of BBC World Hacks, this optimistic podcast features brilliant solutions to the world’s problems. Reports investigate whether existing innovations can scale, like reducing waste or improving transport, and how to create a better world, like providing an address for every square on Earth.
  • Embedded, with Kelly McEvers
    • Embedded takes a story from the news and goes deep. In recent episodes, NPR reporters mined the records of Donald Trump and some of his closest advisors. They’ve also examined police shootings caught on video and powerful prescription opioids.
  • The Anthill, from the Conversation
    • A monthly conversation that unearths stories from academia. The 20 past episodes of this series have explored our current understanding of a range of fields: time, competition, technology, belief, waste, memory, music, history, pain, and myths. Look forward to hearing about what’s discovered next.
  • Rough Translation, with Gregory Warner
    • While exposing how aid workers change the reality around sexual violence in the Congo or how fake news from Russia helped spark a real war in Ukraine, this new podcast features hard-hitting journalists revealing why understanding cultural differences is so important.

I hope you give try listening to some of these podcasts. Please let me know what you think and if you have any to recommend.

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