I didn’t start driving until I was almost 28, right around the same time I discovered podcasts. I’m still not a big fan of driving. But I’m always happy to volunteer to run errands for the extra time I get to listen to the latest episodes of my favorite podcasts. Since friends and family occasionally ask for my favorites, here they are, in alphabetic order:
Roman Mars hosts 99% Invisible (or 99pi to regular listeners), a show focused on the invisible influence of design across a wide variety of fields, from architecture and fashion to beer and money. It’s easy to dip into with relatively short episodes that are always fascinating.
The Adventure Zone
I only tuned in to The Adventure Zone after they had finished their first major story campaign (known as The Balance Arc), but I TORE through the whole campaign (all 69 episodes) over the course of just a few weeks. It started with three grown brothers (the McElroy brothers) and their dad playing a typical D&D campaign (including gratuitous jokes along the way), but by the end they were telling an incredibly powerful and moving story. The second major campaign is wrapping up now and it has been equally amazing, with completely different characters, stories, and even game mechanics.
I’m not going to lie. I mostly started listening to Analog(ue) (one of the earliest shows on my favorite podcast network, Relay FM) because one of the hosts (Casey Liss) was a coworker and friend of mine. That said, the concept was very intriguing: Myke Hurley and Casey talk about how technology affects their feelings and their lives outside of their devices. It’s grown into one of my first listens when it comes up because of their camaraderie and the feels it evokes.
After Analog(ue), I followed Casey over to his more well-known podcast with co-hosts Marco Arment and John Siracusa, the Accidental Tech Podcast. As an Apple fan since the early 2000s, it satisfies my nerdy side hearing these three talk about all things Apple and technology week after week. While some topics (like file systems and chip architectures) are a bit more esoteric than I would normally seek out, they cover a huge range of relevant topics that make it interesting even for non-developers.
A recent discovery and another Relay FM show, Automators with David Sparks and Rosemary Orchard is a very satisfying deep dive into all things automation. I’ve learned so much, and I constantly find myself revisiting their show notes to get better at using the many tools they talk about. No lie, listening to that show sparked my desire to write about automation for designers.
Another Relay FM show, I started listening to Cortex from the beginning because I have a soft spot for thinking about productivity. Hosts Myke Hurley and CGP Grey dive into topics like tracking time and yearly themes, but make them not only educational but genuinely funny.
The Golden Horseshoe Review
I’m not sure if The Golden Horseshoe Review is still being actively recorded, but hosts Alex Pasco, Greg Maletic, and Louie Mantia are still fun to go back and listen to as they dive deep on all things Disney Parks. They talk about history, new and old attractions, and review various aspects of all the different parks. If this one is truly retired (which seems likely since the last episode was in January of last year), I may have to go digging for a new Disney Parks podcast very soon. Update: Thanks to a suggestion from Roger on Twitter, I’ve started listening to Disneyland for Designers, and it’s wonderful.
I don’t know how I first heard about Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam, but it’s become a favorite because it focuses heavily on psychology, behavior, and how humans think and feel. It often leaves me inspired and thinking about people very differently.
When I heard about Hurry, Slowly by Jocelyn K. Glei, my initial reaction was “I don’t have time for ANOTHER productivity podcast!” But I kept seeing people mention it in passing, and she had wrangled some pretty great interviews with authors and others that I was a fan of. I’m so glad I listened. It’s a productivity podcast like ATP is an Apple podcast. Productivity is an over-arching “theme,” but it’s more just about how to be a mindful, creative human.
I’m a lifelong nerd, and I love books, movies, comics, and games. For most of my life, I enjoyed these things on my own and occasionally with close friends. But when I discovered The Incomparable (hosted by Jason Snell), I discovered even more nerdy things to love from a bunch of wonderful nerds. Each episode features a rotating cast talking about a wide array of different topics, from superhero drafts to old movie reviews, D&D games to sci-fi book clubs. (Their book reviews are notoriously dangerous for my reading list.)
I was gobsmacked when I heard that Jeffrey Veen would be hosting Presentable on Relay FM. He is one of a few people that I credit for my transition from web development to UX design, after seeing him present at SXSW in 2004. The show was an instant subscription, and it has never disappointed me. He interviews a wide variety of different designers in very different roles and companies.
Yup, yet ANOTHER Relay FM show — it’s easily my favorite network of podcasts. (I listen to a bunch of other Relay podcasts that could also go on this list, but I didn’t want it to go on forever.) Upgrade is a straight Apple news show from Jason Snell and Myke Hurley. They talk about various aspects of Apple’s business, tech, and media, and the tangential industries it touches. They also have fun drafts before each major Apple event where they discuss what things we’ll be most likely to see and which things they desperately hope they’ll see.
Podcasts are great. There are so many, and they cover such a broad range of topics that you can easily get lost for weeks listening to them. These are not the only podcasts I listen to, but they’re the ones I turn to most regularly. The one thing I think I’d like to see with my listening going forward is a more diverse range of voices, particularly women and minorities. If you have any great podcasts in similar fields to these, I’d love your suggestion!