Tag Archives: Freakonomics Radio

Podcasts: Beyond Ira

11 Jan

The soundtrack to Ira’s life.

Posted by: mthep

I get the impression that, with the exception of a few notable productions (cough This American Life cough), the wide world of podcasts goes pretty much unnoticed. And I get it; there are a lot of options out there – and most of them are pretty terrible. But if you know where to look, I swear you will find some of the most entertaining free* content available on the internet. (*Most podcasts don’t cost anything, but if you find a few you really like, throw some money at them when they ask for it. And they will.)

To save you guys the trouble of wading through the sea of poor audio quality and lackluster content that is the iTunes Store Podcast category, I’ve listed some of my favorites below to get you started. First, some ground rules;

  1. Reserve judgement on a show until after you’ve listened to at least a few episodes. Even with the shows I really enjoy now, it took me a while to get a good sense of them.
  2. That’s all, really. It would have just sounded weird to say “ground rule” instead.


I have this problem where I am constantly offering advice – and it’s almost always unsolicited. Instead of taking responsibility for my actions, I am going to blame the media. Savage Lovecast, to be exact. I’ve basically grown up with Dan Savage’s advice, ever since discovering his written column back in junior high. For me, his podcast is like icing on the advice cake.

Mr. Hodgman’s show is consistently delightful, and his verdicts are often surprisingly profound. You should probably never follow MBMBAM‘s advice, but their show never fails to make me snortle while listening at my desk or riding public transport.

The face of sound advice.


I love these comedians-interviewing-comedians shows because they’re usually interviewing friends, so there’s a comfort level there that’s rare in other interview formats. You basically get to be a fly on the wall for some funny and interesting conversations between famouses, that most of us normals wouldn’t have the opportunity hear anywhere else. That, and thanks to listening to Nerdist, I now know the appropriate way to greet Nathan Fillion whenever I meet him in person, and I consider that an important life skill to have.

These are not the hammer.

Science & Learnin’

You know how some people say that they want to go back to school because they love learning so much? That’s not me. I strongly disliked school, I got through it, and I will never look back. But somehow, these podcasts accomplish an unthinkable feat for me; they make me enjoy learning. If I could go back to school for a major in Radiolab, I totally would.

Freakonomics turns everyday topics on their head by looking at them through the fascinating lens of economics.  Yes, I said it; economics is fascinating. Or at least, thanks to Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner it is.  How to Do Everything is true to it’s name, and they often have an impressive array of celebrity guests to help answer questions. I usually only listen to two members of the HowStuffWorks family of podcasts, but if you explore everything they have to offer, you could probably find an answer to every question you didn’t know you wanted to ask.

‘Cause knowledge is power!

Square Pegs

I couldn’t fit these two shows in with any other category, but I didn’t want them to be overlooked. Dan Harmon’s show (creator of Community), consists of him drinking a lot, talking a lot, and interacting with the audience. It’s unlike any other show I listen to; it’s funny, crude, and for some reason, I keep going back to it. The show is currently on tour through January.

Throwing Shade is an award-winning hilarious/ridiculous “current events” podcast, and I adore it. The co-hosts, Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi, remind me of grown-up versions of Janis and Damian, in that they are awesome, and I would very much like to be their friend.

In my dreams.

Do you have any podcast favorites I missed? List your recommendations in the comments!

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