Year In Review: The Best Podcasts Of 2014
December 22nd, 2014
Podcasts have always been a big thing for me. They are my companion while commuting to work, a relief while doing routing chores in the house. They are a kind of sanity check and many times I prefer them to simply listening to music.
With podcasts you can always learning new stuff, and especially with the selection that I’ve made for myself, I can always find new ways to fuel my creativity.
Now that we are at year’s end, it feels like a good moment to look back at the list of podcasts that kept me company for the past 12 months.
I’m a big technology enthusiast, always been. I’ve started following technologies through Apple and then one step at a time I’ve branched out into general technology and everything that surrounds us nowadays.
Upgrade is a show hosted by Jason Snell and Myke Hurley on Relay.fm. The show is part of a recently formed independent network which is producing amazing shows all around.
I like Upgrade in particular because the generation clash of the two hosts makes for a great all-around view on the technology world.
With Snell’s roots into the world of “old-school” media thanks to his experience in print at MacWorld and Hurley’s fresh view of the world as enthusiast, you can always get an hour (or so) of thoughtful entertainment.
If you love tech and you want to hear the nitty gritty details, ATP is a must-listen-to. With an all-start host line-up including Marco Arment (of Tumblr, Instapaper and Overcast fame), John Siracusa (the only stop for Mac OS X reviews) and Casey Liss (who?) you know you are going to get all the details you possibly want to hear of any given topic.
Despite podcasting without doing an research, Siracusa is one of the best tech journalists I’ve ever encountered. Thanks to a mix of personal experience and frankly lots of obsessions he has more or less always the final word.
John Gruber is the pen behind Daring Fireball, the blog famous for dissecting all-Apple news but also famous for creating the link-blog style.
In his Talk Show he always has guests from any corner of the web: creatives, designers, programmers and so on. Despite being officially about technology, the Talk Show is pretty much about anything the hosts want to talk about so we quickly go into any other random topic. Recently we had shows about James Bond and Star Wars and baseball (yes there’s a lot of baseball).
Just a fair bit of warning. Lately shows have varied in length and we are now around an average of 2 to 2.5 hours each!
Inquisitive is another show from Relay.fm and it’s one of the best. It’s an interview show where Myke Hurley talks with very interesting people every week. He has great interview skills so Myke alwyas manages to take the best out of his guests.
It’s also true that he always have great guests, the creative types that inspires you to do your best always.
I assume the name Adam Savage is not new to you. He is one of the two Mythbusters, the crazy blonde one I would add. In this show, which is still today without a title, he let his geek side out without controls. It’s mostly about craftsmanship and creating and doing stuff to explore your inner geek. It’s also about the scientific process, and movies and possibly comedy.
There’s only one way to describe The Incomparable podcast: a geek realm. Jason Snell and friends are every week looking into the geekiest corner of the internet. There’s lots of flashbacks into the past and how bad tv and entertainment were in the ’70s and also how good they were. To follow the show you need at least some basic ground in comics, sci-fi books and movies and so on.
If you want a good example of the essence of The Incomparable, listen to the special episode about the recent release of the new Star Wars teaser trailer: 80 seconds of trailer, 1.5 hours of show. Do I need to say anything else?
If so far it has all been about sci-fi and comics and the impossible, we are now back on Earth with our feet deep in science. StartTalk is Neil deGrasse Tyson show about the Cosmos, deep space and the joys of leaning though the Scientific Method. Tyson is the Carl Seagan of our generation and undoubtedly the greatest science speaker we have today. His gift is being able to take very complex concepts and explaining them using simple concepts that anybody can easily follow and understand. Plus, he always talks with great passion and you will undoubtedly get caught by that passion yourself, igniting the curiosity toward space that has brought us so far.
John Hodgman is they guy famous for portraying the Personal Computer in the Apple series of ads for PC vs Mac. He then went on being a “political correspondent” for The Daily Show with John Stewart and recently he moved into being a Deranged Millionaire predicting the end of the world and giving out advices on how to survive such event with his books’ trilogy.
When is not busy being a comedian he runs a fake court of internet justice where he hears and pronounce judgement on any kind of cases. From answering troubling questions as “are machineguns to be considered robots?” to “should you be allowed to keep a night vase underneath your bed because your bathroom is too far away from your bed?”, the Judge has an opinion on everything.
Is a genuine show that will give you a genuine laughter, especially thanks to Hodgman brilliancy as stand-up comedian.
Just for Fun: International Waters
If you still have space in your podcast player of choice you should consider trying International Waters. As the title says, this is just for pure fun. You don’t need to listen in order and you don’t need to listen to all the episodes. Each one is very much self-contained into about an hour of genuine comedy. Its format is what makes this show great: two teams of comedians are battling each other. One representing the US and one the UK, International Waters is also a very funny way to learn what makes those two countries so culturally different.
Special Mention: Serial
Finally, it’s not possible to write an article about podcasts without citing Serial. Serial is the new and recent podcast phenomenon brought to us by the people at This American Life. If you don’t know about Serial you’ve seriously been living under a rock.
12 episodes, one story told from beginning to end. An investigative report into a real-life drama. I won’t say anything more because the beauty of Serial is not knowing what’s coming next, plus the possibility of doing your own version of the investigation and see if you’ll come to the same conclusions.
2014 has been a great year for podcast, which is apparently undergoing a major renaissance period, so I can only expect greater things from 2015. Keep listening!