Before podcasts were cool

This week I enjoyed some replies to Kim Kardashian West’s excitement about the Serial podcast. They were mocking that antiquated platforms like MySpace and Blackberry Messenger would be buzzing with news about a podcast which kind of peaked back in 2015.

It made me reflect on podcasts in general.

For those unfamiliar, a podcast is just radio on the internet which fetches new episodes when they’re ready, and you can play them whenever you want. How cool is that.

I’ve enjoyed listening to them for roughly 12 years now.

Podcasts now download onto my 70 year old mother’s smart phone, after she got me to subscribe her to something she wanted to follow.

From what was initially quite a complicated and nerdy pursuit, it’s wonderful to see ditsy reality TV stars are now enjoying them too.

My own tastes in podcasts have changed over time.

I thought I’d archive my current subscriptions for future reference. No doubt, this will continue to change over time.

Ryan's podcast subscriptions
List of my podcasts subscriptions – Sep 2018

I think I’d classify all my podcasts into a Venn diagram of:

  1. For fun
  2. To learn
  3. and the overlap of both.

I’ve listed them in the order that I tend to listen to them.


  • Criminal – Perhaps the greatest podcast voice ever, Phoebe Judge.
  • Everything is alive – This is an interview with an inanimate object willing to share its perspective. There has been a can of cola, light pole, pillow. They all have a story to tell. It’s early days for this one, and shows some promise.
  • note to self – one I’m not always into, allegedly detailing the impacts that technology has on everyday life.


  • 99% invisible – For me, one of the best podcasts around, certainly the best web site – covering the hidden design and architecture which shapes our world.
  • Design of Business, Business of Design – very cool interviews with design leaders and the role it plays.
  • Freakonomics Radio – if you enjoyed the book, you’ll enjoy the podcast with author Stephen J. Dubner or Steven Dubner (depending where on the Wikipedia page you look).
  • Stanford Uni’s DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders – maybe my first ever subscription. Each episode brings amazing insights from an expert in entrepreneurship.
  • HBR Ideacast – Nice short summaries of latest Harvard Business Review topics, often including interviews with the authors.
  • Coffee pods – Aussie Holly Ransom interviews leaders in various fields that can offer some wisdom and experience to inspire others.

Equal parts of Fun and Learning:

  • No such thing as a fish – from the QI TV Show elves, a weekly podcast of the funniest/quirkiest facts they found.
  • ReplyAll – nerdy podcast about the Internet, so about everything in general.
    Bit of an addendum: there was a significant protest by some ex-staffers regarding the show’s culture and management. Disappointing to hear, glad I had stopped listening before all this came out.
  • The Allusionist – fun accounts about the origin and interesting parts of language.

I used to listen to some which would fall completely under the Motivational category. But quite contradictory, I found they were all very easy to tire of.
The better ones were The Tim Ferriss Podcast, (though over 5 minutes of ads led me to take some of his Four Hour Work Week advice and drop media inputs which don’t meet your goals). And Lewis Howes is a great guy and has a popular podcast called School Of Greatness – though for me, he used it far too much to promote his books. So I currently have no motivating ones in the playlist.

Similar to the old iPod adage, you might be able to tell a lot about someone from the podcasts they subscribe to, or don’t. And it’s always interesting to find others who like listening to similar stuff ..

The next phase of more mainstream podcasting might be interesting as major players get involved, and advertising becomes more sophisticated and captures larger (though maybe more fickle) audiences.

Podcasts have been an invaluable companion for my daily commutes. And I’d like to think they’ll get more useful with things like smart speaker devices, and connected homes.

I’ll check back some time to see what’s changed.