Over the past two years, I’ve come to love podcasts. This love affair started almost two years ago when I got bored of the musical rotation on Spotify and a coworker revealed how much she shared my love of TED talks. This led to a conversation about NPR’s TED Radio Hour. I started with the TED Radio Hour and then for some time, I found myself barely listening to music on my commute. Podcasts have been a great way to briefly escape the chaos of the weekly grind. Podcasts are also a great source of knowledge, entertainment, and creative inspiration. Podcasts have been good to me, so it’s only right that I share some of my favorites. Below are a few podcasts that get the “Young, Restless, and Creative” seal of approval.
This was my introduction to podcasts. As a big fan of TED talks, this was a natural place for me to start. Every week, TED Radio Hour host Guy Raz picks a different theme and explores it through the lens of 3-4 TED speakers. In their discussions, you hear clips of their talk and the stories that inspired their talks. Each episode is 40 minutes to an hour long. The episodes are a great way to learn new things and even explore your own views. Below are a few of my favorite episodes:
I came to learn about this podcast by way of the president at my first job. Having knowledge of my love for business and entrepreneurship, he recommended that I give this one a listen. Startup, is the product of Alex Blumberg, formerly of NPR’s Planet Money. He started the podcast to document the journey of building his startup, Gimlet Media—a podcast network. More than a genius marketing tool, the podcast gave listeners a view into the not-so-common side of entrepreneurship. In the second season, he shifted the focus to documenting the story of another startup while intermittently sharing updates on Gimlet Media. In the third season, he covers several different startup stories. Some successful and others that failed. Some of my favorite stories include:
- Twitch– a gaming site that is now in Amazon’s portfolio;
- Grooveshark– the internet’s earliest version of Spotify; and
- Con Body– the story of how a drug dealer brought social entrepreneurship to the boutique fitness industry.
If you like business, enjoy stories about creativity, or are trying to learn more about building a business, this podcast is a great resource.
This is one of the most recent podcasts of the ones on the list. It is a part of Slate’s new podcast network, Panoply. On Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell, author of numbers books such as Outliers, David and Goliath, and the Tipping Point, revisits events in history to discuss the parts that don’t receive as much attention. From each episode comes a counterintuitive insight about human nature. In one episode he explores why countries that have elected women as heads of state have yet to elect another or why political satire may not always be as effective as we expect it to be.
This was one of my favorite podcasts. NWAP is literally four educated, eloquent, funny, and relatable Black gentlemen (negroes) who address each other by their Twitter handles as discuss everything under the sun. In one episode they’ll discuss the criminal justice system, their hate for LeBron James, and US foreign policy. They offer a unique perspective that is often lacking from mainstream media. The conversations are well-thought out and light-hearted at the same time. One of my favorite segments is barbershop talk, where they lighten the mood with a topic that you could hear your barbers discussing as they procrastinate your haircut.
I learned about Presidential from a recommendation in an issue of Fast Company. Presidential is hosted by Washington Post reporter Lillian Cunningham. Starting at the beginning of 2016, she endeavored to release an episode on a different US president every week leading up to the 2016 election. She started with George Washington and took us all the way through to the election of our now president elect. I started off listening to the episode about Barack Obama, thinking I wouldn’t care too much about the other presidents. That episode led me to listen to the episode on Bill Clinton. Then I decided to go back to the beginning and listen all the from George Washington. Each episode takes us through the life of the man before the presidency, how each one got to the oval office, and their individual legacies. One of the common questions that Cunningham asks guest historians is: “What would it be like to go on a blind date with x?”. I didn’t expect to be so committed to the podcast. I learned a lot about our founding fathers as well the less known presidents like Grover Cleveland (who fathered an illegitimate child while in office), William McKinley (the first presidential candidate to formally ask for the Black vote and run a modern campaign, and William Taft (the only president to serve on the Supreme Court). If you like history, leadership, and interesting stories, this makes for great listen.
Some standout episodes:
- George Washington as “he didn’t know fear”
- Thomas Jefferson for his internal conflicts—owning slaves and writing that all men are created equal—as well as his many outputs: politician, diplomat, farmer, academic, scientist
- Abraham Lincoln for his obvious place in history and leadership style.
- Rutherford B. Hayes, whose election ended reconstruction. He later went on to become the first president to advocate for reform in the criminal justice system.
- William McKinley for his foresight. Among other things, he was the first president to run a modern campaign. Little known fact– he was the first candidate to go out and ask for the Black vote.
- Teddy Roosevelt for all of his energy and enthusiasm.
- Barack Obama of course, for his is a story of identity.
NPR’s Up First
I discovered Up First in April and it’s now the first thing I listen every morning. Up First delivers the day’s news in 10 minutes in a way that is easy to understand. The hosts do a great job It’s also nice because the administration doesn’t dominate every episode.
Hopefully, you’ll check some of these out. I’ll be sharing other great podcasts as I come across them. Have some favorites that weren’t on this list? Share them in the comments.