A pair of headphones wrapped around the globe

Podcasts for development

The mainstream broadcast media do not always do a good job of covering international development issues. The constraints of the medium mean that they have to pitch much of their content to a broad audience. Poverty porn sells better than nuanced analysis.  One reason I like podcasts is that they are not constrained in the same way as the media. They can be targeted at niche audiences out in the long tail of the distribution. There is a small group of people with an appetite for a more long-form analysis of development which mainstream media are normally not able to serve (though it amazes me that the BBC World Service does not have room anywhere in its schedule for a hour-long programme devoted to development.)

Podcasts often work well for people who have limited other options for media (for example because they have limited bandwidth) and/or regularly have long journeys by air or road. Less glamorously, they also seem to work well for people who run, commute or look after small children.

I’ve listed my favourite development podcasts and economics podcasts, below. Please let me know in the comments if I have forgotten any. What are your favourites?

Development podcasts

Other podcasts I enjoy:

  • More or Less (Feeds: iTunes RSS)
    Tim Harford and colleagues take a look at statistics in the news.
  • NPR Planet Money (Feeds: iTunes RSS)
    The best economics podcast.
  • EconTalk by Russ Roberts (Feeds: iTunes RSS)
    This does to economics what I try to do in Development Drums, except that Russ does it much better than I do. An in depth interview on an issue of relevance to economics.
  • World Weekly with Gideon Rachman (Feeds: iTunes RSS)
    Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times looks at an international political story.
  • Taxcast – The Tax Justice Network (Feeds: iTunes RSS)
    A twenty minute podcast with the latest news about tax havens and corruption from the Tax Justice Network.
  • LSE public lectures (Feeds: iTunes RSS)
    Does what it says on the tin. Some of these are very interesting; some not so much. The production quality is pretty variable.
  • BBC Africa Today (Feeds: iTunes RSS)
    Recommended in the comments by Tanya Cothran: “BBC’s Africa Today is a great round-up of Africa’s news stories. They get some interviews with top politicians and it’s always interesting to hear them try to talk their way out of the interview. Also, they have arts and comedy segments spread throughout the week.”

(You can either download individual episodes from the websites, or have them download automatically by subscribing to them in iTunes or other podcast player.)

 

2 comments on “Podcasts for development”

  1. Woop woop!  Cheers for this Owen.  As you know I have been devouring podcasts whilst on maternity leave, so it’s great to have some more to tuck into.  
    I’ve been enjoying some of the public lectures from Oxford University, particularly the excellent ones on climate change.  They have a series which is around 15 minutes long (an ideal length for listening to with earphones whilst rocking a baby to sleep).
     

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Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and