Podcasts are “back” – so what are you listening to?

A pair of headphones wrapped around the globe

Everyone agrees that podcasts are back. (See herehere, and here for example.) I’m seeing it in the downloads for Development Drums. There are several possible reasons why this could be happening:

a. the great success of “Serial,” the break-out hit podcast in which Sarah Koenig documented an investigation into a real crime;

b. the spread of smartphones – which means almost everyone has an MP3 player in their pocket, which they listen to instead of the radio;

c. bluetooth-enabled car stereos, which is shifting people from listening to the radio when they drive

d. podcasters are getting better at it so producing shows people actually want to listen to (notably by improving the sound quality);

e. podcasts from established broadcasters (eg the BBC and NPR) are getting people used to them.

My own podcast, Development Drums is intended to be the audio equivalent of “long form” writing – that is, self-indulgent blather in need of a good editor  designed to super-serve a niche audience with in-depth analysis. I’ve been surprised how many people want this: each Development Drums episode is downloaded tens of thousands of times (some even more).

I’ve recently been enjoing the CGD podcast hosted by my friend and colleague Rajesh Mirchandani.  Rajesh is a former BBC radio and TV presenter, and it shows in the quality of these interviews.  These are shorter, less technical introductions than Development Drums. If you haven’t been listening to these, you really should. You can get the CGD podcast on  iTunes or Stitcher as well as on the CGD website.

Here is a list of podcasts on development and economics that I’m subscribed to. What am I missing?

A list of podcasts for people interested in development and economics

[Update on 29 June] Here are other podcasts which I haven’t listened to myself but which have been recommended by readers in the comments:

18 thoughts on “Podcasts are “back” – so what are you listening to?”

  1. Pingback: Podcasts are “back” – so what are you listening to? – Owen abroad » Blog | Public Sector Blogs

  2. Shameless self promotion:

    Return to the Source, a podcast on excellent writing about Africa

    iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/de/podcast/return-to-the-source/id1009490207?l=en
    Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=68661&refid=stpr
    RSS: http://returntothesource.libsyn.com/rss

    Each week, this podcast features and debates three excellent pieces of writing about African affairs. Not necessarily development/econ related, but probably interesting to the readers of this blog nonetheless.

    This is still a young project, so I would appreciate your feedback!

  3. These are a bit further afield from development than the ones you mention, but also possibly of interest:
    – Slate Money; a roundtable discussion on economics, business, finance, etc hosted by Felix Salmon. A lot of this is about US business news, but it’s a roundtable format and several of the regular participants (including Salmon) are very interested in statistics, philanthropy, and social science. I always wish this podcast were longer. http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/slate_money.html
    – Honorable mentions (unrelated but good): 99% Invisible (on design), StartUp (on starting a business), RadioLab (science).

    1. I agree about Slate Money.  So many shows like Motley Fool have occasional touches of economics, but are more about investing and finance.  Slate Money is constantly delving into real world macroeconomics with some behavioral and micro thrown in.

  4. The following is my ‘Aid & Development’ playlist I listen to via Downcast. Tiny Spark and Deeper Than Data are the most recent additions.

    A few overlaps with what have been suggested already. Looking forward to adding some new ones!

    HPCR Podcasts By Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University – link
    ECDPM By European Centre for Development Policy Management – link
    Deeper Than Data – link
    Terms of Reference – link
    Humanosphere – link
    This Week in Global Health – link
    The Guardian Global Development Podcast – link
    Tiny Spark Podcast – link
    The Lancet Global Health Audio – link
    How Aid Works Podcast – link
    Development Drums – link
    DFID Podcasts – link
    The Peacebuilding Podcast – link
    ODI Podcasts – link
    Center for Global Development Podcast – link
    Foreign Affairs Audio – link

    1. Owen,

      Great topic! I’m with Marco; I don’t think podcast used dropped and resurged…I think it’s been steady growth for the past 10 years or so – for all the reasons you, and he, mentioned.

      Certainly, I consume a lot of my news that way; as well as keeping up with topics I’m personally and professionally interested. I’m especially happy that some journals are now getting authors to make short recordings, which are then posted when the article goes up. I hope that will take off.

      One more podcast for the list: the IMF podcast is well-produced, and, I’ve found a few of their episodes covered topics I’m interested in.


    2. One addition surprisingly not mentioned yet: From Our Own Correspondent – if you care about improving the lives of people in different places you need to listen to FOOC, this is the best podcasts shining a small light on the everyday lives and issues facing people around the world. If you want to take a peek behind the news and look at the ordinary lives behind that impassive curtain. Most importantly FOOC is the best empathy generator I have ever seen. No other thing gets you week in week out into the varied experiences and situTions of the lives of people around the world.



    3. Happy to see it already mentioned in a previous comment, but AidData has launched a short-run 6 week podcast called “Deeper Than Data” that goes beyond our maps and data and discusses the stories behind the research with AidData’s students, faculty, and staff. Hope everyone has a chance to listen to it!

      Website: http://aiddata.org/podcast


      RSS: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:158254126/sounds.rss


    4. Podcasts are back? When did they ever go away?

      Blogging Heads’ Worldwise series (which are video casts but you can download the Audio): http://bloggingheads.tv/programs/current/worldwise

      The LSE’s public seminar series (a lot of stuff other than development obviously, but plenty of good development content too): http://www.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/channels/publicLecturesAndEvents/Home.aspx

      Outside of development:

      Doug Henwood’s Behind the News (left wing but, hey, if Levitt and Roberts are allowed…): http://www.leftbusinessobserver.com/Radio.html

      The New Yorker’s podcasts: http://www.newyorker.com/podcast

      And the BBC’s In Our Time: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qykl/episodes/downloads (the recent podcast on Utilitarianism highly recommended.)

      Terence (ps – thanks for your great list too!)

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