Listen While You Work (from Home): Our Favorite Podcasts

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As markets trigger circuit breakers, restaurants go delivery-only, schools get let out for undefined periods, and workers go remote, we figured people might have more time on their hands to fill with non-social entertainment.

Being a company that works with media means staying up-to-date via various mediums. That includes podcasts, a news and entertainment format that has steadily grown in popularity over the last 15 years or so. Under normal circumstances, podcasts are a great way to consume content hands-free while at work or on the El, but podcasts are also useful for staying informed and entertained at home now, at a time when so many people are unable to occupy themselves with normal activities.

Below are some of our 3Pointers’ podcast recommendations, for your listening pleasure:

Reply All

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I’ve been a fan of podcasts for a long time (the first podcasts I listened to were Harry Potter-related ones in middle school… don’t judge), and I now listen to several regularly. Of all of the ones I listen to, Reply All is the one I’m constantly encouraging friends to check out.

A self-described “podcast about the internet,” this show takes that theme in many unexpected and fascinating directions, focusing less on the internet as technology and more on the internet as a network of people. Sometimes that means a show about explaining the many layers of a specific tweet, sometimes a show about solving a technology-related problem. The latter type, called “Super Tech Support,” always starts with a listener reaching out to see if Reply All’s team can help explain a strange or frustrating tech-related phenomenon (think trying to track down someone’s years-old Bitcoin purchase without the identifying number or attempting to explain a mysterious ordering trend at Domino’s locations nationwide).

The show is by turns funny, sad, and captivating, and as someone on the internet (and that includes you, since you’re reading this), you should give it a shot.

Recommended episode to start with: The Case of the Missing Hit,” in which the team tries to figure out why a pop song a listener used to hear on the radio is nowhere to be found on the internet.

Other favorites:

  • The Daily — as the name suggests, this is a daily podcast (on weekdays) from The New York Times, and it’s a great dose of news to start the day.
  • What a Day — this is the show I listen to right after The Daily every weekday morning. It’s another great look at the news of the day (and a lot more lighthearted than The Daily).
  • Pod Save America — former Obama staffers make sense of political news on this podcast.
  • Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend — late-night host Conan O’Brien, his assistant, and his producer banter and talk with a different guest (typically comedians, but other celebrities too) each week.
  • Code Switch — an NPR podcast about “the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.”

Freakonomics

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A long-running and acclaimed podcast, Freakonomics uses data to tell surprising truths. You likely recall hearing the podcast’s title when the book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything was flying off the shelves in 2005. The show is hosted by one of the book’s “Steve” co-authors, journalist Stephen Dubner. The other author and frequent podcast guest, economist Steven Levitt, offers a Chi connection as he’s on the faculty at the University of Chicago. If you get hooked, don’t worry, there is plenty of content ahead of you. The radio show has nine years’ worth of episodes that explore varying aspects, frequently overlooked or unexplored ones, of the economy. The most recent episode examined the potential impact of social distancing.

Recommended episode to start with: The first episode, “The Church of Scionology.”

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

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I’ve always been interested in history, and this podcast does an incredible job of scratching that itch. The host, Dan Carlin, isn’t a historian (and will make sure you know that), but he is consistently well informed on the subjects he chooses to discuss, spending weeks to months preparing for new episodes. So you have to wait a while between episodes, but when they drop, they’re hours long and packed full of interesting details.

Even if you’re not a fan of history, Dan will get you interested — he retells history like he’s narrating a story, focusing on the human element and staying far away from reciting names and dates.

Recommended episode to start with:Blueprint for Armageddon: I” — this is the start to his magnum opus, a six-part series on World War I.

Other favorites: Lightning Round!

  • Odd Lots — a tour around finance’s lesser-known but equally interesting/important topics.
  • Pardon My Take — irreverent sports commentary.
  • Shutdown Fullcast — the internet’s only college football podcast.
  • Hoge & Jahns — for all your Chicago Bears storylines & news.
  • The Rewatchables — episode-long analyses of what makes your most-rewatched movies so fun and entertaining.

I will spare you all the slate of Notre Dame-specific podcasts I consume — yes, I have a long commute.

The Morning Toast

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Good morning, millennials! The Morning Toast is a fun and lighthearted pop culture podcast. In each episode, they recap “the fast five stories that you, yes YOU, need to know before you wake up and take a bite out of your morning toast.” While the “fast five” stories are mostly focused on pop culture and celebrity news, the podcast occasionally adds in a “biz news,” “tech news,” or general breaking news story. The show also recaps reality TV shows and occasionally has celebrity guest appearances.

The hosts, Jackie and Claudia Oshry, are sisters and NYC natives. Despite the seemingly surface-level topic of pop culture and celebrity news, Jackie and Claudia do a great job of making their content thought-provoking and analytical.

What makes this podcast unique is the die-hard community of listeners, aka “toasters.” There is a toasters Facebook group where you can discuss your thoughts on the episodes and news stories, or just connect with fellow pop culture lovers. When you become a toaster, you really do become part of a family. The podcast even puts on “Camp Toast” in the summer for toasters all over the world to meet each other in person.

This podcast is filmed live in NYC on YouTube every weekday at 10:30am ET, but you can listen to it as a podcast when the audio version drops on various outlets in the afternoon.

Recommended episode to start with: You can start with the most recent episode. A few warnings: they talk really fast and they have a lot of “inside jokes” that will take a few episodes to understand.

Crime Junkie

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If you like listening to true crime stories, Crime Junkie is the podcast for you. The storytelling is straightforward and free of rabbit holes, so the cases stay suspenseful and are easy to follow. The host, Ashley Flowers, is a great storyteller, and her voice is very easy to listen to and understand. Ashley is on the board of directors for Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana, and her work with them is what eventually led her to start the Crime Junkie podcast in December, 2017. She has a sidekick on the show named Britt, whom she grew up with in Indiana, and who adds color commentary to the stories.

Crime Junkie releases a new episode every Monday, each of which tells the story of one crime, starting with the full background details and proceeding to wherever the information stands today.

Trust me, listen to one and you’ll be a junkie… hooked on the podcast just like I am.

Recommended episode to start with: Honestly, they are all very interesting, but each episode recites the story about a specific crime, and they are labelled with a type of crime. For example, some are about murders, serial killers, missing persons, conspiracies, etc.

Other favorites:

  • Someone Knows Something — a good podcast for cold cases. A journalist goes around trying to uncover more information about specific cold cases to help the police and families of the victim find out what happened.
  • The Shrink Next Door — a podcast produced in partnership with Bloomberg. It tells the story of a manipulative shrink who tricked his patient into paying for everything and controlled his patient’s life. It is similar to a documentary, but in podcast form.
  • Off the Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe — a podcast hosted by a former Bachelorette from the eponymous ABC show. She interviews other celebrities, women business owners, former cast members from the show, and does weekly Bachelor/Bachelorette recaps during the seasons.

Business Wars

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Business Wars covers the strife, drama, and luck that populate the histories of famous competitors, all while livening the mood with reenactments woven into the narrative. It’s been running for a while so there’s likely a rivalry to fit your whims. (Note: each rivalry gets its own miniseries of a varying number of episodes.) Curious about media history? Then Hearst vs. Pulitzer is a must listen. Sneakerhead? There’s Nike vs. Adidas. Got a sweet tooth? Check out Hershey vs. Mars.

Recommended episode to start with: I think my childhood memories exploring the gargantuan FAO Schwarz that used to be on Chicago’s Mag Mile led me to follow developments in the toy industry as an adult… So, I personally started my listening journey with the miniseries on Hasbro vs. Mattel.

Other favorites:

  • 99% Invisible — while the effect of design and architecture on our lives is the general theme tying the series together, it touches quite a spectrum of subject matter — from the efficacy of building green or carbon neutral high-rises to why the “E.T.” Atari game was so awful.
  • The Missing Cryptoqueen — some folks from the BBC investigate one of those “too strange for real life” scams that in this case involves an epic global cryptocurrency scheme and an array of colorful characters. (It’s a manageable eight episodes long in total.)
  • Revolutions — host Mike Duncan (who cut his teeth podcasting when putting together his epic The History of Rome series) takes listeners through the political, societal, and cultural developments that led to 10 of the most notable revolutions in history, from the Haitian to the Russian Revolution.

Written by

PR & Communications for Fintech & Chicago Tech. www.3ptscomm.com

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