So here at Rogue Panda, we love making gear. It’s a lot of fun and very satisfying to know that what we make is well used. But sometimes the actual making of said gear gets a little tedious. That’s why the stereo is one of the most important pieces of equipment in the Rogue Panda shop. Sometimes we throw on some music, but that gets old pretty fast, so often we reach for podcasts.
We listen to hours of episodes every day and we’ve tried a ton of different podcasts. So I decided to write up our favorite podcasts and share it on the site, with one-sentence descriptions of each podcast and suggested first episodes. I also gave them completely subjective one-to-three star ratings. The list is divided into three categories, based on how much you need to concentrate on the podcast:
Concentration Level Required: High
These podcasts have complicated plots, discuss intricate details of history, or are just so engrossing that we have to be careful what kind of work we do while listening to them. We save these for the most mundane of tasks, like cutting patterns.
My History Can Beat Up Your Politics *
Providing context for modern politics through history.
Suggested First Episode: Lincoln Goes To China
Hardcore History **
Averages 4 hours of rape and pillaging per episode
Suggested First Episode: Blueprint For Armageddon Volume I
Planet Money ***
I never thought economics could be so interesting!
Suggested First Episode: The Real Economy of Fantasy Sports
The Dirtbag Diaries **
Stories from the outdoors.
Suggested First Episode: 5 Steps to Bailing
State of the Re-Union **
Great reporting about different parts of the US (sadly defunct but years of episodes are available online).
Suggested First Episode: Truckers of the High Seas
Fascinating show about invisible forces that shape our behavior.
Suggested First Episode: How to Become Batman
TED Radio Hour **
More than just the audio from TED Talks, they add interviews from the speakers and weave talks together into themed episodes.
Suggested First Episode: How It All Began
Does any podcast enthusiast not know about Radiolab? I’m gonna break my one-sentence-description rule. Go download Radiolab. Every Episode. Now.
Suggested First Episode: Every Episode. Or Antibodies Part 1: CRISPR
Again, you better have heard of this one!
Suggested First Episode: Continental Breakup (not at all a representative episode, but it’s an amazing one)
Concentration Level Required: Medium
These are podcasts where we don’t mind missing a little bit of the plot if we have to concentrate on something else.
The Dollop ***
Funniest history podcast since … forever.
Suggested First Episode: 10 Cent Beer Night
It’s about food, not about snails (usually).
Suggested First Episode: The Scoop On Ice Cream
The Sporkful **
Food, and how you’re eating it wrong.
Suggested First Episode: Even Spies Hate Stale Bread
The wacky side of medical history
Suggested First Episode: The Dancing Plague
Concentration Level Required: Low
These are shows with jokes and very little plot. If we’re doing something somewhat thoughtful but not in the mood for music, we can listen to one of these and ignore it if we need to without worrying about losing the plot.
Ask Me Another ***
Quizzes, games, music, puns!
Suggested First Episode: Stark Raving Mad
Spilled Milk *
Ostensibly a food podcast.
Suggested First Episode: Brown Butter
Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me **
My preferred way to learn about the week’s news.
Suggested First Episode: That one with Robert Baer (Best interviewee ever).
And that’s it – for now. We’re always checking out new podcasts, so this list is bound to grow over time. Feel free to suggest some in the comments below.
Note: my favorite app for listening to podcasts is Podcast Addict. It allows downloading for listening without an internet connection, and has no limit on the number of podcasts you can subscribe to. Plus, the volume boost feature is excellent for certain podcasts that are mastered at a lower volume than normal (I’m looking at you, Car Talk).