If you already listen to Planet Money, the awesome podcast on economics, good for you! But if not, you should be listening. We previously wrote about a critical post in 2009 — and wrote about how much we liked the show in 2008. The slogan is “the economy explained” — and it delivers. The podcast is available via iTunes and any podcast collecting app.
Planet Money manages to convey very interesting stories about economics in bite-size chunks, like a biweekly chocolate chip cookie. As someone who doesn’t come from an economics background, I appreciate the way PM covers news from an unique perspective, similar to the way one opens up a great magazine or website, and regardless of the story, it will be interesting and thought-provoking. And about topics you wouldn’t otherwise look for, like how office politics affected the European economic crisis or how spam pharmacies actually provide meds. Or why the Tappan Zee bridge in New York City crosses the Hudson at the widest point.
There has never been an episode that I got bored with — or fast-forwarded. After all, this is a podcast that created a fictional presidential character based on economic principles!
Here are some recent stories to show the wide range of stories they cover:
- Should Gun Owners Have to Buy Liability Insurance?
- The Price of Free Breast Pumps
- At $17.5 Million A Year, LeBron James Is Underpaid
- How Fear Turned A Surplus Into Scarcity (about the global rice “shortage”)
And these are some of their stories on Korean entertainment and the music industry:
- Why K-Pop Is Taking Over The World
- The Cool Kids Don’t Want To Go Public
- How Much Does it Cost to Make a Hit Song?
- Katy Perry’s Perfect Game
And don’t forget to listen to The Giant Pool of Money — Part One & Two (the story that started it all on This American Life) embedded below.
And if you are interested in ensuring this high-quality journalism continues, support Planet Money — at either your local public radio station or This American Life (at present there isn’t a way to directly support PM).
This isn’t to say that there aren’t other podcasts that I like and would recommend — including several (usually) half-hour-at-least-long general audience podcasts, like Big Ideas (Canadian public radio guest lectures), On the Media (read the title), and Wired.co.uk (UK take on technology done right). Radiolab is similar to Planet Money, but focused on science — and has encountered recent controversy. This American Life is well-done, but can be hyper-depressing.
We’d love to hear about what podcasts TLF readers would recommend and why!
Planet Money is wonderful! I received “The Giant Pool of Money” as a pledge gift, listened to it on a long road trip, and FINALLY understood the financial crisis. I think about that podcast at least once a week while listening to the news. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is also a favorite, but you’re right about the depressing, including that jaw-dropping account of the girl bitten by the shark. Almost had to pull over to finish listening to that one. So much good stuff to be found on NPR!
Planet Money sounds perfect for me. I dig economics but I’m not terribly good at wrapping my head around it, so I’ll definitely check it out.
My podcast loves are as follows:
The Nerdist. Chris Hardwick’s interviews are more conversations, and they manage to be funny (often crudely so) while still seriously discussing the art of comedy, personal issues, and the like. It’s a nice balance, and they are wicked productive.
Down in Front. A group of guys who work in the film industry (special effects, mostly) record themselves commentating on films, which you can then sync up to your own copy of the movie. What I really like about them is that they give films a chance and discuss what works in a film and what doesn’t. Their podcast commentary for Twilight is a delight, since they spend the film identifying what works and trying to see if they can carve out a better film from what’s on screen rather than mocking it. They practice a very generous way of looking at films, which I think is brilliant. There’s a healthy bit of mockery (I’ve listened to the commentary for Cars without the movie, just because I need all that angst over “HOW DOES THIS WORLD EVEN WORK” to delight me), but the art of film first, which I love.
The Empire Podcast. Empire’s official podcast has interviews and reviews, but what I particularly love is the questions the contributors field at the beginning of each episode. I’ve gotten a lot of good film recommendations out of here. Plus, it’s a UK-centric film podcast, which I’ve not run across terribly many of.