Favorite podcasts

My daily commute and the time I spend mowing the grass are perfect opportunities to learn something new. I like to take advantage of that time by listening to podcasts. Below are some of my favorites, organized by category.

Incidentally, let’s talk podcatchers and podcast players: I used to favor Marco Arment’s Overcast app for iOS (iPhone and iPad). It was a rather nice app, the best-selling feature of which was “smart speed” mode. But I got tired of the design tweaks and with the experimentation with financial models (ultimately gravitating toward a subscription model). Another negative was the lack of a macOS or tvOS counterpart. Since Overcast maintained its own podcast list, I couldn’t pick up where I left off using the native Apple Podcasts app on my iMac or Apple TV.

When Overcast transitioned to the subscription model, I decided to give Apple’s native Podcasts app another try. It’s actually a pretty reasonable app. It syncs across the entire ecosystem (iOS, macOS, and tvOS), so things are always in sync and I can resume playback anywhere. It lacks “smart speed,” but playback at 1.25x is close enough for most podcasts. It now has support for chapter lists, too, which was another good feature from Overcast. So overall, Podcasts fits the bill.

Another very good podcast player is Castro. What distinguishes this player is its triage-based approach toward listening: Only one playlist exists (the Queue). When new podcasts arrive, they are placed in an inbox-like triage zone, where you may view their description and decide either to (1) add it to the queue, or (2) archive it. Archived podcasts are out of sight and out of mind, so you can take a deep breath and stop worrying about how much you’re falling behind on listening to all those podcasts out there. The archive is also where podcasts from your queue go after you’ve finished listening to them. The archive is easy to search through, if you ever want to find one of those old episodes. Oh, Castro also has a lot of bells and whistles, including variable listening speeds, per-podcast settings, and a very clear overlay icon that lets you know when a podcast is downloaded locally or needs to be streamed (something that I wish Apple’s Podcasts app would learn from). Overall, Castro is a slam-dunk app: it gets so many things so very right. Where it falls short a bit is in an “easy” way to peruse through a specific podcast’s prior episodes. You can definitely do it, but it requires a lot of extra taps and swipes to find what you’re looking for. It does take some getting used to the one-listening-playlist-to-rule-them-all philosophy, so if you’re used to multiple topic-based playlists, perhaps Castro’s not for you. But it’s definitely worth testing out for a while.

And now, for the podcasts…

Tech enthusiasm

Computer science

Data science

  • Data Skeptic
  • Data Science at Home
  • Partially Derivative
  • Linear Digressions
  • TWiML&AI (This Week in Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence)
  • Data Engineering Podcast
  • O’Reilly Data Show
  • Data Stories
  • Stats + Stories
  • Hadooponomics


  • Beyond the To Do List

General interest

  • HBR IdeaCast
  • TED Radio Hour
  • TEDTalks
  • The Allusionist