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By: Noel Runkle

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May 14, 2015 | Linhart Blog, Our Culture

5 Podcasts to Make You a Smarter, Funnier, More Empathetic Human

Podcasts are amazing. If you’re not familiar with podcasts, they’re what you get when you mix the internet and the radio, just like Wikipedia is what you get when you mix the internet and the encyclopedia. It’s a democratization of a medium that I have always loved, giving voice to anyone who wants to record and publish.

I am an avid, longtime listener of podcasts, and I wanted to introduce you to five of my favorite popular podcasts. Here we go.

1. Reply All
This is a podcast about the internet with two people who live in it and love it. Hosted by Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt, they explore internet subcultures, memes and stories that are much deeper than they have any right to be. It is one of the best podcasts out there.

Where to start? Episode 6: This Proves Everything
This episode takes a deep dive into the world of One Direction fans in a way that solidified this podcast as an instant classic. Listen to it right now. I promise it’s better than whatever else you’re listening to.

2. Startup
Simply put, it’s the brutally honest, untold story of starting a business. In season one, it was Alex Blumberg’s autobiographical take on leaving his steady job at NPR and starting a new media company that produces podcasts. (A little meta? Yes, but it’s great.) In season two, which premiered April 23, 2015, the podcast will follow an online dating company as it strives to make it in a crowded market. It’s a fascinating show chock full of great advice on management, communication and honesty.

Where to start? Episode 12: Burnout
If you’ve ever been stressed – and let’s face it, who hasn’t? – this episode is incredibly refreshing. It’s an honest, raw take on what it’s like to be stretched too thin and how to come out on the other side.

3. Hello Internet
This podcast pairs up Brady Haran and CGP Grey, two professional YouTubers who talk at length about pretty much everything. The show is at its best when they battle it out over the most mundane points of life (like becoming a regular at your local coffee shop) and when they parse the latest developments on what it’s like to be a professional YouTuber. They’re both incredibly smart, and even when episodes run over two hours, I’m still left wanting more.

Where to start? Episode 35: Are My Teeth Real?
Brady and Grey are both at their best when they are talking about YouTube and when they get worked up. In this recent gem of an episode, you get a bit of both. Listen as they discuss YouTube’s upcoming subscription model and complain about jet lag. It’s much better than it sounds, I promise.

4. Accidental Tech Podcast
In business, the accountants always know things first. On the internet, it’s the developers. This podcast features a panel of some of the greats: Marco Arment, Casey Liss and John Siracusa. While it’s largely focused on Apple, the podcast has topics ranging from the future of Twitter and the developer community at large.

Where to start? Episode 79: Tip Ring Ring Sleeve
This episode is from about one year ago and the interesting part is how right they were. In their segment on Twitter, they discuss the direction the company is heading, and a year later, they were on the right track.

5. Radiolab
Now in its 13th season, Radiolab continues to be one of the best. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich piece together stories in ways you would never expect, and the episodes are all the richer for it. Science podcasts have never been so cool.

Where to start? Season 10, Episode 13: Colors
The episode explores the concept of color without showing you a thing. From Sir Isaac Newton sticking a knife in his own eye to mysterious sea creatures who can see more colors than any human, this episode has everything that makes Radiolab a must-listen.

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