A Collection of Great Podcasts - Part 1 of 4: News & Analysis

I love listening to podcasts.

They’re a great way to consume informative, thought-provoking and funny content while also keeping abreast of what’s happening in the world. Additionally, podcasts are great company for a run or while at the gym, because they engage the mind just enough to keep you plugging away at a constant pace while being distracted away from any tedium and exertion.

In line with my general OCD for keeping my digital assets organised, I’ve classified my podcast subscriptions into categories in BeyondPod. (As a quick aside, BeyondPod is simply the best podcast manager app I’ve ever used, and is a very functional RSS/Atom feedreader as well!) These categories (and therefore the sequence of posts on this topic) are:

As always, a subscription may not fit neatly into just one category, but it’ll have to do.


A great show where a different person in each episode examines one issue relating to policy or interesting new ideas from multiple angles, in each episode. I may not agree with quite a few parts of some of the discussions, but they’re very well researched and presented. A heavy focus on the UK, but some episodes are quite general.

Any Questions and Any Answers

Any Questions is a panel discussion programme featuring a few UK politicians and some people from other walks of life responding to questions raised by members of a live audience, chaired by an absolutely terrific moderator called Jonathan Dimbleby. The politicians are just as useless as you would expect them to be, and tend to waffle on without really answering the questions. After a few months, there is a rather monotonous drone of a buzz-saw going back and forth through popular dead horses. Despite all of this, it still makes for compelling listening. Recommended only if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of rumblings within the UK.

Any Answers is a sister programme hosted by Anita Anand, where BBC Radio 4 listeners dial in with their take on the issues that were discussed in the prior installment of Any Questions. The latter show is somewhat pointless as a podcast, but some of the viewpoints expressed are quite repulsively fascinating. Also, I greatly admire Anita Anand’s handling of Joe Q. Public’s heated ramblings. And she’s married to Simon Singh, who is awesome.

Freakonomics Radio

SuperFreakonomics might have come in for some criticism, but there’s no doubt its predecessor Freakonomics kick-started the trend of economists holding forth on interesting linkages between seemingly unrelated phenomena. A little unfairly, I might add, since The Undercover Economist was published a little earlier. The latter could be considered the hipster Freakonomics.

At any rate, the podcast continues the trend of analysing and exploring “the hidden side of everything”, and, as the NPR blurb puts it – “prepare to be enlightened, engaged, perhaps enraged and definitely surprised.”

KCRW’s Left, Right & Center

This is the first non-NPR American podcast I’ve regularly listened to. It’s a great little 30 minutes of debate between panellists from across the political spectrum (suitably calibrated to an American scale), and the discussions are always impassioned, without devolving into shouting matches. And despite the “present different sides of the issue” approach, the viewpoints are actually quite sensible and interesting.

NPR Series Weekends on All Things Considered

NPR gets about as close to BBC Radio as an American economic/political system will allow. All Things Considered is a popular news-magazine style of radio show, and the podcast is a curated selection of the stories covered by ATC that week. Great for US-centric news, some general information, and a generous sprinkling of esoteric music, literature and culture.

See all the posts about the podcast collection here.