In the reality television show Survivor, people on an island were voted off the island one by one with each episode. In Podcast Battle, I do the same thing. I choose five podcasts and listen to the latest episode of each one. I pick my least favorite to eliminate. Then I’ll listen to the next episode of the remaining four and eliminate one. I’ll continue this until I’m left with my favorite podcast out of the group.
Podcast Battle 2016
My first podcast battle pitted the iTunes top five most popular podcasts (on a particular day in October 2016) against each other. The contestants were:
These are all great podcasts. They all deserve to be in the top five.
When I listen to podcasts, I want to learn useful things and be entertained. If the podcast can tickle my emotions, all the better.
The two that didn’t interest me
As I said earlier, every podcast in this contest is awesome. But for my own purposes, Accused didn’t interest me enough. It’s great story telling. Unfortunately there’s not much practical information that I can take away from it.
I run my own business and enjoy reading business books. Heck, I even have an MBA. For some reason though, How I Built This fell flat. It’s like listening to case studies. While interesting from a business perspective, not all of them are entertaining and enlightening.
The one in the middle
Stuff You Should Know is a really interesting podcast. It’s about all sorts of topics. I heard about the amazing history of soda, why Easter Island’s civilization collapsed, and all about polar bears. The subject matter is great, but the podcast has a “feel” that’s almost too casual. The hosts don’t do a good job establishing authority. They like to joke around and preface facts with “I think…”
The two best ones
Each TED Radio Hour episode has a theme. Then the host, Guy Raz, weaves together a few TED talks to tell a story about the theme. I learned a lot from each episode, no matter how little interest I might have had in the topic.
This American Life is the king of all podcasts. The storytelling is masterful in building suspense and tugging at your emotions. The stories aren’t limited to any one topic. The one underlying theme is that the stories are about people. People from all walks of life. If you can only subscribe to one podcast, make it This American Life.
Podcast Battle 2017
I did another Podcast Battle recently. I’ll just give you the results:
#5: Nintendo Power Podcast
This is a fascinating podcast if you play Nintendo games. Listening to it made me feel like buying the new Nintendo game system and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. However, since I don’t have enough free time to play games, I feel like it’s wasting my time to continue listening to this podcast.
#4 Kickass News
I listen to so many interview podcasts that it’s starting to grow tiresome. Kickass News is another such podcast featuring personalities and thought leaders from a variety of fields. The interviews focus on current and newsworthy events. Adding another long-form interview to my current mainstays would make listening to all the podcasts tedious.
#3 Atlanta Monster
This is a documentary-style podcast that will debut in January 2018. It is produced by the makers of the popular Up and Vanished podcasts. Atlanta Monster will tell the true story of one of Atlanta’s darkest secrets back in the 1980’s.
#2 Duolingo Spanish Podcast
The Duolingo Spanish Podcast is for intermediate-level Spanish learners. It gives you true stories in Spanish with English commentary. The stories are interesting and often excerpted from journalistic writing.
#1 The Daily
Finally, the best and most useful podcast out of these five is The Daily. It is similar to This American Life in that it tells stories. However, the stories in The Daily are shorter, daily, and provide insights into current events.