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.
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 at 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.