As you may already know, I devote all my driving time to podcasts. It is, quite possibly, my favourite part of my iPhone. A list of reasons:

  1. I actually look forward to driving.
  2. Driving time suddenly feels productive (because something is being learnt, etc).
  3. No ad breaks (or not a lot of them – it does depend on what you’re listening to).
  4. Less road rage in traffic (because if it takes me an extra 10 minutes – then that is 10 extra minutes of podcast).
  5. They’re free.
  6. You get to choose what you listen to – so you can always have a supply of stuff you find interesting.
  7. And, oh my, so much better than local radio.

I think everyone should do it. It would make the world a calmer and more interesting place.

So here is a list of my favourites:

1. NPR’s Planet Money

planet money

When I first discovered Planet Money, I consumed it like an addict. I guess it’s almost the podcast-equivalent of what I wanted my blog to be: each episode takes an economic/finance/business issue, and makes it sound like you’re hearing about it from a friend over a beer in a bar on a Friday afternoon with a bowl of nachos.

The Planet Money team releases new episodes twice a week: every Wednesday and Friday (although increasingly, that Friday is starting to look a lot like a Saturday). They’re all about 15 to 20 minutes long (just about right for a drive to and from the shops). And I have been through their back catalogues to the beginning of 2012.

Some personal favourites:

2. NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour

pop culture happy hour

After I’d gone all the way back to early 2012 with the Planet Money podcasts, I began to get bored. I’d listened to well over 200 podcasts in the same style and format and general area of interest. So I went in search of something different, and discovered PCHH.

Sure – it’s not finance, or economics, or any of those things. But somehow, it’s related. And I think it’s because popular culture and its representations (movies, books, television series, etc) are the critical reflection of what goes on in the world of economics and finance. I don’t want to get too philosophical about it – but business/finance tend to deal with what is (pragmatic reality and all that), where the artistic forces that drive popular culture tend to deal with what should be. Which, when you think about it, is the same thing that drives economic debate.

And regardless, it’s entertaining.

They release a 50 minute episode every week on a Friday.

If you’re interested, I’d start with one of these two:

3. Slate Money

slate money

Slate Money is one of the new additions to the world of podcasts. They release on a Saturday, and there’ve only been about 14/15 episodes so far.

Felix Salmon, for anyone who doesn’t know him, is worth a google search. He was a finance blogger at Reuters, and he is a bit legendary.

In many ways, Slate Money is the step up from Planet Money – it’s less beginner (or less patronising), so it’s somehow more solid. In those early episodes, I feel like Felix and the other two regulars were struggling to find their feet – so it was a bit clumsy in places. But recently, it’s become very slick – and I get more from it every week.

4. Freakonomics Radio

freakonomics radio

Again – this is one of those podcasts that felt a bit awkward and confusing in its early stages (so I stopped trying for a while). But recently, I ran out of other podcasts and had a 40 minute drive home before I could download any more.

So I listened to “Should Tipping Be Banned” in desperation, and discovered that somewhere in the interim, it got awesome. As awesomely surprising as some of the conclusions and stories in the books.

5. Stuff You Should Know


Because there is always stuff you should know. I mean, what I now know about the headhunting tribes of Ecuador

6. Stuff To Blow Your Mind

stuff to blow your mind

It’s quite similar to “Stuff You Should Know” – but they go out of their way to find topics that are surprising. Like “Syphilis Through The Ages” and “Tyrannosaurus Sex” (in which I learned the phrase “cloacal kiss” and can’t look at birds in quite the same way).

7. TEDTalks (audio)


Because who doesn’t love a good TED talk?

Happy listening (if you decide to do it). And happy weekend (regardless).

Rolling Alpha posts opinions on finance, economics, and the corporate life in general. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, and on Facebook at