This Week in Podcasts

I have long wanted for a place I could link to great podcasts and point out particularly spectacular episodes, but neither my site nor my now-deceased newsletter seemed like the appropriate venue for such posts. Nevertheless, for especially noteworthy shows, I have broken this unspoken rule and linked to Exponent’s The Garbage Truck Song, for example, and The Weekly Briefly’s A Writing Guide. Yet although I did occasionally point out an especially good episode here on my site, countless others went unmentioned and thus unlauded for excellence in any number of areas merely because I lacked a medium in which to highlight such work. Today, hot on the heels of ending my last weekly publication, I will begin posting another weekly roundup — this time here on my site — showcasing the past week’s greatest additions to the podcasting industry.

Debug 19: Wil Shipley from NeXT to Delicious Monster. Although not released within the last week, I listened to this phenomenal episode of Debug on Monday. Wil Shipley — the explanation for spelling his first name with a single “L” made the entire show worth it on its own — told his story all the way from high school to starting The Omni Group and contracting with “The Air Force” and NeXT before getting forced out of his company in true Jobsian style and going on to help found Delicious Monster. Even if you have no interest in any of the companies I just named, Wil is such a fantastic storyteller you would be missing out if you didn’t set aside an hour to listen to this timeless tale.

Roderick on the Line Ep.99: “White Ribon”. You must have listened to their previous episode, A Mastiff of Spinach, in order for any of this one to make sense. And while you’re in the process of listening to past shows, why not start at the pilot? Since airing more than two years ago, John and Merlin have discussed everything from the American education system to The Beatles and in the process became one of my favorite podcasts of all time. To list any number of topics covered in this the most recent installment of perhaps the best podcast currently airing would be to do the show an egregious injustice, but if I were forced, I would pick out addiction as one of the headlining themes back again in White Ribbon. Even more important to the show’s ultimate success than the main topic, however, is the truly unique chemistry between Merlin and John that words — no matter how grandiose and numerous — would never quite capture; Roderick on the Line is one of a very few shows that you must experience before passing judgment on, for to do so based on something so trivial and easily-quantifiable as its main topic would be to make a mistake of gargantuan and near-incalculable proportions.

CMD+SPACE 85: Being a Geek, with John Siracusa. For all you fans of John Siracusa out there — and let’s be honest, how could you not be a fan of this guy? — Myke Hurley had another great chat with the internet’s favorite critic. I found this episode quite enjoyable, but ever since Hypercritical my judgment is far from impartial when it comes to anything John does, so perhaps that isn’t saying much. Check it out for yourself, and get back to me.

Shawn Today. Shawn Blanc records a daily podcast solely for members of his website; every week, he releases Shawn Today’s Friday episode for everyone to listen to as part of another show called The Weekly Briefly both as a way to broaden the show’s reach and give potential subscribers that last push before becoming members. Last week, I became a member late one night just in time for a fantastic episode on writing with Patrick Rhone the following Friday, released as part of The Weekly Briefly. Since publishing that episode, Shawn has released two more members-only broadcasts on increased competition as The Sweet Setup’s chosen niche begins to fill, and another about writing in an increasingly competitive space where differentiation becomes more of a problem every day. I wish I could link to either or both of these, but they are only available to subscribers. Honestly though, at $4 a month, these shows are easily worth ten times as much; go subscribe, listen to these episodes, and help a great writer out during his annual membership drive and giveaway.

The Voicemail: Episode 087. Shortly after Stefan Constantinescu started publishing daily collections of news links, I discovered that he and James Whatley record a weekly podcast called The Voicemail. Curious, I subscribed and found their episode discussing Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp very interesting. This week, after more articles than I could count and innumerable tweets came out of Mobile World Conference, Stefan and James released their two-cents in the eighty-seventh installment of The Voicemail. During this episode, they had a hilarious discussion of the conference itself and Samsung’s latest phone, the Galaxy S5, interspersed with some hard-hitting analyses of the companies that participated in this event. Until those behemoths change their fundamental approach to the mobile industry, this will remain a particularly relevant show; in other words, even after this year’s hubbub dies down, the observations expressed within the all-too-brief forty-one minutes will remain pertinent for years to come.

Bionic 81. Like the previously-linked Roderick on the Line you really ought to have listened to all of Bionic’s earlier episodes for maximum enjoyment during this one, but even if you haven’t I guarantee you will enjoy Matt and Myke’s process of naming their storefront; absolutely hilarious. Like Roderick on the Line, Bionic is another one of those polarizing shows where everyone either loves or hates it, with few falling anywhere in the middle. I fall squarely in the middle of the former camp, and I can’t imagine why you would not as well after listening to this episode. So, so good.

These are my favorite episodes from some really great podcasts, released within the past week. Some of these shows you are undoubtedly familiar with, while others I am sure you have never heard of. They all made this list for attaining excellence in some aspect though, so I hope you will give them all a chance because I know that if you do, you will enjoy them just as much as I did.