My Favorite Podcasts

My Favorite Podcasts

If you know me, you know that I do a weekly podcast with a friend called Men in Gorilla Suits. Men in Gorilla Suits is a [sometimes] philosophical look at pop culture. (Sometimes we’re anything but philosophical.) I also have a novel out as a podcast, which also hangs out at

But I don’t just make podcasts — I also listen to a handful regularly. (Since I pay the bills writing, I can’t really listen to as many podcasts as I’d like because I can’t listen to people talk while writing. Also, my commute is only 10 minutes each way to work, and I work from home half the time. So when I listen to podcasts, it’s time dedicated solely for listening — there is no multitasking involved.)

Someone recently asked me what I listened to, so I figured I’d share.

My Favorite Podcasts

Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project podcastStill Untitled: The Adam Savage Project

This is one of the podcasts I will drop things for to listen to. It’s not just because I’ve watched a lot of Mythbusters in the past…I just love people who make things — and Adam, Norm, and Will make things.

But it’s much more than that. For me, the people behind the show not only make things…but they talk about travel, reading, and so much more.

Even if you don’t like Mythbusters, give it a try. The only podcast that’s ever made me think, “Yeah, I would pay for the premium content for this…”

Favorite Episode(s):

Getting On with James Urbaniak podcastGetting On with James Urbaniak

If you do not know who James Urbaniak is…FOR SHAME!!! Just kidding! (Not really.)

James is the voice of Dr. Thaddeus Venture in The Venture Bros. More than that, you may have seen him in things you watch and love (and not even known it).

I cannot even describe the brilliance. It’s so brilliant, you might argue with me that it’s brilliant at all (bearing in mind that I am 6′ 3″ and built like a defensive tackle). But seriously: brilliant!

Favorite Episode(s):

A Tiny Sense of AccomplishmentA Tiny Sense of Accomplishment podcast

Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter write like badasses. And I am sooooooooo grateful for the mighty Lisa Eckstein for recently telling me about this podcast…that’s fast become an all-time fave!

You want readings of works in progress — you’ve got it! You want funny commentary about everyday life — it’s there. Interviews with cool, creative people? They have that covered.

Really, there’s nothing bad I can say about this podcast. It might be one of the few that, at times, reaches the level of all-time best things ever recorded. Yes, it’s THAT good!

Favorite Episode(s):

Cheston, Applied Science, and Star Anna (Jess Walters reading “Cheston” would make this worth PAYING for…and you get it FREE!!! That line about 20-year-old scotch is wonderful!)

Psalms, Spokane, Stusser, and Seeping Gunk (I really DO like Sherman Alexie, but Jess Walter’s poem about Trader Joe’s is the star of this episode.)

Jess Walter Is Taking His Talents to the Grave, With Special Guest John Sirois

Nerdist podcastThe Nerdist

In the nerd world/geek world (listen to the episode with Wired’s Chris Anderson for a discussion about nerd vs. geek), being there first counts to some. I do not hold that philosophy, but if I did — I win against MOST Nerdist listeners.

While unemployed, I discovered this podcast on its second episode (the one with Drew Carey). I don’t think there’s a podcast I’ve listened to more.

I’ll go ahead and say it: one of the few podcasts that’s brought me to tears it’s so touching at times. The ONLY podcast that’s made me tear up from laughter AND sentiment in the same show. Truly one of the best, even though it’s now big and Hardwick has a media empire (and in some geek circles, that means I must now hate it…but I never will).

Favorite Episode(s) (HOW CAN I CHOOSE JUST ONE?!?!?!):

  • Drew Carey (The one that started it all for me!)
  • Rob Zombie (Think you multitask? Think again!)
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt (When JGL realizes this isn’t a normal press interview, it becomes a beautiful talk.)
  • Andy Serkis (Want to learn what being different and working hard can get you? Listen!)
  • Grant Morrison (When he talks about Superman…damn!)
  • Mike Mignola (One of the all-around best talks about doing your thing I’ve ever heard!)
  • Billy West (What can you learn from a voice actor about ANYTHING you are doing, no matter what it is? More than you can probably imagine!)
  • Billy Hardwick (Chris Hardwick interviews his father. A beautiful episode.)

On Being podcastOn Being

If you know me, you know I’m an atheist. Solidly…all my life. There has never been a time (nor will there ever be a time) that I believe in a god of any sort.

But I’m not a dick about it.

On Being is definitely spiritual at times, but it’s also beautiful. Just as I’m not a dick about atheism, I don’t mind people talking about faith…as long as they aren’t dicks about it. On Being does that well…and more times than not, it’s just about reflective moments we can all love — no matter what we believe (or don’t believe).

Favorite Episode(s):

OtherPpl podcastOtherppl with Brad Listi

If you like reading and authors, you should be listening!

I can’t describe what I love about this podcast, other than it’s like when The Nerdist interviews authors without the trademark Nerdist stuff. That may or may not make sense to you, and it is praise for both shows.

Definitely one of the better podcasts out there interviewing authors.

Favorite Episode(s) (Some of he best interviews (Jim Lynch, George Saunders, and Susan Orlean) require a premium account
. But still…):

  • Robin Sloan (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. I’ve read that last page over 100 times! Seriously! I just got up and read it again. It’s THAT good!)
  • Dan Chaon (I would not mind being Dan Chaon for a day.)
  • Austin Kleon

Evolution Talk podcastEvolution Talk

A recent edition (because it’s a relatively new podcast), Rick Coste’s Evolution Talk has quickly become my favorite new podcast. I put it up there with A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment. It’s that good.

One of the few scripted podcasts I’ll listen to (think “being there,” instead of just being talked at), Coste does such a damn good job with this podcast that it’s almost ridiculous! (And his output of other shows and videos will make even a productive person feel puny!)

The production of this show is wonderful; the way it’s presented makes one think of the potential for the medium.

(Oh yeah…Rick also does Philosophy Walk, which is also mighty impressive. He might be the only podcaster I’d follow into battle!)

Favorite Episode(s):

Grammar Girl podcastGrammar Girl

Mignon Fogarty is kinda badass.

I make a living writing, and have for some time, and these short podcasts always leave me thinking about better writing.

You might think, “But I’m not a writer.” If you wrote even one email or posted on a social network in the last week, you need to listen to this show!

Favorite Episode(s):

Too many! Just go to the site!

Freakonomics podcastFreakonomics

I heard the podcast before watching the documentary.

The documentary made me realize these guys think in some really cool ways. (Even when I have an opposing view, I love the way they lay things out.)

You can say this is about economics, but it’s really a show about how humans look at…everything. With something that solid, how can you not listen?

Favorite Episode(s):

Like Grammar Girl, there are too many to list. Just hit the archives and have at it!

Intro Machine podcastIntro Machine | Building Better Podcasts

Another newer podcast. I met Ian at Podcast Movement 2014, and he was torn between a couple shows.

When he mentioned Intro Machine, I — and others waiting for a session at the conference to start — told him that Intro Machine sounded great!

We were not wrong…

Favorite Episode(s):

They’re short, so just listen. (I like the How to Make a Thing episode…but really, all of them are good. And there’s a bit more than sound at the end of each episode that makes the show about more than just production.)

The Gary Leland Show podcastThe Gary Leland Show

Gary Leland is a cool guy. Seriously.

Gary started selling blinds door-to-door in the 80s, and in the earlier part of the 90s…sold wallpaper ONLINE…when everyone told him it was a dumb move. It wasn’t, and Gary now has his own little entrepreneurial empire (that really leans toward fast-pitch softball. Seriously)

I shy away from entrepreneurs interviewing entrepreneurs, but Gary makes even talks with people I’m not too fond of something worth listening to. And you would be hard-pressed to meet a cooler, more genuine person. Gary’s the real deal, and I would say that even if he wasn’t a friend.

Favorite Episode(s):

Cash Car Convert podcastCash Car Convert

I’m kind of stubborn when it comes to reading and thinking about money. I read Your Money or Your Life, and I was good. (Full disclosure: I have not read the version I linked to, and the book can be sumarized like this: figure out what your time is worth for every hour of your life…and decide if that 2.5 hours in traffic and business travel and time away from all you would rather be doing is really worth it!)

James Kinson is one of those truly good people…so I’m glad he has a podcast. It’s about much more than buying used cars/driving your existing car for a decade or more to put your money elsewhere. It’s about finances, but it’s also about being decent and living a good life.

Like On Being mentioned above, it’s one of a few podcasts that I don’t turn off when it gets more spiritual. It’s always with purpose, and I can see the parallels in the life I live. James is just a mighty good person! (And yes, I know him…but knowing him does not change that one bit.)

Favorite Episode(s):

Podcasts I’ve Listened to (and Mean to Listen to More Regularly)

Radiolab podcastRadiolab

A good friend told me to listen to an episode with They Might Be Giants.

Other friends have told me to listen.

Hell, Laura Mills mentioned the show in this blog entry, and I am convinced you will not find a more intelligent and reflective Millennial on the planet! So…I need to listen more!

Favorite Episode(s):

It Might Be Science

This American Life podcastThis American Life

Psst…Maybe you’ve heard about this show 🙂

Maybe you saw this video about how to listen to podcasts.

This is one of those shows that people will miss decades down the line when Ira Glass is no longer around. I don’t know why I go through periods of not listening, and then consuming like a fiend…

Favorite Episode(s):

WTF with Marc Maron podcastWTF With Marc Maron

Sure, you can say, “He’s crass,” or whatever you want…but Marc Maron is rather badass.

I read fiction because I want real, and I love that Maron freely admits that he was a complete asshole in so many ways in his past.

More than that, I love that his redemption came as one of the podcasters out there to pave the way for the rest of us. Like him or not, those of us podcasting will probably never have the success Maron’s made for himself. For that reason alone, his interviews are worth listening to.

Favorite Episode(s):

Remembering Robin Williams (A beautiful interview)

Skate to Create podcastSkate to Create

What if I told you a small group of skaters thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a business podcast…that focused on skate culture and how that led to entrepreneurs making a living doing what they love within skateboarding?”

You might think, “I’m not sure about that…”

Regardless of where you stand, this is one of the most genuine and focused shows I’ve heard about turning what you love into a business.

Favorite Episode(s):

The Starters Club podcastThe Starters Club

Confession: I would go as far as saying I loathe with the passion of 10,000,000 white-hot suns podcasts with an entrepreneur interviewing other entrepreneurs.

I mostly feel that way because it all comes off like a big friggin’ circle jerk, with “Entrepreneur A” interviewing “Entrepreneur B,” whom every other “Entrepreneur” has interviewed 20-times over already. It all sounds the same, and the industry it’s spawned is even worse than the shows feeding the beast!

Erin Smith is actually an entrepreneur. She’s not just saying, “I’m en entrepreneur,” because she has a podcast — she has a podcast because she’s started several successful businesses. Sure, they may not be the kinds of things I want to do, but between her weekly tips and interviews, I can see how what she talks about can apply to being a full time writer.

Favorite Episode(s):

Compassion Plans podcastCompassion Plans

I like genuine things.

The handful of episodes of Compassion Plans I’ve listened to are genuine.

That alone makes it one of the shows I go to when I’m done with my absolutely must-listen-to shows!

Favorite Episode(s):

How to Disrupt Compassionately with Evo Terra

Marketing is Compassion with Tad Hargrave

Running Over the Debt Monster with James Kinson



  1. CM Stewart says

    I only listen to a few. Your’s, Nikola’s, and every once in a while, Human Echoes. But what an awesome list of recommendations! I shared the link to this post on Ello. 🙂

  2. Christopher Gronlund says

    Shawn and I are always honored that you take time to listen to our babbling 🙂

    If nothing else from the list, I recommend the poem beginning at 4:50 into the second episode of Tiny Sense of Accomplishment. For some reason, it made me think, “CMS would dig this…”

    As always, thank you for sharing!

  3. You’re welcome. 🙂

    That’s a great poem, its theme reminded me of the theme of this 20+ minute song:
    Every time I listen to that song, I’m more convinced it should be the national anthem (of America). I believe its entirety captures the entirety of America, from sea to shining sea.

  4. Christopher Gronlund says

    I was not at all familiar with Dave Soldier. As far as The Most Unwanted Song becoming the National Anthem…I soooooooooooooooooo would love to see people rise at sporting events and hear the part at 3:35 in played at the Olympics!

    Still going through the song, but I have a feeling I’ll be checking out more of his webpage after work.

  5. I feel the same way about This American Life. It’s fantastic, but I often listen late at night and find it hard to justify staying awake for an extra hour. Glad to see Radiolab on your list. I seriously think it deserves the highest praise. One of my favorite episodes (of all time) is the one called “Things.” Also the last segment in the episode tribute to Robert Krulwich will make your heart sing. (I think it’s called “Happy Birthday Bobby K.”) Just. So. Good. (Also, wow, I’m totally flattered by your compliment! Thank you 🙂

    A podcast by Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter? How did I not know about this before?! I’m flying home tomorrow, and plan to pre-downlaod a bunch of episodes, so now I guess I know what I’m listening to!
    There’s so much more I want to say, but I think I’ll just save that for a blog post 🙂


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