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Jason Heppler is a History PhD Candidate specializing in the history of the North American West and twentieth century US history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a permanent author at GradHacker. You can follow him on twitter at @jaheppler.


I'm stealing a page from Profhacker and talking about digital distractions. One of my favorite distractions is podcasts. I love them. They're part of my commute, they're part of my leisure time, and they're part of my work time. It's rare to see me without headphones, catching up on my favorite shows. Using Downcast for iPhone has made it even easier for me to download the latest episodes of the podcasts I love.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Back to Work, 5by5
    Hosted by Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann on the 5by5 network, the topic is generally about getting your work done, removing barriers, and Mann is a genuinely entertaining individual, so the show contains plenty of comedy bits in addition to being super helpful about thinking about your work.
  • Roderick on the Line
    Hosted by John Roderick (of The Long Winters) and Merlin Mann, ROTL took me a while to get in to, in part because it can be inscrutable, but it's now it's a can't-miss show. It's definitely NSFW and can be offensive, but it's often quite funny. Think of it as though you're listening in on a phone call between Mann and Roderick (which is, essentially, what the show does). A few of my favorite episodes are Your Hands Would Be Your Passport and We Can All Agree On Cheese.
  • You Look Nice Today
    Hosted by Scott Simpson, Adam Lisagor, and Merlin Mann (if you haven't noticed, I'm a big Merlin Mann fan), YLNT is a comedy troupe that's been on and off for the last few years. YLNT comes out every month and is fairly short, usually between 30 and 45 minutes. It's an incredibly entertaining and well-produced show. Check out the YLNT starter pack if you want to know where to dive in.
  • Build and Analyze, 5by5
    Hosted by Dan Benjamin and Marco Arment, the founder of Instapaper, B&A discusses the world of Apple programming, and development. I find the discussions between Benjamin and Arment about current technology to be quite insightful and entertaining.
  • Enough, 70Decibels
    Hosted by Patrick Rhone and Myke Hurley, Enough seeks to find where technology becomes enough to get your work done. I'm a big fan of Rhone and his work, and find his ideas and discussion on Enough a good way to think about the role of technology in my life.
  • CMD+SPACE, 70Decibels
    Hosted by Myke Hurley, CMD+SPACE has quickly become one of my favorite interview podcasts. Hurley recently launched the show in the last month and has interviewed some people I greatly admire, including Merlin Mann, Jason Snell, Shawn Blanc, and Marco Arment.
  • Hypercritical, 5by5
    Hosted by Dan Benjamin and John Siracusa, this show fulfills all of my hyper-geekiness: video games, Apple, technology, filesystems. Siracusa has a reputation as being a fierce tech critic (hence the show's name) while being entertaining in his delivery. He is perhaps most famous for his impressive and thorough Mac OS X reviews.

(It should be pretty clear by now that I'm a big fan of 5by5 and the work Dan Benjamin is doing with it. 5by5 has, I believe, rightfully been called the "NPR for Geeks.")

  • Radiolab, NPR
    Not all of my podcasts are strictly technology related. Radiolab covers ideas, technology, science, and philosophy and its intersections with the human experience. I love and am endlessly fascinated by science, and Radiolab lets me geek out about science and the modern world.
  • Digital Campus
    Hosted by Dan Cohen, Tom Scheinfeldt, Amanda French, and Mills Kelly, Digital Campus is an additional way I keep up with how technology intersects with teaching, learning, and scholarship in higher education. Graduate students, faculty, administration, and staff in higher education should be listening to this podcast.
  • The Gradhacker Podcast
    The newly launched Gradhacker Podcast hosted by Alex Galarza and Andrea Zellner nicely parallels Digital Campus but approaches education, productivity, teaching, and learning from the perspective of graduate students.
  • On the Media, NPR
    Hosted by Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone, On the Media covers journalism and the changing nature of the media. The show is a great look at the previous week's big news items, examines freedom of information and expression, and analyzes the way media, especially news media, is made.

I have a variety of other podcasts that I more selectively catch: Amplified, Home Work, The Ihnatko Almanac, The Tech Guy, This Week in Google, In Beta, Buddhist Geeks, The Nickel, The IncomparableLatest in Paleo, Systematic, The Incomparable.

Do you have any podcasts that you love to catch? Share in the comments!


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