Nine Addictive Podcasts

Updated: 13 September 2020

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According to Podcast Insights there are 900,000 podcasts and 30 million episodes out there as at 30 January 2020. In 2018, Apple announced that podcasts topped 50 billion downloads.

That's a huge amount of information flowing through the airwaves and into my (your) ears. There's also huge variety of subjects and methods of delivery.

I've lumped in video and audio together so form my top eight podcasts. Currently, I'm a heavy listener of Wondery content and the ad supported version. Added Table Manners.

American Innovations by Wondery (audio)

Since getting back into hiking / trekking again after a long absence, instead of music, I've turned to podcasts to provide background to my walking. I discovered Wondery podcasts and have binged on their shows almost exclusively.

The latest of these is American Inventions. Delivered using the same formula found in other Wondery podcasts, American Innovations looks at innovations in science and technology from yesteryear were history making. The first series looks at Eastman / Kodak and traces the history of film making to the present day.


There is a special series with the Smithsonian Magazine celebrating the lives of women inventors to celebrate Women's History Month. Features Margaret Knight (invented a machine to mass produce paper bags), Hedy Lamarr ('the most beautiful woman in the world' and responsible for inventing signal hopping (used by billions today), and many more. Same style and format as other Wondery series. Highly recommended.

Others: Skylab*, the electric chair*, corn flakes, the modern ambulance*, and the electronic television.

Business Wars by Wondery (audio)

Brilliant dissection of wars between businesses explained in five episodes of 20+ minutes with advertising during each segment. Each series takes a look at two companies operating in the same market segment and how they compete against each other. But it's more than that. We see how each was founded, how they grew, knock backs, the innovations, the key characters, the internal and external battles for market share, good and bad times and much more. David Brown, the host, has the ability to reel listeners in within the first few seconds and delivers an engaging and interesting podcast.

Series: Uber v Lyft, Amazon v Walmart, The North Face vs Patagonia, Starbucks vs Dunkin, Macy's vs Gimbels, Facebook vs Snapchat, Harley and the Biker Wars, Gibson vs Fender, Ferrari vs Lamborghini, Nintendo vs Sony, Boeing vs Airbus, Ford vs Chevrolet, Hershey vs Mars, Cereal Wars, Anheuser-Busch vs Miller, Netflix vs Blockbuster, Hasbro vs Mattel, McDonald's vs Burger King, Monster vs Beats*, Browser Wars, Red Bull vs Monster, Xbox vs Playstation, Southwest vs American, Coke vs Pepsi, eBay vs PayPal, Hearst vs Pulitzer, The First Computer War, Marvel vs DC, and Nike vs Adidas.

American Scandal by Wondery (audio)

Having binged on Business Wars by Wondery, I tried another podcast under the same umbrella. American Scandal follows a similar formula as Business Wars where the host provides the narration and actors play various characters during the episode. American Scandal takes listeners through various scandals. Some I knew and followed intently when they happened and some new to me.

Payola looks at the pay for play music scandal over four decades, Enron was a huge corporate scandal that broke in 2001; while Iran-Contra is a political scandal of paying Peter to give to Paul in essence. There are more series but this gives a taste of what to expect.

The beauty of American Scandal, like Business Wars, is that rather than the host (here, the very wonderful Lindsay Graham) speaking all the time, there are snippets of actual court hearings and actors voicing key characters.

Series: Exxon vs Valdez, Waco, Volkswagen Diesel Scandal

How It Began (audio)

Hosted by Brad Harris, How It Began is a riveting podcast covering technological advancements and innovations through the centuries. It's fascinating to hear about the very foundations of medicine or how modern infrastructure came about. A huge draw to this podcast is Brad Harris who has an incredible way of simplifying complexities and a rich voice that is a draw by itself.

Series: Money: From Barter to Blockchain; Measuring Time: The Hidden Mechanism of Modernity; The Enlightenment: From a Medieval to Modern Mindset; The Printed Book: Opening the Floodgates of Knowledge

Legal Wars by Wondery (audio)

Hosted by Hill Harper. I like learning about law cases, the background, the main arguments, who wins and why. World Trade Center and the legal ramifications in connection to the insurance coverage. I'm in the middle of Hogan v Gawker. This is a relatively new podcast.

Series: The Goldwater Rule, The Scopes Trial*, Electronic Frontier*, Lenny Bruce Obscenity Trial*, Chicago 8*, Pharma Bro, Monkey Selfie*, Twin Towers,

Living Big In A Tiny House (YouTube)

Bryce Langston travels visiting people who have made the transition to living in a tiny house. A tiny house could be a converted school bus, a shipping container, a mud hut, but most often are those built on a trailer. We're talking homes in the realms of below 500 sq ft. Every house is different, either wholly or partially off grid, and very creative when it comes to storage. Every episode explains the build, the space where the tiny home sits, the challenges, the size, the cost, and reasons behind the move to a downsized lifestyle. Every episode is gripping and just when you think you've seen the best example of a tiny house, another comes along the following week. There are so many standout episodes. Bryce, who lives in a tiny house himself, is a compelling and enthusiastic host. 


Table Manners (audio)

Jessie Ware and her mother Lennie present this foodie podcast. Jessie Ware is a popstar so has loads of famous mates and she invites one over for dinner cooked by her mother. During every episode the guest talks about how important food is in their life, family, if they cook, favourite dishes, and what drives them mad when it comes to table manners, whatever they're promoting, and more. Sometimes Lennie doesn't cook leaving it to Jessie but it's the natural way they present the podcast I like and their back and forth is always good natured and amusing. There have been a couple of episodes when food is put on the back burner somewhat but on the whole, a listenable podcast. Standout episodes for me are Ed Sheeran, Melanie C, Paloma Faith, Sam Smith, Joe Dempsie and Daniel Kaluuya.

BBC Radio 4 - The News Quiz (audio)

Topical UK-centric panel quiz show, taking its questions from the week's news stories. This is often painfully funny with the panel making astute and comedic observations about stories hitting the headlines that week. News clippings that listeners have found are read out during the show. Due to the virus, the show is recorded with each guest panelist phoning in from home; this regrettably takes away some off-the-cuff wit but it's still entertaining.

Hot Ones (video)

This is from the First We Feast channel on YouTube; a channel with over 8 million subscribers. Hot Ones is presented by Sean Evans who interviews a guest during which they eat progressively spicier chicken wings. What's addictive about this show is just many wings get eaten, how they describe the taste sensation and if they will be able to get through them all. Oh, and Sean Evans matches them wing for wing. There is a tradition of adding an extra dab of the hottest chili on the final wing. It's great entertainment and also informative. Over 200 celebs have been interviewed on this show and episodes that stand out (for me) are (so far) Justin Timberlake, Ricky Gervais, Michael Cera,Billie Eilish,Idris Elba, Noel Gallagher, Will Ferrell, and Gordon Ramsay. Put brain in neutral, hit play for maximum amusement.

*Skipped or yet to listen