Podcasts have become an essential part of our daily routines, providing a convenient format to consume ideas, news, and entertainment. The best podcasts seamlessly blend all three, captivating listeners for learning as much as laughs. While most or all of our school days are behind us, life-long learning doesn’t end. So in the spirit of back to school season, we polled the Global X office for the team’s favorite podcasts covering familiar school topics like economics, science, history, and many others. To make the list, a podcast had to receive at least two endorsements from Global X team members. In addition to a brief description for each pod, we also highlight a specific episode that convinced us to hit the ‘subscribe’ button to come back for more.
The Pod: Stephen Dubner, co-author of the Freakonomics book series, hosts a podcast to “discover the hidden side of everything.” Dubner delivers 45-minute weekly episodes that illuminate an eclectic mix of topics – ranging from self-help to parenting to sports – with a unique analytical bent. Topic-based episodes are occasionally interrupted for interviews with a diverse group of thinkers that has included Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, and IMF Chair Christine Lagarde.
The Episode: “Are We in Mattress-Store Bubble?” – Simply put, this is Freakonomics at its best: An engaging look into a topic most consumers think about every few years (at most), while foreshadowing changes to the industry that have become more apparent in the two years since the episode was originally published.
The Pod: Planet Money’s tagline is ‘the economy explained’ as the podcast explores relevant topics in economics and business in an accessible and entertaining manner. No PhD required. Coming in twice per week, episodes are generally 20 minutes and focus on longer term economic themes rather than recent news.
The Episode: “Planet Money Makes a T-shirt” – In this 6-episode series, Planet Money sets out to make a t-shirt from beginning to end. The podcast’s hosts follow the global supply chain from cotton fields, to manufacturing, shipping, and recycling to get an on-the-ground view of the globally integrated economy.
Masters in Business
The Pod: Barry Ritholtz hosts a weekly interview-driven podcast for Bloomberg Radio. While typically finance-focused, conversations can extend far beyond Wall Street as Ritholtz interviews a diverse mix of authors, professors, entrepreneurs, and specialists. Episodes range from 60-90 minutes.
The Episode: “John Carreyrou on Breaking Open the Theranos Scandal” – Ritholtz interviews a Pulitzer prize winning author, John Carreyrou, about the rise and fall of the blood-testing company, Theranos.
How I Built This with Guy Raz
The Pod: Guy Raz interviews the founders of some of the world’s most famous companies about innovation, entrepreneurship, and their journey to success.
The Episode: “Southwest Airlines: Herb Kelleher” – Our favorite parts of ‘How I Built This’ are the stories from early on in each company’s history, when the going gets tough and the founders must out-work or out-innovate the competition to stay afloat. In this episode, Kelleher explains how he fought back against predatory pricing from other airlines by offering free bottles of whiskey to his passengers, inadvertently becoming the largest liquor distributor in the state of Texas.
Trillions aims to ‘demystify’ ETFs for investors. Co-hosted by Bloomberg ETF Analyst, Eric Balchunas and Bloomberg Businessweek Editor, Joel Weber, the podcast explores trends across the ETF industry in interviews with reporters, analysts, and industry practitioners. Episodes are roughly 30 minutes and released bi-weekly.
The Episode: “ETF Rising Stars Emerge from Oblivion” – In this episode, the co-hosts – along with Bloomberg journalist Carolina Wilson – identify their Rising Star ETF favorites new and old. The hosts identify past “breakaway” ETFs, which quickly emerged to surpass $1 billion AUM (including a mention of our Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF – BOTZ). The episode also highlights forward-looking trends that may signal a shift towards thematic ETFs.
TED Radio Hour
The Pod: Based around a central theme, each episode of the TED Radio Hour splices together highlights from a handful of TED Talks and conducts one-on-one in-studio interviews with those presenters. Each show is approximately 1 hour and comes out on a weekly basis.
The Episode: “Big Data Revolution” – A journalist, a scientist, an astronomer, and a data analyst discuss how big data is changing our daily lives, the vast opportunity in harvesting insights from big data, and how misused data can lead analysis astray.
Stuff You Should Know
The Pod: “SYSK,” for short, is the perfect podcast for learning about an interesting topic to the point where you can hold your own at a cocktail party for about ten minutes. Episodes are usually about 45 minutes long and come out three times a week, with topics ranging from subways to tsunamis.
The Episode: “Lab-grown Meat – Order Up!” – Nearly one-third of the world’s usable land is needed for raising livestock, introducing concerns about hunger, the environment, and animal rights. In this episode, the hosts discuss the various approaches scientists are using to produce lab-grown meat that could eventually replace today’s farm-raised processes and be sold at a store near you.
The Pod: Malcolm Gladwell revisits “something overlooked, something misunderstood” from the past to see if it was captured correctly at the time, or if, more often than not, it deserves a second look.
The Episode: “Malcolm Gladwell’s 12 Rules for Life” – Gladwell teams up with hedge funder Cliff Asness to explore how following convention can often be the riskier choice in life – like coaches waiting only until the last few minutes in a hockey game to ‘pull the goalie’ when all the data shows they should do it much earlier.
The Pod: Dan Carlin is the podcast version of the history teacher we loved, deep-diving into historical events, exploring them from multiple angles, and telling these stories in an entertaining and engaging way. Episodes are often upwards of 3 hours long and only come out about once a quarter (if we’re lucky), so save these for a long flight or drive.
The Episode: “Blueprint for Armageddon” – This is a six-part series on WWI, totaling nearly 18 hours of listening time. It’s long, it’s gory (not recommended for kids), and it’s an absolutely fascinating take on perhaps one of the most hellish times in modern history.
This American Life
This American Life (“TAL”) has been producing radio content since 1995 but in the last few years began to make episodes available in podcast format. Hosted by Ira Glass, TAL shares stories each week based on a certain theme ranging from current events to exploring certain aspects of human nature.
The Episode: “20 Years Later” – Samantha Broun interviews politicians, police officers and inmates about a crime that forever changed the policy for those serving life sentences in the state of Pennsylvania. This episode is difficult to listen to at points, as Samantha’s mother was the victim of that very crime.
The Pod: More Perfect now has two complete seasons under its belt. Each 60-minute episode takes a deep dive into influential, but often little-known decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States. Many episodes tie current cases back to the past decisions which set legal precedent and are driven by interviews with professors, legal scholars, lawyers, and even plaintiffs and defendants.
The Episode: “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl” – This episode begins with a young child removed from her adoptive parents’ custody based on a federal law governing Native American children. The background of the existing law is presented, as are the potential legal ramifications from a pending Supreme Court decision.
The Bill Simmons Podcast
The Pod: Bill Simmons talks sports and pop culture with a variety of athletes, writers, commentators, and celebrities in a refreshing change from the person-yelling-at-other-person setup that dominates many sports radio shows.
The Episode: “Kevin Durant on Twitter’s Impact on the NBA, and the Desire to Master Basketball” – In Bill Simmons’ world, there’s no shame in being a homer for your hometown sports teams, so in that light, I’m picking an interview with a two-time champion and finals MVP from my hometown Warriors.