Podcasts I listen to - 2021 edition

An updated list of the podcasts I listen to, recommended for you.

Podcasts I listen to - 2021 edition

Back in 2019 I wrote a post about the various podcasts I listen to.  As it's now two years since I wrote that post I've decided to release the 2021 edition, featuring new podcasts I've picked up over the last two years.

How are podcasts financed?

A quick note on how podcasts make money, or don't.  Like most of the Internet, advertising and sponsorship are a common funding mechanism and the one used by a lot of the podcasts I listen to.  Despite being offered for free, a number of podcasts (and blogs) have started using Patreon in order to take regular donations from their patrons.  I've subscribed to the Patreon feeds for Smashing Security, Welcome To Night Vale and Darknet Diaries, costing me around £15 per month (plus VAT).  While I'd love to support all of the podcasts I subscribe to it just isn't feasible - £5 a month mounts up quite quickly.  At the end of the day it's a value assessment and the podcasts I subscribe to are the ones I value the most.  That's not to say the others aren't as good.

What do I still listen to?

"Smashing Security" logo, with the title text in white capitals on a warm yellow background.  There's a cup of tea next to a laptop with a cracked screen.

I'm still regularly tuning in to a lot of the podcasts from 2019's edition, so to recap.  Smashing Security (30 - 45 minute episodes)is a firm favourite still for its comical round up of news with excellent banter between Graham and Carole, the show hosts.  The pick of the week segment has led me to discover some non-security related podcasts and TV series of interest too.  Handily, quite a few of my colleagues / friends also listen to Smashing Security so it's a useful conversation starter too 😀.  One of the team hasn't joined in yet, so I need to work on them...

Logo of "Darknet Diaries" which shows the title in white capitals on a grey background.  In the middle there's a white laptop with red flames coming from it.

Darknet Diaries (episodes are generally around an hour) is another podcast that I look forward to on its biweekly release schedule.  Jack Rhysider does excellent research into cyber security related events, interviewing guests that were either there in the thick of the action or have done similar research themselves.  The way Jack tells the story is really engrossing and accessible, with a good amount of humour thrown in too.

Logo for "Welcome to Night Vale" where a purple sky is shown behind a telegraph line and water tower.  The moon has an eye shape around it, implying the moon is watching.

Moving away from factual podcasts, Welcome To Night Vale (about 30 - 45 minutes each) is still firmly on my listening list.  I was listening to an episode whilst out walking the other day and literally stopped in my tracks as I wasn't expecting that particular twist.

What do I listen to occasionally?

"Ladybug podcast" logo featuring a curvy, hand written style "ladybug" with a drawing of a ladybird surrounded by brace symbols.

I keep an eye on the Ladybug Podcast (episodes around an hour) and listen to that if there's a topic that takes my fancy, but it's not a regular haunt of mine any more.   For someone exploring or starting their developer journey it can be quite useful though.  Personally I've found episodes about freelancing and consulting particularly helpful.

"Security now" logo featuring a cartoon of show host Steve Gibson on a blue grey background featuring random binary (zeroes and ones).

I've listened to Security Now on and off for probably over 15 years, and it's still a good listen to get a deeper dive on some security topics.  Episodes are 1.5 - 2 hours long so I tend to pick and choose topics that sound interesting rather than listening every week.

"Art of Manliness" logo featuring a black and white drawing of a topless man with his fists clenched.  He is wearing red over ear headphones on a background of cream, yellow, orange, pink and red stripes.

The Art of Manliness podcast can be quite interesting, and seems to have a whole community around it too, which I've not explored.  I particularly enjoyed an episode on bugging out and the various bunkers / prepper communities that are out there (one bunker, which cost you a lot of money to buy in to, even had a rota system so everyone had a job to do).  There was also a fascinating episode about a man who became a hermit for over a decade, before finally being caught (he'd been stealing food).

What's new?

Sticky Pickles logo with a picture of a shrugging, green, pickle and some viewer feedback.

Host of Smashing Security Carole Theriault [1] and Smashing Security guest / fan favourite Maria Varmazis do a regular podcast called Sticky Pickles which is definitely for adults only.  Maria and Carole describe a difficult scenario (a "sticky pickle") and see how the other would solve the problem.  This show is hilarious but not one for all tastes.

Home Assistant Podcast logo: a blue background with a house on it.  The house is wearing headphones.

As I get more into home automation, the Home Assistant Podcast gets increasingly more useful.  The hosts invite a guest to share details of their automation set up and I hear lots of good ideas.

One Strange Thing logo with the podcast's title overlaid on a newspaper.

One Strange Thing looks into America's newspaper archives for the strange and weird.  Generally there's a spooky feel to the stories and it's a good bit of fun.

The Cautionary Tales logo, showing five books on a bookshelf.  The rightmost book is leaning on the others.

Another pick of the week from another podcast, Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford discusses true stories that have a moral behind them.  I particularly enjoyed the episode the truth about Hansel and Gretel which looked at the problem of saying something was true when it's not.

Bad Women logo, the podcast's title on a black background with an old photograph died red showing through a rip in the black.

Recommended by Tim Harford (see above), Bad Women: The Ripper Retold presents the histories of Jack the Ripper's victims.  Host Hallie Rubenhold uses her research to paint a picture of life in Victorian England, particularly for the five unfortunate souls.  I've certainly learnt a lot about Victorian society.

What fell off the list?

I was listening to Within the wires, a podcast co-written by one of the Welcome to Night Vale authors.  The premise of the story is that this is "found audio" from another time, so there's no implied interaction with you as a listener - you're essentially a voyeur.  It took me some time to get into it but in the end I enjoyed season one.  Season two, seemingly unrelated to season one, and I didn't gel so I stopped listening.  A friend, and reader of this blog, suggests I go back to it and skipping a season won't be a problem - I'll give it a go.

Honourable mentions

Each episode, The Anthropocene Reviewed discusses two things from the human era of history, from diseases to pineapple on pizza, and scores them out of ten.  It can be funny hearing the host's sense of humour but I don't listen to it all that often.

A Smashing Security pick of the week, The Hyacinth Disaster is a single series podcast style audio book.  We follow the crew of a mining spaceship as they attempt to find sufficient wealth to pay their friends' ransom.  This was a good listen, although some of the sound effects were painful!

Red tinted photograph of a woman with the words "The Missing Crypto Queen" overlaid.

A podcast from BBC Radio, The Missing Cryptoqueen investigates the woman behind the scam crypto currency Onecoin that gained somewhat of a cult following.  We're taken through how the scam worked and the impact it had on people's lives.  As the trail seems to have gone cold the podcast has concluded, although there could be another update at some point.

Two women with doomsday flames around them.

Prepper is another BBC podcast, this time from Radio 4.  I came across this one after hearing some of it on the radio in the car, so figured I'd track it down.  This is a comedy that follows two friends who are preppers, looking at their antics.  An homage to the prepper community, rather than poking fun at it.

Banner image is a screenshot of Smashing Security episode 253, viewed in Audacity.

[1] Carole's also quite a decent painter.  You can see her work at https://carole.wtf.