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The Best Business Podcasts of 2016

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Business podcasts are a great way to stay in touch with recent business news. Business podcasts are also a means to become inspired by today’s business leaders. I’ve tried to make a collection that spans the whole breadth of business, if it’s interview shows, news shows, podcasts about entrepreneurs, or leadership development shows. I hope you find the below list of the best business podcasts of 2016 interesting and exciting. As always, if you have comments or feedback, please leave them below.

1) Planet Money

Planet Money LogoI recall Planet Money starting shortly after the financial crisis in 2009 or 2010, and since then I’ve been a big fan. The show started as a primer on the financial crisis, and delved into topics such as derivatives trading, subprime mortgages, and how exactly the crisis hit the market. I was impressed not only by the quality of the hosts’ knowledge of the topics, but how well they could communicate those topics.

While they’ve left the topic of the financial crisis to talk about other issues (like a great run on off-shore financial assets), it’s an amazing show that will not only keep you entertained, but keep you informed and educated as well. It’s for these reasons that Planet Money is the #1 best business podcast of 2016.

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2) The Jay & Farhad Show

The Jay & Farhad Show LogoWhile a simple banter show between two journalists might be surprising to see as #2 on the list of best business podcasts of 2016, The Jay & Farhad Show is highly entertaining with high-quality guests to make it a great show. Jay Yarow, CNBC editor, chats about the week’s news with Farhad Manjoo, technology columnist for The New York Times.

The two have good chemistry, and have informed, interesting opinions about the world of business. I’m constantly impressed about how well they can discuss the news without regurgitating the PR headlines delivered by companies like Uber, Amazon, Apple and Tesla. They also have high-quality guests such as Peter Kafka of Recode, Startup Jackson (a former Twitter personality), and Mike Isaac, also of the New York Times. Their show is usually extremely tight and keep it to the topic at hand. If you haven’t listened to the show yet, I highly recommend it and it’s definitely worth a subscription.

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3) The Tim Ferriss Show

The Tim Ferriss Show LogoIf you’re reading this, you might be a inspiring entrepreneur, or a weekend warrior looking for a path to give up their day job. One personality that leads the way for the ‘passive income’ theory is author Tim Ferriss, popular for this books “The Four-Hour Workweek”, and “The Four-Hour Body”. While this is your standard interview-style show, his guests are of very high quality. They include such guests like Jamie Foxx, Tony Robbins, or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Tim has grown a lot since his show started a couple years ago and has turned into a very thorough and thoughtful interviewer. For those reasons I rank it as one of the best business podcasts of 2016.

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4) StartUp Podcast

StartUp LogoStartUp Podcast is a look into a podcast and media company looking to get their start. Alex Blumberg, formerly of This American Life, tells the story of Gimlet Media from its origin, warts and all. It’s a fascinating look at how to start a company, and looks at topics such as raising venture capital, hiring employees, and even picking a name. I highly suggest starting at episode #1 and working your way through the whole series.

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5) Ctrl-Walt-Delete

Ctrl Walt Delete LogoFeatured in last week’s Weekend Podcast Recommendations, Ctrl-Walt-Delete is an engaging podcast between journalists. The journos, Nilay Patel of The Verge, and Walt Mossberg, well-known Apple reporter, chat about the week’s business news, typically from a technology perspective. While this could be construed as nothing more than your typical technology perspective, it is much more due to the experience of both reporters. Walt Mossberg specifically has decades of experience in the industry and shines a good perspective on technology. He also used to be a good friend of Steve Jobs’s and is always keen to share quality stories. While it may be more of a technology podcast, it is very high quality and discusses enough of today’s business news, and for that reason I rank it as one of the best business podcasts of 2016.

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6) The #AskGaryVee Show

AskGaryVee LogoGary Vaynerchuk is one of the savviest media personalities of today. I recall watching his videos on the old days of WineLibraryTV back in 2009-ish, and it’s no surprise to see that his personality and smarts have carried his business into a huge media empire today. The #AskGaryVee show is either a roundtable/mailbag show with him and a few employees, or it is a recording of a recent keynote speech he has given. The keynotes are particularly noteworthy, as he is an incredibly motivating and no-bullshit speaker. It’s for his high-quality keynote speeches that I rank this as one of the best business podcasts of 2016.

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7) Odd Lots

Odd Lots LogoOdd Lots is a business show on Bloomberg hosted by Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway. Both are reporters for Bloomberg, and Weisenthal is best known for his epic Twitter account in which he tweets the day’s business news (seriously, who has ~260k tweets?). Odd Lots is a podcast between the two of them in which they discuss the day’s news. It is entertaining, and they have good chemistry, and for that I rank it as one of the best business podcasts of 2016.

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8) a16z

a16z LogoIf you are interested in startup culture, you will have no doubt heard of famed venture capital firm a16z. The founders Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreesen, are known for their large personalities in the crowded VC market. The firm’s podcast, while it does not always feature the founders, is very interesting and insightful. The podcasts range from interviews with startups, to discussions of the technology trends of today. The high-quality discussions combined with the VC knowledge contained in a16z make it a must-listen to as one of the best business podcasts of 2016.

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9) The Smart Passive Income Podcast

SPI LogoPat Flynn is one of the leading personalities of the ‘passive income’ theory. His website, Smart Passive Income, lays out the template of how to make money online doing what you love. His podcast is more of the same, and features several podcasts related to starting your own business or marketing your brand. Pat has an affable personality, and features guests not normally seen on other podcasts (for instance, his readers). For those reasons I rank it as a best business podcast in 2016.

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10A) Recode Decode with Kara Swisher

Recode Decode LogoOne of the best media and technology voices of today is Kara Swisher. She and Walt Mossberg are former Wall Street Journal technology reporters, who several years ago left and started Recode Media. Recode has recently been purchased by Vox Media, and since then has featured several note-worthy podcasts, one of them being Recode Decode. Featuring Kara Swisher, she interviews several interesting personalities. These include Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics, and Nick Denton, Gawker Media Founder. She is an engaging, thoughtful, journalist, and when combined with high-quality guests, it is no doubt one of the best business podcasts of 2016.

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10B) Recode Media with Peter Kafka

Recode Media LogoOur last (but not least) best business podcast of 2016 is Recode Media with Peter Kafka. This podcast is very similar to Recode Decode, which is why I’ve ranked them as #10A and #10B respectively. The difference between the two is that Recode Media features media-related guests, such as Alex Gibney, documentarian, and Om Malik, founder of Om Media. It is for Peter’s affable and engaging interviews, and the quality of guests, that I rank this as a best business podcast of 2016.

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What Other Business Podcasts Are You Listening To? Give Feedback!

What business podcasts are you interested in hearing more about? Feel free to recommend your own. As always, thanks for reading!

EW’s What to Watch: New Podcast Review

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What is EW’s What to Watch?

EW’s What to Watch is described as “Entertainment Weekly’s podcast all about TV and streaming”. It is hosted by Ray Rahman, Entertainment Weekly writer, and Amy Wilkinson, Entertainment Weekly Senior Editor. The podcast is released weekly on Fridays. The official description on Entertainment Weekly’s website is as follows: “Inspired by our magazine’s long-running TV section, EW’s What to Watch will break down the biggest stories of the week, reveal episode previews, debate the latest TV trends, and answer your burning questions — like, did [REDACTED] really have to die on The Walking Dead? Or, are the final four words on Gilmore Girls really [REDACTED]?

Does the podcast deliver on its promises? Read below to find out.

Why is there an EW’s What to Watch?

EW’s What to Watch was announced by Midroll Media on September 7, 2016. Midroll Media, if you are not familiar with the name, owns many of the top podcasts in the industry. They own all Earwolf-branded podcast (including How Did This Get Made? and Comedy Bang Bang), the Ringer-branded podcasts (including The Bill Simmons Podcast), and WTF with Marc Maron.

It’s not a surprise that EW’s What to Watch was announced at the IAB Podcast Upfront. The advertising dollars for podcasts are rising, and there’s no doubt that the crowded TV industry, with its many offerings such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video, would do well to have a podcast about what to watch each week. It is smart to utilize the Entertainment Weekly brand in the podcast format, as it is well known by listeners, and their resources with several smart writers/editors/critics can potentially lend well to this format.

You’ll Like EW’s What to Watch if You Like:

  • Specific TV Podcasts (A Cast of Kings, Bachelor Party, etc.
  • The Ringer’s Channel 33
  • The Vulture TV Podcast
  • Filmspotting
  • Doug Loves Movies

Who Hosts EW’s What to Watch?

Entertainment Weekly writer Ray Rahman and Senior Editor Amy Wilkinson host EW’s What to Watch. They also will have various Entertainment Weekly writers and critics pop in to co-host or guest. The team also promises other guests in the entertainment world, including writers/directors/actors from your favorite TV show.

Review of EW’s What to Watch?

For this review, I listened to the first episode of What to Watch entitled “Your Fall TV Preview”. This featured two separate, distinct segments. In the first, Rahman and Wilkinson introduced the show, and had some banter including breaking down their favorite TV shows. The second part of the segment included an Entertainment Weekly crtici Jeff Jensen in which they discussed the upcoming Fall TV schedule. These shows ranged from network television, to cable television, the streaming networks such as Netflix and Hulu.

What’s Right?

The show is well-produced (as typical of most Midroll Media shows). EW’s What to Watch really shines in the second segment, when Jensen enters and delivers great critique on the upcoming shows. He delivers strong insight and he seems to be an individual that one can trust, so I look forward to future episodes that he will be featured on.

What Can Be Improved?

The show really falters in the first segment of the show, where the two hosts are bantering back and forth. It’s extremely forced, with the awful “fake” laughter that can be heard in podcasts. Perhaps the hosts are new to podcasts, or they need time to become more acquainted with another.

Rahman and Wilkinson really leave something to be desired, to be honest. Their questions to Jensen were really disappointing, and every time Jensen wanted to dive deep into a particular subject, the hosts kept bringing it back to a surface-level conversation. The beauty of the podcast medium is that you have the time to deliver deep analysis on any subject, and EW’s What to Watch fails to capitalize on this opportunity.

I’m not sure who the audience of this show is for. If it is for hardcore TV watchers, they will be disappointed in the discussion of “your favorite TV show” at the beginning of the episode. Are beginner podcasters going to turn into this show as opposed to other, larger TV show podcasts – and if so, why exactly? I believe that the team at Entertainment Weekly can more strongly utilize their journalistic resources to deliver a more interesting, analytical show. Right now as-is, it simply does not bring anything new to the table.

Conclusion

In conclusion, EW’s What to Watch is not worth subscribing to at this moment. This is due to the forced banter of the hosts, and to the lack of being able to engage in the listener with any thoughtful analysis about new TV shows. The Entertainment Weekly brand is strong enough and has enough resources that this may turn around in the future. I look forward to that time, however, as of today you can find better podcasts to listen to.

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