Tech & Work

Raise your tech IQ: Listen to these five podcasts

If you work in tech, you've got a lot of great choices for podcasts that can keep you well-informed, including some new ones you may not have heard of.

Leo Laporte
Leo Laporte's This Week in Tech remains the gold standard of tech podcasts.
Image: TWiT

Podcasts are enjoying a resurgence in the wake of the Serial phenomenon, but the tech world has been at the forefront of podcasting long before it went mainstream. If you work in tech, you have plenty of great content to choose from.

Since the tech industry changes faster than any other, it puts tremendous pressure on tech professionals to stay current and keep an eye on what's next. Many techies listen to podcasts during their commutes, workouts, chores, or even while doing mindless tasks at work.

Podcasts are a great way to make yourself smarter and better prepared when people ask, "Hey, what do you think about...?" Whether it's your boss wondering about the potential of a new piece of tech she read about in the The Wall Street Journal, or your friends or coworkers asking personal advice about a new product, you've got a reputation as a tech expert to uphold.

So enlist some help to stay informed. Here are the top five podcasts I'd recommend.

1. This Week in Tech (TWiT)

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Leo Laporte's This Week in Tech, which has been running continuously for 10 years, remains the gold standard of tech podcasts. Laporte has a voracious passion for new technologies, but the former TechTV host has also seen enough over the years to have an excellent radar for products that are destined for the dust heap of history. TWiT brings in a revolving door of journalists and industry leaders to join Laporte in an animated discussion of the week's biggest tech stories. One of the best parts of TWiT is the caliber of guests and the diversity of personalities, including many of the industry's most important female voices. [Disclaimer: Yours truly is also a regular guest.]

2. MVP with Ryan Block and Peter Rojas

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The best tech podcast you may have never heard of is MVP from Peter Rojas, former co-founder of both Engadget and Gizmodo, and Ryan Block, former editor in chief of Engadget. The pair also co-founded GDGT and now work in product development at AOL. Fittingly, MVP is not a sports reference but a product development reference. MVP stands for "minimum viable product" in that context, so the two riff on that to produce a "minimum viable podcast" each week.

I've been listening to Rojas and Block podcasting together since they did podcasts at both Engadget and GDGT. After a long hiatus from podcasting, they launched MVP in September 2014. Every week they look at newly-released and newly-updated tech products, including hardware, apps, and cloud services.

They are great to listen to because their technology preferences contrast so much — Rojas bends toward open source and Android while Block tends to appreciate Apple's product discipline. Rojas has kids, Block doesn't. Block is west coast, Rojas is east coast (although he recently moved from New York to San Francisco). They regularly disagree but it's clear that they still deeply respect each other. None of the podcasts on this list will raise your tech IQ more than this one.

3. Daily Tech News Show

Both TWiT and MVP are weekly podcasts that will help you put the news in perspective, but if you want to really keep up to date, you also need a daily podcast. The best is Daily Tech News Show. It's run by Tom Merritt, who has long been the king of daily tech news podcasting. He previously co-hosted CNET's Buzz Out Loud as well as Tech News Today on the TWiT Network (which remains another solid option). Tom picks great stories — with the help of an active community of tech news junkies who follow DTNS — and does an amazing job of condensing the information into a 30-40 minute show. The show records at 1:30pm Pacific every day and is streamed live. [Disclaimer: Merritt does a show for TechRepublic called Five Apps and I've also written about him in my book, Follow the Geeks]

4. APM: Marketplace Tech

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American Public Media's Marketplace, which airs daily on National Public Radio across the US, is a powerhouse of business journalism and it reports on tech in a broad, high-quality way every day . But APM also packages up a daily podcast called APM: Marketplace Tech that features the show's top tech segments of the day. Because it's APM, they do well-sourced journalism on these stories, and the podcast episodes are typically only 5-10 minutes long. It's the perfect supplement to listening to a daily podcast because the whole thing is just a couple deep dives on big stories. Also, a bonus is that one of the newest contributors to Marketplace Tech is Molly Wood, former New York Times columnist and Merritt's former co-host at CNET Buzz Out Loud.

5. StartUp

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Since startups are the darlings of the tech industry and the fuel that powers much of its innovation, understanding the startup game is highly useful. No podcast has ever pulled back the veil on startup life better than the aptly named StartUp from Gimlet Media. Season one launched in September 2014 and was a huge hit. It followed Alex Blumberg through the launch of Gimlet Media, from finding a co-founder to initial funding to its growing pains and runaway success. Season two began in April 2015, and this time it covers the launch of another startup — a dating service called Dating Ring, launched by two women. Each episode of StartUp is about 30 minutes and Gimlet pitches it as the podcast that shines the light on something that happens every day in America but we rarely see: starting a business. The show not only offers a revealing peek inside startup life, it's also just great storytelling.

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About Jason Hiner

Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

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