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Sanity check: The 10 best technology podcasts

With podcasts you can essentially create a personal talk radio channel that only includes your favorite programs. You can even create a lineup completely dedicated to technology to help you keep up with the latest news and best practices in IT. Here are what I consider to be the top 10 podcasts on tech and the IT industry.

Because of the breakneck pace of change in the technology world, there is so much information that most of us need to keep up with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I don't have enough time to read as much as I would like. As a result, podcasts are one of the most valuable tools that I use to stay current in tech, because of the fact that I can multi-task while I'm listening to podcasts.

I listen to podcasts while I drive to work. I listen to podcasts while I work out. I listen to podcasts on airplanes. I listen to podcasts when checking my e-mail. I listen to podcasts when I'm doing the dishes. If it weren't for podcasts, I simply wouldn't be able to keep up with as much news, information, commentary, and perspectives on technology and the IT industry.

I've put together a list of what I consider to be the top 10, based on podcasts that are informative, concise, and not boring. Of course, I'm also biased toward stuff that has relevance for IT and business technology, and not just consumer tech and gadgets. I've also limited this list to audio-only podcasts. Next week, I'll cover video podcasts.

Note: This list is also available as a PDF download.

10. TechnologyIQ

I'm sure that 99% of you have never heard of this podcast. It's done by Douglas Welch, an IT consultant in Southern California. He provides some short tips for IT pros based on anecdotes from his work with clients. He also includes recordings from an Internet Seminar he does at his local library -- those episodes are safe to skip. However, this guy provides a nice perspective of an IT professional working in the trenches. I should hire this guy to write and do podcasts for TechRepublic.

9. Security Now!

Steve Gibson -- a legend in IT security and host of grc.com -- teams up with former TechTV host Leo Laporte for this weekly podcast that includes security updates, security tips and best practices, and a spotlight on various security technologies. Steve does a regular question-and-answer session based on submissions from listeners.

8. The Real Deal

This CNET.com podcast (CNET.com and TechRepublic.com are both part of CNET Networks) is aimed at cutting through FUD, hype, and marketing-speak and providing real world information about technology. Some of their recent topics have included a look at how OpenID works and an episode on understanding bandwidth.

7. MarketWatch's Take on Tech

As you'd expect, this MarketWatch podcast looks at the most recent news and developments in technology through the filter of the stock market and the financial sector. As such, it mostly reports on news that relates to public tech companies. It's also a great source of news on business technology.

6. The Microsoft IT Manager Podcast

Sponsored by Microsoft Canada, this monthly podcast does a deep dive into the current issues, trends, and practices that IT managers can use to improve their IT strategy and operations. Since this comes from Microsoft, it focuses on business technologies and solutions that are related to Microsoft products, but it still contains a lot of generally useful information.

5. BusinessWeek - Technology & You

BusinessWeek columnist Steve Wildstrom is an excellent technology writer who has made a solid transition to multimedia. In this brief weekly podcast, Steve provides color commentary on a specific product or technology. This tends to be very consumer-focused, but there's still a lot of stuff that will be of interest to IT pros, professionally and personally.

4. Wall Street Journal Tech News Briefing

Delivered twice a day, this podcast provides a great stream of tech news in about 5-15 minutes each in the morning and evening. While you would assume this is strongly focused on business technology since it comes from The Wall Street Journal, it actually includes a fair share of news about general technology. This one is hard to beat in terms of frequency and a quick peak at the top tech stories.

3. Tech5

"The most important five minutes of your day" is the tagline that John Dvorak uses for his quick survey of tech news that he does on an almost-daily basis. I don't think it's that important, but I do think it's the best quick summary of tech news, because Dvorak does a great job of selecting stories plus he adds some commentary, something you won't find in most news surveys this short. Plus, he has a lot of fun with the sound effects.

2. TWiT

Officially "this WEEK in TECH" is one of the most popular podcasts in the world. It's hosted by Leo Laporte and regularly features some of Leo's former TechTV cohorts. Its panelists also include a regular carousel of colorful characters and talking heads such John Dvorak, Patrick Norton, Jason Calacanis, and Kevin Rose. The best episodes are the ones where several guests vehemently disagree. The show tends to run a little long for my taste -- often over an hour -- but the strength of the commentary often makes it worth it.

1. Buzz Out Loud

I haven't missed an episode of BOL in about six months. That's why I consider it the clear No.1 for this list. Hosted by CNET.com's Molly Wood and Tom Merritt, this daily podcast does a great job at highlighting the most important stories, providing great commentary, and regularly including audience feedback. Tom is Mr. Gadget and Molly is technology's Queen of Rant, and the on-air banter between them always keeps it interesting. While this 30-45 minute podcast is primarily focused on consumer technology, it covers enough general tech topics to make it worthwhile for IT pros.

What are your favorite tech podcasts? Join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

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