14 Podcasts for You to Get Hooked on This Summer

Smith School of Business professors recommend podcasts that will get your brain buzzing
A pineapple listens to a podcast wearing headphones on a bright background.

How did we ever get by without podcasts? Not only are they a great way to learn about our world, they’re easy to access and often fun. In our multi-tasking lives, it’s nice to pop in earbuds and get lost with our favourite host—while walking the dog, working out or making dinner. Podcasts can be totally addictive. Who hasn’t binged an entire season on a long car trip?

Summer is a great time to try a new podcast. After all, who needs a book or magazine at the cottage when you can lay back and listen? For this list, we’ve adopted a loose interpretation of the podcast format and included a variety of digital audio series. Topics range from finance to culture to news of the day (there’s even a recommendation for our younger readers). Some of the podcasts are popular, others a bit more obscure. As long as it makes you think, it’s in!

We hope you find your next favourite podcast among the offerings below.

Breaking Banks podcast

Breaking Banks

Suggested by: Lynnette Purda, RBC Fellow of Finance

Breaking Banks looks at the tremendous changes taking place in financial services because of technology (with guests at the centre of fintech). The podcast is not so much about the technical aspects of financial services, says Purda, “but rather what these changes can do, such as provide banking services to people that have never had access to bank accounts, making things more efficient or more secure and offering a better customer experience.” She adds: “It’s easy listening and engaging—which is not something we can always say about banks.”

Choiceology podcast

Choiceology

Suggested by: Nicole Robitaille, assistant professor

Can we learn to make smarter choices? Behavioural scientist Katy Milkman explores that question and more in Choiceology, a podcast that covers the many lessons to be learned from behavioural economics. Recent episodes include “Silver Linings: How can disappointing opportunities lead to surprising outcomes?” and “Some Assembly Preferred”, about whether we overvalue things that we create ourselves. “I find this podcast does a great job explaining the fundamentals of human behaviour while also integrating new cutting-edge research from behavioural economics,” says Robitaille. “It provides great insights into how we can improve our decisions and change behaviour for good.”

Cocktails with a Curator podcast

Cocktails with a Curator

Suggested by: Anthony Goerzen, Donald R. Sobey Professor of International Business

The pandemic was a lousy time for anyone who loves to visit an art gallery or museum. But thankfully some offered virtual visits. One example of how a museum can be brought to life online is Cocktails with a Curator by the Frick Collection in New York City. As Goerzen explains: “It's not a podcast but, rather, a series of lectures on YouTube, exploring specific paintings in the Frick Collection, talking about what's interesting about them and why people appreciate them.” (Alas, viewers must supply their own cocktails.)

Desert Island Discs podcast

Desert Island Discs

Suggested by: Matt Reesor, director of the full-time MBA program

This long-running BBC show has hit on a winning formula. In each episode, famous personalities—from Sophia Loren to Desmond Tutu—reveal the eight music tracks, a book and a luxury item that they would take with them to a desert island. Song choices are introduced over the length of the podcast while guests also speak about their lives. The show “has had so many amazing guests from all walks of life over the years—actors, physicists, religious leaders, rock stars, Nobel Prize winners, poets...you name it,” says Reesor.

The Gist of It

The GIST of It

Suggested by: Kate Rowbotham, Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Organizational Behaviour

"I’m sure many Smith folks are already familiar with The Gist, a sports media brand focused on levelling the playing field, which was started by Smith Commerce alumni Jacie deHoop, Ellen Hyslop and Roslyn McLarty," says Rowbotham. At the start of 2020, The Gist launched its podcast called The GIST of It. "Ellen and her co-host Stephanie Rotz talk about what’s going on across the sports world with a smart and entertaining perspective. They aren’t afraid to call out the misdeeds that factor into every sport (and there are many!), but they also celebrate the joy and achievement that also is a part of every sport," she shares.

Hear to Slay podcast

Hear to Slay

Suggested by: Kate Rowbotham, Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Organizational Behaviour

The creators of Hear to Slay descrbe it as “the Black feminist podcast of your dreams”. "Hear to Slay is a podcast that reeled me in from the start – I’ve been a big fan of both Tressie McMillan Cottom’s and Roxane Gay’s writing for a long time," shares Rowbotham, "and to have them come together in podcast form is just magic! Tressie and Roxane are insightful and incisive Black feminists who tackle every topic under the sun with incredible guests. The podcast spans politics, art, culture, and just everyday living, and does it in a way that makes you think."

Million Bazillion podcast

Million Bazillion

Suggested by: Monica LaBarge, assistant professor

There are plenty of money podcasts for adults. But what about for children? Kids need to make sense of dollars and cents too, right? Enter Million Bazillion, with episodes such as “How is money made? Let’s head to the U.S. mint!” and “The price of pizza”. “This is a rare business-focused podcast for kids, talking about things like what ads are trying to do (i.e. sell you stuff), the importance of learning how to negotiate, how to save money, why things have prices and the history of money and currency,” says LaBarge. Million Bazillion also gets her six-year-old’s stamp of approval.

Radiolab podcast

Radiolab

Suggested by: Stephen Thomas, executive director, Analytics & AI Ecosystem

It’s hard to categorize Radiolab. Perhaps the best description comes from its creators at WNYC Studios: The podcast goes about “investigating a strange world.” “Each episode dives deep into an extremely interesting topic or story that you didn’t know was interesting,” Thomas says. Examples of recent episodes: “The Brown Box” looks at the inner workings of today’s online retail system—in which delivery times have miraculously been cut from more than a week to same-day. Meanwhile, “Smile My Ass” delves into the enduring legacy of the first great reality TV show: Candid Camera.

Heavyweight podcast

Heavyweight

Suggested by: Matt Reesor, director of the full-time MBA program

In Heavyweight, host Jonathan Goldstein “goes back to the moment that everything changed” in someone’s life. “Heartfelt, poignant and funny, Jonathan works with his guests on coming to terms with an unresolved issue from their past,” Reesor explains. “It is a most human show and one that often stays with me for days and weeks after listening.”

StatQuest podcast

StatQuest

Suggested by: Steven Salterio, Stephen J.R. Smith Chair of Accounting and Auditing

StatQuest was started by a man named Josh Starmer as a way to explain statistics to his co-workers—genetic researchers who, Starmer noted, “did amazing experiments but they didn’t always know what to do with the data they generated.” The YouTube series has since caught on, with episodes offering fun and easy explanations of everything from decision and classification trees to expected values. “It’s an epic journey through statistics and machine learning,” says Salterio. “I found it a great way to learn about data analytics techniques.”

Canadian Investor podcast

The Canadian Investor

Suggested by: Barry Cross, Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Operations Strategy

From “8 Lessons from Buffet and Blackberry” to “6 Stocks to Own Forever”, The Canadian Investor podcast has something for every investor. “I have a pretty good feel for investments and finances,” says Cross, “but I am concerned with my bias and a tendency to gravitate in certain directions with investments. I like this podcast as the two hosts are younger and offer a broader, yet very well-researched perspective on other areas of the market that I might overlook."

This Matters podcast

This Matters

Suggested by: Christine Coulter, Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Organizational Behaviour

This Toronto Star podcast features journalists, experts and activists discussing important news issues from a Canadian context, says Coulter. “I believe it is essential to access media that is not curated by an algorithm based on our existing interests, beliefs and browsing history—and this podcast provides that." Topics covered on This Matters include the pandemic, racism, politics, business and more. The variety, Coulter says, “makes it particularly relevant for those who are interested in the world around them and want to broaden their thinking.”

Planet Money podcast

Planet Money

Suggested by: Monica LaBarge, assistant professor

OK, here’s the setup according to NPR’s Planet Money. “Imagine you could call up a friend and say, ‘Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.’ Now imagine that’s actually a fun evening.” That, in a nutshell, is Planet Money, a podcast that explores the inner workings of the economy, often from unusual angles. “I love the way the award-winning team behind the podcast takes current issues and breaks them down into easily digestible (and entertaining!) pieces, with topics ranging from more traditional economics to market trends, sports and popular culture,” says LaBarge. And if you like Planet Money, check out its shorter, current affairs cousin: The Indicator By Planet Money.

Memory Palace podcast

The Memory Palace

Suggested by: Paul Calluzzo, Toller Family Fellow of Finance

“It’s hard to describe, but the host, Nate DiMeo effectively transports the listener into a story from some far-off time and place,” says Calluzzo about this immersive podcast that weaves short, emotionally concentrated tales. The Memory Palace was a finalist for a Peabody Award in 2016. “Sometimes it is nice to escape, and The Memory Palace is perfect for that.”

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