What Am I Listening To & Watching in 2017?

What Am I Listening To & Watching in 2017?

[lead dropcap="yes"]Occasionally, I get asked what podcasts I’m listening to these days, especially since people know I’m very much involved with Catholic podcasting, as the executive director of SQPN. And so here’s a list of podcasts I’m listening to and watching. That’s right, I’m including both audio and video shows that I regularly enjoy, including some YouTube shows.[/lead]

I should start by discussing how I consume these shows. For audio, I still use Overcast, which I’ve discussed before and which has had a biggish update lately. It’s still my number one audio podcast app and I listen to podcasts exclusively on my iPhone, most often during my commute, but also sometimes while sitting at my desk or working in the yard or taking a walk.

My video consumption is split between two devices. For video podcasts, i.e. those to which I subscribe such that they show up automatically in a watch playlist on my iPad, I continue to use Downcast. Those I generally watch in the morning as I’m getting ready. I have an iPad wall mount in the bathroom over the sink and then I sit it on my desk as I get dressed. For YouTube channels, right now it’s just watching them in my web browser, usually at the end of the work day to unwind a bit.

I will also note right up front that I participate in a number of podcasts, including Secrets of Star Wars and Secrets of Doctor Who, as well as other occasional episodes of other podcasts, on Trideo. I’ve also recently started an independent podcast with my friend Fr. Chip Hines called The Fathers, and we talk about guy stuff and sports and beer and movies and faith and whatever else. We’re still in single digit number of episodes at this point, but we hope you’ll join us.

All shows are listed alphabetically. Links take you to their web sites, where most have links to subscribe in iTunes or Google Play

Audio Podcasts

The Alton Browncast

The famed host of Food Network’s “Good Eats”, “Iron Chef America” and “Cutthroat Kitchen” is also currently developing a new YouTube food show and has an ongoing series of food-related road shows. But Brown is about more than food, and his podcast ventures into the people and places connected to some amazing foods and drinks, but also music and clothing and art and other subjects.

The Art of Manliness

From how to be a gentleman to tips on clothing, from keeping situational awareness like a special operator to a man’s guide to love, AoM provides a classic look at how to act like a man. Not to be a boor or a macho bully, but as a gentleman in the way you dress and carry yourself and treat others. While the host is a Christian, this isn’t a podcast aimed specifically at Christians, but it has a more general audience.

The Break

One of the first podcasts I ever started listening to, Fr. Roderick Vonhogen’s weekly review of what’s interesting him now, from movies to TV to Catholic stuff to geek stuff. Now that we work together at SQPN, I have the privilege of helping get the show to a wide audience, but I still think of myself as a fan first. After more than 1,000 episodes, he’s still going strong.

Catholics in a Small Town

Mac and Katherine Barron have been podcasting for more than a decade and this is a weekly glimpse at their interesting lives, raising four boys in a small south Georgia town as Catholic converts. Always funny and always engaging by making normal life feel interesting and fresh.

Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio

I used to listen to America’s Test Kitchen Radio when Chris Kimball was there, but after he departed ATK Radio eventually ended, while MSR continues in the same vein. In addition to providing helpful advice to callers with cooking questions, Chris interviews interesting people from around the world with his incisive style.


A tech podcast with a unique format. The hosts are former Macworld editors Jason Snell and Dan Moren and in a strict 30-minute time limit, they and two guests cover four tech topics in a roundtable. Each person brings up a topic and all four address it in turn. It’s quick and predictable (like clockwork!) and always leaves me thinking how I would address the topics.

Greg and Jennifer’s Adventures in Imperfect Living

Podcasting since 2005 and married 10 years longer than that, Greg and Jennifer are more SQPN alumni. They co-founded SQPN with Fr. Roderick then were hired to host a show on Sirius/XM’s The Catholic Channel. Now, they’re back to podcasting their life’s adventures, including their recent move to Indiana from Colorado. Listening to them is like listening to my future in 10 years.

The Incomparable

The flagship of Jason Snell’s Incomparable podcast network, this is a catch-all show that usually features a large panel of often funny, usually insightful, and occasionally annoying guests who discuss everything from books to TV shows to comics to great classic movies to frankly terrible old movies (which is still usually fun to listen to). Not every topic tickles my fancy and I sometimes skip an episode here or there, but the shows I listen to are uniformly informative and fun.

The Incomparable Game Show

Proving that an audio-only game show can work, this podcast isn’t just one game, but it features a rotating basket of games, including Inconceivable (a geek culture mashup of Jeopardy and Family Feud), Low Definition (which bears striking resemblance to Balderdash), Game of Matching (which bears a striking resemblance to TV game show The Match Game), and more including text adventure games played by speaking. Tedious? Sometimes. Funny? Very.

The Mac Observer’s Mac Geek Gab

Another long-lived podcast, this may be the most technically informative. Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun are like Car Talk for Macs and iOS. Both funny and educational, they tackle questions sent in by listeners about their technical troubles. Their deep dives into topics like internet routers and backup batteries replace the myths and urban legends that abound online with facts and reality-based experience.

Mac Power Users

If there’s a podcast that consistently tempts me to spend money, it’s MPU. But don’t worry. Hosted by David Sparks and Katy Floyd, MPU excels at helping you learn to use your Mac, iPhone, and iPad to their total potential. They often interview guests from a variety of fields—law, music, education, and even ministry—about how they use Apple technology to make themselves more productive. They also explore the latest software and hardware, sometimes trying to identify the best of a category, like calendar apps or email software (which is where the temptation to spend comes in).

The Patrick Coffin Show

This is a new show, but Patrick Coffin comes from eight years as host of the national radio show Catholic Answers Live. His new podcast isn’t specifically political or religious, but is a look at the culture around us and at influencers trying to hold it together. Patrick is also a friend from way back and he is one of the funniest people I know.

Planet Money

This is an NPR podcast-only show that isn’t itself a radio show. It focuses on business and economics, but aimed at a mass audience, making difficult concepts accessible. Whether looking at the true cost of a T-shirt by creating their own shirt from cotton in the field on up to sales and distribution or examining how a pop music summertime hit is carefully constructed by a team of experts, Planet Money gives a fun education in how the economic world works in about 20-minutes twice a week.


Another Incomparable podcast, this particular show is different in that it’s a limited run of just 46 episodes. That’s because it’s an examination of each track of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” by a rotating panel of interesting people. That rotation can make some of the discussions a bit hit or miss, but at its best Pod4Ham provides insight and background on the musical that is unique and thought-provoking.

The Rebound

A tech podcast hosted by Dan Moren, Lex Friedman and John Moltz, all Apple geeks who were connected with Macworld magazine in the past. Sometimes the language is a bit salty, but it’s almost always entertaining as it looks as the tech news of the day. The focus tends toward Apple as you might expect, but it often veers into general tech news too.

This American Life

This venerable radio show started in 1995 and is hosted by Ira Glass, a master storyteller. Each week, they have a theme and have two or more stories on that theme. The themes are often and usually insightful and engaging. Sometimes they cover current events in depth (campaign finance reform or immigration, for example). Other times, they cover quirky stories about odd or unusual people or places. Sometimes they do unusual sorts of shows like recording an entire episode at an all-night diner. While the political viewpoint tends to the ideological left, I find their stories to be generally fair and to be honest, not everything is about politics.

The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe

You may know Mike Rowe as the guy on the TV show “Dirty Jobs” or as the voice of the narrator on “Deadliest Catch” or as the blue-collar jobs, commonsense guy who writes those great posts on Facebook that get thousands of shares. That’s all true, but in this podcast Mike is the next iteration of Paul Harvey, using his great voice to tell good stories with a twist. Each episode is about 10 minutes and they always give you an interesting story-behind-the-story of people you may have heard about.

The Word on Fire Show

Bishop Robert Barron and Brandon Vogt host this show in which they dive into a variety of Catholic topics from in-depth theological and philosophical discussions to light examinations of the latest Hollywood blockbuster. The show usually features Brandon talking to Bishop Barron in an interview/guest format about a main topic followed by listener questions for the bishop. Bishop Barron is one of the most interesting Church leaders on the rise today and is always fun to listen to.

Video Podcasts

iOS Today

A weekly show on the Twit podcast network, iOS Today features Megan Morrone and Leo LaPorte talking about iPads, iPhones, AppleTV and Apple Watch. Each show starts with a themed look at various apps, followed by a bit of news and viewer questions, and ending with their Apps of the Week. Sometimes it feels a bit scattershot, like Leo is picking an app of the week at random from iTunes’ featured apps instead of finding one he’s been using that’s worth our time or the answers they give to questions obviously misunderstand what’s being asked or betrays the fact that they aren’t themselves all that expert on iOS. Despite that ringing endorsement, I still find it to be a great way to start the day as I usually get more than a couple of valuable nuggets from each show.

MacBreak Weekly

One of the oldest Mac podcasts, this is another Twit show that features uneven quality. Each episode is two hours and is a rundown of the news of the week related to Apple, which means slow news weeks means lots of empty talk, including way too much discussion of patent lawsuits and the like. This is another show where I feel like the usual panel, while they may use Apple products, are moving away from them as their primary devices and so we spend too much time discussing Android and Chromebooks. For a long time, I’ve hung on because I found their Picks of the Week to be useful ways to discover new hardware and software, but even that has become tired. I’m not usually in the market for $1,000+ video production gear, which is often what Alex Lindsay picks. Or they choose banal and obvious picks like Apple’s new line of watch bands or Apple’s new iPhone case or some heavy metal band that has nothing to do with the Mac. I guess the reality is that I’m barely hanging onto MBW as a viewer and I’ve started skipping episodes, except when I know there’s news to talk about.


One of the rare podcasts I actually pay for (although I do voluntary contribute to several), SCO by Don McAllister every week provides a 40-minute show that’s a recording of his computer screen along with his narration as he (and several regular contributors) go through the ins and outs of various Mac and iOS software (and sometimes hardware). Even when the topic is software I’ve been using regularly for years, I watch anyway because I always—always—learn something new about it. I’m often asked how I became an expert in Apple tech and this is one of the reasons why.


Aden Films

This is a new channel for me. I don’t know who the guy (or gal) is behind this channel, but they are certainly well-traveled. Each video is a 10 to 15-minute experience of the food in a particular place, whether it’s street food in Japan or a mercado in Costa Rica. There is no narration and no explanation given, just a close-up view of the preparation of local foodstuffs in each place. It’s surprisingly engaging and simultaneously meditative even with the herky-jerky camera work. If you like food, check out a few episodes.

Darbin Orvar

I wish I was a handyman with a workshop, fixing and building stuff around the house. But for now I will live vicariously through Linn, the Scandinavian woman living in Oregon who has an amazing workshop and skills to be envied. Whether it’s woodworking, electronics, concrete work, or lighting, Linn usually has some interesting project she’s working on. Plus she has an engaging personality (see a pattern here?) that makes watching her work fun.

Fail Army

From the sublime to the silly: Fail Army is the millennial version of America’s Funniest Home Videos, except there isn’t a $10,000 prize at the end. Sometimes they leave in bad language and they often recycle their clips, I still find the videos compelling for some reason. I tell myself it’s because it balances all those videos of people accomplishing what seems like the impossible, whether skateboard tricks or basketball shots or the like. These are the times they didn’t work. It’s also a reminder of the truth that much of the bad that befalls us is our own stupidity. I sometimes watch with the kids and explain to them just where each one of these people go wrong. I think it’s a deterrent, but Melanie thinks I’m just giving the boys ideas. In any case, “Fail!” has become part of our family vocabulary.

Food Wishes

You’re probably getting the idea that I like food. Hey, what else do we do three times every day? So this is a straight up cooking channel. Despite Chef Jon’s sing-song delivery, the videos consistently deliver ideas for future meals, if not specific recipes I use.

James Townsend and Son

This one combines history and food. John Townsend (he’s the son) owns a business that makes and sells Colonial-era replicas for re-enactors and they started more than six years ago to demonstrate how to us the goods. That eventually turned into a cooking channel exploring that tastes of the 18th century, whether from the home hearth, the plantation kitchen, or the soldier in the field. The host John is earnest and friendly and the videos are extremely well-produced.


I’ve been fascinated by Korean food the last couple of years, mainly because I’ve only heard about it and not been able to try much of it. Maangchi’s is a Korean immigrant mom who’s been making videos for a decade, demonstrating the cuisine of Korea. It’s exotic and strange to my unfamiliar eyes, but fascinating to learn about.

Mr. Mobile

I have to admit, part of why I watch is because he often films in and around the building I work in. But I also find it interesting to learn about what the non-iPhone set is doing for their mobile devices. In addition to phones, he covers mobile tech like smartwatches, headphones, tablets and laptops, cars, and more.

Modern Dad

From the same network that brings us Mr. Mobile, Phil is a techie dad just like me. Every episode is a look at the kinds of tech that a guy like me is interested in because so many other tech sites are aimed at single twenty-somethings living in big coastal cities. This is a tech channel for me.

Sorted Food

Yep, another food channel. This one features four young blokes in England, one of whom is a trained chef, tackling food and recipes in a fun way. They like to experiment with their format, which keeps things fresh, but in general there’s lots of competitiveness, joking, good-natured ribbing, and good fun food.

The Star Wars Show

This is the official Star Wars channel so there are a lot of marketing videos and trailers, but there’s also a regular weekly show. With two young hosts and filmed at Lucasfilm, they cover news and other marketing stuff, but also interview the people behind Star Wars movies, TV shows, books, toys and games, and even reveal some of the behind-the-scenes details. Obviously, they don’t get into rumors or spoilers, but it’s still required viewing for Star Wars fans.

Whew, and that’s it. Thirty-one different podcasts and channels for your listening and viewing pleasure. Of course, this is what I’m listening to and watching now. I’ll try to keep this list updated from time to time with my new discoveries.

Until then, what are your favorites? Share them in the comments.