Top 5 (and a half) Podcasts That Will Give Something You Didn’t Know Before

By Scott Christie RGD, Partner, Creative Director, BLVD Agency

I had no interest in podcasts, didn’t even really know what they were until all the buzz around Serial back in 2014. It wasn’t until last summer that I thought, "hey, I’m tired of all my music right now let’s see what this world of podcasts can teach me." That’s when the podcast bug hit me — in 2019.


99% Invisible was my first obsession. I imagine it’s the one you all know and listen to.


On the off chance that one or two of you might care what others listen to while cleaning, walking to work or on the occasional road trip—I’m sharing my go-to top five podcasts. Why title this five and a half, you might ask? It’s because of Cautionary Tales


Cautionary Tales

Pushkin Industries, narrated by Tim Harford

This one, I stuck in as a half podcast because each tale is beautifully told, but there are only 10 episodes so far, much less than any other podcast. It was cut short, but they just released a build-up to season two coming June 2020. I love all the tales on offer, to get started check out the ‘La La land: Galileo’s Warning,’ it’s about the Oscar best movie screw up, you know, the one where Moonlight was supposed to be announced. 

50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

BBC World Service, narrated by Tim Harford

Don’t be fooled by the title. There are so many more brilliant little bits of info about everyday items you always wondered about. Why they were invented, used and where the ideas came from. Unfortunately, the last episode was March 9, 2020, insinuating that COVID-19 is the catalyst for the hold up to new episodes. Don’t fret, the show has been running since 2016 and each story is only 10 minutes long, so there’s plenty to rip through. To get you started, check out the episodes; 'Infant Formula', 'Brick' and 'Retirement', you’ll be sucked in in no time.
Just picked this one up and I love it. Like Freakonomics, its topical information, which right now is more important than ever for gaining insights into the situation around the world, creating informed opinions and planning for what’s next, both financially and health-wise. ‘Inside the Hive’ is America centric, get past that and check out their most recent topic with ‘Danny Meyer: Why Taking PPP Loans is Irresponsible,’ a great interview with the owner of Shake Shack and his outlook for the future of dining out, you’ll be hooked. 

Let’s Talk Branding

by Stef Hamerlinck

I had to include one design-focused podcast. Of course, there are many more—the go to’s like ‘The Design of Business, The Business of Design,’ by Design Observer, with Michael Bierut and Jessica Helfand or ‘Design Matters’ with Debbie Millman, ‘2Bobs’ with Blair Enns and David C. Baker, even ‘Created’ presented by our local ADCC. Still, I have purchased more books and saved more episodes from ‘Let’s Talk Branding’ than any other. Stef manages to interview amazing people, some I know, others I’ve never heard of, from strategy backgrounds to design to finance. My fav. Right now, is ‘Jonathan Stark–Value-Based pricing.’
Freakonomics, I can’t get enough of. Especially now, Freakonomics has done a fantastic job of discussing the economic impact of the pandemic, predicting the outcome and providing weekly updates on shifts in our own and collective physique. Beyond its recent shows, catch ‘Why Rent Control Doesn’t Work,’ ‘How to Make Meetings Less Terrible,’ and an older one that may be timely now, ‘How To Be More Productive.’
Saved the best for last, also, likely the most popular. 99% Invisible was my first intro to podcasting along with Hardcore History. This one is especially good for road trips. My family and I really enjoyed listening to the origin story of water fountains in ‘Fountain Drinks,’ discovering the ultimate black colour in ‘The Secret Lives of Colour,’ recapping the 70’s punk scene in ‘Punk Style: Articles of Interest #6,’ and learning about a California environmental story—‘Built to Burn’ followed by ‘Fire and Rain.’ And, if I haven’t mentioned enough design-related shows for you catch ‘Making a Mark: Visual Identity with Tom Geismar’ along with ‘Cover Story,’ how George Lois changed Esquire in the ’60s.


Scott is one of four partners leading the BLVD Agency, a marketing agency designed to lead businesses to their imagined futures.