So your favorite tech podcast just imploded after two beloved figures were accused of an anti-union push that contributed to a workplace culture that discriminated against colleagues of color. Now what?
At the time of publication, Reply All is still on indefinite hiatus. After their recent Bon Appétit series delving into the company’s unfair treatment of marginalized staff members prematurely ended once former coworkers revealed that the call was also coming inside their own house at Gimlet, co-host P. J. Vought and producer/occasional host Sruthi Pinnamaneni have stepped down from the show (full disclosure: the writer of this article briefly interacted with Reply All core staff for an interview that appeared on this episode).
But all of this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.
Reply All is also far from the only great tech podcast out there.
For one, there are a lot of vital lessons we can all learn from the issues raised regarding the pervasive harms that diversity initiatives can inadvertently cause within white-dominated workplaces. But for another, Reply All is also far from the only great tech podcast out there.
Perhaps this temporary silence from the long-reigning favorite can be an opportunity. Let’s take the chance to broaden our horizons and check out some of the other fantastic shows that maybe didn’t get as much attention because Reply All soaked up so much of the genre’s limelight.
From podcasts that center women and other marginalized folks’ experiences and contributions to digital culture, or philosophical critiques of tech idols and idealism, to informative weekly dissections of the biggest news in Silicone Valley — there are so many awesome podcasts that are equally fantastic and worthy of being your guide into this increasingly tech-dominated existence.
And, hey, many of them have just as much cute co-host banter, too.
Despite what some angry fans might try to argue, Reply All is far from “canceled,” either. Last we heard, the wonderful Alex Goldman and exciting new talent Emmanuel Dzotsi are still the show’s co-hosts whenever it returns. None of what’s happened completely negates the great work the show has done in the past, either — including the important stories of those who came forward about the discrimination at Bon Appétit.
But maybe it’s time we do our own version of a Super Tech Support, with a special round of Yes-Yes-No on tech podcasts you might not have heard of yet, but should know about.
There Are No Girls on the Internet
[From our Best Feminist Podcasts roundup] Host Bridget Todd gives the under-recognized women who build and experience technology a much-needed spotlight, both through interviews as well as her own critical analysis.” [From our Best Podcasts on Disinformation and Misinformation] “Since launching in 2020, There Are No Girls on the Internet is quickly becoming one of the most essential tech podcasts out there. Case in point: host Bridget Todd’s new disinformation series. Released shortly after the attack on the Capitol, it grapples with every aspect of the disinformation issue by highlighting voices that were often ignored yet prescient in identifying, understanding, and combating it. From all the Black women who tried to warn us about how dire the situation was with white supremacy’s centrality on the internet, to the TikToker who’s fighting fire with fire through informative anti-disinformation memes, or whether or not de-platforming Trump was censorship — everyone should start listening very closely now or risk making the same mistakes all over again.”
Get Wired is a singular show in the world of tech podcasts. Hosted by Lauren Goode, each 30-minute episode goes down an internet rabbit hole you probably never thought to explore before, inspiring the same crazed need to know more that comes with falling into an internet K-hole. From episodes on the women composers who scored many of the seminal early video game soundtracks, to the fall of sextech’s most hyped robotic vibrator (featuring an interview from yours truly), Get Wired tells the incredible tech stories that too often fall through the cracks. Impressively, they tell said stories better than almost any other podcast.
Yet in January, Goode tweeted that the podcast’s future is now currently unknown, since publisher Condé Nast inexplicably and unceremoniously failed to renew their audio team’s contracts. Here’s to hoping the folks in charge come to recognize what is evident to any listener: In a short amount of time, Get Wired became one of the best tech podcasts around.
I wish I knew what the future of the Get WIRED podcast was. At this point in time I don’t. All I know is that we had assembled a great team of producers, who worked tirelessly to make the Wired podcast each week, and I’d hoped to continue working with them https://t.co/X1cFyBmm43
— Lauren Masks Are Goode (@LaurenGoode) January 12, 2021
[From our Best New Podcasts of 2020 roundup] “I know, I know. The Gray Lady hasn’t been seen as a publication that’s especially hip to internet culture. But with Rabbit Hole, host Kevin Roose, a New York Times reporter, paints an impressively comprehensive, complex, clear, and compelling portrait of how the internet fuels this era of political and cultural chaos. From the alt-right’s rise from the ashes of gamergate, to Pewdiepie finally going on record about his endless controversies, and even interviews with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki on the platform’s role in radicalizing users, Roose brings all the big guns you’d expect from the Times into the digital age.”
Land of Giants
When historians look back on this time in human history, they will point to a new era — a new species, really — of imperial regimes. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix: the tech giants that dominate our culture, economy, and even politics demand thorough understanding and investigation. That’s exactly what Recode’s Land of the Giants delivers, explaining how the most powerful companies came to be and at what cost to the rest of us. In Season 3, the most recent, hosts Shirin Ghaffary and Alex Kantrowitz tackle the first and most prevailing emperor of big tech, searching far and wide for the story behind Google (and by extension YouTube.)
[From our Best Podcasts on Disinformation and Misinformation] “Do you want to keep up-to-date with all the developments of QAnon, without needing to actually wade through the dark underworld of those parts of the internet? QAnon Anonymous is your answer. Giving the most in-depth, wide-sweeping view of every individual facet of this conspiratorial beast, hosts Julian Feeld, Travis View, and Jake Rockatansky also balance out the harsh coverage with a mixture of humor and empathy.”
[From our Best Podcasts on Disinformation and Misinformation] “A more in-depth look into the source or force behind Q than that one Reply All episode, this investigative limited series dives into every possible avenue for who Q could possibly be. Aside from being fascinating, it’s an essential resource for debunking many of the popular theories that don’t hold up water under scrutiny. Host Jake Hanrahan can honestly be a bit smarmy at times but — as a journalist known for reporting on militias — he brings level-headed expertise that bucks the tendency to sensationalize Qanon.”
[Can you add a note that Ron Watkins basically admitted he’s Q in that HBO doc series but still a good listen?]
Kara Swisher, a treasure to tech journalism, is joined by NYU Professor Scott Galloway to paint both the more granular and bigger pictures involved with all the latest trending news stories. While sometimes broader than just tech, most roads these days eventually lead back there. They bring fair but critical perspectives to the table, as well as predictions for the industry’s biggest winners and losers every Tuesday and Friday.
Daily Tech News Show
[From our Best Daily Podcasts roundup] “Increasingly, you need to know the ins and outs of tech and Silicon Valley if you have any hope of staying on top of what’s happening in the world. Unfortunately, a lot of old-guard journalism is not well-equipped to understand the minutiae of tech and the industry’s consequences. Hosts Tom Merritt and Sarah Lane, along with a pretty diverse cast of guests and co-hosts, distill all the tech news in a way that’s digestible to the layperson.”
Future of Sex
When people think of sextech, they often just imagine sex robots or high-tech Bluetooth vibrators. But the collision of sexuality and technology is so much more than that and, increasingly (especially after a year spent in physical isolation), it’s becoming relevant to all. Host Bryony Cole interviews the biggest leaders in this rapidly growing, multi-billion-dollar industry on everything from the stigma around male sex toys to the craft of astrosexologists, covering the wide breadth of topics we need to talk about in order to understand our horny futures.
How I Built This
[From our Best Business Podcasts roundup] “Ever wonder how innovative brands like Spanx, Airbnb, and Edible Arrangements — built on concepts that seemed unusual at first, but we can’t imagine a world without now — got their start? NPR’s How I Built This goes behind the scenes with their founders and many more to talk about their journey from small biz to international recognition. Hosted by Guy Raz, you’ll learn how to succeed in business but even more about how to fail making this podcast essential listening for new and established ‘treps.”
Tech Won’t Save Us
Tech Won’t Save Us, as the title implies, is a healthy counter dose to the nauseating tech utopia idealism that usually surrounds Silicone Valley and enthusiast tech press coverage. A left-leaning podcast, it digs into philosophical discussions about the underbelly of the tech industry and digital culture. You’ll find conversations on Elon Musk and the problematic history he invokes while championing space colonization, or why Bill Gates’ nonprofit foundation raises huge issues around the “good billionaire” mythology. While the sound quality isn’t as polished as others, that’s definitely not enough of a problem to detract from listening to such vital discourse too often left out of conversations about tech news.
When we hear stories about the “darknet,” it feels like it’s stuff that happens in a totally different dimension. But in reality, the darknet and adjacent worlds of cybercrime impact all our lives in very real ways on a daily basis. Host Jack Rhysider is your perfect guide into this shady yet fascinating parallel universe to the world wide web most of us live in.
Boom/Bust: HQ Trivia
Remember HQ Trivia? You know, that digital trivia game show that spread like wildfire a few years back before, seemingly overnight, imploding in on itself? The Ringer’s Boom/Bust, hosted by Alyssa Bereznak, tells the riveting tale behind exactly how this wildly popular and seemingly wholesome app turned into yet another example of a tech darling’s spectacular fall from grace. Aside from the rigorous reporting and insightful interviews from the likes of Scott (aka Quiz Daddy) himself, Bereznak also offers her own insightful cultural analysis into why we loved HQ Trivia in the first place, how it filled a void from digital culture, and what it’s demise says about the tech industry at large.
Sway with Kara Swisher
In case it wasn’t already clear, we’re kinda Kara Swisher stans. Sway, a podcast where the New York Times writer unflinchingly interviews many of the most powerful figures in Silicon Valley (and other dominant industries), is all you need to understand why. The podcast tagline describes it as “power, unpacked,” which perfectly sums up what makes her interviews such an important public service. Swisher takes everyone — from Apple’s Tim Cook to Parler chief executive John Matze (an interview that occurred on the day of the Capitol riot) — to task like few other journalists in the space dare to.
Decoder with Nilay Patel
Another big ideas tech podcast, the Verge’s Decoder, hosted by editor-in-chief Nilay Patel, gives a great birds-eye-view into the tech landscape. While episodes are often tied to a topic circulating the news, the interviews and roundtable discussions are more evergreen than timely. This is the podcast to go to if, for example, you’re still on the fence about Bitcoin and want to hear experts on opposing ends of the debate duke it out through nitty-gritty details. While a bit less beginner-friendly than is typical for the Verge, there’s bound to be something personally interesting to you in the wide breadth of topics covered, which all start from a place of more universal appeal. The micro approach to such big, macro topics makes for a comprehensive listen, too.
If buzzwords like “NFT” and “LIDAR technology” make your eyes glaze over, then the Vergecast is the podcast for you. This bi-weekly show from hosts Nilay Patel and Dieter Bohn (along with other guest contributors and star interviews) distills even the most seemingly impenetrable tech nerd BS into something anyone can not only understand but enjoy. Vergecast brings highly informed and big picture perspectives to coverage of Apple rumors, gadget releases, tech trends, and other Silicon Valley news items, all through honest, personable, and down-to-earth conversations. They’re still total dorks, don’t get me wrong, but they’re dorks you definitely want to hang out with.
Future of Storytelling
OK so remember those old Warner Classic cable TV movie marathons where decorated hosts would present each film with a 10-minute preamble on its significance to culture? Well, that’s what The Future of Storytelling podcast greets you with, only its host and organization founder Charlie Melcher does it to introduce his guests. Each interviewee is an innovator bringing art, media, and technology together somehow. If you can make it past the cringe-y (yet still endearing) amount of decorum in the intro, you’ll be privy to fascinating conversations with creators who are leading the way for interactive theater, immersive digital art, stop-motion animation, augmented reality games, and so much more.
Accidental Tech Podcast
The Accidental Tech Podcast certainly isn’t for the beginner or casual techie, as it is by far the most nuts and bolts podcast on our list. But that’s by design (and not a drawback for the right audience). What distinguishes it from other bi-weekly tech news podcasts we’ve listed is how it’s hosted not by journalists or analysts, but rather actual tech workers. Hosts Marco Arment, Casey Liss, and John Siracusa give their important perspectives as developers and programmers involved in making the things everyone’s talking about. This insider expertise enables them to call out the blindspots in prevailing tech discourse, whether from laypeople, tech journalists, or Silicon Valley execs. Sadly, like the industry itself and most other tech podcasts, it’s notably lacking diversity among its hosts, which is unfortunate since that’d allow them to call out more blindspots. Also, it can be very dry at times. It’s always in a charming way, though, with a camaraderie between the hosts that’s pretty infectious.