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9 Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter in 30 Minutes or Less

"Whatever your current mood or interest, there's a program for you."

Image courtesy of Flickr / Garry Knight

The rise of the short podcast has brought with it the rise of uber-efficient education.

You can be squished on the subway, folding your laundry, or waiting in line at the grocery store, and simultaneously learning about current events, human behavior, or economics.

Below, Business Insider has rounded up some of the best short podcasts out there — podcasts that somehow manage to fascinate, entertain, and teach you something cool in 30 minutes or less. 

Whatever your current mood or interest, there’s a program here for you.

‘Planet Money’ distills complex business and economics topics into simple stories.

Image courtesy of NPR

The hosts of Planet Money are relentlessly curious, and they turn otherwise dull-sounding topics into compelling stories.

Some episodes answer everyday questions — Why is the milk in the back of the store? — while others uncover economic history to figure out mysteries such as why exactly we work so much.

Find it here »

‘Hard Pass’ gives you bite-sized pieces of knowledge.


Business Insider’s own Linette Lopez and Josh Barro bring you a weekly show that won’t waste your time.

In just 5-10 minutes, your hosts will break down a dense topic like the Department of Labor’s new Fiduciary Rule or the biggest problem with hedge funds today — and make it both easy to understand and fun to listen.

Find it here »

‘99% Invisible’ will give you the lowdown on design.

You don’t have to have a particular interest in design or architecture to become hooked to “99% Invisible.”

After listening to Roman Mars and his team tell the stories like how a “fish cannon” is used to keep fish populations thriving to why some urban architecture is intentionally “hostile” to homeless people, you’ll find yourself paying much closer to fine details of the world around you.

Find it here »

‘The Allusionist’ is the ultimate podcast for word nerds.


Ever wonder how babies learn language, how the mythos of Santa Claus developed, or where the word “filibuster” comes from?

“The Allusionist” host Helen Zaltzman spends each episode investigating the fascinating development of the English language, and you’ll pick up a few new words you can drop in your next email.

Find it here »

‘The Daily’ gives you the lowdown on the biggest news stories of the day.

The New York Times

In a podcast that just launched in January 2017, national political reporter Michael Barbaro breaks down the latest and most pressing news stories.

He speaks with fellow journalists — from The New York Times and other publications — about their recent work and asks all the questions you probably have.

The episodes, which air Monday through Friday, last about 20 minutes each, and they’re a nice, more conversational supplement to the Times’ print coverage.

Find it here »

‘Hidden Brain’ explains the surprising psychological forces behind everyday human behavior.


Host Shankar Vedantam makes listeners as excited about the science of human behavior as he is, as he explains the psychology behind everything from political preferences to sex on college campuses.

For almost every episode, Vedantam brings on experts and shares the stories of everyday people to make the science accessible and relatable.

Find it here »

‘The Memory Palace’

The Memory Palace

In as short a span as five minutes, host Nate DiMeo will take you through a quirky aspect of history — from the tale of the ambitious Coney Island amusement park that burned down in 1911 to the time the CIA planned on using wired cats to spy on the Soviets — and do so in a way that’s moving, hilarious, or both.

It’s all meticulously researched, too.

Find it here »


Tech Insider

Some episodes of “Codebreaker” run a little long, but in about a half hour or so host Ben Brock Johnson will guide you through the conversation around a controversial tech topic, like “the augmented self” and the dark web.

You’ll also hear some voices from Business Insider, since it’s a joint project with Marketplace.

Find it here »

‘Why Oh Why’ offers some real talk about contemporary dating and relationships.

Why Oh Why

“Why Oh Why” explores the tricky issues at the intersection of love and technology. Host Andrea Sillenzi interviews her friends as well as experts and total strangers, and combines elements of fiction, memoir, and documentary.

On one episode, Sillenzi shares all the heartbreaking details of her breakup with her boyfriend.

Find it here >>

Originally published at

More from Business Insider: 

Nationwide survey on sleep found something surprising about people who attend elite schools.

Long commutes have an impact on your health.

It’s time to recognize that mental health is essential to physical health. 

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