Podcasts are a great way to learn about tech on the go. They can expose you to a broad array of tools and concepts.
Since I started learning to code back in 2012, I have listened to thousands of hours of technology podcasts – usually while exercising or commuting. Many of these podcasts are still going strong. And this article will focus on these time-tested learning resources.
A note before we get started: before you start tweeting at me about how I left off your favorite podcast, note that I intentionally excluded most business- and news-focused podcasts. Instead, I've zeroed in on podcasts that are run by developers, and with developers in mind as the core audience.
I can say with confidence that all of these podcasts are solid. If you are a developer, or are interested in becoming a developer, these podcasts will entertain you and enlighten your commutes. Enjoy.
The Best Web Development Podcast: SyntaxFM
I am a long-time fan of Scott Tolinski (a break dancer-turned developer who runs the LevelUpTuts YouTube channel) and iconic Canadian developer Wes Bos. These two make a charismatic duo. And together they've hosted more than 320 episodes of their SyntaxFM podcast.
Each episode, Scott and Wes share web development tools and techniques, and often interview some of the top web developers from the field.
The Best Podcast for Open Source: The Changelog
The Changelog is, at this point, an institution. Over the past 11 years, they've interviewed the creators of a wide variety of open source projects.
And the main hosts, Adam Stacoviak and Jerod Santo are developers themselves. They maintain a state-of-the-art online community, and incorporate tons of open source tools into their platform themselves.
I had the honor of hanging out with them at Adam's home in Houston and interviewing them for their podcast's 10th anniversary.
I recommend subscribing and also browsing the 400+ episodes in their archives. (Many of them even have transcripts.)
The Best Podcast for Learning to Code: Learn to Code With Me
Across over 100 episodes, Laurence Bradford has interviewed a wide variety of self-taught developers. Here are some of the careers of people she's interviewed before they became developers:
- airport security guards
- stay-at-home parents
- and more
She also has episodes that serve as guides to finding freelance clients, choosing the right laptop, and learning to code while raising kids. Strong recommend.
The Best Developer-Entrepreneur Focused Podcast: the Indie Hackers Podcast
Much of the tech world thinks of business as as a series of venture capital funding rounds leading to an eventual "exit." But there are also thousands of successful businesses run by developers themselves – often with no outside funding at all.
These are the "bootstrapped" businesses that MIT-trained-engineer-turned-founder Courtland Allen focuses on with his Indie Hackers podcast.
Over the years, Courtland has interviewed nearly 200 founders – most of whom started off as full-time developers at other companies who started a project on the side. And many of those side projects bloomed into profitable businesses.
In each of his interviews, Courtland gets these developers to share their revenue numbers with listeners, and tries to sleuth out how they've been so successful. Along the way, he usually unearths insights that other developers can use to start their own businesses.
Some of the many frequent panelists include:
- JS Developer and teacher Divya Sasidharan
- Stanford lecturer and open source pioneer Feross Aboukhadijeh
- TypeScript enthusiast Nick Nisi
- Decentralization advocate Mikeal Rogers
- And software engineer Amal Hussein
The Best Python Podcast: Talk Python to Me
Each week, developer Michael Kennedy explores the Python ecosystem and its many applications. Along the way, he interviews Python enthusiasts from a variety of fields, including:
- Web Development
- Data Science
- Machine Learning
- And academia
With more than 300 episodes to listen to, Talk Python to Me is a great way to expose yourself to some of Python's most powerful packages.
The Best Podcast for Developers New to the Field: The Code Newbie Podcast
In September 2014 – just one month before freeCodeCamp went live – Saron Yitbarek launched the Code Newbie podcast. I remember fondly listening to the first few episodes while going for late night runs through San Francisco after day-long coding sessions. There was this electricity in the air as I listened to her interview self-taught software developers – some of whom were even newer to the field than I was.
Saron has of course gone on to basically become the face of the learn-to-code movement. She created the Codeland Developer Conference, and most recently the excellent Command Line Heroes podcast. But she still records new episodes of Code Newbie, and they are just as exciting as they were back in 2014.
She's 261 episodes in and shows no signs of slowing down. If you find yourself in the "desert of despair" as you learn to code, and need a shot of positive energy, this is the podcast for you.
The Best Machine Learning Podcast: Practical AI
Machine Learning has tons of promising applications in everything from self-driving cars to medical diagnosis. But how much of this is hype and how much of this is actually going to happen in the next few decades?
The Practical AI podcast focuses on real-world implementations of machine learning tools. It's hosted by seasoned practitioners who know what they're talking about: Data Scientist Daniel Whitenack and Software Engineer Chris Benson.
Across 120 episodes, Daniel and Chris interview engineers who are working with massive datasets – credit card companies, social networks, and even governments. And they help you look at the latest machine learning developments through a more practical lens.
The Most Thoughtful Developer Podcast: Developer Tea
Over the past 5 years, PBS engineering director (and trained airplane pilot) Jonathan Cutrell has shared countless tips for developers.
Many of his 650 episodes are monologues where he meditates on a specific aspect of the developer experience. Other episodes are intimate interviews with developers that explore themes of purpose and craftsmanship.
This is a great podcast for shorter listening sessions, since most of the episodes only 15 or 20 minutes long. These episodes will leave you energized and ready to get some coding done.
The Best Podcast for Mid-Level Developers: The Ladybug Podcast
The Ladybug Podcast is hosted by four prominent developers from a variety of backgrounds – some self-taught and some with CS degrees – working with a variety of tech stacks: Emma Bostian, Sidney Buckner, Ali Spittel, and Kelly Vaughn.
In addition to hard technical topics, they focus on career growth, personal development, and even have a sort of book club where they all read the same book and discuss it.
They started the podcast in June of 2019, and already have published more than 65 episodes that you can binge.
The Best Podcast for More Experienced Developers: Software Engineering Daily
Yes, you read that name right – this is a daily podcast. Host Jeff Meyerson interviews software engineers from a wide array of companies, working with all kinds of exciting tools.
Some frequently discussed topics from the show include:
- DevOps and Cloud Engineering
- Web Development
- Data Science and Machine Learning
- Blockchain development
- and foundational Computer Science
Over the years, Jeff has interviewed a number of luminaries, such as internet co-inventor Vint Cerf and Unix co-inventor Brian Kernighan.
With more than 1,400 episodes to listen to, this is the perfect continuing education resource for your commute.
The Best Podcast for UI / UX Design: The ShopTalk Podcast
- Human-Computer Interaction
- And dive into the tiniest details
Across more than 400 episodes, Chris and Dave explore a variety of tools old and new. Everything from WordPress to the JAMstack.
If you are a developer getting into design – or a designer getting into development – this is the podcast for you.
The Best Developer Education-Focused Podcast: The Hanselminutes Podcast
This is by far the longest-running podcast on this list. It dates all the way back to 2006, before most people had even heard the term "podcast".
Scott Hanselman is a prolific developer and educator – most notably in his role as a developer evangelist for Microsoft.
Across nearly 800 episodes, Scott talks with software developers from all around the field and all corners of the earth. He's even included full transcripts for all of his episodes, to make them more accessible to non-native English speakers.
The 3 Best Podcast for Cyber Security (Because all 3 of these are gold)
And this brings us to what is, in my humble opinion, the most exciting area of tech podcasting: information security. The realm of black hats, white hats, and state-level actors – all vying to see who can hack whom, and who can best defend their systems.
Best Cyber Security Podcast #1: Cyberwire Daily
Listening to Cyberwire each day is a good way to stay on top of emerging topics, while also building up your background knowledge of security.
I am not a security specialist, but security is a big part of my day-to-day discussions. It pervades almost every decision our nonprofit makes as a team. So I consider this podcast a vital part of my continuing education.
There are more than 1,500 past episodes of Cyberwire Daily to browse. It's a living record of cyber security news dating back to 2015.
Best Cyber Security Podcast #2: Malicious Life
Malicious Life is a narrative-driven podcast by a mysterious developer with a cool accent who seems to work for a security consultancy called Cybereason.
Each episode, the podcast tells a little-known story behind interesting hacks from throughout cybersecurity history. There are more than 110 episodes so far, which is quite a back catalogue for you to absorb.
Best Cyber Security Podcast #3: Darknet Diaries
And that brings us to the final podcast in this list. This is perhaps the most popular non-news tech podcast at the moment: Darknet Diaries.
In this podcast, host Jack Rhysider focuses mostly on tech-empowered criminals. He really pulls you in with his storytelling skills and top-notch production.
Also noteworthy: Jack is quite forthcoming about his podcast metrics. If you are thinking about starting a tech podcast of your own, be sure to read his 2020 in review report.
When I discovered Darknet Diaries back in 2017, I immediately went back and binge-listened the entire catalogue during a road trip. If you end up doing the same, be sure to @ me on Twitter and tell me what your favorite episode is.
How I Listen to Podcasts
A lot of people ask me how I listen to podcasts. Well, call me old fashioned, but I just use the default podcast app on my iPhone. It's free, there are no ads, and I'm not sharing my data with a third party.
I listen to everything on double speed (sometimes triple speed when I use the Software Engineering Daily app). And I make aggressive use of the "skip 15 seconds ahead" button.
One area where Apple's podcast app falls short is its search engine. So for search, I use an awesome podcast search engine tool created by freeCodeCamp contributor Wenbin Fang called ListenNotes.com. It's lightning fast and has tons of helpful features, including a convenient HTML5-based podcast player.
I love ListenNotes so much that I would have happily linked just to ListenNotes for this article. That's how good its user experience is.
But I didn't want to deprive these awesome podcast creators of the visitors and
rel="doFollow" backlinks. These podcast creators deserve all the attention their websites can get.
One other cool fact: Wenbin is a podcast fanatic, and he has come up with some novel ways of queuing up podcasts and listening to them on the go. If you want to become a podcast superuser like him, you can try his method too.
That's all for me. I hope you learn a lot from these podcasts, and leverage these free learning resources to become a better developer. Happy coding.