The Best Urbanism Podcasts and Podcast Episodes

Updated: September 2019


Love Podcasts & Cities? This post is for you.


Podcast is the new king. Most of the journalism I consume is delivered to me by podcasts: This Week in Tech for technology, Planet Money for economics, Reply All and The Memory Palace for beautiful stories, and No Such a Thing as a Fish and How to Do Everything for facts I didn’t even know I needed. I follow over 30 podcasts, and the more successful podcasting gets, the more of them I discover.


In 2015, I started publishing a list of urban planning and cities podcasts. Back then, the list was short, because there weren’t too many podcasts on with the topic. Fortunately, in the past years, more and more podcasts dealing with urbanism. Here’s the list:

99% INVISIBLE

Brilliant, well-produced show about the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. Out of the many episodes dealing with cities, here are some of my favorites:

  1. The White Elephant of Tel Aviv –  a building in Tel Aviv designed to be the largest bus station in the world. It didn’t go as expected.

  2. The Finnish Experiment – Everybody talks about universal basic income: the idea in which all citizens of a country, regardless of their employment status, receive a regular, unconditional sum of money. One country is actually trying the concept. This episode is not about cities per se, but we must think how we will shape our cities in a time where most citizens don’t hold a regular job.

FREAKONOMICS


Not all Freakonomics’ podcast episodes are urban related, so if you don’t want to follow this anyhow-great-podcast, here are some episodes you should check:

  1. Could the Next Brooklyn Be … Las Vegas?! – Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, thinks that Las Vegas downtown might need a makeover. The episode features interviews with him and Ed Glaeser, Harvard economist and a regular in the podcast.

  2. The Man Who Would Be Everything – An interview with Boris Johnson, London’s mayor and a man with a colorful personality in general.

  3. If Mayors Ruled the World – an episode dedicated to Benjamin Barber’s book carrying the same name. Barber argues that comparing to nation-states, cities are actually well governed and offers the establishment of a global “Parliament of Mayors”, thereby replacing the nation state.

  4. Why Bad Environmentalism Is Such an Easy Sell – Ed Glaeser warns that marketeers might sell solutions that aren’t as green as they seem.

  5. Why Cities Rock – Again, Ed Glaeser about his book: Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.

  6. Regulate This! – the sharing economy and services like Airbnb and Uber are re-shaping our cities, and this episode looks at the unpreventable regulators and entrepreneurs.

  7. Confessions of a Pothole Politician – An Interview with Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles. He discusses investment in infrastructure and public transit, how to deal with crime, and why LA wants to bring the Olympics back to the city in 2024. An optimistic interview with an unusual politician.

HALF HOUR INTERN

Half Hour Intern is a podcast that explores the fascinating paths people take in life. Every episode, the host Blake Fletcher interviews people with different jobs and hobbies. He asks basic questions that many fail to ask: “How did they get started? Why did they get started? Did they get paid for this?!”.

  1. Urban Planner – recently it was my turn to be interviewed on the Half Hour Intern podcast. We talked about urban planning, sidewalk design, cycling, and people-oriented urbanism. We also discussed the occupation possibilities of an urban planner: should one work for a local government or as a freelancer? All in all, enough reasons to listen to the podcast.