Seven superb Silicon Valley podcasts NOT about tech | Palo Alto Online |
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Seven superb Silicon Valley podcasts NOT about tech

Seven superb Silicon Valley podcasts NOT about tech

From Stanford to NASA, the Peninsula has a lot to talk about

This New Year's, resolve to choose local and learn something new by changing up your podcast game.

We've done the long-range listening for you, cutting out well-worn topics (read: tech), and narrowed it down to a curated list of our seven favorite Peninsula podcasts. Just listen in for 10 (or 30, or 60) minutes a day to get a new take on everything from outer space to stirring stories about the human race.

State of the Human

Brought to you by the Stanford Storytelling Project, State of the Human aims to "deepen our understanding of single, common human experiences—fighting, giving, lying, resilience—by drawing on the experiences and research of the Stanford community."

They might be common human experiences, but the circumstances couldn't be more diverse. There's first-hand accounts from the likes of an Iranian poet living in California, a man traveling Europe with an imaginary girlfriend, a journalist teaching writing in a Buduburam refugee camp... and plenty of people in between.

The goal is lofty and the themes are often esoteric, but the product is simple. They're true stories, well-told, and worth listening too.

New episodes are released at the end of each academic term, but there's no need to listen in order. Running time varies from 35 to 60 minutes.

NASA in Silicon Valley

One small step for man, one giant leap for your space knowledge.

With this weekly 30-minute show from the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, you'll hear takes from some of the smartest people around—researchers, engineers, and (literal) rocket scientists—on the latest in star-reaching innovation.

Not an astronomy expert? Don't worry, host Matthew Buffington asks the questions you'd want to know, keeping interviews very down-to-earth.

Communication Snacks

Don't let its homemade vibe deter you—Communication Snacks's tips are worthy even of the most polished professionals. Hosts Marc and Blythe Musteric offer advice from their 20,000 hours of coaching Silicon Valley clients through the communication consulting company Ovient.

Learn how to improve your executive presence, nix mumbling, write better emails—even sit prettier in meetings. Whether you're in tech or teaching, this podcast will help you reach success.

New episodes are released weekly and run approximately 10 minutes

The Intersection

For a series that's literally about street corners, The Intersection is amazingly deep. Host David Boyer—whose work has appeared in the New York Times and Salon—examines change in the Bay Area through compelling narrative and highly-stylized production.

Season One focused on the intersection of San Francisco's Golden Gate and Leavenworth (yes, there are that many stories in one four-lane space). Season Two, already well underway, explores the intersection of North Shoreline and Space Park Way in 'Googleville,' tackling the issues brought on by tech-fueled gentrification, along with the wrecked cultural and artistic institutions that lie in its wake.

Episodes are released on a periodic basis (a testament to the value Boyer places on each one); average running time is 25 minutes.

Tough Things First

Think of this podcast as a weekly pep talk from the managerial godfather.

Ray Zinn, Silicon Valley's longest-serving CEO, dishes out five-minute doses of wisdom from his career with Micrel, a chip company that profitably navigated eight major downturns in global markets. Though his life is the stuff of tech legend, his advice is applicable to anyone with an ounce of ambition. Discipline, focus and leadership are frequent topics.

New episodes are released weekly.

Stanford Generation Anthropocene

Though it's a self-touted science podcast, the Stanford Generation Anthropocene is really just storytelling at its best: deep, probing and curiosity-fueled.

Each episode grapples with a question about humanity's role in planetary change. How is the ocean's soundscape changing? What does our garbage say about our identity? If one were to calculate Spiderman's carbon footprint, how big of a role would his web materials play?

The Anthropocene's Stanford-based team likes to think of it as "a science fiction thought experiment," in which they, "Imagine future geologists looking back into the rock record, and trying to pinpoint when humans became the dominant geologic force."

New episodes are released bi-weekly and run between 10 and 40 minutes.

Something Ventured

Okay, okay, this podcast can be pretty tech-centric. Its host, Kent Lindstrom, is the COO of Nuzzle, and frequent guests include venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and engineers.

But even with techy guests, Lindstrom offers plenty of topics to get you thinking outside the box: Jackie Robinson's impact, local elections and women's issues have all starred in past episodes.

Most shows are 30 minutes in length and air on Tuesdays at noon. Though the latest episode was released in July, Lindstrom has assured us there's more in the works.

You can find these shows in the usual places: iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

The Six Fifty is a new local blog covering food, arts and ideas on the Peninsula.