My Essential Podcast List

Ever since I read the book Essentialism, I have been engaged in “the disciplined pursuit of less”. As the book’s author, Greg McKeown, explains in this interview with Michael Hyatt and Michele Cushatt, the main point of the book is not simply saying “no” to things. It is, rather, saying “yes” to only the right things. Take podcasts, for instance…

I Need My 20 Hours Back!

I decided it was time to “essentialize” my podcast list. To pare down the list of podcasts to only the right podcasts for me, in this particular season of life and business. It turns out that list is shockingly smaller than I thought.

This was harder than I thought it would be, but once I analyzed my listening history, it was obvious it had to be done. I have, up until now, been listening to upwards of 20 hours worth of podcasts per week! Now, before you ask how I possibly could find the time to do that, you must understand that I listen to every podcast at 2X speed. This turns my 20 hours of podcasts into 10 hours per week.

Even so, I found myself half listening to many of them while doing something else: running errands (which I am giving up, thanks to this book… but that will be a different blog post), washing dishes, exercising, etc. I also noticed I was taking a somewhat frenetic, “must listen to everything” approach. That’s definitely not the Essentialist Way.

The time had come to cull the list, and listen to only the podcasts that are essential for me.

How I Trimmed My Podcast List

I started by evaluating which podcasts I felt were absolute “must-listens” for me (your list will undoubtedly be different), and how much time I actually want to devote to podcast listening. The unique challenge is face is that I am friends with a great many podcasters, and I’m very ware that they might be hurt to learn I no longer listen to every episode they publish. This is the “disciplined” part of pursuing and Essentialist Lifestyle.

I came up with the following solution: I have set aside 6 real-time hours for podcast listening each week. If I continue to listen to these shows at accelerated speeds, which I plan to do, that means I can expect to consume 12 hours or more of content per week.

Of that 6 hours of actual listening time, I am only filling 5 hours with “essential” shows that I will not miss (that’s 10 hours of actual content, because I’m listening at double-speed). What about the extra 2 real-time hours? I’m leaving that open so that I can swap other shows in and out on an as-needed or as-wanted basis. For instance, there may be an interview or special content on a show that I want to hear, so that week I will cycle that show into my listening time. I do not plan to fill this “extra” time every week – only when it is “essential”.

You’ve probably realized by now that all this means I have cut my listening by half. Which shows did I keep, deeming them essential? Here's my list (your mileage may vary!):

Ray’s Essential Podcast Subscription List

That’s 676 minutes of content, or 11.27 hours.

I listen at 2X speed, so that is about 5.5 hours of actual listening time. When you take into account that some of these shows don’t publish every week, I have about 5 hours of podcast listening each week.

It doesn’t always work out this neatly, of course. Sometimes shows run long, or short… and I also do occasionally skip an episode in some cases (if the content is not particularly appealing to me that week, for instance).

What of the other podcasts – the ones that I enjoy and recommend wholeheartedly, but which did not make my “essential” list? As I mentioned earlier, I cycle these in and out of my playlist when possible or appropriate. They are every bit as good as those above, but I can't listen to everything every week… and neither can you.

Ray’s Recommended Podcast List

There are a couple of well-known podcasts that I occasionally listen to, but because of their insistence on using profanity as a regular part of their show, I cannot recommend them to my readers. If you use profanity in your public communications, you probably should stop doing that, if only for business reasons. For more on the “reasons why” using profanity in your podcast is a bad business idea, I recommend you listen to “The Danger In Dirty Words”, by my friends Stu McLaren and Michael Hyatt. You might also read “5 Reasons Why Cussing Is Costing You Cash”, by yours truly.

Okay, I've shared my essential podcasts with you. Your turn. What podcasts are on your “essential” list? Post them below in the comments, please!

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at

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  • Great list, Ray. Thank you.

    You mentioned 2x speed. How do you do that? I looked on iTunes settings and if it’s there, I missed it. That would be a great help.

  • Great list, Ray! Now I know why I like you so much!

    I have cut my list way back because my commute is currently only about 10 minutes, but I always listen to Joseph Prince (usually several times), Entrepreneur on Fire, Michael Stelzner and most of the TED radio podcasts.

    The one I would add is that I always save the Car Talk podcasts for trips with my wife and kids as we all enjoy listening to those even though they have not produced any new shows for a few years. I also have been going through the Frank Viola podcast archives – I think I first found him from one of your posts or tweets.

    I need to go through a few of the ones you mention above and try your 2x trick to get through a few more each week. I know I tried it with the Joseph Prince podcast and it was too fast for me to keep up, but maybe it will work with some of the other. I would love to get through twice as many each week. I have read Michael Hyatt and Jeff Goins blogs but never listened to their podcasts, so I am adding those to my list now (I know they both live near me in Franklin TN).

  • Thanks for the list!

    It’s funny that you just posted this. Today, I posted a list of podcasts too!

    I compiled the results from my 2015 Leadership Survey and listed 21 podcasts that my audience (ministry & business leaders) listen to. You’ll be happy to know that “The Ray Edwards Show” is one of them! Congrats!

    I hope my show, “The Leading With Excellence Podcast” will make your next list. Thanks for all you do Ray!

  • A lot of my favs are on your list. Even at 2x speed, there’s just not enough time to consume the ideas from so many brilliant people.

    Audible has 3x speed. 🙂
    Stitcher? iTunes? Any chance for adding 3x playback?

  • Thank you Ray, you just added some new podcasts to my list. Out of the need for essentiality, I’ve cut down on some podcasts, I like you listen to them occasionally. But I’m always on the look out to add new ones. Thank you once again!


  • ” If you use profanity in your public communications, I reocmmend you listen to “The Danger In Dirty Words”, by my friends Stu McLaren and Michael Hyatt.” I read that 3 times before I realized you were NOT saying that Stu McLaren has a podcast with lots of swearing in it for your swearing-friendly readers. (oops. I read too fast.)
    I also love Bethel’s sermon of the week, and lately I love Gateway Church weekly sermons. I also enjoy Chalene Johnson’s Build Your Tribe, The Kingdom Driven Entrepreneur (that’s where I realized you were a faith man) and some podcasts directed at athletes & baseball coaches (Top Coach Podcast & Brian Cain’s Peak Performance podcast) And surprisingly, I always enjoy Mike Dillard’s Self Made Man podcast despite disagreeing with the concept of being self-made!

  • Love your list…and listen to many on there. Actually, I found you through Pat Flynn and am so glad. Thanks for all you do for us, as speakers and podcasters! Besides the ones you’ve listed, as a Christian mom of five I love to listen to The God Centered Mom podcast, Inspired to Action, and The Jamie Ivey Show…all so great!!
    Blessings to you Ray 🙂

  • A marketing podcast list without Mitch Joel??
    clearly an unintended oversight of massive proportions.

  • Thanks for this post and the list Ray! You’ve convinced me that I also need to pare my Podcasts. I was so overwhelmed by my list that I often avoided listening to anything instead of having to choose!

  • You’ve still given us a stellar collection of Christian and marketing podcasts.
    The ones I’d add for myself are mostly because of my field: author marketing, podcasting, and science.
    I love Dave Jackson’s School of Podcasting. He’s funny and I’ve found him super honest and understanding of the little guys in a way that encourages me. I get a smile on my face every time I see his show light up.
    Frances Cabillo’s Social Media for Authors is nice and short and helps me find useful people and ideas quickly.
    D’vorah Lansky just got into podcasting, so she feels like an “everywoman” to me, but has introduced me to some helpful people and new insights into using podcasting and social media as an author.
    The Feed by Libsyn has been surprisingly fun to listen to as both hosts feel like friends and it’s great to get the inside scoop on podcasting first (plus, if you email a comment or question, they’ll air it with your name. Awesome!)
    You probably saw when Copy Blogger made their folks all start podcasting. I still enjoy The Lede when the headline interests me, appreciate the British hostess’s humor on Hit Publish, and find Editor in Chief good when the topic suits.
    Just ran into a show (on Stelzner’s show) for speakers and had my library order his book by the same name. Steal the Show with Michael Port is short, but super encouraging and practical as I stretch my brain to accept and appreciate my chance to speak in public.
    Then there are several more Christian speakers: Ravi Zacharias, Francis Chan, William Lane Craig, plus sometimes History of the Christian Church and The Shaun Tabatt Show to be introduced to past and present Christian thinkers and writers.
    I keep up with the handful of other podcasters in my own niche, some science for kids shows, Good Job Brain, and for just plain fun mostly turn to NPR for clean humor. My kids are also enjoying the zaniness of another podcasters’ podcaster: Daniel J. Lewis’ Ramen Noodle.
    I don’t listen at 2x speed, but usually only listen during chores and when turning off all screens to help with my chronic insomnia (you were the first to warn me about that, thanks!).
    God bless as you make room for the things that really matter. I’m sure your wife is thrilled. 😀

  • Please check out my biweekly podcast called “Setting the Record Straight: God’s truth for this generation”. The recent shows are around a half hour. Hope you will be blessed.

  • Thanks so much for mentioning Read to Lead. I really appreciate the support very much.