COVID-19 | Podcast Recommendations


Instructions from public health officials during the COVID-19 outbreak are clear: wash your hands, stay at home, keep a physical distance from others (#socialdistancing). Self-isolation isn’t always an easy task, but keeping busy helps. To help those of us who are public policy and governments enthusiasts, we wanted to share some of our favourite public administration themed podcasts for you to explore during your time at home. 

All our recommendations are available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts from. Enjoy and stay safe!


Public administration

Inside Briefing with Institute for Government 

From one of the most respected and sought after think tanks, comes a frank and evidence-based look at what makes government work and how to fix it when it doesn’t. Institute Director Bronwen Maddox welcomes experts, analysis and special guests for a free-ranging conversation about public policy and government every week. 

Against the Rules with Michael Lewis 

Journalist Michael Lewis (author of Moneyball) examines fairness and how we collectively value and administer it in various facets of our lives. Central to the podcast is the idea of “refs” or enforcers, who while doing what they can to bring integrity to the forums in our lives are often met with scorn and derision. Lewis questions our idea of fairness and how we adjudicate and regulate transactions and policy-making. 

More or less: Behind the Stats

One of the greatest weapons against pandemics is statistics. In BBC Radio 4’s More or Less, undercover economist Tim Harford and his team try to make sense of the statistics which surround us. 


Politics (Canada)

The Herle Burly

Back-room strategist and pollster, David Herle, is joined on the “pod” by journalists, politicians, sports figures, musicians and opinion leaders. The Herle Burly is a commotion of insights, arguments, opinions and an impossibly loud laugh or two. Language warning. 

The Gravy Train

Most of us lived through Rob Ford’s tenure in office and likely think that we remember the details well, but the Gravy Train shines new light on the trials and tribulations of Toronto’s most notorious Mayor. The Gravy Train not only paints an intimate portrait of a troubled and tragic public figure, but also the politicians and bureaucrats that held the administration of Canada’s largest city together during one of its toughest periods. 


Politics (US)

Public Official A

Rod Blagojevich quickly climbed through the ranks of Illinois state politics, eventually securing election as Governor. His tenure, however, was riddled with accusations of bribery and corruption, but he was ultimately forced out of office when an FBI wiretap caught him trying to sell President Obama’s Senate seat after the 2008 election. What ultimately brought Blagojevich down, however, was only part of the story. WBEZ Chicago had a front row seat to Governor Blagojevich’s rise and fall and details the extent of his corruption and maladministration in this fascinating series. 

Making Obama 

Also from the team at WBEZ Chicago comes an intimate look at the life of one of the city’s most famous residents, Barack Obama. WBEZ focuses on Obama’s early foray into political life after arriving as a community organizer and details his early challenges establishing himself in the city’s rough-and-tumble brand of politics. Making Obama reveals a side of the former President few have seen: vulnerable, ambitious and politically ruthless. 



The Impact from Vox

The Impact is a weekly narrative podcast about the consequences that laws, regulation and public policy have on real people. Often taking a comparative look and public policy, the team at The Impact search for good and useful public policy solutions to pressing challenges, diagnosing what works well and what doesn’t, while diving deep into the genesis of persistent policy challenges. 

Cautionary Tales

Tim Harford examines stories of awful human error, tragedies and hilarious fiascos in Cautionary Tales, a podcast about failure. Learning the lessons from those who have experienced them first hand is a core part of the human experience and few detail these stories better than Harford. 


Honourable mentions

Economics and statistics

The Indicator

Planet Money



Political Thinking with Nick Robinson (UK)

CBC News At Issue (Canada)

What podcasts are you listening to? Let us know on Twitter (@IPAC_IAPC) and we’ll add our favourites to the list. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s