July 2023 | 

Listen Up: Faculty Podcast Favorites

Listen Up: Faculty Podcast Favorites

Whether you’re working or working out, commuting or cooking, driving to the beach or already there, podcasts can be great company. With over five million to choose from, though, finding good ones can be daunting. To help you, Wharton professors stepped up this month with picks ranging from information and inspiration to true crime and humor — quite literally, something for everyone.

Business and Leadership

Karl Ulrich, professor of operations, information and decisions and professor of management, says the “really long-form” Acquired.fm is “fantastic, well-researched, and compelling.” The podcast shares the playbooks of some of the world’s greatest companies with actionable takeaways for business leaders. Favorite episode: The Complete History and Strategy of TSMC, about the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.

Christian Terwiesch, department chair of Operations, Information and Decisions, recommends Making Sense with Sam Harris: “Harris has an amazing way of dissecting really complicated topics. He has long, deep discussions with really smart people about topics in science, politics, and social challenges.”

Terwiesch also listens to the Energy Transition Show. Hosted by energy expert and analyst Chris Nelder, the show offers “a good sense of the opportunities for renewable energy and the kinds of innovations needed to make it happen.”

As host of Choiceology, Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions Katy Milkman shares true stories involving high-stakes moments and explores the latest research to help you make better judgments and avoid costly mistakes. Her favorite episodes include Mesmerized, about how to separate causation from correlation in the conflicting information around scientific research in the media; and Less Is More, about subtraction neglect, or our tendency to first think of ways to solve problems by adding to existing systems rather than subtracting from them.

Milkman’s second favorite podcast is Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt’s People I (Mostly) Admire. She particularly recommends the episodes Sendhil Mullainathan Thinks Messing Around Is the Best Use of Your Time  which is an interview with the professor of computation and behavioral science at the University of Chicago and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, and The Only COVID-19 Book Worth Reading with best-selling author of Moneyball and The Big Short Michael Lewis.

Marketing professor Barbara Kahn is also a podcast host, sharing duties for Marketing Matters with Americus Reed. She recommends their recent episode featuring an interview with Mark Phillips, head of beer and seltzer at Diageo, who explains the trends in their business. Kahn delves further into market trends in a blog post, saying “the whole beverage market is changing face as alcohol-laden seltzers are being introduced on the market, and alcohol-free beers and spirits are also available.”

Kahn recently started listening to the new podcast series Wiser than Me with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “a series of interviews with legendary female leaders, actresses, comedians, designers, and authors who speak from their experience and offer amazing advice and perspective. They are definitely wiser than me and I enjoy hearing what they have to say.” One of Kahn’s favorite episodes features Fran Lebowitz.

News-Based Humor

Professor of Management Matthew Bidwell suggests The Bugle, a satirical news-based podcast originally hosted by John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman. Zaltzman now shares hosting duties with guest hosts Hari Kondabolu from the U.S., Anuvab Pal from India, Alice Fraser from Australia, and Nish Kumar and Helen Zaltzman from the U.K. Bidwell describes it as “thoughtfully silly.” Because the episodes are completely news-driven, it’s best to try the latest installment.


Finance professor Michael Roberts says he became a big fan of Formula 1 racing at the start of the pandemic thanks to Drive to Survive, a Netflix docudrama self-described as relating the “battle for the heart, soul and direction of the multibillion-dollar business.” That led Roberts to the F1: Beyond the Grid podcast, which features interviews with the biggest stars of the sport, including drivers, team bosses, tech geniuses, and racing legends.

History, Government, and True Crime

Richard Shell, professor of legal studies and business ethics and professor of management, says he listens to podcasts to “expand my range of vision within areas I study. Two of the ones that have opened my eyes recently are Seeing White, a 14-part series on the legal origins of ‘whiteness’ as a race category in America. For example, descendants of Pocahontas were defined as ‘white’ in a 1924 Virginia law (thus exempting them from oppressive, racist statutes that applied to Blacks and Native Americans) because politically powerful Virginians claimed her as an ancestor.”

Michael Roberts is a fan of the SCOTUS Audio podcast, which airs raw oral argument audio from the U.S. Supreme Court. “It’s fascinating to hear the arguments shaping our nation,” he says.

Matthew Bidwell suggests The Rest Is History, in which historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook “interrogate the past and attempt to de-tangle the present.” Start with this episode on the Freemasons, “history’s greatest conspiracy theory.” Similarly, he enjoys the BBC’s In Our Time, which explores philosophy, religion, science, and culture in addition to history. Its huge archive means there’s likely an episode or two that will appeal to most listeners.

Join these Wharton Executive Education professors in the classroom:

Matthew Bidwell - Leading Today’s Talent: Management Strategies for an Evolving Workforce
Michael Roberts - Corporate Valuation, Wharton Finance for Executives
Richard Shell - Executive Negotiation Workshop: Negotiate with Confidence
Karl Ulrich and Christian Terwiesch - Mastering Innovation: Strategy, Process, and Tools