Podcasts are more popular than ever, with five million of them reaching more than 460 million listeners around the world. There’s now a “pod” for nearly everybody and every interest—including for those who love and lead cities.
But with so many options, it can sometimes be tricky to find the right fit. That’s where we come in. This is Bloomberg Cities’ annual list of the podcasts that are currently catching our attention. These are shows that, like Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Follow the Data Podcast, spotlight city progress and feature the ways that creative, collaborative, citizen-focused, and data-driven leadership is fueling these efforts.
CitiesSpeak with Clarence Anthony
Who’s behind it: National League of Cities
What are the most critical issues facing local officials today—and how are America’s leaders successfully taking them on? These questions are the focus of this podcast hosted by Clarence Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities and a former mayor of South Bay, Fla. Recent episodes featured conversations with Tacoma, Wash., Mayor Victoria Woodards (on resident engagement and partnership), with Tempe, Ariz., Mayor Corey Woods (on affordable housing), and with Mesa, Ariz., Mayor John Giles (on leadership in a polarized world).
City Climate Corner
Who's behind it: St. Louis Park, Minn., Councilman Larry Kraft
Co-hosted by climate consultant Abby Finis and Kraft, who is also a Minnesota State Representative, City Climate Corner explores the ways “small and mid-sized cities are tackling climate change and moving toward an equitable and sustainable future.” Focuses include city initiatives—such as Rotterdam’s work to be climate proof by 2030 and a water-renewal effort in Boise, Idaho, that includes a major focus on recycling wastewater. Another recent episode was dedicated to the federal Inflation Reduction Act and the unprecedented opportunity the new law presents city leaders.
Who’s behind it: Bloomberg Center for Government Excellence (GovEx)
Where to find it: Apple
Calling all data nerds: This is the podcast for you—and for all people who want to more expertly integrate data-driven methods into their everyday work. The Bloomberg Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) at Johns Hopkins University coaches local leaders and their teams in hundreds of cities around the world, including the 22 that are currently part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ City Data Alliance. Its Data Points podcast, which is hosted by various members of GovEx teams, digs into the fundamentals of data management and use, strategies for building buy-in within organizations, and the crucial role communities can play in this work. Recent episodes uplift insights coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic including ways data can bolster food-system resilience and wellbeing in the workplace.
How to Really Run a City
Who’s behind it: The Philadelphia Citizen
This new podcast hosted by former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed zeroes in “on the mystery and the mastery of urban leadership” and why it’s needed now more than ever. Produced by the nonprofit news organization The Philadelphia Citizen, How to Really Run a City features conversations with first-hand experience doing just that, including former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in the premiere episode and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt in more recent podcasts.
Who’s behind it: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
As the world works toward the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015, this podcast from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) explores how innovation and experimentation can drive progress toward these goals. And, because cities and city leaders play a big part in meeting these objectives, Innovation Matters addresses issues of particular relevance to this audience. Recent episodes include “Cities as Test-Beds of Innovation for Sustainability,” “The Circular Economy Explained,” and “Regional and Local Innovation Hubs to Accelerate Sustainability Shifts.”
Nudges for Social Good
Who’s behind it: Local Government Association
The Local Government Association is a membership body for local authorities throughout the United Kingdom, and its Nudges for Social Good podcast spotlights how local councils are using behavioral insights to improve government and the services they offer residents. Recent episodes feature how the London Borough of Merton reduced vehicle idle times to improve air quality and how the London Borough of Newham is helping residents tackle their debt.
Our Mayors Breaking it Down
Who’s behind it: African American Mayors Association
In this new podcast from the African American Mayors Association, AAMA CEO Phyllis Dickerson shares evidenced-based insights around the organization’s mission to “empower local leaders for the benefit of their citizens.” The first episode of Our Mayors Breaking it Down, which launched just last month, featured a conversation between New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Savannah, Ga., Mayor Van Johnson about public safety and gun violence prevention. The most recent episode introduces listeners to Earle, Ark., Mayor Jaylen Smith who, at 18, is one of the youngest mayors ever elected in the country.
Who’s behind it: Centre for Public Impact and Apolitical
Where to find it: Apolitical
As the challenges facing local governments continue to mount and morph, this six-part series from the Centre for Public Impact and Apolitical engages listeners reimagining the ways government can meet the moment. In episode one, host and CPI Executive Director Adrian Brown lays out CPI’s vision for better government before introducing half a dozen guests (including Chillicothe, Ohio, Mayor Luke Feeney) whose careers are focused on improving public services. Subsequent episodes spotlight new approaches in climate action and health and social services, the legitimacy crisis, and a consideration of new roles for national governments.
Who’s behind it: Monocle
Monocle casts a wide net with this twice-weekly “guide to making better cities” and that includes reports about—and of particular interest to—city leaders and their teams. In January, for example, the magazine’s Washington, D.C., correspondent reported from the U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering. A few months before that, the team covered the Bloomberg CityLab summit in Amsterdam. A more recent episode shines the spotlight on Sweden, a country that, as host Andrew Tuck explains, “dares to take urban experimentation to the next level and doesn’t mind taking a risk or two.”
The Data-Smart City Pod
Who’s behind it: Data-Smart City Solutions at the Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University
This podcast is designed to be a “central resource for cities and individuals interested in the intersection of government and innovations, the adoption of data projects on the local government level, and how to become data-smart.” It is hosted by a foremost expert on these converging topics, Stephen Goldsmith, who is director of Data-Smart City Solutions at the Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University, professor of urban policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and a former mayor of Indianapolis. Recent episodes featured conversations on community engagement with Dr. Hollie Russon Gilman, on the new Senseable City Lab at MIT with Professor Carlo Ratti, and on behavioral science with Professor Elizabeth Linos.