Stream these: 9 city-focused podcasts for 2024 March 6, 2024

Stream these: 9 city-focused podcasts for 2024

March 6, 2024

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Some of our latest recommendations are brand-new series, while others are longtime favorites. They all uplift city progress and point to how local leaders can make it happen.

As local leaders seek fresh ways to deliver deeper impact for residents, many are finding inspiration in podcasts that explore the urban experience and how cities can drive global changes. And, because there are so many options—there are an estimated 5 million podcasts out there today—we are once again spotlighting some of the best for city leaders. 

Some of our 2024 recommendations are brand-new series, while others are longtime favorites. They all uplift city progress and point to how local leaders can make it happen.

Evidence in Action

Who’s behind it: Urban Institute 

Where to find it: Apple, Spotify, Amazon

Hosted by the Urban Institute’s President Sarah Rosen Wartell and Senior Vice President and Bloomberg Center for Cities Senior Fellow Kimberlyn Leary, this new series is a substantive exploration of how to ground public policy in evidence, data, and equity. In the podcast’s second episode, Wartell and Leary engage in an inspiring conversation about the ways local solutions can tackle national problems with Stephen K. Benjamin, the former three-term mayor of Columbia, S.C., who is now serving as senior advisor to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Urban Planning Is Not Boring

Who’s behind it: Two recent graduates of the University of Southern California

Where to find it: Apple, Spotify

With a commitment to engage young people who are gaining a foothold in the world of city policy and government, this podcast manages to inform and enrich while still keeping conversations breezy and free of jargon. One recent episode probes a concept familiar to many local transit experts—VMT, or vehicle miles traveled—and how it serves as useful context when working to improve walkability and accessibility. Another episode looks at the concept of “third places,” or the physical spaces that represent neither work nor home, and offer the prospect of social cohesion in a time of polarization.

The GovFuture Podcast

Who’s behind it: GovFuture

Where to find it: Apple, Google, Amazon

GovFuture is an insight-driven look at the intersection of technology and the public sector, both nationally and in cities. A December episode, for example, features Berke Attila, director of general services in Baltimore, in a conversation about how cities are racing to modernize their IT departments. Attila reflects on a wealth of experience in local government, describing how agencies like his have a hand in virtually every facet of city life.

Talking Headways: A Streetsblog Podcast

Who’s behind it: Streetsblog and The Overhead Wire

Where to find it: Apple, Spotify, Deezer

As the flagship podcast from a publication devoted to city streets, Talking Headways digs into transit options in cities across the United States and how they can be improved for residents. A key theme is the cost imposed when cities are dominated solely by cars—and the need for better mass transit infrastructure. One recent episode features Elaine Clegg, CEO of Valley Regional Transit and a former city council member in Boise, Idaho, who describes the state of the transit system in a part of the country where rapid growth and changes in the housing market have lent these issues new urgency. Another offering zooms in on the San Francisco Ferry Building, its legacy as a local transit hub, and how the city has changed over the decades.

The Big Dig

Who’s behind it: GBH News

Where to find it: Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon

The Big Dig was a name used for a Boston highway project that was lampooned for its delays and cost overruns. But this mini-series argues that the initiative has actually delivered results for residents—and that much of the criticism was overblown. In that sense, even though the Big Dig was a federal and state partnership, the series can help local leaders think about how to carry on with important work even when it faces harsh scrutiny, and emphasizes the power of collaboration to get big things done. 

Architecture Is Political

Who’s behind it: Melissa R. Daniel, architect

Where to find it: Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon

A sharp look at real estate, housing, architecture, and urban design with an emphasis on the experiences of people of color, this podcast manages to be broadly accessible even as it offers a strong point of view and provides a personal touch. One recent episode takes a look at an effort to better connect local residents with the design professionals shaping their communities. A previous episode wades deeply into Social Equity Assessment Method (SEAM) certification, an emerging metric intended to gauge equity in commercial real estate that speaks to this moment in public planning.

Reimagining Government

Who’s behind it: Centre for Public Impact

Where to find it: Apple, Spotify

Reimaging Government is about the big ideas that make change in cities possible, using an international outlook to showcase how cities can be central players in taking on global challenges. One recent episode discusses the emerging movement toward pedestrian-focused city planning. Another uplifts the need for long-term thinking in government, and offers models for how to get it done.

Next City Podcast

Who’s behind it: Next City

Where to find it: Apple, Spotify, Goodpods

A character-driven look at the people, institutions, and movements geared at improving cities everywhere, Next City represents a different flavor of podcast for the city lovers who want to know when change comes from the ground-up, rather than the top down. There’s a particular emphasis here on cities as platforms for justice. In a recent episode, host Lucas Grindley spotlights a remarkable local response to housing inequity in Richmond, Va.: a combined community land trust and land bank, which is already showing impact for people of color.


Who’s behind it: Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL)

Where to find it: Apple, Spotify, Google

A longtime favorite that is laser-focused on “the people, policies, and profession of local government,” GovLove amplifies the essential contributions from the people who make local government work—from “city managers to interns to everyone in between.” One recent episode complements the work done by the Bloomberg Philanthropies-backed Local Infrastructure Hub with a conversation including Sabine Rogers, federal policy project manager for the U.S. Green Building Council, who offers guidance on securing Inflation Reduction Act funding. Another tackles bike safety with Lara Biggs, capital planning bureau chief and city engineer for Evanston, Ill.