Podcast Review: Programming Throwdown

There are several great technical podcasts out there. However, many of them are niche and specific to a single language, framework, or community. If you’re not well immersed into that community, it can be difficult to follow these types of podcasts.

If you’re interested in high-level introductions to languages or topics that you don’t know much about, I would strongly recommend the Programming Throwdown podcast.


I started listening to Programming Throwdown about a year ago, and have found it helpful for keeping up with the ever-expanding space of programming languages and tools. It’s impossible to be an expert in everything, but often just having a naive understanding of a language or framework can be extremely valuable. The iTunes description of the podcast does an apt job:

Programming Throwdown attempts to educate Computer Scientists and Software Engineers on a cavalcade of programming and tech topics. Every show will cover a new programming language, so listeners will be able to speak intelligently about any programming language.

The podcast has been running for a little over four years. New episodes are released every 1-2 months. The hosts of the show (Patrick Wheeler and Jason Gauci) are both software engineers. You can tell that they both really enjoy teaching and learning, and their conversational style makes the podcast enjoyable to listen to.

Each episode focuses on a specific language, technology, or programming topic. For example, there are episodes that focus on Java, C++, Hadoop, FPGAs, CUDA and OpenCL, and so on. It’s nice having these specific show titles, as it allows you to better select the older shows that you are most interested in.

One aspect to be aware of is the format of the podcast, which confused me at first. They don’t start to discuss the main topic until about half way through each episode. The first half of each show consists of Jason and Patrick discussing some current programming news, recommending some books, and plugging some interesting software tools. If you only care about the main episode topic, then I would recommend skipping the first half of each episode. I personally find the first half of the show enjoyable for more recent episodes, though older episodes are not as interesting, as the news they discuss is several years old by now.

Episodes that I found especially enjoyable include:

These are either topics I had no experience with but learned a lot from listening to the episodes, or topics that I have a pretty good grasp of that I thought they did a fantastic job explaining.

If you’re looking to learn about a language or concept that you don’t know much about, I would give Programming Throwdown a try.