DT writers Brandon Widder, Jacob O’Gara, and AJ Dellinger contributed to this article.
There are few who would argue that podcasts aren’t awesome. You can stream or download them and listen to them at home or on your way to work. Plus, they cover just about every topic you can think of. The only thing not to love? There are so many to pick from. So let us help with the decision-making process so you can spend less time fumbling through the bad and more time listening to the good.
This podcasts features just what the name implies: World news from around the globe. It consists of two, 30-minute news broadcasts compiled twice a day from the 24-hours news coverage offered by the BBC World Service.
Dan Carlin arguably one of America’s favorite political commentators. He took to the Internet after leaving his traditional radio gig behind and created a show that’s smart, thought-provoking, and interesting.
Left, Right & Center
Left, Right & Center is a weekly 30-min podcast assembled by one of Los Angeles’ radio stations. It features Matthew Miller, Robert Scheer, and Arianna Huffington bickering over politics, policy, and culture.
Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me
This podcast features a variety of different news-oriented games so you can test you’re news knowledge against the contestants on the show. Play along and see how well you’ve been following the news this week.
The award-winning show hosted by investigative journalists Goodman and Juan Gonzalez has been making the rounds for quite some time now, but it’s still going strong and broadcast on more than 1,000 stations.
Slate Political Gabfest
You could ignore political news all week, then listen to this podcast on Friday, and be set. Following the same format as the Culture Gabfest, the three hosts bring insightful political analysis and commentary to the roundtable.
Since 2005, this has been a guide to everything from politics and foreign affairs to religion and science. Two experts come up with a list of things to talk about, then talk about them.
The Takeaway, hosted by Emmy and Peabody winner John Hockenberry, hosts conversations about the topics that matter. Live reports from the field and listener call ins round out the show.
WTF with Marc Maron
We all have “WTF” moments in our lives and Marc Maron is just pointing a few of them out. His twice-weekly podcast, usually recorded in his LA garage, consists of him talking with comedic friends, writers and celebrity guests
Web Soup and Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick geeks out with co-hosts Matt Mira and Jonah Ray, plus a bunch of notable guests including everyone from Adam Savage and William Shatner to Rob Zombie and Drew Carey.
The Smartest Man
Greg Proops may not be the smartest man in the world, but he’s entertaining. The Who’s Line is It Anyway? vet takes on an audience each week, discussing current events, celebrities, and his personal life.
Girl on Guy (Aisha Tyler)
Sometimes we feel Aisha Tyler knows more about being a guy than guys do. It’s crazy. She frequently rants about video games, drinking, sex, fast cars, fights — you know, the works. Don’t mess with her.
Comedy Bang Bang
Mr. Show may be gone, but Scott Aukerman is not. Formerly known as Comedy Death-Ray Radio, this is nearly two hours long and features a mixed bag of sketch comedy, guest interviews, and deadpan humor.
Jordan, Jesse GO!
The hosts of this show, Jesse Thorn and Jordan Morris, have known each other since college, so they have superb chemistry. Each week, a comedian joins the duo to lay down some professional hilarity and off-track tangents.
Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter tackle the most pressing .. topics of our age. Parodying those irritatingly earnest and serious discussions you had in college, this podcast is almost too dry to be funny.
You don’t have to be as obsessed with the James Bond series as these two guys named Matt (Gourley and Mira) to love their podcast. In each episode, the Matts and a guest bond over a Bond movie. Hilarity ensues.
All Songs Considered
Bob Boilen and Robert Hilton are big names in the NPR music scene. Boilen’s show introduces listeners to all genres of music, from that emerging Latin America band you’ve never heard of to the more mainstream indie fixes.
Music That Matters
Seattle’s’ KEXP is constantly at the forefront of broadcasting new alternative and indie music. The show features both prominent and emerging artists from the Pacific Northwest and around the world.
More than two years after launching, Who Charted? proves that a show about the charts can make it big. Hosts Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack play off each other, and cover everything from music to movies.
Above & Beyond
Electronic music more your thing? Then Above & Beyond is where it’s at. The London DJ trio Above & Beyond hosts the weekly two-hour show, bringing in a 30-minutes guest mixes from some of their favorite artists.
Morning Becomes Eclectic is a great way to open your ears to something new. One minute you can be listening to progressive synth-pop from Zimbabwe and the next to some jazz-fusion ensemble coming out of Soviet Russia.
Sometimes it’s not enough just to listen to music. We have to have opinions about it as well. Sound Opinions features music critics discussing music news, reviewing new releases, and debates about the musical merits of songs.
Current Song of the Day
Minnesota has one of the best music scenes around and a great public radio presence to boot. The Current’s Song of the Day offers upcoming artists from all over a platform one song at a time.
Full Frontal Radio Show
The topics tackled on Full Frontal aren’t always just music, but it’s a center point of the program. Hosted by All Time Low’s singer and guitarist, it features occasional guests and tons of pop culture.
For Your Brain
Stuff You Should Know
A fantastic way to learn why music provokes emotions, how black holes work, and what Subway is actually good for. The topics are interesting, entertaining, and laid out in a manner that is easy to digest.
TEDTalks always provides some of the most fascinating, insightful, and intriguing discussions from professionals around the globe. Each talk is condensed into a small, short audio segment.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History approaches the past with that same crazy thinking his Common Sense podcast is known for. He raises many good points and relevant what-if scenarios.
Your quick, 60-second dose of potentially useful (or useless) scientific knowledge brought to you to the good folks over at Scientific American. Be sure to check out the 60-second space and mind versions while you’re at it.
Learn to Speak Spanish
Who needs Rosetta Stone when you have David Spencer? The show’s content varies from a “word of the day” portion to an assortment of greeting and conversing scenarios.
Hosted by Stephen Dubner, co-author of the mega-bestseller of the same name, this podcast “explores the hidden side of everything” from an economical/sociological perspective.
This … Is Interesting
From what this podcast suggests, Matt Miller, also one of the hosts of the political talk show Left, Right & Center, is curious about everything, from Singapore’s healthcare system to the historical Jesus to thought-controlled computing.
Delve into the historical background of current affairs with the “American history guys,” three Virginia academic historians. Along with their research and observations, they interview experts and listeners.
This American Life
No podcast collection would be complete without This American Life. Host Ira Glass delves into first-person stories and short fiction pieces from around the world. It will make you laugh just as often as it will make you cry. TAL holds the torch by which others are judged.
Radiolab from WNYC
Each edition of RadioLab focuses on one particular idea or concept, honing in on the people, sounds and stories that work to bring the show to life. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich tackle scientific and philosophical topics.
A different breed of storytelling than This American Life andRadiolab comes from the Moth organization. Each storyteller stands under a bright spotlight, in a crowded room, sharing their true experiences with a live audience.
Think This American Life is a bit bland? Then take a walk on the wild side with Kevin Allison’s Risk! The weekly show features live writers, performers and everyday people telling stories they “never thought they’d dare to share.”
A Prairie HC
Garrison Keillor’s weekly down-home, signature monologue from A Prairie Home Companion conjures some of the best imagery and storytelling to date. Keillor’s steady voice chugs and billows relentlessly through each podcast.
This podcast is like a cross between This American Life and The Twilight Zone. The (mostly) true stories are alternately spooky, humorous, intense and fascinating, and the experimental and eerie sound design is spellbindingly fun.
Welcome to Night Vale
This series purports to be the local radio announcements of the titular weird desert town. Welcome to Night Vale is a bit like A Prairie Home Companion, except with menacing glow clouds and monstrous mayors.
This podcast is, as host and producer Glynn Washington puts it, “storytelling with a beat.” Snap Judgement is a profound, engaging, and humorous listen. It puts a new kind of spin on standard storytelling.
The Dan Patrick Show
Dan Patrick pulls a good deal of weight when it comes to sports broadcasting, so it’s not surprising that he lands some of the biggest and baddest guests in the sports realm. Listen to his show to hear big names.
ESPN Fantasy Football
This one is for all you fantasy sports lovers out there. Hosts Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz provide some of the best daily fantasy football insight, from player previews and strategy, to make sure you’re up to snuff with what’s going on.
The B.S. Report
Bill Simmons, editor-of-chief of Grantland.com, showcases a surprising amount of pop culture knowledge when it comes to his podcast. The show is entertaining, whether Simmons’ guests are sports stars or just his buds.
Online magazine Slate dishes out the Hang Up and Listen podcast weekly. They usually just discuss the big sports headlines for the week and look ahead regarding what’s coming up in the world of sports.
Hang Up and Listen
Garrison Keillor’s weekly down-home, signature monologue from A Prairie Home Companion conjures some of the best imagery and storytelling to date. Keillor’s steady voice billows through each podcast.
The ESPN off-shoot Grantland has built a steady following thanks to its great contributors. The Grantland Sports podcast is just another platform for discussion among some of the best minds in sports journalism.
The Starters covers the day-to-day happenings of the NBA and touches on everything that happens on and off the court. The crew on this show bring a wicked sense of humor to the table along with basketball knowledge.
Jay Mohr Sports
You might know Jay Mohr from his other careers. He’s been on television, in major motion pictures, and tours the country as a standup. But he has a passion for sports and spends three hours a day on air talking about it.
This Week in Tech
This Week in Tech has been one of the premiere tech podcasts for a while now. The weekly show features tech enthusiasts Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, John C. Dvorak, and others as they discuss trending tech.
NPR dabbles in almost every podcast category that comes to mind, so its technology podcast doesn’t seem so farfetched as you might think. This podcast is short, sweet, and offers very little in the way of spin.
The BBC podcast provides an alternative viewpoint from the American tech shows while examining the many facets of technology and the role each one plays in our lives. The show often focuses on the Internet and social networking.
This weekly show features video game journalist Jeff Gerstmann and the rest of the Bombcaststaff talking about what video games they are playing, the latest news and updates, and various listener emails
Amplified was named one of iTunes “Best of 2012” for a reason. Hosts Jim Dalrymple (previously of Macworld) and Dan Benjamin share their wealth of knowledge regarding all things Apple, guitars and recording equipment.
Adam Savage is best known for his work on the TV show Mythbusters but he’s built more out of his following, including the Still Untitled podcast. He and his co-hosts cover topics of interest from their perspective.
New Tech City
WYNC’s New Tech City offers insight into the world of tech by approaching it through the lens of human experience. Every topic is covered with a focus on how it effects humans and our daily lives.
The Web Ahead
This podcast, hosted by Jen Simmons, tackles the ever-changing ways of the web. Whatever issue is currently hot, from HTML5 to iOS and Android, will get discussed thoroughly each episode.
Arts & Culture
This is the latest iteration of Jesse Thorns arts & culture program, which started a decade ago on college radio. Thorn loves rap music and comedy, so the people he interviews tend to be rappers and comedians.
Slate Culture Gabfest
At this point, the “roundtable discussion about pop culture” format is kinda cliched. But Slate’s is one of the first and best. Each week, the three hosts pick three cultural topics, a mix of timely and timeless, and just gab about them.
This “tiny radio show about design” makes you appreciate the big and small decisions that shape the world we live in, from purple hotels and traffic markings to camouflage and parentheses around area codes.
Brian Heater has a quiet, open-ended conversation with a writer, cartoonist, musician, podcaster, artist, or comedian, and you’re dropped somewhere in the middle of it. Listen to learn how creators create.
Get Up On This
This is the podcast that “keeps you in check,” letting you know about culture before it blows up. Since this is a part of the podcast network owned by Kevin Smith, the show is profane and hilarious, naturally.
If anyone knows food, its Alton Brown. The TV host and foodie uses his podcast to review recent food-related news, talk with celebrities about their passion for food, and generally discuss the culinary arts.
NYT Book Review
Looking for a good book? The taste-makers at the New York Times can point you in the right direction. Authors and critics join the show to discuss literature, art, and ideas with host and editor Pamela Paul.
David Edmonds of the Uehiro Centre and Oxford University and freelance philosopher/writer Nigel Warburton use their platform to interview top philosophers on a wide range of topics.
What do you think of our best podcast list? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below.