Whether you’ve already stored all your favorite podcasts in your app of choice, ready for listening, or are new to the world of podcasts, there’s no denying their popularity. Podcasts are everywhere these days — they even hit the headlines in December last year when The New York Times returned a Peabody Award for the podcast Caliphate, after accusations one of the podcast’s central figures had entirely fabricated his travel to Syria, where he claimed to have joined IS, the Islamic State Group.
Whatever you’re into, from tech and video game chat to world news and politics or true crime, there are plenty of specialized interest shows to choose from, ensuring podcasts have become some of the most beloved entertainment and educations mediums worldwide.
With so many podcasts available, there’s no way that you can listen to all of them. To help you out, no matter your interests, we’ve gathered a variety of shows to turn you on to your next great listen.
Note: To listen to any of these podcasts via RSS, you’ll need to download and install an RSS reader, like the Feeder extension for Google Chrome.
Technology and video games
Daily Tech News Show
The first podcast on our list does exactly what its name promises, it gives you the daily tech news! Hosts Tom Merritt and Sarah Lane — along with a bevy of regular contributors — take a look at the day’s tech news in a manner that’s always interesting, informative, and humorous, never dry and boring. With an episode landing every day, this is a great early-morning listen to start your day, or an equally great lunchtime podcast, with episodes lasting around half an hour.
Ever wondered about the dark side of the internet? Darknet Diaries explores the world of hacking, cybercrime, and data breaches. Host Jack Rhysider covers topics ranging from the LinkedIn data breach of 2012 to what happens if you post your boarding pass on Instagram. Most episodes run around an hour in length, providing plenty of time to take a deep dive into the topic after work or while doing the household chores.
This all-female tech podcast is hosted by Mashable senior tech correspondent Christina Warren, tech feminist Brianna Wu, and family gaming and diversity writer Simone de Rochefort — all of whom share extensive knowledge of and enthusiasm for all things geek, from tech and video games to movies and comics. Weekly episodes run between 40 minutes to an hour in length, giving you the perfect excuse to get your geek on in your lunch break or on your commute. Recent episodes we’ve loved include the one about Apple’s controversial machine learning tools and the episode about the new Nintendo Switch.
Class yourself as a nerd? Then you’re going to be into this podcast, which features three nerds who get together to talk about all things Apple, programming, and anything else loosely related — and we do mean loosely. Hosts Marco Arment, Casey Liss, and John Siracusa add just enough humor to keep things from getting dry, whilst most definitely bringing a passion for all things nerdy. The episodes are pretty long at just over two hours each, making this a great podcast to settle down to on an evening in — something we all seem to be enjoying a lot of lately.
We could easily have put this podcast in the comedy section, but since it’s all about the very worst and weirdest video games, we’ve added it here instead. Fans of How Did This Get Made? will love How Did This Get Played? which takes games like The Twilight Zone Text Adventure and Deadly Premonition and dives deep into what makes them weird or terrible — or sometimes, great. Hosts Heather Anne Campbell and Nick Wiger will have you laughing out loud, and often, wanting to play the games for yourself.
This Week in Tech has been one of the premier 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. Recent episodes cover topics ranging from IBM’s PC turning 40 to the Blizzard debacle.
If you’re familiar with Gimlet Media, you know that its podcasts contain a narrative thread regardless of the topic they’re covering. Reply All, Gimlet’s tech podcast, is no different. The stories center on how the internet and technology affect people (and vice versa) while remaining insightful and interesting throughout.
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, with recent episodes covering topics ranging from surveillance in Uganda to Brazil’s data protection law.
The crew of Giant Bombcast is a collection of veteran video game journalists, and on their weekly podcast, they embark on lengthy excursions into the world of gaming, discussing games they’ve been playing, breaking down the news of the week, and responding to listener emails. The Bombcast crew has great chemistry and approaches gaming with passion and humor.
ShopTalk isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s essentially a podcast for web design, one that delves into front-end development and UX. Hosts Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert answer questions and calls, typically with a knowledgeable guest.
After years of success, the next phase for any show is to create a spinoff. Video game website Giant Bomb entered the podcast arena with The Giant Bombcast. After building up an office in New York City, the East Coast staff established its own podcast, The Giant Beastcast. Hosts Vinny Caravella, Alex Navarro, Dan Ryckert, and Abby Russell — with a little help from CNET’s Jeff Bakalar — talk about the culture and industry surrounding games, as well as offer humorous riffs on pop culture and life in general.
If you’ve already checked out our pick of podcasts to listen to during Black History Month, you’ll be aware of Resistance already. For those who aren’t, it’s all about refusing to accept things the way they are. Hosted by writer, producer, and poet Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr., the show focuses on the stories of how Black people fight back and resist, and aims to “bring those stories to the forefront.”
The recent Times scandal aside, this 10-part series is still most definitely worth your time. It follows Rukmini Callimachi, who covers terrorism for The New York Times, on her journey to understand the Islamic State group. Every story is beautifully woven, capturing how everyday people can be persuaded into this terrorist organization. Callimachi, along with the series producer Andy Mills, spends countless hours and risk their lives to uncover the truth behind IS.
Enjoyed the series? You’ll want to listen to The Times’ examination of Caliphate’s falsehoods and discrepancies — we promise it’s a fascinating listen.
Slate’s Political Gabfest is a weekly news roundup featuring discussions between hosts David Plotz, John Dickerson, and Emily Bazelon. Their political analysis is on point and their repartee adds some levity to the top stories of the week.
Left, Right & Center is a weekly podcast assembled by Los Angeles radio station KCRW. The debate forum of the podcast allows Josh Barro, Rich Lowry, and their special guests to analyze politics, policy, and culture from every angle.
As investigative reporting gradually vanishes from American print and broadcast news, podcasts and radio try to pick up the mantle. Reveal, the Center for Investigative Reporting’s radio show and dedicated podcast is one such example. The hour-long show, hosted by Al Letson, shines a spotlight on each topic it covers, remaining interesting and analytical while covering urgent and relevant topics.
News website Vox’s podcast, The Weeds, digs into the nitty-gritty of policy thoroughly enough to satiate even the biggest policy nerds. In a conversational format, Matthew Yglesias, Dara Lind, and Vox reporters and editors discuss how policy changes the public, and in turn, how the public changes policy.
This podcast features just what the name implies — news from around the globe. It consists of a pair of 30-minute news broadcasts compiled twice a day from the 24-hour news coverage offered by the BBC World Service. This is one of the best podcasts for commutes to and from work.
The award-winning show hosted by investigative journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez is unique in its independence. If you took media theory 101 (or you listen to On the Media), you know just how unique and important independent news media is — making this arguably the most essential news podcast of the bunch.
The World is Public Radio International’s daily news show. What makes it a standout is how the reports connect listeners to topics and people from around the world in surprising ways — making bus riders in Bogota, Columbia relevant to morning commuters in San Francisco, for example — while covering some of the most interesting stories of the day.
Gaslit Nation is hosted by writers Sarah Kendzior (View from Flyover Country) and Andrea Chalupa. Both specialize in authoritarian states and were on to election hacking before the 2016 election. The show delivers sharp analysis, history, context, and insight into global affairs.
The Rachel Maddow Show is one of the most popular TV shows on MSNBC. Book author and scholar Rachel has the best, up-to-the-minute political guests to help viewers navigate the current political landscape. And you don’t need a cable account — cord-cutters can watch the audio or video podcast, often on the same night as the TV broadcast. The video part includes only the first two segments, but the audio has the whole show.
If you need to stay up to date on the latest events, The New York Times’ podcast The Daily provides all the news that’s fit to listen to in a tidy format. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, host Michael Barbaro guides listeners through the biggest news stories of the day, talking to experts and other Times reporters.
The award-winning On the Media is one of the only shows dedicated to covering media news. Hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield talk about how the news is covered, regulated, and disseminated. They examine threats to free speech, the element of transparency, and hidden agendas with both intrigue and authority.
The Takeaway, hosted by Tanzina Vega and Amy Walter, offers a fresh alternative to daily news. Live reports from the field and listener call-ins round out the show and provide an extremely diverse analysis that makes for a good podcast to listen to at work.
This weekly podcast, hosted by comedian and talk show host Conan O’Brien, sees him hang out with one of his favorite celebrities each week. Topics of conversation range from the humorous to the obscure — don’t miss the episode with John Cleese, or the recent Michael Keaton episode.
In this hilarious comedy podcast, three brothers — Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy — field questions and concerns from listeners, and give some of the funniest advice you will hear in a podcast. Their thoughts on toilet comfort, Billy Joel cosplay, and gargoyles might not be the most appropriate, but they will make you laugh.
Three comedians get together, often with their comedian friends, and watch some of the worst movies ever made. It’s like Mystery Science Theater 3000 for the radio, minus the robots and the heavy focus on B movies. In fact, part of what’s so hilarious about How Did This Get Made? is that many of the crappy movies were intended to be blockbusters. Winter’s Tale, anyone?
Hosts Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi discuss the issues most important to women and gays with hilarious irreverence. Often explicit, always germane, Attitudes! rightfully calls out bigotry and sexism within a tightly rolled comedic wrapper.
The McElroy brothers (Justin, Travis, and Griffin), hosts of My Brother, My Brother & Me, have recruited their dad to chronicle their adventures through various Dungeons & Dragons campaigns in The Adventure Zone. The brothers have a great rapport and knack for improv; their shenanigans put the average D&D campaign to shame in this great fiction podcast.
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 Los Angeles garage, consists of him talking with comedic friends, writers, and celebrity guests. Don’t miss the Eddie Murphy episode.
Humorist John Hodgman’s podcast is like no other. The show sees him adjudicating trivial domestic disputes within a simulated courtroom, complete with real-life sound effects and the balmy Jesse Thorn as the bailiff.
This satirical “audio newspaper” stars comedian Andy Zaltzman as he breaks down the news from across the globe with comedians including Wyatt Cenac, Hari Kondabolu, John Oliver, Nish Kumar, Anuvab Pal, and his sister, Helen.
Hosted by man-of-many-nicknames Scott Aukerman, Comedy Bang! Bang! is the pinnacle of improv comedy podcasts. Each week, Aukerman is joined by various comedians, actors, and other celebrities, with the guests often appearing as outlandish characters (such as The Time Keeper or musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber). The show has a deep roster of returning guests and characters, and yet every episode goes in unexpected directions.
Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentarian and founder of Crime Story Media, Kary Antholis, and executive produced and edited by Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated storyteller, filmmaker, and podcaster Marc Smerling of Truth Media, Firebug is a part-true crime, part-fiction podcast that’s a thrilling listen. This is the true story of how a novel’s manuscript circulating in Hollywood helped reveal the origins of LA’s catastrophic fires in the early 1990s.
As a serial arsonist, or “firebug” terrorized Southern California’s neighborhoods for a decade, setting businesses alight in broad daylight and killing four people, a manuscript entitled “Points of Origin” started circulating in Hollywood. Telling the story of a fictional arson investigator on the trail of a serial arsonist, the manuscript quickly fell into the hands of investigators once it was realized that the fires described sounded a lot like the ones set in real life. But was the manuscript a work of fiction or the confession of a serial arsonist? With a mix of cinematic sound design and archival and new footage, Firebug takes you down the rabbit hole in six exciting episodes.
This “true crime world tour” podcast is hosted by Ashley Flowers, host of Very Presidential and Supernatural. Each episode is a look at interesting, high-profile crime cases from around the world — 15 different crimes from 15 different countries, in all — and as well as the usual twist and turns of the case, the podcast dives into the cultural details making each crime unique. From the Mexican masked wrestler who became a serial killer to the six people in Iceland who confessed to a murder that never actually happened, this podcast is a fresh take on true crime with an international twist.
One of the most popular crime podcasts worldwide, Australian True Crime dives deep into the most horrific, mysterious, and disturbing true crime cases to come out of Australia’s suburbs. Hosts Meshel Laurie and Emily Webb interview victims, perpetrators, true crime authors, and those working in crime and punishment to uncover the full story behind each case, bringing a fresh take. There are over 200 episodes to delve into, with new episodes dropping weekly.
Hosted by comedian Whitney Cummings, this eight-part series focuses on the true story of Silvio Berlusconi, one of the longest-serving prime ministers of one of the world’s wealthiest countries. This charismatic multimillionaire hid some dark secrets and was finally brought down by three powerful women. Find out how — and what the phrase “Bunga Bunga” has to do with it. (While you’re here, this is also an interesting read on the supposed origins of the phrase.)
Another Podcast of the Year nominee, Chasing Cosby tells the dark secret life of “America’s Dad,” comedian and actor Bill Cosby. Hosted by investigative journalist Nicki Weisensee Egan, each episode presents firsthand accounts from over a dozen survivors, prosecutors, and jurors, including Andrea Constand, the only one of the 60-plus accusers whose case against Cosby could be tried in a court of law. There are only eight episodes, but this is a must-listen for anybody curious about the real Bill Cosby.
Where the Bodies Are Buried
This one-of-a-kind true-crime podcast is hosted by renowned serial killer profiler Phil Chalmers, with producers Samantha Gutstadt and Adam Kaloustian. The premise is simple: Solve cold cases and bring closure to families. But it’s the behind-the-scenes interviews with incarcerated serial killers and access to information thought otherwise impossible to obtain that helps Where the Bodies are Buried stand out among other true-crime podcasts. In season one, Phil helped close the case of Elizabeth Bannister. Season 2 launches soon, but the date is yet to be confirmed.
Welcome to Your Fantasy
Whether you were around when the Chippendales hit the headlines or have heard about them since, one of the year’s most anticipated podcasts will introduce you to the darker side of the male exotic dancing sensation. The entire first season has now aired, telling the true story of greed, drugs, corruption, and murder behind the Chippendales — and examining the club’s role in the late ’70s/early ’80s rise of female sexuality, gender roles and masculinity, and the corruptible power of capitalism. Hosted by historian Natalia Petrzela, the series features over 60 interviews with investigators, former Chippendales, and more, diving deep into one of America’s greatest sordid unexamined stories behind the flashy dance moves and oiled pecs.
For a lighter take on true crime, Scam Goddess is a great listen. Every week The Scam Goddess (aka Laci Mosley) is joined by a different comedian as she fills listeners in on the latest scams and rackets — and takes a deep dive into historical hoodwinks.
The justice system doesn’t always work, and podcasts like Undisclosed are there to make sure we don’t forget. Undisclosed takes the listener through the investigation, trial, and verdict of controversial cases, such as the death of Freddie Gray, with meticulous detail that makes every episode sound ripe for a multipart TV documentary.
From producers Zac Stuart-Pontier and Marc Smerling, Crimetown is a breath of fresh air when it comes to true crime podcasts. Each season looks at the culture of crime — from poverty and race to drug wars and policing — in a different city. Season 2 is focused on Detroit, with plenty of colorful, engaging stories from local residents to engage listeners.
Hosted by lifelong true crime fans Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgraff, this lighter take on true crime sees the hosts telling each other their favorite tales of murder — and friends and fans tell true stories of crime from their hometowns, too. Recent episodes include the one about attempted kidnappings and the Guest Hosts episode hosted by Erin and Erin of This Podcast Will Kill You.
This Aussie podcast has been offering up weekly episodes since 2016. Hosted by an anonymous Australian — who has a voice that’s sure to send chills down your spine — each episode covers a true crime, from solved to cold cases. Start with the first episode or dive into episodes that catch your attention — like one of our favorites, the two-part Case 161: The Yosemite Sightseer Murders.
Retired Cold Case Investigator Paul Holes and Investigative Journalist Billy Jensen know a thing or two about missing persons cases and unsolved murders. Each episode sees them attempting to solve crimes using a range of methods, from DNA searches to old-fashioned sleuthing — and even sometimes a little help from their listeners, who send in their own hints and tips.
Small Town Dicks
Hosted by identical twin detectives Dan and Dave, alongside actress Yeardley Smith, Small Town Dicks‘ weekly episodes focus on big-time crime in small towns. It’s pretty gripping stuff, with each episode featuring a discussion with the detectives who broke the case, access to real-life 9-1-1 calls, and interviews with suspects.
Fans of Serial will enjoy this true-crime podcast, which is a pet project of professional radio producer Phoebe Judge. Criminal incorporates reimagined versions of murder ballads, investigations into historical crimes, and stories on the wrongdoings within the criminal system. Whether moving or macabre, this podcast keeps its listeners interested — and there are over 170 episodes to dig into.
Here Comes the Break
This groundbreaking new podcast is a blend of musical discovery and fictional storytelling, featuring Def Jam’s hottest new hip-hop artists. It’s essentially a show-within-a-show, touching on timely issues ranging from creator culture and mental health to representation for BIPOC communities and starring Emmy-nominated actor Asante Blackk and Nickelodeon star Daniella Perkins. Each episode is a fictional tale about a young man from Queens who hosts his own podcast — and features real interviews with emerging artists, premiering one of their songs. This is definitely a podcast to add to your list.
Part music, part true crime, Disgraceland is the number one most downloaded music podcast in the world, and it’s available to listen to exclusively on Amazon Music. Hosted by Jake Brennan, Disgraceland explores the most outrageous and felonious stories that surround infamous musicians — like Ozzy Osbourne’s near-death experience, or Snoop Dogg’s 1993 murder charges. The show has aired over 85 episodes, with popular episodes including the one about Norwegian Black Metal and the episode all about Jerry Lee Lewis.
In Rap Radar Podcast, Brian “B. Dot” Miller and former XXL editor-in-chief Elliott Wilson speak to a variety of guests in the entertainment business about nearly everything under the sun, including an interview with Hamilton’s Lin Manuel Miranda about making a mixtape, and one with A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg about recent run-ins with the law. You can listen on Jay-Z’s streaming service, Tidal, or on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.
Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton are big names in the NPR music scene. Their show introduces listeners to all genres of music, from that emerging Latin American band you’ve never heard of to the more mainstream indie fixes.
Seattle’s KEXP is constantly at the forefront of broadcasting new alternative and indie albums. The show features both prominent and emerging artists from the Pacific Northwest and around the world.
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 30-minute guest mixes from some of their favorite artists. Every so often there’s a 10-minute album teaser, too.
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 debating the musical merits of songs.
Music lives and breathes in songs. Song Exploder takes apart a single song — its structure, inspiration, and production — with the original musicians who created it. Artists include everyone from Wolf Alice and Nine Inch Nails to R.E.M and Lorde.
A panel of music critics, including The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica, discusses the latest pop news, songs, albums, and artists. It’s opinionated, sure, but the excess of music knowledge and sharp commentary make it worthwhile.
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 one song at a time, with a new episode every weekday.
Imagine your favorite band playing an unplugged concert in your living room. That’s essentially the premise behind NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. Musicians play their songs at the desk of one Bob Boilen, aka the All Songs Considered host, casting the music in a more intimate light and helping you discover new favorites.
In the podcast This Must Be The Gig, host Lior Phillips talks to artists and industry personalities about their first concerts, preshow rituals, trends in the festival scene, and much more. From the lead singer of The Talking Heads, David Byrne, to John Linnell from They Might Be Giants, you’ll get firsthand accounts from your favorite people in the music industry. It’s been a while since any new episodes aired, but you’ve got over 100 episodes to listen to.
Looking for something a little different from history 101? Hosts Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider present a different woman — or women — throughout history in each episode, giving you the facts, as well as how each woman is remembered and how their legacies live on. With episodes around an hour long, this is the perfect after-work podcast when you just want to put your feet up. There are over 200 episodes so far, covering real and fictional women from history including everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to the women of the wild west, and Wonder Woman herself.
If you’re the type of person who loves to hear the stories behind the headlines, Heard About should be on your podcast list. So far there have only been 14 episodes, each one exploring the biggest moments in communication in history and culture and featuring a discussion with the people behind them. Where else can you hear about the 1963 march on Washington from Dr. Clarence Jones, co-writer of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech? Or hear from Mike McCurry, who served as White House press secretary under U.S. President Bill Clinton during the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 1998 Lewinsky scandal?
Do you find it hard to digest American history? The Dollop has you covered. Every week, hosts and comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds tell a story from American history that you have most likely never heard of. Like, did you know in 1976 a plane with 60,000 pounds of pot crashed in Yosemite? That’s only the beginning — you’ll laugh till you cry and learn some from one of the best history podcasts.
Each story is a perfectly told and produced bite of the past. This tiny podcast crams a million visceral responses into each episode, presenting history in a way that makes you feel as if it were recounting one of your own memories — one you’d almost forgotten but now is forever ingrained in your mind.
Journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell adds “podcaster” to his résumé with Revisionist History, in which he tackles a different subject each episode, with topics ranging from Wilt Chamberlain’s free-throw shooting form to the shady economics of golf courses. No matter how inane a subject may seem at first, Gladwell manages to find a compelling story within.
If history interests you, but you find most history podcasts a bit dry, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is sure to entertain. Carlin has a flair for the dramatic, which is good because episodes tend to run hours in length. Episodes involve intensive explorations of different historical stories, with a focus on brutal events like the rise of the Mongol Empire or the Anabaptist takeover of Münster.
In This Is Actually Happening, you are given the firsthand account — with zero commentary — from someone who has experienced something life-changing, devastating, and oftentimes unbelievable. If you have ever thought failure is the only option, these brave people will show you how they persevered through a time that seems too much for anyone to handle.
Native Texan and actor Evan Stern is the creator and storyteller behind Vanishing Postcards, a documentary travelogue that only has ten episodes released so far. Set off on an audio road trip through Texas and uncover the hidden traditions, dives, and cultural histories of the region. Each 30-minute episode offers an escape from the mundane, perfect listening for your lunch break or commute — and the ideal way to travel vicariously from the comfort of home.
Rick Steves is known as “America’s leading authority on travel to Europe and beyond” — and his podcast is a revelation for those who like to dive deeper into the culture, history, and people of destinations around the world. There are over 750 episodes of this podcast to get stuck into, with a new episode dropping each week. Rick chats with guest experts and callers on all things travel with the most recent episode offering tips on being a digital nomad.
Extra Pack of Peanuts
There may not be many episodes to listen to — the schedule seems to have been quite sporadic, but we’re guessing that’s due to the pandemic — but Extra Pack of Peanuts (EPOP) looks set to be one of the best travel podcasts for anyone looking to travel more and spend less. Sounds good to us! Hosted by world traveler and serial entrepreneur Travis Sherry, EPOP episodes cover topics ranging from the friendliest countries to how anxiety impacts travel. The latest episodes include one covering van life as a female traveler and the episode on living in the moment.
Hosted by travel expert Jason Moore, Zero to Travel dives deep into discussions with those living life on the road — full-time travelers — as well as adventurous travelers seeing all the corners of the world on a budget. Each episode lasts between an hour and an hour and a half, giving you plenty of time to chill out with your favorite beverage and daydream about far-flung locales. Topics range from travel-based lifestyles and how to run an online business from anywhere to budget travel strategies. Our favorite recent episodes include the one on becoming a car camping superstar and the episode about a 900-mile bike trip with no money, clothes, or bike.
International travel may be off the cards for many of us right now, but you can feed your wanderlust vicariously through Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase. This podcast is packed with funny, crazy, and sometimes slightly horrifying tales from flight attendant Betty and her adventures on airplanes and around the world It’s definitely worth a listen for the intro theme alone — or if you’re looking for a funny travel podcast.
Science and philosophy
Bestselling author Steven Johnson takes listeners on a wild weekly ride through some of the past century’s greatest discoveries in American Innovations. From smartphones to DNA, A.I. to 3D printers, Johnson’s immersive storytelling covers these innovations and many, many more, diving deep into the lives of the engineers, scientists, and others involved. With over 100 episodes to listen to, there’s plenty to keep curious minds engaged here.
Flash Forward is a podcast all about possible — and not-so-possible — futures. Each episode, presented by science journalist Rose Eveleth, looks at potential tomorrows, asking questions such as, “How would diplomacy work if we couldn’t lie?” or “What would happen if invisibility cloaks were a real invention?” Each potential future has a dramatic segment followed by a journalistic deep-dive into the hows and whys. If you’re the type of person who loves annoying their friends with “What if?” questions, you’re going to love this podcast.
The Infinite Monkey Cage
Famous physicist Professor Brian Cox joins co-presenter Robin Ince to discuss popular science topics with an ever-changing guest list of specialists, comedians, and other such guests in a witty and characteristically irreverent way. If you’re interested in a wide range of scientific topics, or just love comedy, this science podcast is for you.
Vegan activist Bob Linden was one of the first radio broadcasters and podcasters to go mainstream in dealing with issues of animal rights, diet, the environment, world hunger, public policy, justice, peace, cookie recipes, and the path forward from vegetarian to vegan. His perspectives and weekly guests are always illuminating.
In each episode of Science Vs, host Wendy Zukerman dives into contentious topics to find out what the scientific community has to say. Topics range from serious (fracking, gun control, nuclear energy) to lighthearted (hypnosis, meditation, even ghosts), and chances are you’ll laugh while you learn. The 10th season is underway and the latest episode on the Delta Variant is a sobering yet fascinating listen.
This podcast tackles complex issues, such as deportation and the American empire, with astute analysis and meticulous breakdowns. One of the longest-running podcasts, Open Source originally aired in 2003 with current host Christopher Lydon, and it has lost none of its luster in the time since.
Each edition of Radiolab focuses on one particular idea or concept, homing in on the people, sounds, and stories that work to bring the show to life. Host Jad Abumrad and co-hosts Lulu Miller and Latif Nasser tackle scientific and philosophical topics.
Stuff You Should Know
This podcast is a fantastic way to learn how a Tsunami works, what’s the deal with North Korea, and who killed JFK. The topics are interesting, entertaining, and laid out in a manner that is easy to digest.
Hosted by Stephen Dubner, co-author of the mega-best-seller of the same name, this podcast “explores the hidden side of everything” from an economic/sociological perspective. With over 500 episodes, you’ll be an expert on weird and wonderful topics ranging from U.S. healthcare to the economics of sleep by the time you’ve finished listening to them all.
Stuff to Blow Your Mind
Ever wonder how the electric eel generates juice or what trypophobia is? Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick have answers, whether talking about mind-blowing mysteries or the newest scientific revelations, in this hour-long podcast.
Short readings that present large philosophical ideas are the general gist of this podcast. Four former philosophy students discuss the biggest philosophers and their ideas from the Western canon of the field, breaking them down in an informal roundtable discussion (read: after-lecture bar talk).
Stuff Mom Never Told You
Dissecting the biological, psychological, and sociological aspects of being women, Stuff Mom Never Told You presents a candid and fresh view on gender. Whether delving into feminist transphobia or following a professional dominatrix, this podcast is sharp and informative while remaining accessible.
In each episode, host Ira Flatow interviews the top scientists and inventors, ranging from Jane Goodall to Elon Musk. There’s hardly an aspect of science or technology that Science Friday hasn’t covered, whether it be woolly bear caterpillars, the lingering effects of sneaker innovation, or what happens to plants when jettisoned into the vastness of space.
Hosted by NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, Hidden Brain illustrates the unconscious patterns behind human behavior using psychology and neurobiology.
On his eponymous podcast, journalist Ezra Klein explores the big topics in modern culture by talking to experts, artists, and luminaries. The show journeys far and wide into different subjects: Klein might bring on Nate Silver to talk about the tricky business of election forecasting, or economist Dani Rodrik to argue the weak points of globalism. One thing that sets this show apart from other interview podcasts is that Klein is (usually) willing to challenge his guests’ views, poking and prodding to get straight answers.
This 11-part sci-fi audio drama stars Betty Gilpin as Commander Taylor Fullerton, the sole survivor of a one-way mission to colonize Mars. After a mysterious tragedy killed her crew en-route to the Red Planet three years ago, Fullerton is struggling to maintain her sanity — but as another crew lands on Mars, she must discover the truth to avoid repeating her crew’s fate. Atmospheric and haunting, this tense podcast is one you’ll want to binge through in one or two sittings.
The Final Chapters of Richard Brown Winters
The Final Chapters of Richard Brown Winters from Gimlet is a one-part audio drama designed to be listened to in a single sitting and is recommended if you like your audio drama weird and wonderful. Richard Brown Winters is a bestselling author … and recluse. Nobody’s heard from him in almost a decade, and most of his readers have given up hope of ever finding out what happened to the protagonist of his novels. When one fan joins a ragtag group to travel to Winters’ cabin in the desert, what they find threatens to destroy the Wintersverse forever …
A series of audio-fiction experiments, Imaginary Advice is one of the quirkiest podcasts you’ll listen to this year. Each episode is a stand-alone, so by listening to one you don’t need to commit to the entire show — although you’ll want to. From monologues to short stories and essays on storytelling, host Ross Sutherland presents a new piece of writing, created especially for the podcast, each month. We’d recommend starting with S.E.I.N.F.E.L.D, an episode about teaching an A.I. to do standup, or one of the episodes about prop artist Graham Owens, the “true” author of the famous manuscript used in Kubrick’s The Shining. The podcast is on a short break right now, but there are plenty of episodes to catch up on until it returns.
Internet Urban Legends
Hosted by beauty-gurus-turned-internet-sleuths Loey Lane and Eleanor Snitchery, Internet Urban Legends is a new Spotify-exclusive podcast, with just six episodes available so far. Loey grew up in a haunted house and is the resident evidence expert, presenting the facts and introducing each legend, while Snitchery, Eleanor’s digital alter ego, is the skeptic, asking questions to get to the bottom of what’s happening. New episodes drop weekly on Tuesdays, with each episode covering one big story, from the creepy tale of “The Watcher House” to the mystery of the “Blank Room Soup” video. From Creepypastas to spooky TikToks, there’s no internet urban legend too terrifying for these hosts, but be warned — this podcast may keep you up all night.
In the mood for a spooky, strange escape from real life? Unwell, a Midwestern Gothic Mystery is just the ticket. This critically acclaimed audio fiction podcast is on its third season. After her estranged mother is injured, free-spirited Lillian Harper moves back to Mt. Absalom, Ohio, to care for her — but she finds things in the town even strange than she remembers.
With over 45 episodes available to listen to, you can dive into the ghosts, conspiracies, and strange goings-on of Mt. Absalom for yourself. If you’re already a fan, season three is a chance to find out more about your favorite locations from earlier seasons, like the cavernous hole beneath the town’s observatory, or the bizarre 24-hour diner that only serves meat.
Want to pour yourself a drink and listen to spooky stories about myths, legends, and hauntings? Then Spirits is the podcast you’ve been waiting for. Every week hosts Amanda and Julia mix a drink — from tequila to locally brewed imperial stout — and discuss a story, legend, or character from a wide range of places and cultures. Their Urban Legends episodes are particularly fun, focusing on listener-submitted myths and legends from various states.
Think you can handle real-life supernatural stories told firsthand? The Spooked podcast isn’t for the faint of heart, with true tales of hauntings and other spooky goings-on that will leave you reeling in disbelief, from stories of haunted medieval jails to deadly premonitions. With season 6 dropping on September 3, there’s no time like the present to dive into this podcast. If you’re feeling brave enough to listen, all we ask is that you please don’t ever, ever, turn out the lights. It’s just too damn scary.
Wind of Change
A chance remark by a CIA greybeard led to one huge question: Was the CIA behind the writing and success of Wind of Change by German rock band The Scorpions, and was it integral to the collapse of the USSR? It’s a bizarre question, but a compelling one, and the journey of self-discovery takes you into Soviet Russia, deep into the workings of the CIA, and even into one of the largest drug rings of the 1980s. It’s a short series, but a must-listen.
Lore is a collection of real-life stories so scary, you probably wish they were fake. Each episode of the bimonthly podcast — which became a full-blown TV series in late 2017, thanks to Amazon — tackles historical events that often venture into the supernatural. With the help of host Aaron Mahnke, each segment carries a campfire-esque vibe.
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 country. It will make you laugh just as often as it will make you cry. TAL holds the torch by which others are judged.
A different breed of storytelling than This American Life and Radiolab comes from the Moth organization. Each storyteller stands under a bright spotlight, in a crowded room, sharing their true experiences with a live audience.
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. The latest season launched in February — and there are over 130 episodes in total to listen to.
This series purports to be the local radio announcements of the titular weird desert town. Welcome to Night Vale is a bit like Twin Peaks if it were a podcast — with menacing glow clouds and monstrous mayors.
This podcast is, as host and producer Glynn Washington puts it, “storytelling with a beat.” Snap Judgment is a profound, engaging, and humorous listen. It puts a new kind of spin on standard storytelling.
Polite conversation often omits some of the most important topics of our day — and that’s where Death, Sex, and Money steps in. Celebrities and everyday people use the podcast as a vessel to discuss some of the hardest choices they’ve had to make, the biggest questions they’ve had to ask, and the things that have affected their lives the most. Anna Sale hosts.
Want the latest news, transactions, and trends around the league, four days a week? Subscribe to The Ringer NBA Show and that’s exactly what you’ll get, every Monday through Wednesday, and Fridays, too. Expect news on potential offseason moves, discussions after the game, and more.
While basketball media is split between those who favor in-depth analysis and those who enjoy drama and storytelling, ESPN’s Zach Lowe walks in both worlds, and that makes his sports podcast one of the most entertaining. Lowe is capable of breaking down any play to show what players did and why they did it, but he’s also an insightful reporter, drawing on sources — including players, managers, and other journalists — to shed light on the world behind the scenes of the NBA.
If you love the nitty-gritty details of NBA cap management, Dunc’d On is for you. With a deep knowledge of the NBA’s contract system and statistical analysis, host Nate Duncan offers deep dives into games and roster moves. An excellent podcast for aspiring GMs/fantasy league players. Dunc’d On is now subscription only, so to access the daily episodes — five episodes, four days a week — you’ll need to subscribe for $12 a month. Don’t want to subscribe? You can still listen to selected episodes once a week for free on your podcast player of choice
If you were able to go inside the irrational — yet highly analytical — mind of a sports fan, it would sound like The Bill Simmons Podcast. The famous sportswriter and creator of ESPN’s docu-series 30 for 30 has taken his long-running podcast to his site, The Ringer. Thankfully, Simmons has lost none of his flair when interviewing athletes, celebrities, and sports experts.
Hosts Michael Davies and Roger Bennett wear blazers and discuss soccer. They’re passionate and knowledgeable, providing both in-depth analysis and riveting guest interviews with equal jest.
Hall of Famer Jim Ross may remain the greatest WWE announcer in wrestling, but this podcast’s celebrity roster of friends and weekly discussion of today’s stars and storylines make it the go-to for wrestling fans.
Jalen Rose is a unique voice in the sports broadcast world. He’s a former NBA player who spent plenty of time in the limelight and isn’t afraid to dish insider knowledge when it can provide better context to current stories.
Arts and culture
The new podcast by the creators of the Headspace app, HiberNation takes a deep dive into the history, economics, and psychology of sleep. This isn’t a podcast about sleep and how it relates to wellness — in fact, it’s more of a culture podcast, as acclaimed journalist Mallika Rao speaks to almost a dozen different people, each with their own story to tell about sleep. Episodes cover topics ranging from the discovery of REM to the very real experiences of sleep paralysis.
Were You Raised By Wolves?
Every week, Emmy Award-winning journalist Nick Leighton and comedian Leah Bonnema make the world a nicer, more polite place to be with Were You Raised By Wolves? Tackling issues of etiquette and social niceties, each episode asks questions like “Is it okay to be late to a surprise party?” or “Is it rude to add ice cubes to wine?” with a dose of humor, while offering tips and advice to help you smoothly navigate tricky social situations. Don’t miss the episode about vacuuming on Sundays in Germany or the one about wiping down gym equipment. This podcast will teach you things you didn’t even know you needed to know — and they recently celebrated their 100th episode.
The Joe Rogan Experience
This long-running podcast has been airing since 2009, so if you haven’t listened to it yet, there’s no time like right now. Since last year it’s been a Spotify exclusive, with over 1,600 episodes to dive into. Comedian Joe Rogan’s talk show format consists of two-to-three-hour-long episodes where he chats to a huge variety of guests, from entertainers and celebrities to scientists and athletes. Topics covered are diverse, sometimes serious, and often humorous — so if you’re looking for a longer podcast to fill your free time, this definitely ticks that box. Not sure which episode to start with? Check out the one with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
We’re going across the pond for this British Generation Z podcast, hosted by Charlotte Vosper and Elif Akkemik. If you’ve ever wanted to know what the younger generation thinks about current issues, Opinionated and Underrated is a recommended listen, with topics ranging from confidence and feminism to lockdown and mental health. Episodes are around 40 minutes long — perfect for a lunchtime listen — and presented in a passionate, exploratory style by the hosts, as they navigate their way through various societal narratives and get a little bit angry at the world. There are 23 episodes so far, and this is definitely a must-listen if you’re looking to connect with how Gen Z-ers see the world and open your mind to exploring others’ mindsets and opinions.
Counterjam explores cultural identity through two things we all love: Food and music. Hosted by food culture expert Peter J. Kim, each episode focuses on one cultural community and involves a chat with chefs, musicians, and celebrities about the way we inherit and construct our cultural identities — and how we express this through the food we eat and the music we create. Each episode features interwoven tracks from independent artists. In episode one, chef Roy Choi talks about Korean-Americans’ talent for hacking instant Ramyun while stand-up comedian Margaret Cho tells us about her multiple fridges: One for kimchi, one for K-beauty products. The most recent episode looks at one of the world’s most popular sandwiches: the BLT.
This scary movie podcast has a small yet strong cult following. Tune in to hear host Mike Muncer — and a different guest host each week — talk about horror movies old and new, from insights into Possessor and Saint Maud, to discussions on classic horror movies like The Fly and Videodrome.
This is the latest iteration of Jesse Thorn’s arts and culture program, which started a decade ago on college radio. Thorn discusses and interviews a highly curated list of top influences on pop culture — from rapper Rakim to poet and novelist Margaret Atwood.
Beloved host Terry Gross has done a few difficult interviews. However, she remains one of the most empathetic, intelligent, and well-prepared journalists in all of radio — regardless of which luminary she features on the show.
At this point, the “roundtable discussion about pop culture” format is kinda clichéd. 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.
Director Sam Jones believes the best interviews happen off-camera. His long-form podcast is lined with honest interviews from the likes of actress Sarah Paulson and musician Common, along with a myriad of other artists.
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.
The BBC is a great place to go for cultural and artistic influences. BBC Radio 3’s Arts and Ideas program is one of the best. It has interviews, talks, and debates with artists, scientists, and public figures.
An essential listen for anyone who writes and an interesting listen for anyone who doesn’t, Longform interviews a different nonfiction writer or editor once a week about their process and career. Guests run the gamut, from literary superstars like Ta-Nehisi Coates to indie darlings such as Lena Dunham, providing insight and backstory regarding their most recent and famous works. This is great if you’re looking for an educational podcast.
For the most comprehensive film reviews — and worst movie segment reenactments — you need to listen to Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larsen’s Filmspotting. The Chicagoan film professor and critic, respectively, give their incisive opinions of films old and new while laying down some of the most definitive top-five lists around.
It’s only fitting that this podcast out of L.A. should take its name from Hollywood parlance. Host Elvis Mitchell uses it to converse with some of the entertainment and art world’s most influential creators. Mitchell is a deft hand at getting even the most reticent guests to open up, and what they have to share is always interesting and insightful.
On Still Processing, New York Times writers Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham dissect the cultural issues of the day, covering a variety of topics including movies, music, and politics. It’s a podcast that can move between highbrow and pop culture.
Board games are having a moment, as more and more people experience the thrill of getting people together around a table for a night of fun (and maybe even intellectual stimulation). If you need a guide to the vast, treacherous world of board games there are none better than the folks at Shut Up & Sit Down, who review board games with a focus on the great social experiences they can create.
Wellness and mindfulness
Like your wellness podcasts with a side of science? The Happiness Lab is hosted by Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos, based on the psychology course she teaches. Each episode looks at the latest scientific research into happiness and shares some surprising and interesting stories too, that will forever change the way you look at being happy. Our favorite recent episode is the one where actor Rob Lowe chats about nostalgia. There are over 60 episodes to dive into, whether you decide to start with the most recent one or begin with episode 1.
Fans of the Headspace app for mindfulness and meditation will be delighted to hear about Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe’s podcast. Radio Headspace helps you move away from internal chatter and encourages you to pause and reflect, with a new episode each weekday morning. Daily digestible intentions set you up for a more positive, mindful day, making it easier to live a life that best reflects your limitless potential. Each episode is just five minutes long, so you can fit it into even the busiest morning — or your commute to work — with topics ranging from whether it’s ever OK to lie, to letting go of the past and living in the present.
Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin and her co-host — and younger sister — Elizabeth Craft get together every week to talk happiness, good habits, and living life to the full in this podcast that’s sure to get you through the winter blues. From insightful proverbs about parenthood to why it’s not okay to blame the internet for the state of the world, and easy hacks to stay in touch with people long-distance, this is one of our favorite wellness podcasts. Each week sees a full-length episode, with shorter “Little Happier” nuggets of just a few minutes in between offering a little pick-me-up for your week. There are over 600 episodes to listen to, or you can start with the most recent one about why it’s more helpful to ask for help than to show anger.
It’s not just kids who need a bedtime story to drift peacefully off to sleep. Fans of Calm‘s Sleep Stories will love Sleep With Me, the podcast that helps adults fall asleep with a different story each episode. The stories tend to be just over an hour long, giving you plenty of time to relax and unwind, and host Drew Ackerman will quickly become your best friend if insomnia is plaguing you. There are over 1,000 episodes to listen to, so lay back, relax, and prepare for a great night’s sleep …
With over 400 episodes, The Ultimate Health Podcast is your one-stop shop for health, lifestyle, nutrition, and wellness advice, neatly packaged into one hour-or-so-long episode every week. Host Jesse Chappus dives into conversations with health and wellness experts from around the world, covering topics from sleep and meditation to spirituality, fitness, and nutrition.
Dan Harris, the news anchor who had a panic attack on Good Morning America, and bestselling author of 10% Happier hosts this popular happiness podcast. Each episode sees Dan chat with a different guest, ranging from the Dalai Lama to scientists and celebrities. Take a deep dive into the different aspects of happiness, stopping off at topics like social anxiety, creativity, and relationships along the way — and learn how you can train yourself in mental health traits like happiness, generosity, and compassion. Our favorite episodes? How to Do Nothing, with author Jenny Odell, and You’re Doing Resolutions Wrong. Here’s How to Fix It, which looks at why so many of us can’t seem to get resolutions right — and how we can do better.
Mind Your Business
Successful online entrepreneur James Wedmore knows a thing or two about business. Thankfully, he’s happy to share his tips and insights with listeners on Mind Your Business. It takes more than hard work and hustle to be successful in business, and listening to this podcast is a great place to start. There are over 400 episodes each ranging from 30 minutes to an hour in length, including the Down to Business episodes which teach listeners skills and tips they can utilize immediately, and the Coaching over Coffee episodes, where James meets with a listener or invites a guest to discuss a specific issue — like ways to increase your cash flow or how to break away from your old identity in business.
Initially launched to cover the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, the biweekly Planet Money presents an excellent roundtable discussion that dissects the state of the global economy (with guests).
StartUp touts itself as a “podcast about what it’s really like to start a new business.” Alex Blumberg, a former This American Life producer and the Planet Money co-founder, created his own podcast company, Gimlet Media. Season 1 of StartUp is a reflexive examination of the process of starting up Gimlet Media, and the setbacks and pitfalls that plagued the company. The last season sees host Alex talk to a different guest each week, from city mayors to billion-dollar business CEOs.
Kai Ryssdal breaks down what’s going on in the world of current economics, not just relating the news but making it accessible to non-economy majors. Marketplace currently serves as one of the most digested pieces of media regarding business in the country, likely because Ryssdal regularly interviews entrepreneurs, CEOs, small business owners, and average participants in the economy.
Slate’s aptly titled podcast revolves around what Americans actually do at work, digging into the minutiae of their day-to-day lives. It explores these topics by interviewing those with interesting jobs, allowing it to explore everything from the boring parts of being a porn star to the exciting calculations of forensic anthropologists.
In this once-a-week podcast, host Guy Raz examines the stories behind some of the world’s best-known companies. From innovators to entrepreneurs to idealists, Rax takes you on a narrative journey of how their movements came to be. Some interviews include the founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, how Wikipedia became our online encyclopedia, and even ice cream kings Ben and Jerry.
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