I’m just gonna come right out and say it. I am a podcast fanatic. My friends often ask me: “How do you listen to so many podcasts?” Let me tell you. I listen to them in the shower, whenever I drive, whenever I walk, pretty much whenever I do anything that doesn’t require me to read, write, or speak. If I could, I’d be listening to one right now. But I can’t do it all.
Although I love my podcasts I am very particular about the kind of podcasts that I listen to. I will not, do not, can not listen to those podcasts that I like to call “Two Dudes Talking.” Don’t get me wrong, I understand that many people adore these kinds of podcasts, and that they probably take up about 90% of the over 750,000 active podcasts on iTunes (I honestly think they are to blame for why podcasts get such bad wrap, but that's besides the point). These usually feature at least two people shooting the sh*t, they have inside jokes, usually a nickname for their listeners, and spend a lot of air time on tangents. It’s not my cup of tea, ok?
These friends of mine, who are shocked at my amazing ability to soak up the sort of silly podcast facts that allow you to know the minimum amount of information about everything, and who are also quite curious, also ask me for my podcast recommendations. So here it is. My top 10.
**EDIT: I tried doing the whole “top 10” thing and gave up. It's just too hard. This list is LONG, so we broke it up into 2 parts...**
The Bible of Podcasts, a Holy Trinity if you will
My top three of all time. Hands down. The people who make these know what they’re doing and serve up the best stuff around.
This American Life — These guys are the best in the business because they basically invented the business. You’d think they’d be pretty out of touch at this point, but they just keep getting better and better. If you don't know, this podcast covers all topics in all forms. Must listen episode: No Coincidence, No Story!
RadioLab — Specializing in immersive storytelling, their sound effects will pull you in and give you lots to talk about at your next dinner party. Must listen episode: Smile My Ass
Invisibilia — More storytelling, but with a heavier focus on how we experience things as humans. If need to get in touch with your emotions and basically have all the feels look no further. Must listen episode: Emotions
Great for: If you’re just getting into this whole podcast thing, give these a shot. They will not disappoint.
Over the past few years, podcasts have become a popular form of media. Everyone remembers way back in the golden age of 2014 (I was in 9th grade lol) when our queen Sarah Koenig dropped Serial and everyone went nuts. Since then, few have gotten close to the level of popularity that Serial had in its hay day. These three are some of the most bingeable listens.
Serial – Season 1 is a must. True crime mystery, twists and turns. It’s awesome. Everyone knows that Season two was less than good, so skip to Season 3 to get the inside scoop on the American legal system. Listen from start to finish.
STown — Amazing storytelling brought to you by the people who made Serial. It’s a work of art. Listen from start to finish.
The Shadows — This fiction podcast is for those who need a good (quirky) love story. Listen from start to finish.
Great for: Long car rides with a not so talkative crowd.
Get that GLOW
It’s hard to describe the feeling that I get when I listen to these podcasts. But I guess the best way to describe it would be glowing. If you need some of that warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach that spreads from your toes to your ears, these are for you.
Heavy Weight — Ugh. No words. Jonathan Goldstein is the LOML (besides Ira Glass obv). This podcast is so layered and just so SO dang good that the last time I tried to describe it I started crying. If that’s not enough to sell you on it, I don’t know what is! Must listen episode: #2 Gregor
Ear Hustle — These guys are on their third season and I can’t get enough! It’s made by Nigel Poor and the inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California, they take you inside to learn more about life in prison. It’s absolutely amazing. Must listen episode: Catch A Kite
Broken Record — This is for all you music people out there. I don’t know that much about music, and even I can appreciate this podcast. Malcolm Gladwell and Rick Rubin interview musical artists, they tell stories about their career and their processes and perform music. Best of both worlds. Must listen episode: Love Junkies
The Moth — Stories from people like you and me, performing in front of other people like you and me. Sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're sad, but they're always good! Must listen episode: California Gothic
Great for: Any day that could use a little shine.
Feel Smart Be Smarter
These podcasts are meant for those who are ready for their mind. to. be. blown.
Revisionist History — My main man Malcolm Gladwell and his beyond genius way with words takes you through logical (at times illogical) reinterpretation of the past, or as he likes to say: “Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.” Must listen episode: Analysis, Parapraxis, Elvis
Rough Translation — On this podcast, you'll hear stories from around the world that are given context by things going on in the US today. Sometimes the results are startling, sometimes comforting. Must listen episode: The Refugee's Dating Coach
Throughline — Looking at what is happening today, and how we got here. This podcast is a rewind for those who love history, taking it up to where we are today. Must Listen episode: Mitch McConnell
Still Processing — Two wonderful culture writers from the New York Times talk about what's on their mind and what’s going on in pop culture. This is the closest I have ever gotten to listening to a “Two Dudes Talking” podcast, but honestly they’re so good together and tangents are few and far between. Must listen episode: Relations
Great for: Factoids that will impress your kids and colleagues.
Alright! That's part one. I feel like I should give you all a week or two to really absorb this list before we dive into part two. Let me know if you get a chance to listen to any of these - share what you like, don't like, want more of, etc. in the comments!