Podcasts have become all the rage, but the number of choices can be overwhelming to say the least. Some of the following podcasts have amassed an impressive following and developed a sterling reputation, finding their niches and flourishing through the years, while others are just getting off the ground but are worth checking out. Here are 15 of the best podcasts you should listen to.
Sources: Esquire.com, SerialPodcast.org, EW.com, StuffYouShouldKnow.com, NPR.org, GeekNation.com, EarWolf.com, NetworkWorld.com, RevealRadio.org, SouthernFoodways.org, Eater.com, UnplayedZero.com, CastRoller.com, TIME.com
“Serial” became an overnight phenomenon when it debuted in October 2014. The investigative podcast explored the 1999 disappearance of Hae Min Lee and subsequent jailing of her ex-boyfried, Adnan Syed. The podcast broke ground as it shed light on the case and Syed’s continued claims of innocence. “Serial” season 2, set to debut in 2015, promises to be just as gripping.
Each week, hosts Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi discuss women’s rights, gay rights, and pop culture in “Throwing Shade,” an irreverent show that still manages to touch on important issues. Occasional interviews and co-hosts mix things up, but the spirited sparring between the show’s hosts are what will make you want to tune in.
“Desert Island Discs” began as a broadcast back in 1942, but continues to have a strong following as it has embraced podcast culture. The show, currently hosted by Kirsty Young, features a guest each week discussing the music, books, and luxury items that they would take to a desert island. The interviews themselves are fascinating, and you’ll get a bonus clip of each song being discussed.
An inside look into literally anything that somebody might find of interest. Juggling, the scientific method, online gambling, the Muppets…and that’s just the month of January. Learn with hosts Josh and Chuck about “Stuff You Should Know,” or always wanted to study, or something that you never knew you were missing.
For those looking for more of an audio book, fiction podcast, “Welcome to Night Vale” is the one. This fictional radio broadcast takes place in the desert of the American Southwest in a town known as Night Vale, were eerie and often funny stories unfold daily. Central narrator Cecil tells the stories, and is occasionally accompanied by guest voices who follow recurring story lines.
“Invisibilia” is a bit more of a serious podcast, but super interesting none the less. It looks into the invisible forces that guide our behavior such as ideas, assumptions, emotions, etc. Hosts Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel tell the narrative of our lives incorporating scientific research and our everyday experiences to explore the world around us.
Hosted by the authors of the 2005 best-selling book, “Freakonomics,” Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt have hosted this podcast since 2009 to explore the hidden side of everything. This includes everything from how schoolteachers can cheat the system to where the best hockey players come from to competitive eating. Prepare yourself to learn about things you never thought to question.
You know you’ve struck it big when even ESPN is tuning into your podcast for insight into the World Cup. Hosts Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, the “Men In Blazers,” know all there is to know about the soccer world, and will share it with listeners with quirky, often irreverent banter. ESPN sent them to Brazil to cover the World Cup from a small TV booth, and the soccer world has never been the same.
Filmmakers Adam Green and Joe Lynch host “The Movie Crypt” each week to talk about their passion: film. The two interview celebrities, industry professionals, and other knowledgeable insiders each week and discuss the various aspects of the film industry, often including personal stories that give listeners fascinating revelations about their world.
“Mortified” plays on the shared shaming we all love to take part in. Think of the embarrassing-stories section of a magazine – you know you love it! Adults from all over the map share mortifying moments from their lives. Guests read from diaries, letters, poems drafted in their youth, all to commiserate on the angst-filled, horrifying time that is being a teenager.
Host Scott Aukerman starts each “Comedy Bang! Bang!” episode by interviewing some of the world’s funniest comedians, but the podcast almost always quickly degenerates into hilarious debauchery. The show maintains an open-door policy, meaning anybody can pop in for a laugh throughout the course of its recording, and Aukerman fills the time with games, jokes, and general revelry.
“Love+Radio” is far more than just another music podcast – it combines stark interviews, tantalizing sound clips, and fascinating storytelling that weaves a unique narrative within the music world. Real people share their stories of their music and livelihoods in incredible depth and emotion.
For those who sometimes feel they aren’t quite up to speed on the ins and outs of the Internet age – or for those who want to make sure they absolutely are — “Reply All” takes various topics in the online world and discusses them in depth. PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman host the show in an amiable, friendly manner, and rather than fill it with tech lingo, make it palatable for the average listener.
Brought to you by the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, “Reveal” does just that – investigate. The show tells investigative stories in compelling ways, using work from CIR’s team and other journalists from around the world. “Reveal” has already won a Peabody Award for its efforts so far, and has led to real impact.
Launched by the Southern Foodways Alliance, “Gravy” is your mouth-watering podcast for all things food – southern food, in particular. NPR radio producer Tina Antolini hosts the show and each week delves into a specific area of cooking, with delicious recipes to share. The introductory episode, for instance, focused on Southern Thanksgiving traditions, and that’s just the beginning.