8 great podcasts (and their great episodes)

Even though I enjoyed podcasting in my various iterations from day one (way back in the prehistoric internet years of 2001), I was admittedly a slow adopter to becoming a regular listener. I felt like I just didn’t have the time, and as a mom to small children, I had enough noise in my life.

Over the years, though, my life stage—and podcasting—changed. No longer was someone always crying, and the world of podcasting has boomed to the point of overwhelm. There are shows about everything.

My playlist continually evolves, based on my mood and the current season. To go further, I hardly blanket-listen to any one show (Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! withstanding). For me, it’s about individual episodes.

Here are eight current podcasts I think you’d enjoy, with a recommendation on a particular episode.

8 Great Podcasts

1. Here’s the Thing

Alec Baldwin is a fantastic interviewer (though he sometimes interrupts), and his voice was made for radio. Seriously, even his intro alone, paired with the jazz music, is enough to soothe my soul. I think his podcast is one of the best things he does.

Try this episode(s): His recent interview with Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, was great. If you grew up on 80s pop culture, like me, you might also like his interview with Molly Ringwald.


2. NPR Politics

This is definitely due to our current season, but these hosts are doing great work right now. Several times a week, they post current news in an easy-to-explain way, along with answer listener questions. When news of You-Know-Who’s sexual assault-talk scandal leaked, they were on it within hours. And starting next week, they’ll be doing daily shows. God bless ’em.

Try this episode: Any of their listener question episodes.


3. The Popcast

I don’t always agree with everything Jamie Golden and Knox McCoy say, but no one can argue they don’t know their stuff. I love listening to their banter about all things pop culture, and Jamie’s accent is like honey (as is Knox’s wheezy laugh). Prepare to be offended (they like to make fun of moms who are super into Harry Potter, as well as people into fall, as well as people into Gilmore Girls), but only in a delightful, “we’re friends” kind of way.

Try this episode: Age, Youth, and Old People in Pop Culture (episode 158)


4. Revisionist History

Only Malcolm Gladwell can release ten episodes and already be a podcast darling. His episodes mimic his long-form writing: deep dives into fascinating topics you never before thought of, but you’re so glad he went there. It’s a bit scripted, but that’s okay by me—I listen when I need a good story.

Try this episode: Hallelujah


5. Reply All

A podcast about the internet, this show is all over the place—in a good way. They dig in to those “Why is that?” stories about the wild west of the internet, and most shows are a delight. I like their Yes Yes No segment. There’s definitely language, and it’s not a show to listen to around kids.

Try this episode: Baby King (episode 61) dives into weird gifs, and it’s a good one.


6. The Liturgists

Their description, “Making room at the table for the spiritually homeless and frustrated,” is spot-on with their take on oft-hard topics. Posting is sporadic, but every episode is phenomenally produced, and their long-form approach always leaves me thinking. Several episodes have stuck with me for months after I first listen (and sometimes I listen twice).

Try this episode: Their episode Black and White: Racism in America (episode 34) is required listening for everyone, I think.


7. Pop Culture Happy Hour

I listen to this show on the weekends (like The Podcast), when I need a brain break and want to mull over books, movies, music, and more. These episodes are think-pieces, however, and I love their thoughtful approach to entertainment. Everyone at their round table is fantastic.

Try this episode: The recent HGTV and Cooking Shows episode is a good one, though I always love their summer movie preview episodes. They also had a great episode on Hamilton last spring.


8. Creative Pep Talk

Host Andy Miller is a graphic designer, and his episodes are geared specifically for creative people who care about trying to make a living at making things. But it’s enjoyable for all types interested in artists (the paint + canvas kind, but also writers, musicians, and the like).

Try this episode: Episode 80, Kill FOMO Before it Kills You, floored me.

smartphone

Also, special shout-out for three new-to-me shows:

• The Big Listen, a podcast about podcasts—basically, she talks about different shows and why they deserve a listen, so it’s a great one to listen to when you’re looking for new stuff. I couldn’t stop laughing at episode 1, where she interviews a six-year-old science podcaster.

From Scratch, a podcast for entrepreneurs—I enjoyed the recent interview with Mike Kriegel, co-founder of Instagram.

The Road Back to You, a podcast about the Enneagram from Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. (Check out our vault episode 6 on the Enneagram with Leigh Kramer.)

• And of course, after all these years I love podcasting more than ever, especially since we switched to a new format. Next week, I’m chatting with co-host Haley Stewart about one of my favorite loves in life: books.

Subscribe here, and you’ll never miss an episode! And if you enjoy the show, I’d love you forever if you left a quick review—it really helps new listeners find the show.

I listen to many shows, so this definitely isn’t a comprehensive list of everything I love. I’ll share more sometime!

Top photo: the great Ira Glass of This American Life

10 Comments

  1. Leah

    I’ve become OBSESSED with podcasts. I love learning and hearing more about the world while I work.

    You should check out Arc Stories if you haven’t already! I heard about it through the Pop Cast and it’s a GREAT one!

  2. Angie

    The Simple Show was the first podcast I ever listened to and it hooked me for good. I know listen to several on a regular basis. My favorites are Around the Table, Sorta Awesome, God Centered Mom and APM’s investigative podcast about the Jacob Wetterling abduction, In The Dark.

  3. Kate Nelson

    Reply All is my favorite!

  4. Kim

    “One Extrodinary Marriage” has had some very refreshing insight on sex and all other kinds of intimacy in marriage. My husband and I have both been gleaning a lot from it!!

  5. Shauna

    Your podcast is one of my favorites! I also love Modern Mrs. Darcy’s podcast What Should I Read Next? Because…books! Another favorite is Pantsuit Politics. It’s two well-informed and thoughtful women, one Republican and one Democrat, discussing political issues in a respectful way. Their tagline is “No shouting. No insults. Plenty of nuance.”

  6. Chris Greenwood

    CBC’s Vinyl Cafe Stories with Stuart McLean is a wonderful, cozy world of fun. Stuart has a way of instantly drawing you in and making you care deeply about Dave, his family, and the many other characters including Kenny Wong, the proprietor of Wong’s Scottish Meat Pies. “The Vinyl Cafe. We may not be big, but we’re small.” Favourite episode: Dave Cooks the Turkey.

  7. Samantha

    I’m a ferocious podcast listener (I commute at least 2 hours a day). I’ve been in a podcast rut for a while now so thank you for the list! Love Revisionist History BTW.

  8. Angie

    you should check out the phil vischer podcast!

  9. Maggie

    NPR ‘Hidden Brain’. Worth checking out!

  10. Kizzy

    These are new to me, I’ll check them out. My faves are Dead Robot Society, Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and #amwriting.

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