Podcasts are trendier than ever now. Which is a grand thing to say. There’s a lot out there – some top notch, some not so much – and trying to find the right one for you is tricky. Here are 30 I listen to that I suggest to a lot of people I meet. Most of them are the “mainstream” ones, because I haven’t done much of a deep dive. Chances are you’ve listened to most of these if you love podcasts, but if you haven’t listened to much, you should definitely check some out.
For the Serial fan
A Cincinnati Enquirer reporter investigates a 1978 murder that sent the victim’s boyfriend to trial. Even though he was acquitted, the mystery still remains. The eight-episode season is strong, but don’t expect the phenomenon of Serial. Everything is presented in a well-thought out manner with very little deviations.
Honestly, this Atlanta Journal-Constitution could use better production (and host), but the stories it has told over two seasons really do offer a unique perspective on the criminal justice system. Season one is about a convicted arsonist who maybe didn’t do the crime and actually has a resolution. The second season offers a look into whether or not a father left his infant in a hot car on purpose or by accident.
In the Dark
APM Reports launched this podcast about Jacob Wetterling, a boy who went missing 27 years ago, a week after a man confessed to his abduction and murder. I’m sure this threw a wrench in their plans, but they pulled through and presented an interesting dissection of what happened then as well as the current affairs of the case.
Missing and Murdered
The podcast is officially subtitled Who Killed Alberta Williams, so I’m not sure if there will be a second season of this CBC Radio production. It’s only six episodes in and isn’t finished yet. The show does a terrific job of transporting you to rural Canada and the host is extremely likable. Probably my favorite of this true crime section.
Someone Knows Something
Season one of this podcast was about a missing boy and, not so shockingly, it offered very resolution. The current second season is about a Canadian woman who went missing days after being proposed to on a local television station. We’re only a few episodes in, but this is already more promising than the first simply because of the peculiarity of the case.
For the pop culture junkie
Black List Table Reads
The Black List is a website that discovers the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood. This show mixes interviews with indie filmmakers and screenwriters as well as in-depth dissections of scripts. Film fans must jump into this podcast as quickly as possible. The best recent episode to try out is “Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, writers of Moonlight.” Learn about the best film of 2016.
Part of the Ringer Podcast Network, this is a channel of a variety of podcast that aren’t ready (for whatever reason) for their own feed. Shows range from “Overwatch” about video games, “The Masked Man Show” about wrestling, “Bachelor Party” about The Bachelor/ette random interviews conducted by Ringer writers. My favorite? “Jam Session” which is about celebrity gossip. The most recent one (Ep. 215) was about Gilmore Girls, Prince Harry’s romance, and One Direction.
The first season of this new podcast is all about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Shows go in-depth with actors and other creatives from the film franchise. Hosts also provide listicles for each installment with witty banter and deceivingly insightful commentary. Each episode covers a book/film so you technically can listen to them out of order, but I feel it’s best just to start with episode one.
The Vulture TV Podcast
If you love all things television, you need Vulture’s podcast about it in your life. The god Matt Zoller Seitz and Gazelle Emani hold conversations about the current landscape of the medium but also have guests from your favorite shows. MZS is one of my favorite critics to read and his insight is astounding. The show is fun, but feels like they’re holding back to present themselves as professional. Nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it isn’t as fun as the next one on this list. Check out “Westworld Finale & Chat with Show Creators Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy” for a really good example of how these critics operate.
Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan are lifelong friends who have written at the same outlet the majority of their adult life. They’re on the Ringer Podcast Network and are such goofballs with such distinct points of view. Listening to this podcast is like being at a bar arguing over pop culture. Greenwald plays the comedic foil to Ryan’s straight man, and you can almost see these two in a sitcom setting. The show usually runs twice a week and is the only podcast I have to listen to immediately. Check out Ep. 102 “Gilmore Girls, Hell Hath No Fury Turns 10, and the Weeknd’s Starboy Re-up” to understand how these to operate while covering the gauntlet of pop culture.
For the humanitarian
2 Dope Queens
Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams are a hilarious comedic duo who host a show in Brooklyn. They share stories about everything from racial relations to sexual relations. Now that they’re produced by WNYC Studios, the duo has risen to a level of hilarity that I didn’t think could be possible in podcast form. Check out “That Time I had Sex with the Rock” to understand why they’re a force to be reckoned with.
Anna Faris is Unqualified
This has become a must-listen for me. Actress Anna Faris invites actors over to her house with cohost Sim (who she fake hates) to do improve games, chat about life, and give unqualified advice about relationships and life to call-in listeners. The show has ballooned into two part episodes for most guests. Part Ones are the interview/improve games while Part Twos are the advice calls. Check out episode 63 with Dax Shepard to understand the true absurdity of Anna Faris.
Jonathan Goldstein hosts a show about revisiting the past. Each episode our host is joined by a person who wants to fix something from their past. This varies from confronting Moby (yes, that Moby) about never returning a CD to a woman trying to figure out why a group of bullies came to her house one day years ago. Listen to the first episode “Buzz” about his father’s deteriorated relationship with his brother for a truly personal experience.
Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin is a gorgeous man. His voice is even more so. Listening to him week after week is a true treat. Baldwin chats with artists, policy makers and performers in this WNYC produced show. His genuine curiosity allows listeners to learn answers to questions they didn’t even know to ask. A perfect example of his is “Starbucks’ Howard Schultz Doesn’t Sleep – But Don’t Blame the Coffee.”
Chris Hardwick created one of the first wildly successful podcasts. His conversations walk that fine line between professional and friendly that so many hosts struggle to find. However, Hardwick does it with every guest. Like most interview-based shows, it’s hard to get into every single guest, but, again, the host does an amazing job of engaging listeners. I’m going to recommend “Anna Kendrick Returns” because I love Anna Kendrick. But you might like the recent Dakota Fanning or Jake Gyllenhaal episodes better. Go through the list of episodes to find who intrigues you the most.
For the person who still reads newspapers
This is probably one of my absolute most favorites out of all of the ones I recommend to people. Each episode covers one story for a close look into a single subject. Think of the episodes like a cover story of a prestigious newspaper. While Kelly McEvers is indeed the outstanding host, episodes can be reported on by different reporters. Please listen to every episode, but if you feel like you have to test the waters the first episode “The House” is an amazing look into an opium addiction in rural Indiana that got me instantly hooked. It also spawned the only follow-up episode thus far (“We Found Joy”) which is a terrific sequel.
Mixing narratives and scientific research, hosts Lulu Miller and Hanna Rosin explore ideas and beliefs that form human behavior. I basically reworded the official synopsis from the show, but it is the best way to describe what this NPR production is all about. Check out the episode about non-complimentary behavior (“Flip the Script”) to jumpstart your interest.
Keepin’ it 1600
Confession: I’m politically liberal. This is a completely liberally-biased look into the political world. Former Obama aides Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Veitor were so against Trump that on November 9, that when they did a live Facebook feed of a podcast episode, they looked so physically sick that it hurt. Twice a week they chat about the goings on of politics, plus invite a political figure on for an interview. Having a favorite 1600-er is like having a favorite Beatle: you can’t go wrong.
Radiolab’s new show about the Supreme Court and the law is a great educational tool. I admit I don’t know much about the law and this really breaks down how SCOTUS affects the world I live in. “The Political Thicket” dives into the question of how much power the Supreme Court really should have. I definitely think you should check this out considering the current social landscape of America.
The show revisits newsworthy stories from the past to see what is happening with those involved. Pat Walters wants to know what occurred in the aftermath of Disco Demolition Night at a White Sox game in 1979. He wants to know the journey of figuring out who a dead body was after being discovered in 1996. He wants to know it all. But it’ doesn’t just cover the facts; it uncovers the emotions of the people involved. Check out “The Deacons” to learn about civil rights activists in the 1960s and the current attempt to open a museum in their honor.
For the jock
The Bill Simmons Podcast
Okay, I admit it. I love Bill Simmons and The Ringer. He’s polarizing, but I can’t help it. I want to be on his staff. If somehow someone from The Ringer reads this: I will work for cheap. BS is like the annoying, but fun, uncle at a party. You want to hang with him because he’s genuinely cool, but says crazy things sometimes. If you don’t know “the Sports Guy,” learn now. His pod ranges from in-depth hour long interviews to a talk show format with guests including analysts, journalists, and college roommates. His current episodes featuring Cousin Sal from Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Mondays and his Friday Rollin’ episodes (usually featuring Joe House) are great weekly installments.
These nerds from Baseball Prospectus editor-in-chief Sam Miller and Ringer staffer Ben Lindbergh (I swear I listened to this before he joined the staff) is for the nerdy baseball fan who loves stats. This can be for the casual baseball fan who wants to learn more, but expect to do your homework. Diehards will feel right at home with these hosts.
The Jonah Keri Podcast
One of my favorite sports writers started this while he was at Bill Simmons’ Grantland and carried it over to the Nerdist Podcast Network. Now Keri’s long conversational interviews cover everything from sports figures to journalists to pop culture icons. While his baseball episodes are the best because that’s what he is most knowledgeable about, his episodes featuring people from other fields are just as entertaining because it’s fun to hear a host learn something. Check out the episode with his childhood hero Tim Raines for some premium Jonah Keri-ism.
This DIY podcast/YouTube channel turned NBA.com employed podcast is for the basketball fan. The hosts chat about the biggest storylines unfolding in the Association on a daily basis. So if you didn’t get your fix watching basketball all night, you can definitely feed your habit the next morning with tremendous analysis from The Starters.
The Tony Kornheiser Show
Technically this podcast from an undisclosed third-floor location in Chevy Chase, Maryland is about more than sports. Mr. Kornheiser’s casually morning drive radio show became a podcast in late 2016 and he’s ultra-aware of how weird it is for him. He has fun with a slew of co-hosts and guests. Listening every day is almost required, especially the first half (you’ll learn you’ll love some segments more than others). The inside jokes slay and you’ll find yourself a Little before you know it.