Even though this blog just celebrated its fourth birthday a few months ago, I realized the other day that I’ve been blogging on and off, in various places around the internet about various things, for the last twelve years. I KNOW! Goodness knows I rarely have anything interesting to say, let alone twelve years’ worth.
Fortunately, I’ve deleted or hidden most of the old posts. However, every time I log into this blog, I see one of my old blogs, and the last post (circa 2007) had something called “Sarah’s Podcast Praise.” I suppose it’d have been the start of a recurring feature had I ever posted again, but as it was, I simply recommended Love + Radio. For the record, that podcast is still going strong, though I confess I haven’t listened to it much since I recommended it.
Changing tastes aside, that wasn’t a bad idea to put out some podcast recommendations. See, I was, and still am, obsessed with podcasts. Serial made podcasts mainstream again, but I’ve been a faithful listener to so many for the years since podcasts debuted in 2005. Lately (probably because of Serial), I’ve heard people ask about other enjoyable podcasts, and Mr. P finally suggested I do a whole post on them. So let me tell about what’s my earbuds so it can be in your earbuds, too! (Think of it as a prelude to this month’s favorite things!)
News & Media
Slate’s Political Gabfest
I’m a fan of many of the podcasts Slate releases (check them out!), but I’ve listened to this one the longest, probably because it’s the oldest. The three hosts have all moved on from Slate to sweeter gigs – like hosting Face the Nation (!) – but they still gather each week as my favorite voices in political news.
Slate’s Culture Gabfest
This Slate gabfest also gets special mention because I am also delighted by its three hosts. They cover both high- and low-brow culture, and I like to think I see the world in a slightly more nuanced way thanks to them.
Putting Fresh Air on this list is like suggesting The Godfather to a person looking for a movie to watch – it’s been around and beloved for a long time, so it's a little silly, but there’s a reason you do it anyway. (In this case, reason being that Terry Gross is incredible.) And anyway, this is my cue to let you know that whatever your favorite NPR show is, it’s probably released as a podcast.
You guys, I have many varied interests, but economics is not really one of those things. Unless it’s this podcast, which teaches me about economic principles and current events in a way that I like and care about economics. Give it a try, you might be surprised!
I’ve mentioned my fondness for this podcast before on the blog, but it’s worth reminding you about it today. All you really need to know is that it has John Oliver riffing on the news, which is John Oliver at his best.
Unlike most of the podcasts above, I don’t have a particular unwavering fondness for the host of The Nerdist podcast (Chris Hardwick can grate on my nerves sometimes), but I’ll be darned if he doesn’t produce great interviews. I only listen to the episodes that feature artists I like, but they are fantastically insightful conversations.
This American Life
This is like Fresh Air; chances are that I don’t have to tell you about TAL. But. If I didn’t, this list just wouldn’t be complete.
Mostly science (though some music, some news, some random other stuff), told in a delightfully entertaining way. Imagine interview with famous scientists interspersed with novel symphonic compositions. Or don’t imagine; just go download it.
Billed as “storytelling with a beat”. If you like TAL, you’ll like Snap Judgment – they swap stories often, actually, and reporters too.
The Moth Podcast
Recorded on The Moth mainstage, “true stories, told live without notes.” Some are humorous, some are introspective, some meander all over the place until the ending punches you in the gut. StorySLAM episodes are my favorite, but they’re all good.
The show that’s kicked off the podcast renaissance. You’ve probably already heard it. Go ahead, listen to it again.
I endorsed this podcast recently too, and I’m still a fan. It’s biased in favor of Adnan for sure, but I’m learning so much about law at the same time. Brady violations! Bail in capital offenses! It’s like a case study in crime.
The latest storytelling podcast hit, this one delivered by TAL veteran Starlee Kine. She solves mysteries, but mostly she interviews people along the way. It’s got a touch of MPDG, but I’ve really enjoyed it.
Acquired tastes i.e. geeky, quirky miscellany
This crew has been podcasting about Harry Potter for as long as I’ve been listening to podcasts. Now that there are new movies coming out, they’re making new episodes monthly!
Baker Street Babes
I honestly am a BBC Sherlock fan more than a general ACD/Holmes aficionado, but I still stay subscribed to this one for all the BBC goodness (interviews, episode recaps, etc.).
Joy the Baker
I know I’ve endorsed this one here before, and I still do. Listening to this podcast is like going to brunch with your girlfriends. Good for the soul, at least if you are a 30-something professional lady with a penchant for using “totes” to answer in the affirmative.
Slate’s Double X Gabfest
It took me a long time to decide I liked this podcast – another Slate offering focused on “women’s issues” that uses a lot of words like “heteronormative” and “mansplain”. In the end, though, I usually listen, and I usually enjoy it.
Welcome to Nightvale
Oh, Nightvale. This is the most acquired of tastes, as I tried to explain to my friend who recently saw my recommendation, listened to a few minutes of the latest episode, thought “WTF is this” and switched to something else. You gotta start at the beginning, and you gotta see the humor in it. But if you don’t like it, I understand.
That’s What She Said
I was a big fan of The Office, and after each episode I’d eagerly wait for the TWSS recap. Obviously the show’s over now, but still, it’s fun to go back and listen to the old episodes and relive the glory days of The Office.
Top of the Pods
Top ten lists by two hilarious British guys. It was once updated weekly, then disappeared, then popped back up briefly in 2010 and 2013, now off air again. You can still listen back to the old episodes, though!
The Meditation Podcast
For the nights I need to chill the heck out before sleeping, there’s a few good episodes in this rarely-updated podcast’s catalog.
Stuff You Should Know (and others)
This podcast is still going strong, as is its sister (brother?) podcasts in the How Stuff Works network. I painted our entire house listening to SYSK, which might be why I burned out on it and haven’t re-subscribed. You might enjoy it now, though!
(Often) Famous people reading classic stories. If you’re a literature buff, the stories might be overly familiar, but for someone like me, it was perfect. I got behind in listening to them, but they’re still updating regularly with new episodes.
Classic Tales Podcast
Similar to Selected Shorts, but all read by the same creator, who reads with relish. Longer stories are broken up over multiple episodes. Again, I ran out of room and time for classic literature, but it’s well-produced and still making new episodes.
Travel with Rick Steves
Mr. P and I are big Rick Steves fans when we travel, and I usually just subscribe to this in advance of another trip in case Rick talks about our future destination. But honestly, it’s also fun to listen to this show for the escapism.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
History is another hit-or-miss subject with me, but Dan Carlin’s speaking style usually keeps me entertained for his four hour (!) podcasts. I stopped listening because I needed to pay more attention than I can afford in order to follow all the historical twists and turns. But the content and production value make it worth checking out!
Slate’s The Gist
The most recent abandoned podcast, I think – turns out, a daily podcast was just too much for me, both for time and for brainpower. But I do check in on the feed occasionally to pull out subjects and interviewees I want to hear!
Loved by others
I can’t speak at length about shows I’ve only listened to once or twice, but I can say that many, many people like these, and there might be something wrong with me that I didn’t. So just in case, you might want to check out:
WTF with Marc Maron
Judge John Hodgman
So there you go – over thirty podcasts to try, maybe forty or fifty if you explore the related podcast families. Now, when someone posts on facebook that they would like new podcast suggestions, you’ll know what I’ve had bottled up inside this whole time! Plus I can just give them this link, so they see just how crazy I am about podcasts, for better or for worse.
Now you tell me, are they any I’ve missed that you think I’d just love? I’m always on the lookout for my newest favorite!