In April, I shared with you girls an article about why I listen to podcasts all the time, and I mean all the time. When I’m driving, walking to class, hopping around Reddit, I always have some kind of podcast playing. Today, I have for you a collection of podcasts that are favorites of mine, plus a couple of cult classics that are great for pulling new listeners in. I’ll consider them starter podcasts.
Stuff You Should Know
This is the podcast that got me into podcasts, and I’ve been following Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant for years. Twice a week, they pick weird and interesting topics to explain to their listeners. From gene editing and nostalgia to freak shows and the Iditarod, there isn’t much these two haven’t touched, but after more than 700 episodes they’re still finding more stuff that you should know.
Stuff Mom Never Told You
Hosted by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin, Stuff Mom Never Told You is another podcast in the HowStuffWorks network. This podcast is all about being a woman in modern society, and answers listener questions in thoughtful and science-backed ways.
This fun comedy podcast follows two L.A.-based comedians, Travis McElroy and Andie Bolt, as they talk about all the different ways to prepare for the apocalypse. But which apocalypse? All of them! Zombies, aliens, EMPs, if you can think of it, they’ve talked about it. They’re lighthearted, fun to listen to, and a great easy listen when you’re on your way to work or school.
This, along with the FiveThirtyEight Elections podcast, is the quintessential news podcast in my arsenal. The NPR team is fun, funny, and friendly, and they bring their listeners news multiple times a week. They present election coverage (and, when there isn’t an election on, other important news) in a simple and informative way that makes it easy to listen even if you haven’t been following the election so far.
The Splendid Table
This cooking podcast from Lynne Rossetto Kasper is a great listen even if you spend zero time in the kitchen. She’s funny, lighthearted, and a pleasure to listen to. I like to listen to The Splendid Table when I’m out running—it’s a lot of fun to think about all the yummy food I can eat once I get back home.
Sarah Koenig’s long-firm investigation into the trial and conviction of Adnan Syed brought podcasts into mainstream consciousness for tons of people, and that makes it a great introduction to podcasting. It is, obviously, a serial podcast, so you can’t just jump into any episode you want—it only makes sense if you start from the first episode and work forward. That makes it great, though, for someone who has regular time to listen. It can be really fun to make your walk to school every day an adventure into the series. Even if you don’t have regular time, though, Koenig does a good job of summing up past episodes so you don’t get lost.
Roman Mars, the host of this acclaimed podcast, has one of the most gorgeous voices in the world. On top of that, the 99% Invisible team brings its listeners some of the most interesting stories I’ve ever heard. This show picks out interesting stories and presents them in thoughtful ways, talking about interesting people, places, and objects.
Radiolab is similar to 99% Invisible in that it’s hard to classify what, exactly, it’s about. Both podcasts find stories, and that’s the best way to describe them. They’re journalistic in form, with a beginning, middle, and end, interviews, experts, witnesses, and incredible background music. But they aren’t news podcasts, they’re stories about individual people, families, or places. The best thing I can tell you to do is listen, give them a try, and see if you like it. Recommended episodes include “Nazi Summer Camp,” “La Mancha Screwjob,” and “Galapagos.” I love all the podcasts I listen to for different reasons, but Radiolab has more “sticking power” than any other, and I find myself thinking about their stories almost every day.
Also published on Medium.