We probably have Serial to thank for the podcast mania that’s emerged in the past couple of years, but there were, in fact, a lot of audio gems around before Adnan Syed became a permanent fixture in our lives and even more have joined earbud nation since.
There are the never-fails like This American Life, The Read, and Freakonomics, but there are also a ton of people coming up with fun, informative, unique podcasts of their own. If we’re being frank, there’s an overwhelming number to choose from nowadays, so we decided to round up some of our favorites ahead. These are the ones helping to usher in this new wave of radio while also making our daily commute a little less arduous.
Ever wonder if you should care about that actress who suddenly became a trending hashtag on Twitter? Have a love-hate relationship with tabloids and an even stronger one for Rita Ora? Who? Weekly, brought to you by Vulture alum Lindsey Weber and Jezebel writer Bobby Finger, will become your new favorite obsession. It’s comedic podcast gold, even if the questions they ask have never crossed your mind, and you’ll be doing yourself a favor by hitting subscribe sooner rather than later. Good form, Bella Thorne!
Started this fall, Still Processing is a podcast from New York Times editors Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris. Conversations about issues like the lack of black penises on television are had, and topics like the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture are explored in a smart, thorough, informative way. The show is still very much in the beginning stages (we’re only eight episodes in), but we talked with Wortham a couple of months back about what we can expect. Read that interview here.
Think campfire-worthy, scary tales without the s’mores. Oh, but all the stories are real.
Otherhood explores the experiences, motivation, and stories of people who came to the United States as children or are children of immigrants. The show expertly touches on relevant topics, including the question of, "What comes after Trump?" Pertinent!
Let's face it: Talking about money is taboo. It’s basically blasphemous to broach the topic with anyone, no matter how close to them you are. It just feels weird. But Gaby Dunn is looking to change all of that with her podcast Bad With Money. She’s not an expert by any means—the podcast originated because she is the embodiment of its title—but with the help of guests, she’s created an enjoyable, comfortable space where you can learn about finances (tackling questions like “What’s A Stock?”) without being judged for your lack of knowledge.
A podcast that explores the inner workings of the Supreme Court might not immediately draw you in, but don’t completely cross it off your list until you download at least one episode. Radiolab takes a typical banal topic and makes it entertaining and educational. It will change the way you look at the death penalty and leave you more informed about the impact of SCOTUS and its decisions.
Advice from entrepreneurs (some include the brains behind Spanx, Instagram, VICE, and Airbnb) about how they got where they are. It’s great for aspiring business owners or, really, anyone who values good advice. Don’t act like you can say no to anything NPR-related.
Founded by BuzzFeed editors Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu (Nigatu has since moved to a writing job on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert), Another Round covers everything from ongoing issues having to do with politics, race and sexuality, to recent world happenings. Guests like Issa Rae, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Lianne La Havas, and a whole lot more have all shared a drink or four with the duo. The two have an important focus on self-care (ending each segment with the sign-off “take your meds, drink some water, call your person”), but manage to keep things light-hearted with bits like Clayton’s sometimes-funny joke corner.
Heavyweight will take you on an emotional journey but don't fear. With Jonathan Goldstein, who serves as a time-traveling therapist, guiding you along the way, you're in good hands.
If you’ve read a book published in the past year or so, Angela Ledgerwood has probably had the author on her podcast Lit Up. Ledgerwood’s interviewing style is aspirational, and the discussions had are both insightful and inspiring. You can seek out your favorite writer from one of the show's 75 chapters (it's a veritable who's who of the literary world), or you can start from the beginning and work your way down the literary queue.
We’ve got a lot of them, one of the biggest being how we’re portrayed and treated in the pop cultural landscape. Listen in as MTV writer Rachel Handler attempts to topple the patriarchy, one episode at a time.
Original Sugars, Cheryl Strayed (you know her from Wild and Tiny, Beautiful Things) and Steve Almond, brought their written advice to your speakers this past year. The two answer listeners' questions—both very complicated and fairly obvious—in an honest, introspective, thoughtful, yet sometimes forceful manner.
New York Magazine’s Vulture has some of the best television writing around, and you’d be hard-pressed to miss out on this gem from critic Matt Zoller Seitz and editor Gazelle Emami. Seeing as we’re in the throes of peak TV, this is an easy way to sort through the overwhelming number of shows out right now.
Beauty editors Jennifer Goldstein of Marie Claire and Jessica Matlin of Teen Vogue candidly talk freaky facials, rainbow hair, and hair down there. Some of their guests include hairstylist Orlando Pita, makeup artist Troy Surratt, and the one and only Christian Louboutin.
You might not agree with the message behind this podcast—namely, that Denzel Washington is the greatest actor of all time—but you might be swayed after listening to comedians W. Kamau Bell and Kevin Avery wax poetic about the star. The episodes review the actor’s movies (supposedly alphabetically), but the hosts more than often go off topic to discuss pop and black culture, with a guest star thrown in every now and then. All the show’s missing is an appearance from King Denzel himself.