Every month or so, I tweak this list to my liking, so check back to keep your podcast subscriptions inspiring. I also share themed podcasting lists like this Earth Day Edition.
At the start of 2015, I shared my goals and one of them was to ‘push podcasts on everyone,’ so here I am, still pushing them on you. I’ve been on the podcast train for about five years now and it has totally transformed all of my time in the car. Driving is actually one of my favorite activities, I love having this mini space that’s all mine no matter where I am in the country, but listening to bad radio or feeling like I’m wasting time in the car can really start to irritate me. Instead of listening to poll projections or my own incessant mind chatter, I simply plug in my iPod and get lost in a podcast.
What is a podcast? It’s simply a digital file that you can download on the internet, usually part of a series, and once you subscribe to a podcast it will automatically download to your computer or device each time a new one is released. Think of a podcast as a radio show that gets saved to your itunes or whichever program you use to listen to music.
How do I download them? If you don’t know how to download or subscribe to podcasts, there are a million and one tutorials out there and I’m sure they do a better job of explaining it than I can. Basically, you can download individual podcasts or you can subscribe to a podcast, which means your computer or phone will automatically download the newest episodes as they come out. I always subscribe to my favorite podcasts and I even search the archives to individually download episodes I may have missed that look interesting.
Where do I find them? Well, you can search for them on the web, you can click the links provided below, or you can search for them in your music listening application. I search for podcasts in iTunes, but sometimes I look for new-to-me podcasts on google so I can use a wide variety of search terms to find something I haven’t heard of before. Then I search the name of the podcast in iTunes and subscribe to it.
Here is a list of podcasts I currently subscribe to:
Ask Me Another – NPR & WNYC’s weekend game show featuring word games, puzzles and trivia played by a live audience. It’s an upbeat hour where you can quiz yourself on current events, grammar and other brain busting subjects. I play this podcast whenever I’m feeling a little irritated in the car. Case of road rage? Construction zone continuing on for miles? Play Ask Me Another.
Fresh Air – is considered a talk show, but to me it is a series of intimate conversations with artists, creatives and innovators in today’s society. I usually pick and choose which episodes to listen to depending on the guest, but even if I’m not familiar with the subject, each episode inspires or intrigues me in some way.
How To Do Everything – answers readers’ (pretty absurd) questions each week. The co-hosts, Mike Danforth & Ian Chillag, are super silly and laid back, which makes listening to these podcasts a real treat. You never really know what you’re in for when you play How To Do Everything and that’s half the reason it’s so interesting.
Invisibilia – is in its infancy with only one season completed, but each episode is so.stinkin.good. I listened to each episode twice, picking up on things I missed the first time around. Invisibilia focuses on the intangible forces that shape human behavior like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. If you’re interested in psychology and the brain, Invisibilia is a must.
Serial – actually brought a lot of attention towards podcasts in general. It’s crazy how one show can completely take off and shine a light on a whole world that a lot of folks were overlooking. Serial investigates a murder trial that took place over a decade ago and looks for more clues into what really happened. Serial is a spinoff of This American Life, which means the producers and staff of the show know what they’re doing. Serial will keep you on the edge of your seat. I listened to the series as it was debuting in early 2015. I was biting my nails each week until the newest episode was released.
Snap Judgment – is storytelling with a beat. Host and producer, Glynn Washington, is absolutely captivating. Each week has a different theme and stories that go along with it. Snap Judgment is a deep (and sometimes difficult) conversation about race, politics, social responsibility, activism, family life, human rights, etc. You should probably dive right in.
This American Life – was actually the first podcast I ever downloaded. I’ve been listening to This American Life for over a decade now. In the past, I was a bummed when I would miss an episode on the radio, but podcasts have eliminated that issue. Just like the name suggests, each week This American Life features a variety of stories about Americans that pertain to a certain theme.
Freakonomics Radio – I learn so much (and soon forget it) during each and every one of these episodes. Freakonomics is about the hidden side of everything, basically how economics plays a role in our every day life. It’s co-hosted by Stephen Dubner, an author and journalist, and Steven Levitt, an award-winning economist. Together they make economics accessible for half-witted listeners like myself. I still have yet to buy their books, but they’re on my list. Just listening to these two joke, laugh and teach together makes the podcast worth listening to.
Stuff You Should Know – kind of has the same feeling as How To Do Everything. The co-hosts are smart and hilarious and you never know what topic they’ll be covering next.
TEDTalks Business – there are thousands of TED talks out there, but my favorites are usually in the business section. I’m usually left with an inspiring thought or feeling that keeps me wanting to push forward instead of crying under a stack of unfinished photography estimates.
The Memory Palace – is a quick snippet of history that you’ve probably never heard of. These podcasts are extremely short by comparison, but each one is extremely powerful. The Memory Palace gets you to contemplate the past whether through events or individuals and leaves you feeling moved by the memory you’ve just learned about.
Storytelling and Conversational & Possibly Educational
Love + Radio is described as, “featuring in-depth, otherworldly-produced interviews with an eclectic range of subjects, from the seedy to the sublime. You’ve never heard anything like it before.” I couldn’t agree more (or write a better synopsis), Love + Radio is captivating and raw, you should give it a listen.
Radiolab – explores topics with the curiosity of a (really well educated) child. Radiolab explores topics with a type of fluidity that blurs the lines between science, philosophy, and human experience. I recently listened to this episode about the birth of Candid Camera and it had me thinking a lot about reality television and our fascination (or disgust) with fame.
The Tim Ferriss Show – breaks down tools that highly productive people use to get sh!t done. It’s both educational and inspiring, but sometimes leaves me feeling like I’m the laziest person on earth. Tim features intriguing guests like Ed Catmull (President of Pixar), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), and Neil Strauss (7 time New York Times bestselling author) among many others. There are plenty of great insights to be learned from Ferriss and his guests.
Savage Lovecast – is a Q&A podcast hosted by Dan Savage. It’s kind of like Dear Ann for a younger (sexier) generation. If you’re listening at work or in public, you definitely need headphones. I really enjoy this podcast because there is a lot I’m completely clueless about when it comes to discussing gay rights, religiosity, and politics pertaining to sexuality. In a way, this podcast exposes me to different types of relationships that I may not have firsthand experience with and in turn creates understanding and empathy for individuals in those relationships.
Mysterious Universe – is a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I treat it like listening to stories around a campfire, unsure if it’s fact, but not caring just the same. Mysterious Universe explores the strange, extraordinary, weird, and wonderful happenings on earth (and in space). It can be spooky, unsettling, and inspiring.
Hilarious + Silly – Definitely Not Serious
Your Mom’s House – is a completely filthy and dirty podcast hosted by husband and wife comedians Tom Segura and Christina Pazsitzky. This podcast definitely is not for everyone. If you identify with a ninth grade boy it’s probably for you though. I would suggest watching Completely Normal (it’s on Netflix) and if you dig it download Your Mom’s House.
That’s Deep Bro – is produced and hosted by Christina Pazsitzky from Your Mom’s House. The podcast explores serious questions hashed out by silly people. Christina P. is a comedian, but she has a degree in philosophy so she discusses age old questions and other philosophical topics for your pontificating pleasure. This podcast is her side project, but it has really blossomed over the past year.
The Joe Rogan Experience – is another pretty raunchy podcast, but if you like his comedy, you’ll probably dig his podcast. I usually pick and choose which episodes to listen to depending on the guests. The Joe Rogan Experience is a great way to pass a few hours because he addresses a lot of serious topics in a not so serious (and sometimes not so well-researched) way, so you can form your own opinions while laughing along with Joe and his guest.
The Mortified Podcast – is THE BEST PODCAST NO MATTER THE MOOD. Sorry, I had to make sure this podcast didn’t get overlooked. The Mortified Podcast will have you choking on your water, slapping the steering wheel, and crying on the highway because it’s that funny. It’s a podcast where people read their teenage diaries in front of a live audience. There’s no need to say anything more, except maybe download all the past episodes you missed, because this podcast is an absolute MUST.