At any one time I have at least 4 podcasts in my playlist queue on the Podcast Republic app on my phone, and at least 12 total in my library. I’m always adding more too! My favorites are usually the NPR podcasts that usually tell some kind of story.
Without further ado, here are my current Top 12 podcasts:
Sassy sexy nerdy media maven/comedian Aisha Tyler interviews a different personality in every episode, and calls herself “the ultimate guy’s girl”. Their chat is very casual and funny and it’s nice to have a woman of color representing the geek/gamer community. You might know her from E!’s Talk Soup or from her voice role as Lana Kane on “Archer”.
I only just started listening to this one, but the very first episode I heard had Alec Baldwin interviewing Julie Andrews about her life and career. It’s hard not to think of his character from 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy, when listening to him speak, but that’s just because I watched that show so often and he was on it for seven years. He’s actually very good at interviewing, and with all the interesting people he has on his show, I’m looking forward to hearing more. It’s weird– I found some articles saying the show was cancelled back in 2013, but the last new episode that went up was Monday, Jan. 19…so I guess it’s still going!
This is a new one and a good one. It has the same kind of storytelling as This American Life and RadioLab that really hooks you in and keeps you listening. It’s a spinoff of RadioLab hosted by co-creators Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller. Listen carefully. Their voices sound similar to each other. Topics focus on human thoughts, behavior, and psychological and brain science. Invisibila– The outwardly invisible parts of our selves that can’t be seen. The first episode of Invisibilia actually played as a preview of the show on RadioLab, and it was about a woman who started out as a man… but would flip between feeling she was one gender or the other. Very fascinating.
NPR’s Planet Money takes economics and makes it fun. It makes it so that it’s actually interesting to listen to issues of what’s going on with the current economy (and what we can learn from the past), by telling stories (what NPR does best besides news). If only Econ 101 was this fun! As an example, here’s what the latest episode is about: “A man goes looking for the invisible wall that traps poor people in poverty. Finding it almost gets him killed.”
Radiolab is another one of my favorite true-storytelling podcasts. They creatively talk about a topic that is usually based in science combined with human interest and curiosities. I like their use of music in the show as well– very calming.
Filmmaker Kevin Smith has a whole podcast network now, but this is the flagship original. He usually co-hosts with his buddy and work partner Scott Mosier, and when it’s not just the two of them yukking it up, they have some pretty great guests. I remember one time listening in the car and I nearly had to pull over, I was laughing so hard. Yes, Kevin Smith can be crass and funny, but he can also be really introspective, inspiring and surprisingly profound.
This is a new one from NPR that just started this past October. I hadn’t heard one done like this before, with a serialized story playing like a season of a TV series, but I guess it just makes sense. I’m sure there are others that do this. The first one I heard was the last one in the serial, so I heard the end of the story first. Now I’m going back and listening from the beginning. It’s another storytelling format following real-life events, and it’s a spinoff of This American Life. I won’t spoil it for you. I’ll be able to say more about it once I’ve heard a little more. Give it a listen and see what you think. I hear it’s getting pretty popular.
Hosted by actress and food blogger Lynn Chen, she chats with a different friend in each episode. Each guest has their own special connection to food, whether it be that they’re a chef, another food blogger, a restaurant owner, or just someone with whom Lynn really enjoys sharing a meal. I got turned on to her podcast after having followed her food and lifestyle blog (of the same name) for a while. Lynn Chen is an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association, and likes being able to help others with body image and their relationship with food.
If you haven’t heard of The Moth yet, you’re missing out! No, it’s not about dusty-winged insects. It’s a fantastic show full of true stories told live on stage. What’s great about these stories are certainly the people telling them. They can be quite personal, dramatic, funny, and always very well-told. I recommend keeping an eye out for live reading events in your area.
If you’ve ever liked comic books and superheroes, gone to Comic-Con (San Diego, NY, heck any comic-con really), watch and read about zombies and vampires, then you’re probably a geek and this podcast is for you. Chris Hardwick and friends chat with anyone having to do with nerd/geek and pop culture and are really entertaining doing it. Recent guests include Jason Lee, Rainn Wilson, Gillian Anderson, and even Bill Gates. They are also nuts about Doctor Who and The Walking Dead so there’s that too. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to check out some of the other podcasts in their network.
If you haven’t heard of the This American Life podcast, you need to get on that NOW. This is some storytelling crack. It’s hosted by the much beloved Ira Glass, whose speech pattern has been lovingly parodied on Saturday Night Live, among other places. Each episode tells about an amazing or intriguing real life story, or series of stories based on a theme, in 4 acts. Listen to it and it will make you want to think about your own life, and what stories you could tell if you got the chance to speak with Ira Glass and the other contributors/reporters.
I first heard about the WTF podcast while working as an Advertising Account Executive that provided radio spots for their brand sponsors. It’s still really funny when I hear Maron schilling for Stamps.com because it brings back memories of assigning and listening to those spots. But enough about me! Marc Maron is a down-to-earth comedian who spends each episode chatting with a fellow comedian or prominent figure in the entertainment industry. The podcast’s webpage says that his show is “tackling the most important philosophical question of our day – WTF?” I find Maron very relatable, and always enjoy his podcast.
I bet you’re asking yourself, “Where’s ‘Welcome to Nightvale’ on this list?” I know it’s a popular story podcast that has a pretty sizable fanbase, but the truth is that so far I’ve only caught an episode here and there. I think this is one that I’ll need to listen to from the start to really understand it. (Much like my relationship with Battlestar Galactica.)