So many podcasts, so little time!
The country has opened up somewhat from the pandemic, and yet podcast listening has remained at the elevated levels it achieved during lockdown. This was a surprise to social scientists. Maybe it is because many people are still not comfortable going to restaurants or traveling and enjoy the entertainment of podcasts at home. New podcasts continue to be produced. I have friends who say they would now rather listen to a podcast than music. Here are some of the most highly rated recent podcasts you might not be familiar with.
How I Built This with Guy Raz debuted in 2016. It is a weekly American podcast about “innovators, entrepreneurs, idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built”. I love learning about how some of the most famous and successful companies came into being. The stories of Spanx, Patagonia and Five Guys are among my favorites. The founders are interviewed by Guy Raz, who is also the host and editorial director of one of my other favorite podcasts, The TED Radio Hour. It is produced by NPR.
The Last Word on BBC Radio 4 is a weekly obituary program. It recounts the life stories of some of those who have recently died. I love this podcast because people are endlessly fascinating. Many of the subjects are well-known but many are not, and yet led significant, news-worthy lives. The stories are told by Matthew Bannister, a BBC journalist and broadcaster.
A friend highly recommended this podcast to me about the rich and powerful Steinberg family, as in Saul Steinberg, the corporate raider, and his brother Bobby. It is told through the eyes of Bobby’s daughter and Saul’s niece, Liz Lange.
BirdNote produces a 2-minute-long daily podcast about birds, for people who love birds and the environment. It is produced by an independent media production company with a mission to connect people to nature through birds and encourage them to care about it.
The Sporkful is a podcast for foodies who love to eat and discuss food. This podcast has won a James Beard Award with its interviews with food celebrities, and entertaining discussions on such food issues as the classification of the hot dog – is it a sandwich? The podcasts are 30 minutes long.
Everything is Alive is an interview show with the subjects being inanimate objects, all played by different improvisors. The inanimate object tells us its life story and everything it says is true. It gets rave reviews for being very funny. Each episode is about 25 minutes.
Forever 35 is an Apple podcast with two female hosts who discuss wellness, and how women should take care of themselves both mentally and physically. There is not a subject left uncovered. There are three episodes a week. Each episode is 45 minutes, and the mini episodes are 30 minutes.
Dr. Chatterjee imparts lots of good health and wellness advice. He has 20 years of experience, and the podcast is his conversations with other health professionals. He feels that health has become over-complicated, and his goal is to simplify it for us. He was the star of BBC’s Doctor in the House. Each episode is 2 hours, and the ‘Bitesize’ episodes are about 15 minutes.
Code Switch is hosted by journalists of color, and they tackle the subject of race and how it effects every part of society. On June 1 it hit No.1 on Apple’s podcast chart which tracks top audio shows in the U.S. It launched in 2016 and has provided an education on race that many Americans wanted and needed. There is a new episode at least once a week, about an hour in length. There can be shorter ½ hour segments a week in addition to the primary episode. It is an NPR podcast.
Living on Earth is an NPR podcast with weekly environmental news and information. Get the latest information on climate change and human health from the School for the Environment at UMass/Boston. Every week about 250 Public Radio stations broadcast Living on Earth’s news. The podcasts run for 51 minutes.
Krista Tippett is a national treasure. In this podcast she chats with many of the ‘thought leaders’ she engaged with in her ‘big conversations’ on her earlier podcast, On Being. The On Being radio show was created by Krista Tippett in 2003 and its topics were the religious and spiritual aspects of life. It became very popular. Becoming Wise is a new offshoot. The episodes are under 10 minutes.
This is an advice podcast that covers minor life annoyances to major life crises. Listeners learn how to channel ‘genius’ about the important things and ‘lazy’ about the unimportant things. Each episode is 20ish minutes. Their most popular episode was “The Lazy Genius Loses Weight” and the next most popular is “The Lazy Genius and Time Management”.
This podcast appears on many lists of the best recent podcasts. It is a five-part New York Times series that delves into all aspects of being Black in America – economic, health, political and social issues are examined. It looks at slavery and its impact on the course of history. It came out of an initiative of The New York Times Magazine called The 1619 Project that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American Slavery. Each episode runs about 30 minutes.