*this article has been updated July 2020
Podcasts are great sources for interesting information, funny game shows and many types of writing. They first showed up in 2004 and now there are thousands to choose from. More than 2.6 billion podcast episodes were downloaded in 2014.
The word podcast originated as a mash-up of the words iPod and broadcast. As you know, a podcast is a radio show that is either talk or music. Podcasts are not restricted by the FCC or traditional broadcast formats or regulations. Podcasts can be listened to on the radio, any MP3 player or your computer. Anyone can create a podcast – it just needs to contain new and original content created by people or a person passionate about a subject and who want to share their creativity and knowledge. The great thing about podcasts is that they are easy to retrieve and listen to because you subscribe to each podcast feed for free and all new content is automatically downloaded onto your computer or tablet and synced with your MP3 player. You never have to check for new shows or initiate a download. It’s done automatically. All your podcast content is totally controlled by you once you receive it. You can delete it, you can listen to it again and again, you can pause, rewind, whatever. It’s all yours, for free! And, best yet, many podcasts are commercial-free!
We’ve been collecting a list of podcasts that have been recommended to us. There were so many we had to divide them into two articles. Please do not assume that you will enjoy every podcast listed below. Like other sources of entertainment, the content fit is personal.
Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is an NPR weekly news quiz show. It is laugh out loud funny, with comedians and other well-known personalities serving as panelists. There is always a celebrity who makes a guest appearance for one quiz segment. Not to be missed!
Judge John Hodgeman is a very funny show where humorist John Hodgman acts as a judge in this court show and resolves disputes between two people who usually know each other very well. For example, in Episode 215 Aron brings the case against his wife Molly. They have just moved into a new house next to a park. Kids in the park kick or throw balls over the fence into their yard. Their yard is covered in balls. Aron and Molly are unable to agree on how to return the balls and keep the kids happy. “Who’s right” Who’s Wrong?”
We wrote an article about Serial, the podcast that explores a nonfiction crime story. It debuted last October, 2014 and won a Peabody Award last spring. There were 12 episodes in Season 1 and it had an enormous following. The Serial podcast is a spin-off from This American Life, an NPR radio show and podcast that produces new shows.
Krista Tippett’s On Being is an award-winning podcast that describes itself this way: “On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?” She has interviewed guests who include poets, scientists, doctors, historians, theologians, artists, physicists, and activists. Each episode is an hour.
The New York Times Book Review podcast is a weekly podcast with Pamela Paul, the editor of the Sunday Book Review. She talks to authors, editors and critics about new books, current best sellers and what’s happening in the literary and arts scene. The episodes are between 30 and 45 minutes long.
Stuff You Should Know is an hour-long podcast that explores all kinds of common things and how they work. Some of the most recent podcasts have been Road Rage: GRRRR!!!, How Bats Work, and How Profiling Works. There are two co-hosts who have a lively banter. New segments are released on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The podcast is consistently listed in the top 10 on iTunes.
The History Chicks is another podcast we’ve written an article about (don’t worry, we don’t expect you to remember ALL our articles). The podcast’s goal is to introduce historical female characters to the public. It is produced and narrated by Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider who have day jobs, so one episode a month is all they can manage. The episodes are worth the wait. Each episode is about an hour and all are fun, lively and informative. Some of the women they’ve covered are Abigail Adams, Cinderella, Frida Kahlo, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Queen Victoria and many more. Listen and learn!
This Year is a podcast that recaps the best highlights from podcasts and radio shows every year. They choose the best commentary and humorous and insightful content from each episode and combine it all into a ‘best of’ package. They usually do yearly recaps for each podcast and radio show, but for those with daily segments, they’ll do monthly or quarterly recaps. (This Year has stopped making new podcasts. They do keep their archives available at the above-referenced site.)
The Music Snobs is a podcast hosted by Scoop Jackson, Isaac Perry, Jehan and Arthur Turnbull and if you are a fan of soul, R & B, hip hop music, this is a podcast for you. They discuss, debate and critique the music and musicians. Several recent topics have been The Black Rock Problem: Lenny Kravitz & Van Hunt, The Death (and Rebirth?) of Romance in Modern R & B and Hip-Hop, and Separating Artists’ Art from Bad Boy Behavior; The Most Overshadowed Artist.
The Moth is a not-for-profit dedicated to the art of storytelling. The stories are told live, with no notes. The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to choose the story, shape the story and present it. Picture sitting out on a porch on a summer evening, or around a campfire, and listening to and sharing stories. There are six ongoing story telling programs at The Moth. The Moth Podcast is a weekly story via digital download and is downloaded over a million times a month.
Radiolab is another podcast we have written an article about. It is a public radio weekly podcast that focuses on scientific issues with a dash of philosophy thrown in, a description that makes it seem much more mundane than it really is. This is a really fun, innovative show that is as interesting to non-science folks as it is to those well versed in the sciences. It tackles large, serious ideas like pain, color and deception to name just three. It is produced by WNYC, a New York City public radio station. It is in its tenth season, is nationally syndicated and has won a Peabody Award.
Criminal is a podcast about crimes, victims, and people who get caught in between. The podcasts are about 30 minutes long and there is a new one every three or four weeks. A recent episode was about a 68 year old woman who was the victim of a ‘Romance Scam”, another was about a thief who steals rare books from libraries. They are all interesting, well told and totally absorbing.
How Did This Get Made? is a podcast on the Earwolf network. The podcast is about terrible films and how they got made. The films are discussed by three improv stars and their friends – with hilarious results! The show encourages listeners to send in the names of movies they’ve watched and couldn’t believe actually got made. Each show has a different guest and they tackle one of these movies. The shows are very amusing! Recent bad films that have been deconstructed include Sharknado 3:Oh Hell No!, Hercules in New York: LIVE! and Runaway. The weekly episodes run about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Living Homegrown is a weekly podcast about living with seasonal fresh food without having to farm it yourself. The episodes cover topics like canning, small space food growing, edible gardening and backyard chickens and goats. Listeners can send in questions that might be answered on the podcast. Live closer to your food!
For more Podcast reviews, got to ASE’s article,