The 12 best podcasts of the moment

Anyone who knows me even slightly well knows I’m a podcast fanatic. I listen to one or two episodes every day, and my subscriptions span business development to crime dramas.

Why do I love podcasts so much? Efficiency, for one. I can listen while I’m running, getting ready for the day, or driving to point B. Also, they keep me fresh. I learn so much in a short period of time, and in a way that is often fun and engaging. And finally, I’m sick of screens—I’m on them all day and the last thing I want to do when I’m not on my computer for work is look at a screen. Podcasts are the new radio, and I’m loving them.

So, without further ado, here are my top 10 podcasts of the moment, in no particular order. (Please let me know your favorites in the comments!)

1. This American Life (Chicago Public Media)

Everyone loves long-time This American Life host Ira Glass. It wouldn’t be a list without him, right? This story-based podcast is moving, insightful, funny, heartwarming, inspiring, and everything in between.

 

2. Rough Translation (NPR)

A new favorite! Rough Translation asks the question: “How are the things we’re talking about being talked about somewhere else in the world?” Host Gregory Warner travels the globe to provide a new perspective on American issues.

 

3. The Longest Shortest Time (Ear Wolf)

The Longest Shortest Time is a “parenting show for everyone” and one of my very favorite podcasts. Host Hillary Frank is like a radio bestie, and she covers topics most people shy away from, like racism, LGBTQ parenting, and more.

 

4. Homecoming (Gimlet)

Oh, the suspense! Homecoming follows a military therapy facility gone horribly wrong. Katherine Keener and David Schwimmer (Ross!) are fantastic in this radio drama that will keep you excited for Wednesdays, when new episodes roll out. Season 2 is over now, so lucky you, you get to binge-listen to both seasons.

 

5. StartUp (Gimlet)

StartUp is about, well, business startups. My favorite seasons are the early ones, which follow Alex Blumberg as he founds what is now Gimlet Media, a podcasting company. Alex was a former producer for This American Life. Today, host Lisa Chow follows the journeys and challenges of varied startups, from online dating sites to innovative coffee companies.

 

6. How I Built This (NPR)

I’m a fan of founder stories, and How I Built This does not disappoint. The host, Guy Raz, interviews some of the most successful founders today to hear how they built their companies. Check out this interview with my dear friend, Whitney Sokol, founder of SproutFit.

 

7. RadioLab (WNYC)

RadioLab is just great radio. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich do a fantastic job “weaving stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries.” Listen to their coverage of the eclipse, one of the most moving episodes I’ve listened to in a while. Magical.

 

8. The Nod (Gimlet)

In an effort to better understand my black friends, I started listening to The Nod, a podcast about black culture. Every week, I get to dive into what it’s like to be a black person in America. After every episode, I feel like I’ve expanded my worldview.

 

9. Reply All (Gimlet)

This is such a great podcast: quirky, engaging, kind of weird. If you do nothing else with your life, be sure to listen to #102 Long Distance and #103 Long Distance II. You’ll love hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman.

 

10. Science Vs (Gimlet)

For all you science nerds (ahem, me included), Science Vs is a podcast that explores topics like organic food, nuclear power, artificial sweeteners, and more. Host Wendy Zukerman is sharp, witty, and punny.

 

11. Planet Money (NPR)

Who knew economics could be so fun? There are multiple Planet Money hosts (a fun surprise each week!) who take listeners on the wild ride that is the economy, explaining dense concepts in a way anyone can understand (and enjoy).

 

12. Sincerely X (TED and Audible)

Sincerely X by TED is “an original audio series featuring talks from speakers whose ideas deserve to be heard, but whose identities must remain hidden.” Host June Cohen leads listeners through educational, surprising talks that will be especially interesting to TED lovers. (I also enjoy NPR’s TED Radio Hour, though it didn’t make the cut for this list.)

So, that’s it: my list of 12 best podcasts of the moment. What are yours? Please share your list with me in the comments.

Save

Save

12 Comments

  • Kristen Reply

    I have just gotten into podcasts and wow, I don’t know what took me so long to discover them! I’m currently subscribed to 4 or 5 different podcasts, including some for learning French, talking about books and literature, and TED Talks. You’re right – podcasts are awesome in that you can listen to them anytime, anywhere; for me, that’s while getting ready in the morning, having my coffee, while walking, or sometimes while doing some less important tasks that don’t require my full attention. I love your recommendations and I’ll be looking into them – I’ve just subscribed to The Nod and Planet Money because those sound super interesting!

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Aren’t podcasts great? I’d love to hear your review of The Nod and Planet Money. Now I’m going to have to look for a podcast to learn Thai. Thanks for the idea!

  • Whitney Reply

    Thanks for the shout out under NPR’s HIBT, Stace! You were the one who introduced me to that one, so I’ll be digging into your other favorites now 🙂

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Of course! It was so fun to listen to. 🙂 Proud friend moment!

  • Robin Reply

    On Being is so wonderful—interviews with people diving into questions of meaning and beauty. They also have a wonderful website, too, filled with more content: https://onbeing.org/

    I can’t overstate how much I love it all. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your favorites!

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      I’m subscribed to On Being, but I think the only one I’ve listened to in full is the Glenn Beck interview—such an engaging and surprising episode! I’ll make a point to listen more. Thanks for the recommendation!

      • Lisa Reply

        I tried picking up her book Becoming Wise, which aggregates many of her interviews into a few key themes. I felt like I wanted to highlight every page!

  • Tory Reply

    Thanks Stacy for the recommendations. I like to always be feeding my mind. There is a lot of stuff out there that is like chewing gum for your brain. Did you know that you can starve to death on a diet of chewing gum? So can your brain 🙂 I’m excited to give some of these a try and feed my mind.

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Chewing gum for your brain—that’s great! And no, I hadn’t ever thought of starving on chewing gum, but it definitely makes sense. 😉 I’d love to hear your thoughts and any podcasts you recommend, too.

  • Ann Reply

    So much fun. I’ve got to subscribe to, like, half of these. My favorites are Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, The Art of Charm by Jordan Harbinger, and just about any history podcast out there.

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Thanks for the recommendations! I just subscribed to Revisionist History yesterday but haven’t listened to it yet—I’ll be sure to listen sooner than later. I let my subscription to Art of Charm go inactive without really listening, so that’s on my list, too. Fun!

  • Lisa Reply

    If you like storytelling, I’ll suggest The Moth and Snap Judgement. varied walks of life and themes. good listening. How is Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me not on this list? Probably my #1 choice; 3 comedians review the week’s news in pop quiz format. I also like Note to Self – it’s about how we’re integrating tech into our personal lives. covers wide range, from if our phones are listening to us, to the pros/cons of sharing our kids on social (Hillary Frank co-hosted that one). I’ll stop there. I listen a lot too… may check out some of your faves! great post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *