I’m sitting here with my momma, hanging out in the living room on a Saturday afternoon. She’s regaling all the ways the public school policies in her distract are a) a waste of time b) a waste of money and c) plain stupid. I joked with her that she could probably start a podcast called “How to Run a Public School with Julie” and she semi-rolled her eyes.
“Well no one asks me! If they would just ask me.” My mom is a smart lady, they probably should.
Luckily, I have far better podcast prospects for you today than the working rants of my mom. I’ve been listening to podcasts (probably 4-5 hours per week) for the last 10 years.
I’ve tried a ton and can boil down my favorites easily. Without a doubt, I don’t miss these. In no particular order:
Death, Sex, & Money with Anna Sale
I love that this podcast gets deep fast. It covers the topics in the title–death, sex, and money or anything else that is unusually awkward and intimate to discuss. I’m not sure how she comes up with her stories because it’s a really interesting mix of everyday people and celebrities.
Recent Favorite: From Conversion Therapy to a Rainbow Yarmulke, Anna Chumlsky Catches the Worm
Invisibilia is Latin for “invisible things” and this newer podcast talks about all of the invisible forces that shape our life. I thought, how long can they keep this up? But boy was I wrong: fear, mental illness, fame, and social norms. The little extra episode Mr. Kitt is one of my favorite little podcasts of all time.
Recent Favorites: Outside In, Mr. Kitt, The New Norm, The Problem with the Solution
The Longest Shortest Time
WYNC recently dropped Hillary Frank’s podcast on parenthood and it’s a real shame. Luckily, another group picked it up and it’s still in production! She covers all the different aspects of parenting from the myriad of choices we have to make, traumatic birth, teen pregnancy, the struggles of working, and why breast pumps suck (see what she did there). The Accidental Gay Parents will make you cry, in the best way. Need to focus on the good in the world? Don’t miss it.
Recent Favorites: The Accidental Gay Parents 1, W. Kamau Bell Asks His Mom About Sex,
I’m not sure how I found this one but it isn’t produced by a major NPR station and more “off the beaten path”. It features every day people reading their childhood writings which is every bit as funny and awkward as you imagine it to be. Occasionally, other podcasts get too heavy for me so this is a great lighter option.
Recent Favorites: Retta: The Academic, Joan: 50 Shades of Awkward
The best part of this podcast is less the topic and more how it’s approached. The two hosts have a way of bantering that really helps me understand complicated topics. Even the way they produce the credits is enjoyable. Plus, whoever mixes the show adds just the right sound effects and music to make the show better than any TV out there. For serious. They find such a bizarre collection of topics to cover which do center on science. If you’ve never looked at a scientist as a celebrity, check this out.
Recent Favorites: From Tree to Shining Tree, Juicervose, Galapagos, The Living Room, The Buried Bodies Case, Darkode
This American Life
This American Life is probably one of the most well known podcasts in production. They are well-funded which allows them to bring current event stories from places like Syria. The show typically covers one topic and includes 3-4 stories on that topic. Ira Glass is the iconic host who has been the face of the show for at least a decade. Some of my favorite episodes actually just cover one story. My recent favorite is probably 129 Cars which will give you a good taste of how a normal, everyday event can be radio gold.
Recent Favorites: 562: The Problem We All Live With, 513: 129 Cars, 391: More is Less, 355: The Giant Pool of Money, 561: NUMMI 2015, 441: When Patents Attack
You guys, this is brand new and holy wow, it knocked my socks off. It’s produced by Radio Lab’s team and focuses just on Supreme Court cases. I’ve learned more about law in it’s short first season than in my entire high school career. This is the first one I listen to when fresh episodes pop up. It’s just so fascinating and will appease both history buffs and current event junkies at the same time. Or you know, normal people who don’t care about either one.
Recent Favorites: Object Anyway, The Imperfect Plantiffs
Dear Sugar Radio
Apparently, back in the day, Steve Almond wrote a column called Dear Sugar and it was pretty well known. After some time, he handed the reigns over to Cheryl Strayed, most known for her book Wild. The actual written column is long gone but they have teamed together to offer advice to listeners. I’m not always in the mood for self-reflection but they do such a wonderful job of exploring complicated relationship topics that this is a favorite.
Recent Favorites: The Unmothered Mother, The Infidelity Episodes: Esther Perel
Those are my top 8 podcast recommendations but I wanted to list a few more in the unlikely event that some of the ones above are not for you.
The B-List: Code Switch, Serial, Ask Me Another, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Planet Money, Limetown
New Ones I Think I Love: Snap Judgment, Reply All