As I’ve said many times before, I am a self proclaimed “Podcast Junkie”. Seriously committed. A connoisseur, if you will.
Like, I legitimately clock multiple hours every single day: while I’m making breakfast and lunch, while I’m in the shower, while I’m driving, while I’m walking, during dinner prep, during gardening, and always during chores. It adds up!
Which means I need an extensive list of options to keep the information flowing. And that’s what I love about podcasts – the information flow. Music is amazing and emotional, but for me, I like to listen to something a bit more engaging. Whether it’s the exquisite storytelling of The Moth, the pop culture critique of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, or just a little good old fashioned sex talk with Dan Savage, I love podcasts because they stimulate me both emotionally and intellectually.
And now (finally) I’m sharing my very favorites with all of you. So here they are, in somewhat particular order:
Serial is the most popular podcast of all time, and I’m sure you’ve heard of it, right? Debuting last year, Serial became a bit of a cultural phenomenon, and I think it was probably the gateway for many people to get in on the podcasting game. Which is awesome!
Serial tells the the real story, in real time, of journalist Sarah Koenig as she re-opens and re-investigates the 1999 murder case of a Baltimore, MD high school student named Hae Min Lee. Lee’s ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, has been serving a sentence for her murder since his conviction in 2000. The podcast is released over a 12 part series (hence, “serial”), and follows Koenig as she digs into this confusing case – exposing police misconduct, jury misunderstanding, uncalled witnesses, incredible inconsistencies, and a hot mess of a defense attorney. Whether you believe that Adnan is guilty or innocent, Serial is a captivating, edge-of-your-seat exploration of our criminal justice system.
I listened to Serial from the very start, which means that I had to wait 7 excruciating days between each episode. You can binge listen to the entire thing, here.
2. The Slate “Suite” of Podcasts
I actually discovered the Slate podcasts through Serial, because they started running a “Serial Spoiler Special” each week to discuss the newest episode, and I was such a Serial addict that I wanted MORE Serial. That’s why I started listening to Slate’s Serial Spoiler Special, and from there I found all the other delightful Slate Podcasts.
To be honest, they all basically follow the same format, which is “really smart people talking about relevant, interesting things.” It’s a good formula! My favorites:
The Pop Culture Gabfest
Educated, insightful people discussing everything from the latest exhibit at MOMA to their obsession with a new bad reality TV show. Art, books, film, music, and social critique – they cover it all. And it’s FUN.
The Political Gabfest
Liberal-leaning but not as left as me, still smart, and saucy-when-needed. They cover current events, but not necessarily the predictable ones. I appreciate their perspective, and it keeps me up to date on what the more moderate crowd is thinking (ie, gets me outside my radical little bubble).
Mom and Dad Are Fighting
The only parenting podcast I listen to, and I must admit I’m relatively new here. But I like the two hosts and their openness about their parenting triumphs AND failures. I like the guests and the many views presented. I like the solidarity of “none of us know what we’re doing here, we’re all fumbling through this parenting thing together, man”. I like.
Slate produces a number of other podcasts, some of which I listen to (like the Double X gabfest for women), and some of which I don’t (like Hang Up and Listen, their sports podcast), and all of which are available for your perusal, here.
3. Citizen Radio
A political podcast that’s left of left of left, that’s smart and subversive and really, really fucking funny. That’s not afraid to criticize liberal leaders, or to call out all of us – all of us – on our shit. And I just dropped that “fucking” and that “shit” on purpose, because if that makes you balk a bit, then this is definitely not the podcast for you, haha (Which is also totally okay! Different strokes for different folks, and variable messaging for the variable masses. Right?).
Citizen Radio is the project of a husband-wife team of badass brainy jujitsu-armed (yes, really) vegans. And if that doesn’t sell it, I just don’t know what will. They talk a lot about the stuff that mainstream networks are too cowardly to face, like racial politics (real ones, not the pretend ones), about sexism and misogyny, and about cultural appropriation. They will call you out on your privilege! And it’s awesome. I’ve learned more from listening to this podcast than I ever learned from NPR, Air America, MSNBC, or any political or sociology class I ever took in college (truth!)
And, I laugh all the way through it.
4. Savage Lovecast
Sometimes you just need some good old-fashioned sex talk. You know, like how to navigate your polyamorous relationship, where to find a partner who’s “GGG” (good, giving, and game), and whether or not you need to DTMFA (dump the mother fucker already). And so much more! Dan Savage writes the infamous Savage Love sex advice column, and his seriously sinful Savage Lovecast is even more incredible.
I hope it goes without saying that this is not for the faint of heart, but what I love so very much about Dan Savage is not only his cutting wit, not only his scandalous humor, but also, jeepers, the man is WISE. His political/activist monologues are always full of passion and insight. And although he’s a proud freak in the bedroom, he’s also a loving husband who just celebrated 20-years with his partner Terry, as well as a dedicated father of a perfectly well-adjusted teenaged son.
I like that Dan Savage lives waaaay outside the mainstream, and he does life right. This podcast is smart, funny, and sexy as hell. I love!
But seriously don’t listen to this if you’re easily offended.
5. NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour
Who knew that I, of all people, would be such a sucker for pop culture podcasts!? But what can I say, it’s just so much fun to hear smart people talking about interesting things (basically that same Slate model here). Some of them are petty and some of them are poignant, but all of them are POP.
Pop Culture Happy Hour is fun because they have an ever-revolving collection of NPR writers, bloggers, and staffers that come on to share the spotlight. It’s always a fresh perspective, and I’ve learned about so many bands, books, shows, and movies that I don’t even know where to start.
This podcast makes me extra happy for Fridays!
6. RH Reality Check
Amanda Marcotte is a writer who covers feminism and politics, and she is one of the most inspirational writer/activists that I follow. And, she’s also the host of RH Reality Check, a podcast that covers women’s sexual and reproductive health news. SO EXCITING RIGHT?
Okay, so I know that’s probably pretty . . . serious sounding. And it is, actually, but it’s also perfectly penned and beautifully bite-sized (half an hour once a week). As a woman and a feminist, I feel like it’s so important to keep track of the many ways that women’s issues are playing out across the country. And just a heads up – it’s sort of dismal.
Which is why we need to stay informed, and keep fighting. So give this podcast a listen so you can get inspired and fired up!
Remember up there ^^ when I said that Serial is the most popular podcast of all time? Well, I lied. It WAS the most popular podcast of all time . . . until Invisibilia hit the scene this past winter.
“Invisibilia” is Latin for “all the invisible things”, and Invisibilia, the podcast, is about just that. All the invisible forces that influence our everyday lives, from emotion to sensory perception to technology, and more. It’s kind of like Radio Lab meets This American Life, with the perfect balance of whipsmart science and deeply personal storytelling.
The premier season contains a quick 6 episodes. And oh my goodness, the final episode, “Our Computers, Ourselves” had me bawling my eyes out at the majesty and the tenderness of the human experience.
RuPaul’s What’s The Tee? with Michelle Visage
Legendary drag queen RuPaul talks about life, the universe, and everything with his best squirrel friend, Michelle Visage (who recently went vegan!).
Science through the lens of humanity.
The “economics” (not money, just social science) of life. Explores “the hidden side of everything”.
People get up on stage in front of strangers and tell a true story, live, without notes.
Our Hen House
An animal rights and ethical veganism podcast hosted by a couple of sassy broads who I just so happen to know and love. Changing the world for animal.
This American Life
One of the pioneers. The name says it all.
Okay guys, now it’s your turn!! I want to know YOUR favorite podcasts, cause lawd knows I’m always on the lookout for more! So please please, lay ‘em on me!
Thanks guys! Looking forward to hearing what you love to listen to!