These Are A Few Of My Favorite Podcasts

April 7th, 2015 - filed under: Furthermore » Reviews

podcast junkie

The addiction is real.

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 podcast

1. Serial
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.

citizen radio

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.

pop culture

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!


7. Invisibilia
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.

Good stuff. Really, really good stuff.


Oh And Also!
Here are a few more that I listen to regularly. They don’t make the “favorites” cut, but they’re still in the frequent rotation:

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!).

Radio Lab
Science through the lens of humanity.

The “economics” (not money, just social science) of life. Explores “the hidden side of everything”.

The Moth
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!

  • Gem Wilder

    I am such a fan of Desert Island Discs. It’s a BBC show that has been going for years (since the 50s I think). Notable guests talk about their lives and pick the 8 songs that they would take with them when stranded on a desert island. The guests are from every field and walk of life, and every single one of them is fascinating. Plus, there are years of archives to get through.
    I’m also a fan of The Dinner Party.

  • Vanessa

    Besides the parenting podcast, we are podcast junkie twins! I’m always hesitant to suggest Citizen Radio to people because it’s obviously not for everyone, so it’s nice to hear that you love it too! I must check out Ru’s next.

  • Rachel in Veganland

    I listen to podcasts daily too! LOVE Citizen Radio–it’s my morning habit to listen to it… oh about now… and Serial was amazing. Can’t wait for its second season. I just downloaded Invisibilia per your rec. I also love The Sexy Vegan Radidio and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, though Dan doesn’t put podcasts out all that often. (Can’t blame the guy, sometimes they’re 4+ hours a pop!) The National Gallery of Art in DC also puts out some great ones, but I might just be hyper nerdy with that one as an art historian. I’m like you, I often listen to podcasts in the car, during a cardio session, cooking etc. I too often need a little more mental stimulation than my music can offer though I love it. Thanks for the awesome shares and reviews!

  • Rachel in Veganland

    Also Lacy of Super Strength Health just put our her podcast list too!

  • Roxanne

    Dear Sugar Radio (Cheryl Strayed’s advice column), The Longest Shortest Time (originally about early parenthood, now inclusive of all stages of parenthood), Call Your Girlfriend (Ann Friedman and her friend), Death, sex and money (about these three tough topics). Also, he’s kind of (definitely) a douche, but Tim Ferriss interviews some interesting people on his podcast

  • VeggieNextDoor

    In addition to several already on your list, I adore Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s podcast. She is so WISE and gives great advice on navigating socially as a vegan and also does some really Insightful pieces on history, etymology, etc.

  • Monika {windycityvegan}

    Oh, I love love love pop culture podcasts. I listen to almost everything on your list already (you led me to Citizen Radio!).

    Here are a few others that are *always* queued up in my Stitcher feed:
    Very Bad Wizards // Reading Aloud // Filmspotting // Spilled Milk // Amicus // Dinner Party // Planet Money

    And a few that I like to listen to at random:
    Rich Roll // Supreme Podcast // I Was There Too // The Canon // Best of the Left // Food for Thought // Vegan Road Rants // Justice Talking

    Really, though, I could just go on and on. There are so many great p’casts out there!

  • Beth

    I’m another reader you turned on to Citizen Radio! Loooooove them!

    I’d highly recommend Dogma Debate (atheism and religion) and StarTalk (science and the universe) frequently hosted by Neil De Grasse Tyson- one of my favorite people!

    Thanks for your list, and all the new ways to procrastinate, haha!

  • Lizzil

    I LOVE This American Life. So much. That lead me to Serial and also Invisibilia. I guess I’m an NPR nerd….and proud of it!

    I’m going to have to check out your suggestions, because even though I don’t know you “in person”, you have impeccable taste!

  • lazysmurf

    I’ve been LOVING Home of the Brave lately, if you haven’t checked it out, I bet you’d like it.

  • Ingunn

    I miss Vegan Freak Radio :(

    My all-time favorite is Snap Judgment, with a Norwegian podcast called Radioresepsjonen as a close second.

  • Charley

    Big Podcast fan here too! Great suggestions thanks, Citizen Radio sounds particularly good. I love the BBC Life Scientific, The Infinite Monkey Cage, the Guardian Science Weekly, also the Nerdist, Comedy Bang Bang, Strangers, Risk, Sex Out Loud, Little Atoms!!

  • Kayla

    Dude, you have fantastic taste, I just subscribed to nearly all of these (already subbed to CR!). I recommend Welcome to Night Vale, because it’s so weird in the best way possible, and Best of the Left, because I learn so much from each episode.

  • Lacy Davis

    Great minds think alike! I just wrote about my favorite podcasts yesterday! Here’s the list: !

  • Monika {windycityvegan}

    Just read your post and am listening to Rise & Resist right now! I love Muscles by Brussels, too.

  • Diana

    I just love Stuff You Missed in History Class! They cover different events throughout history in short and easily digestible bursts (25-30 mins). The hosts are wonderful and I (not a history buff) love it.

  • Kylie

    You totally got me hooked on Dan Savage! I listened to EVERY. SINGLE. micro podcast and now I have to wait a week to hear the new ones. SO GOOD! I also loooooved Serial – can’t wait for season 2! I’m going to check out Citizen Radio and Invisibilia at work tomorrow :)

    I listen to The Nerdist regularly, Chris Hardwick has a wonderful way of “interviewing” people. I also love The JV Club, which mostly women talking about growing up and what life was like for them as teenagers… and a new favorite is Spontaneanation because I’m a comedy junkie!

  • Jennifer

    Your post and this post is making me think that maybe I should give podcasts a try. I have a hard time “listening” and doing something else. But maybe while working and running would work.

  • Melissa Rixey

    I’d never listened to a podcast until you posted this, and I’m pretty sure I’m already an addict.

  • Meghan

    Professor Blastoff! Hilarious and informative (with hilarity being the stronger flavor). Comedian(ne)s Tig Notaro (LOVE!), Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsburger with all ranges of guests. Go back and listen to earlier episodes too!

  • Jo

    We share so many favorites!

    In addition to the ones you’ve already mentioned (Serial, Invisibilia, The Moth, Citizen Radio, Savage Lovecast, This American Life), I’m also currently digging:

    - Pure Green Podcast, from Pure Green Magazine, interviewing bloggers and other folks who follow a green lifestyle

    - 99% Invisible, which focuses on how design and technology (mostly) invisibly shape the world around us

    - Earth Eats, which talks about real food and green living with a sustainable agriculture slant. Not vegan but I still enjoy it!

    - Earth Beat is basically TAL with an environmental slant. Unfortunately there are no more new shows but there’s a very impressive backlog still available

    - Weekly Science shows – Quirks and Quarks, Science Friday

    - Vegan Exercise shows: Lacy & Holly’s Rise & Resist, No Meat Athlete, and Rich Roll

    - America’s Test Kitchen – I love learning about food and they always have weird tips and tricks I can use, even though they’re also not vegan.

    - The Memory Palace – really short but SUPER interesting weird little forays into unpopular history


  • Katherine

    I do a lot of long distance driving for work, and am always looking for new podcasts to listen to. A few I like that aren’t on your list:

    Strangers with Lea Thau
    Dear Sugar with Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond
    On Being with Krista Tippett
    Latino USA with Maria Hinojosa

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Ooh that sounds fun! I’ve been meaning to get into some more music podcasts, so this sounds perfect. Thanks Gem!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Haha, well yes, I LOVE Citizen Radio and although I wouldn’t suggest them to everyone, I sure do with everyone would listen to them! ;-)

    Ru’s is really fun, it’s super casual and you get a lot of insight into his life and philosophy, as well as his friendship with Michele which is really sweet.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Man I need to check out the Sexy Vegan podcast! I’m such a bad friend, oi . . .

    Is Hardcore History super dese? I would love a history podcast because I’m embarrassingly uneducated on the subject, but I also would need something peppy and engaging to keep my from zoning out.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Great list!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Dear Sugar is now at the top of my list, I didn’t realize Cheryl Strayed was podcasting!! All these others sound super amazing as well, thanks for the recs!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh yes I love her, she was one of the first podcasts, and THE first vegan podcast, I ever listened to. Listening to her podcast on the speakers while working/cleaning is how I [subversively] convinced Damian to go vegan, ha!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, I remember when you turned me onto Filmspotting years ago! I listened for a long time and then fell off for some reason. I should revisit! Thanks for the other recs, I’ll check them out as well!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yay for Citizen Radio! And ooh, Dogma Debate sounds good (I assume since you listed to CR, they’re cool atheist, not the pretentious white-male-centered sort, haha). I’ll def check that one out. Thanks!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yay NPR nerds! I used to have a shirt that said “I Do It Daily With NPR” – man I wish I still had that . . . =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    What’s it about?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I MISS THEM SO MUCH! Aww man I forgot about them. One of the originals! And just my brand of smarts and sass. I really do wonder (worry) whatever happened to Bob and Jenna.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Ooh these all sound great, thanks Charley!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    So I have a question about Night Vale. I’ve heard sooo many great things about it, but was under the impression that it’s a narrative linear story? So I always felt like it’s not something I could just jump into and start listening? Is that true? Would love some insight!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Hey there great mind! =D

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Try them in the shower! (obviously you’ll need a simple speaker system to plug your phone into – don’t take it in the shower)

  • lazysmurf

    It’s one of the reporters that’s often featured on this American Life, you’d recognize his voice if you listen often. So far there have been stories about his neighborhood, trying to outrun an antelope to prove his theory on evolution, traveling to Afghanistan right after we started bombing, and driving across country asking people if they think this is the end of civilization.

  • Ingunn

    Me too! It was so bizarre how they just disappeared. It made me think something (threatening?) must have happened in their personal life, otherwise I doubt they would leave all their faithful fans hanging like that.

  • Kayla

    I think you could jump in wherever to get a feel for it, but if you wind up liking it, I’d listen from the beginning. It’ll make a lot more sense that way. Hope that helps!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Ooh this sounds perfect for me, thanks Diana! <3

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I KNOW HE IS THE BEST RIGHT??! I seriously adore him, and I’m so glad you found him as awesome as I did. Wisdom. So much wisdom.

    Thanks for the other recs as well . . . and OMG see you at beer fest!!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Haha, mission accomplished! They’re amazing, right?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Sounds weird and I like weird! I’ll def check it out, thanks Meghan!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    OMG you just gave me soooo many hours of listening. These all sound perfect. Bless you. So much bless you.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Just started on Dear Sugar tonight. =)

    Thanks for the other recs! What’s the focus of Latino USA (like is it more culture or more politics, or what? Sounds interesting!)

  • Katherine

    Latino USA is a good mix of both, depending on the episode. There was one all about NYC bodegas and the function they serve in their neighborhoods. Others have discussed censorship and the lack of older Latina role models. I like that it covers issues that touch on many Latin American countries, and each episode usually has two or three shorter segments. It challenges my assumptions and perceptions, which is a good thing.

  • Rachel in Veganland

    Sayward, HH is fantastic. I really like it’s narrative arc and structure. Dan sort of tells events like stories, and uses relevant examples and quotations to make his points. It’s basically like a history lecture given by an amazingly fascinating and engaging speaker. His series, “The Wrath of the Khans,” is pretty great! I think you’d love it!

  • Katherine

    I forgot to list Death, Sex, & Money with Anna Sale! It has been one of my favorites for the past few months.

  • Kittee

    You might also love Risk! It’s similar to The Moth, but with more adult natured content. I also love Sexy Vegan Radidio.