10 podcasts that you need to have in your life

Evelyn looks at the world of Podcasts and recommends 10 of the best

Written by Evelyn Coffin


Podcasts are having a major moment right now. With so many people on the go, getting to work or school, working out, chores about the house, and even relaxing when all that’s done—it’s no wonder that podcasts are increasing in popularity. They can be informative, imaginative, exciting, and are a lot more portable than a lot of other forms of entertainment. Here’s a quick list of ten outstanding podcasts, in no particular order, that are worth a listen.

1. Serial

Genre: journalistic nonfiction

Yep, that Serial. This is the one you’ve been hearing everyone talk about, and there’s a reason for that. The first season follows the gripping true story of Adnan Syed, who was arrested in 1999 for a crime he said he didn’t commit. No spoilers here, but let’s just say that when Sarah Koenig reopens the case, a riveting and tricky story unfolds, and you’re not going to want to stop listening. The second season, which just started in December, focuses on an American soldier who was imprisoned by the Taliban, and it’s just as engaging as the first. www.serialpodcast.org

2. Radiolab

Genre: science

This funky little podcast takes a look at big questions in science and philosophy, but in a light-hearted, entertaining way. The hosts, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, introduce weekly topics with titles that range from “Remembering Oliver Sacks” to “Sex, Ducks, and the Founding Feud”. You’ll probably learn quite a few things about a wide variety of tricky science-y topics, but nothing here will ever be too hard to grasp, so give it a listen, even if you’re not that into science. www.radiolab.org

3. Welcome to Night Vale

Genre: mystery, Comedy, Paranormal

Welcome to Night Vale is styled as an old-timey radio news programme broadcast from the fictional desert town of Night Vale, where strange things tend to happen an awful lot. With a mix of weather reports, news from the Sherriff’s office, mysterious sky-sightings, and more, the show can zig-zag from funny to a little spooky, but is always entertaining. Don’t listen after dark if you believe in ghosts, but do check this one out. www.welcometonightvale.com

4. Stuff You Missed in History Class

Genre: historical

Run by two seriously cool women, Tracy Wilson and Holly Frey, Stuff You Missed in History Class is just that: it’s what the history books don’t want you to know. Whether you consider yourself a history buff or just want to listen to some neat stories, this podcast will do the trick. It includes brief histories of peanut butter, harmonicas, moonshine, the Eggnog Riots, and, of course, lots and lots of scandalous affairs. www.missedinhistory.com

5. Modern Love

Genre: nonfiction

For years a famed New York Times column, Modern Love is going digital in this new podcast, which features familiar talents reading columns submitted by readers, writers, and lovers from all over. The stories deal with relationships, good and bad, poignant and funny, and, most often, quite moving. 

6. Second Captains

Genre: sports broadcasting

Perfect for keeping up with sports on the go, Second Captains is run by Eoin McDevitt, Ken Early, Ciaran Murphy, Simon Hick, and Mark Horgan. The popular podcast is out four times a week so you’re always on top of the news, and features interviews with athletes from all different sports, though there is one on just football as well. www.irishtimes.com/sport/second-captains

7. This American Life

Genre: nonfiction

This American Life is a blend of all kinds of storytelling and is truly a fascinating listen. There’s usually one theme per episode, and that theme is then explored through true stories told by ordinary people—at times funny, informative, heartbreaking, and always complex. Some popular themes from past podcasts have included babysitting, summer camp, immigration, and babies who have been switched at birth—a wide variety, with plenty for all. www.thisamericanlife.org

8. Stuff You Should Know

Genre: informative

Similar to Stuff You Missed in History Class, Stuff You Should Know features… stuff you should know. The show is hosted by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, and part of what makes this podcast so good is that they’re not experts on anything, instead just exploring whatever topics they can get their hands on. Some of the biggest hits have been episodes on Spam, pinball machines, death, hangovers, cheese, and Jack the Ripper. With such a wide variety of topics, there’s bound to be something you’re intrigued by. www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/podcasts

9. Song Exploder

Genre: music

Song Exploder is a musical podcast, but it doesn’t just play music. Each episode features an artist from nearly any genre (pop, hardcore punk, even television theme song writers), who discusses how and why the song was written. This podcast could help you find your new favorite artist, give you insight into how much goes into making a song, and is a fascinating look at the creative process as well. www.songexploder.net

10. Sleep With Me

Genre: mood

Sleep With Me is a hidden gem of a podcast and is perfect for people who have insomnia or trouble falling asleep. Just like the name implies, Sleep With Me will actually…just bore you to sleep. The show features nonsensical and boring monologues from the creator, Drew Ackerman, but he won’t get offended if you fall asleep while he’s talking. That’s the point. www.sleepwithmepodcast.com

Happy listening! 

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