Podcasts are now having a moment. I listen to many because I am a huge nerd. I listen to podcasts on my walk to work, at the gym, while doing data entry. Everyone is always asking me my favourite podcasts (huge nerd.) I have now assembled this list of podcasts I subscribe to and which episodes are my favourites. (Nerd.)
- To download a podcast, search for it in the podcast app which comes automatically installed on your iPhone. I cannot help Android users, sorry.
- I try to keep the descriptions extremely short.
- Recognizing the lack of diversity in radio and podcasts, if I list the host(s), it is to indicate that they are voices that are less traditionally prominent on radio (women, people of colour, LGBT.)
- I like things that are dynamic and well produced. None of these podcasts are two people rambling with background noise, except for maybe one, and it's baseball, so.
- If I don’t have a ‘Start with’ tag it’s either news related or you should listen in order. Use contextual clues.
- THIS IS A VERY LONG LIST and it is in no order because I'm not going to put things in neat little boxes.
- All of this content is available for free, but art and news isn't free to produce. Use promo codes if you are making purchases and donate to those that ask for it if you dig what they're doing!
This American Life
A combination of hard news reporting, storytelling, and fiction. They launched Serial. You know, Serial.
Start with: 81 Words, Very Tough Love, David and Goliath, House on Loon Lake
You know, Serial
Hosted by Sarah Koenig
This American Life with a greater focus on storytelling and a lot of music.
Hosted by Glynn Washington
Start with: Mystery Man, The Last Mile, As the World Burns
Science, social and otherwise, told through stories.
Hosted by Jad Abumrad (and Robert Krulwich)
Start with: From Tree to Shining Tree, The Trust Engineers
A Radiolab side project about the Supreme Court.
Start with: The Political Thicket
Naming the invisible forces that control our lives.
Hosted by Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin, and Alix Spiegel. THREE. WOMEN. THREE WOMEN!!!
Start with: The Problem with the Solution
The Memory Palace
Stories you haven’t heard from history. Probably my favourite podcast of all time.
Start with: Homesteading, 400,000 Stars, Oh How We Danced, honestly all of them, especially the recent ones and the very old ones.
Stuff You Missed in History Class
The title explains it all, and it’s real. The two charming hosts cover everything from margarine to massacre and do an excellent job of using history to give context to modern events.
Hosted by Holly Frey and Tracy Wilson
Start with: Robert Smalls from Contraband to Congress, Linda Hazzard and Starvation Heights, A Brief History of Redlining
Welcome to Night Vale
Radio outputs from a desert town where every conspiracy theory is true.
Start with: Listen in order, but A Story About You and Guidelines for Desposal are both standout episode that are a good introduction to ~Night Vale vibes~ and need no context.
Alice Isn’t Dead
A woman drives a truck across a dystopian Americana to find her dead wife.
By Night Vale Presents, performed by Jasika Nicole
Within the Wires
For fans of the novel 1984. :)
By Night Vale Presents, performed by Janina Mathewson
Ghost stories, with a focus on New England.
Start with: Dinner at the Afterglow
The Tale of a Town
What you hear when you talk to people on a town’s main street.
Start with: Parrsboro NS or Sudbury ON
Slowly Becoming Canadian
My friend Souhael Bouallagui tries to help people discover Canadian culture through what’s important to them after moving from France.
Start with: Owen Laukkanen, Have you heard the news?
How to be a Girl
The mother of a pre-teen trans girl sends anonymous updates about how they’re maneuvering society.
Hosted by Marlo Mac
Start with: The Interview, Meeting Laverne, Bathroom Bill
Short stories surrounding different themes each week read by celebrities.
Start with: What is real?, Strange Places
The Author’s Voice
Fiction from the New Yorker read by the author.
Start with: The Burglar by Sarah Shun-lien
Stories that give in depth context to news stories
Hosted by Kelly McEvers
Going into all the ways we’re not even close to 'post racial'
Hosted by Shereen Marisol Meraji and Tasneem Raja
Start with: What does “objectivity” mean to journalists of colour?
Politics beyond elections with lots of pop culture and context.
Hosted by Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu
Currently on hiatus, but I'm leaving it on here because the archive is good.
Start with: dream Hampton on Black Liberation in the Hour of Chaos
A podcast about design that goes much farther into what you might define as design.
Start with: Free Speech Monument, Architect’s Code, The Pruitt Igoe Myth, Usonia 1
Home of the Brave
Stories about everything that America can mean told in a distinct twisted day dream style.
Start with: Some Summer Stories, The Cooking Show, A Tour of Burned Churches
Stories about sex, from sex work to sexuality to sexual assault. Every single episode is NSFW.
Hosted by Kaitlin Prest and Mitra Kaboli
Start with: Riss Park, Silent Evidence
Love + Radio
Real life stories with a focus on exceptional production.
Start with: Greetings from Coney Island
Benjamin Walker’s Theory of Everything
Lefty existentialist anti consumer humour.
Start with: The sharing economy I-III
Call Your Girlfriend
Two women who know what they’re talking about explain pop culture and politics. They refer to Donald Trump as Ivanka’s Dad. They can explain the Kanye vs Amber Rose thing.
Hosted by Ann Friedman and Animatou Sow
A write in advice show that speaks in both specifics and themes through the lens of books and lived experiences.
Co-hosted by Cheryl Strayed
Start with: I’m a Transgender Man, Seeking Acceptance, The Inevitable Guilt of Motherhood
Sometimes this is a podcast about the internet, sometimes this is a podcast about what’s on the internet. Weirdly charming. Definitely start with my recommendations; some episodes are just twitter beef recapping, but when they go into storytelling mode, it gets amazing.
Start with Zardulu, Making Friends, Man of the People, Boy in the Photo
Katie and Ryan do a This Week in Internet Culture reaction and it’s actually funny.
Start with: The Weirdest Catfish
Pop culture and politics with humour with guests you haven't heard on a million other podcasts.
Hosted by Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton
Start with #1000BlackGirlBooks with Marley Dias
Note to Self
A podcast that focuses on the human side of technology.
Hosted by Manoush Zomorodi
Start with: the Bored & Brilliant project
What inspires our collective imaginations with a focus on sci fi.
Start with: 1977
Edge of Sports with Dave Zirin
Takes you haven’t heard and sports you maybe haven’t heard of either. Super political.
Start with: Roller Derby Star Fifi Nomenon on Being Trans in Texas
The Jonah Keri Podcast
You might like this podcast even if you don't like sports... but it's mostly about sports. Jonah focuses on his niche but also features comedians and social media stars. Still, he always does it in a unique
Start with: Scott Boras
Effectively Wild - Baseball Propsectus
You will not like this if you do not like baseball, but if you do, it's very funny and full of nonsense.
On the Media
A weekly media critique that isn’t afraid to vocalize its skepticism.
Co-hosted by Brooke Gladstone
Start with: The America's Poverty Tour series
The economy. Only interesting. I promise.
They cycle through hosts a lot and feature diverse voices.
Start with: The Art of Living at the Poverty Line, Oil 1-4
Mysteries you can’t solve on the internet.
Hosted by Starlee Kine
Start with: #3, Belt Buckle
Examineradio – The Halifax Examiner podcast
Bunch of muckrackers.
Daily national news.
Hosted by Anna Maria Tremonti
Toronto news, zoomed in on 3 stories.
Hosted by Matt Galloway
Diverse mostly author interviews with personality.
Hosted by Terry Gross
Start with: Surviving a Transcendent Childhood
10 minute concerts with bands of every genre performed at an office desk.
Start with: Efterklang, Leluc, Phox
Missing Richard Simmons
Did you know Richard Simmons is missing? Yeah, I know. This podcast is a trip.
Hosted by Dan Taberski
Jenna and Wesley talk about the things you would expect a product of the New York Times to talk about, but they do it in such a funny and interesting way. They reframe common discussions through the lens of race and sexuality, but also through their fascinating work backgrounds.
Hosted by Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris
Start with: The Recknoning, which was posted immediately after Trump's elections
An extremely in depth look at a current event, from day to day specifics to broader cultural movements. The guests are extremely well selected and voices you haven't already heard everywhere else.
Hosted by Joshua Jackson
A spy story. It's entertaining.
Jonathan Goldstein makes a very Jonathan Goldstein podcast. I alternate between loving it and being annoyed by him, but it's a good listen and the premise is trying to predict what would have happened if a part of someone's past was changed.
Start with: Tara
Chapo Trap House
I'm sure people will yell at me for including this, but their regular take downs of how stupid politicians are is cathartic.
My Favourite Murder
I have a strange relationship with true crime. The stories are fascinating but I find frequently they're told disrespectfully, or in a way that emphasizes the gruesome. These are two women talking about murder with the strangest combination of passion and humour. It's not for everyone, but it's for... someone.
Hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
Stranglers tells the story of the Boston Strangler who murdered women in the 1960s. We think! This podcast is just as much about the societal differences between now and then, how police thought of murderers in days before profiles, how women reacted to men on the street, as it is the crimes.
Hosted by Portlund Helmich
My Dad Wrote A Porno
A guy discovers his father has written a porno novel. It is extremely bad. His friends read it with him.
... Please don't ever discuss this podcast with me in real life. It's hilarious though.
Making Gay History
At some point in the AIDS crisis Eric Marcus realized that if he didn't start recording the stories he was hearing, they would never get told. This is one of the best documentary style podcasts I've ever heard.
Hosted by Eric Marcus
Start with: Every single episode is amazing, whether it be someone famous like Sylvia Rivera or someone completely unknown like Wendell Sayers. I especially like the episode Gittings & Lahusen.
A Few Things with Claire & Erica
This is a podcast made by two women in Brooklyn and it sounds like it. Just like everything else in Brooklyn, it would be cloying if they weren't so cool. As entrepreneurs with a business featuring small makers, they have a lot of episodes that focus on art, design, and fine craft.
Hosted by Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo
Start with: Meditation Tips & Non Cheesy Greeting Cards
Podcasts that have ended but are the best of all time and I mourn their loss frequently:
State of the Re:Union
SoTru travels across America and tells the unexpected stories of the people there, going deep into the realities behind statistic and stereotypes. This will always hold a place in my top 5. Always.
Hosted by Al Letson
Start with: Utica New York, Bayard Rustin: Who is This Man?
Podcasts I am currently starting and have enjoyed the 1-2 episode I've heard but cannot summarize yet:
- Getting on With James Urbaniak: hillarious stories told through monologues
- The Ringer MLB Show: baseball