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7 Best Podcast Episodes

7 Best Podcast Episodes

We’ve talked before about podcasts we like. But now and again, you come across an episode that is next level — so good that you laugh out loud or nod passionately while walking down the street. Here are seven of those episodes, if you’re in the mood for something special…

The Moth: The Curse (14 minutes)
Detroiter Dame Wilburn, pictured above, tells a hilarious true story involving a fortune teller and a quest to find love. As soon you start listening, you know there’s going to be a massive twist but you also feel the satisfying tension of knowing you’ll never be able to guess it in 1,000 years. You’ll want to be her best friend after listening. (We immediately Googled her other Moth episode and otherwise crush-stalked her online.)

This American Life: Tell Me I’m Fat (67 minutes)
Lindy West, the feminist writer and author of the memoir Shrill shares how she went from being embarrassed by her body to embracing it: “At some point, I just was like, you know, it’s fairly likely that I’m going to be fat forever. So why am I putting off figuring out how to live with that?” American Life staffer Elna Baker also talks about losing 100 pounds in 5 1/2 months, and how the way people treated her after that shocked her.

Invisibilia: Flip the Script (60 minutes)
This gripping episode features three instances when people were faced with hostility — but instead of being hostile back, they decided to be overtly kind. The results were mindblowing. In the first story, an armed robber walks into a dinner party. The second segment talks about police officers in Denmark who invited Islamic radicals over for coffee. And the third is about a guy just looking for a date. Not only is the episode compelling, it reminds you that there are two sides to every story and that people are inherently good.

Mortified: 50 Shades of Awkward (18 minutes)
The Mortified podcast invites people to read the embarrassing things they wrote as kids — diary entries, poems, love notes, you name it. Here, a sixth grade girl — inspired by Judy Blume – tries her best to write a erotic novel. Needless to say, she gets everything wrong. I was laughing so hard, tears were actually streaming down my face.

Love & Radio: Living Room (25 minutes)
When this first aired, we got a million emails from friends with subject lines like “devastating,” “OMG” and “must hear.” The narrator develops a one-sided voyeuristic relationship with her neighbors, who she can see through the windows of their uncovered Manhattan apartment. To say anything else would spoil the power of listening to this gut-wrenching story — if you haven’t already, go listen.

Modern Love: Just One Last Swirl Around the Bowl. (23 minutes)
Actor Jason Alexander (of Seinfeld fame) brings Dan Barry’s 2009 Modern Love essay to life. The story follows a man’s reaction to his daughter’s dying goldfish (“Why have I become emotionally attached to a pocket-size creature that lives in a cocoon of water?”). Yet the piece quickly strikes a deeper level, exploring the complicated relationship many of us have with mortality. The episode concludes with a candid interview between the author and his 12-year-old daughter, Grace.

WTF With Marc Maron: Terry Gross. (96 minutes) Comedian Marc Maron, known as the “father of podcasting,” interviews Terry Gross, the beloved “Fresh Air” host he calls the “most effective and beautiful interviewer of people on the planet” — and the result is otherworldly. Here are two immensely talented personalities baring their souls to each other about their lives, loves and careers. It feels like a privilege to be eavesdropping. There are tears, even: “You are home to most people,” Maron tells Gross. “Your voice is more comforting than probably any voice in their lives. I don’t know why I’m tearing up! Jesus Christ.”

What other podcast episodes would you recommend? Please share below…

P.S. More podcasts we love.

  1. Alexander says...

    Reply All is my favorite Podcast, and one of the most recent episodes “The Boy in The Photo” is also one of the best podcasts I’ve ever heard. EVER.

  2. Joy says...

    I also love listening to Mr. Husband!! (A podcast about house husbands and husbandry-shenanigans) So relatable and hilarious!

  3. Well, I found out about Here’s the thing from this blog, and my favourite episodes are the Billy Joel, Jerry Seinfeld and Julianne Moore ones.

  4. I haven’t heard about most of these podcasts! Off to check them out :)

  5. Emily says...

    Selected Shorts is a great podcast with short stories read by actors in front of an audience. I can think of specific stories that I loved listening to, but it’s kind of a bummer, I don’t think there really is a way to go back and access old episodes, even if you subscribe. I have some saved on my computer (Karen Russell’s St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is an all-time favorite) but sadly can’t link to anything! I hope I can make it down to NY to watch and listen to a performance some day!

  6. Emily says...

    The episode of “Dear Sugar” in which they interview sex/relationship therapist Esther Perel is mind-blowing! It should be listened to by anyone who has ever – or ever plans to – attempt a monogamous sexual relationship.

  7. Cait says...

    If you have not heard the episode of Fresh Air where Terry Gross interviews Maurice Sendak, stop what you are doing and listen to it now. It slays me every single time I hear it.

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Sounds amazing!

  8. Cindy says...

    I love posts like this! My contribution:
    * My favorite, favorite podcast is “ReplyAll,” a show about the internet. The hosts have good banter and are great interviewers: they always ask the questions I would ask if I was my quickest-thinking, most generous self.
    * I am a diehard “This American Life” listener. Some episodes that come to my mind often are “577: Something Only I Can See” and “470: Show Me the Way.”

  9. Salima says...

    I am always on the look out for your podcast recommendations, just downloaded The Curse… Thanks!

  10. Kazuko says...

    The Love & Radion podcast “Living Room” made my cry. So sad, but beautiful. Thanks for all the amazing recommendations!

  11. Samara says...

    Solidod on NPR’s Hearing Voices podcast was INCREDIBLE!

  12. Pete Holmes interviewed Gary Shandling shortly before his death on his podcast “You Made It Weird” with Pete Holmes. It’s one that I’ve gone back to over and over again.

  13. I loved all of these so much! Thank you for sharing!!

  14. Maggie says...

    Stuff Your Mom Never Told You, “Notorious RBG” episode is about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Everyone I recommend it to absolutely loves it!

  15. Elizabeth Spence says...

    Radiolab – ‘the buried bodies case’, This American Life – ‘Regrets, I’ve had a few’, Modern Love – ‘Not so simple math’ and too many more to mention. Podcasts are my life

  16. I’ve heard the modern love one. Amazing.

  17. Kathryn says...

    The Lively Show is SO good. I love her interviews, her way of thinking and she’s super relatable.

  18. I can’t wait!! The only one I’m familiar with is Living Room… and yes. Just yes.

    Thanks!!

  19. Jen says...

    Guilty pleasure for followers of the Bachelor franchise, Huffpo’s ‘Here to Make Friends’, more fun than watching the actual show!!

  20. Deb says...

    Oh my goodness I just started listening to 50 Shades of Awkward in my lunch break at work. 4:37 in I realised I can’t listen to this at work even if it is my lunch break. Too. Much. Spluttering.

    There are tears in my eyes.

    Can’t wait to finish it later!

  21. I love all the Julia Sweeney contributions to This American Life. There’s one episode devoted entirely to her stories about a time in her life when her brother has cancer and then she gets cancer, too. All while her parents and brother are all staying in her house. It’s heartbreaking and funny. I just love her writing.

  22. Bonney says...

    Mom on Pop from the AV Club!

  23. Dylan says...

    I love listening to podcasts when I exercise. I really liked Limetown. Kind of a creepy supernatural mystery series. I also LOVE Mystery Show. All the episodes are good but Source Code made me laugh and smile to myself and probably made me look crazy on my morning power walk!! And it involves Jake Gyllenhaal.

  24. Averil says...

    The refugee episodes on This American Life are compelling, heart warming and heart breaking. Truely eye opening. Such a great listen!

    • Anna says...

      I loved these!!! Just listened this week while running.

  25. Natalie says...

    There’s a podcast that’s popular here in England (created by Brits) called ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’. Jamie Morton discovered that his dad had written some erotic literature and instead of pretending it never happened, he reads it out loud with two of his friends. The writing is terrible and the running commentary alongside is hilarious! I’ve had to stifle bursts of laughter on public transport so many times!

    • ks says...

      Natalie – thank you for this recommendation. I couldn’t be laughing harder – as an expat in America it’s been a much needed dose of british humor – and the story! I’m cringing at the thought of my dad as such writing such things – couldn’t be better . x

    • Jocelyn says...

      I completely agree! I’m somewhat regretting saving the second season for my 30th birthday road trip around Iceland with my grandma next month … The commentary is laugh-out-loud funny + I can’t hardly wait!

    • Natalie says...

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! It’s so good!

  26. I don’t have a specific one in ind (because they are all soon good), but we love Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. We actually went to a taping of an episode when they came to Seattle. Go to one if you can, so much more happens that never makes it on air! (Ours was the Rick Steves episode that had the decision of the Scottish Independence vote. They actually taped it both ways, as if Scotland voted stay, and then taped it with go – because they didn’t yet have the results but needed to cover the story. It was awesome!)

    We also used to listen to Car Talk all the time. I haven’t heard it since one of the broadcasters passed away, but even for someone not into car repair the car guys totally cracked me up with jokes and their banter.

    We did both seasons of Serial, but the second one wasn’t really up to the first. It was kind of meh.

    • Tovah says...

      I love WWDTM and have always marveled at how they discuss news events on such short notice… Never occurred to me they tape alternatives in advance! Thanks for clearing up that mystery!

  27. Freya says...

    Anyone who loves that episode of Mortified will love Elijah Wood’s favorite podcast “My Dad Wrote a Porno.”

    Every week the host reads a chapter of the hilariously terrible and inaccurate erotic novella his father has self-published while his two friends comment on the absurdity of it. They’ve pulled out reproductive diagrams, they’ve stopped to figure out if a sex position is even possible, and they have their own drinking game for redundancies. It’s so funny.

  28. So many great suggestions, I will have to check them out! Thank you!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  29. Christie says...

    I was coming here to recommend the 50 Shades of Awkward podcast and you’ve already listed it! I laughed with tears streaming down my face and strangers on the street gave me funny looks, and I didn’t even care. Literally the funniest podcast episode I’ve ever heard, even years later.

    • Courtney says...

      YES – I love Cars … talk about it all the time!

  30. Rachel says...

    I listen to podcasts to a point bordering on obsession–I’m actually considering canceling my Spotify premium subscription (something I never thought I’d say) since the majority of the workday I filled with music is now podcast mania.

    I’ve got to plug “The Black Tapes” (and can’t believe no one’s mentioned it already!) It’s a scripted drama, but written to sound like a season of Serial–however instead of true crime it’s about a journalist researching a paranormal researcher and whole bunch of spooky, based in semi-truth stories.

    • Offred Gilead says...

      I second the Black Tapes podcast! So good. I love horror stories and I wouldn’t really say Black Tapes is horror, but it definitely gets me looking around dark hallway corners in my house at night. I also strongly recommend Tanis- from the same Pacific Northwest Stories production group. From their website: “Tanis is what happens when the lines of science and fiction start to blur…” (http://pnwstories.squarespace.com/work/).

  31. Tara says...

    I just listened to the ‘Juicervose’ episode of Radiolab. I thought it was such an interesting and enlightening story about autism, and it really made me think about autism and other conditions that are still somewhat medically mysterious.

  32. Mary says...

    I am not sure if this podcast has been mentioned yet, if so I apologize for the dupe, but if you love history, you will LOVE “You Must Remember this” – it covers the history and forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century. I’m so addicted!

    • Rachel says...

      I just got hooked on this one! The in-depth series on Charles Manson’s Hollywood was fascinating (and super creepy, in a well-executed way).

  33. For my last birthday, my parents gave a waterproof ipod. Now I listen to podcasts whenever I go swimming at the Y and it’s been seriously life changing! Can’t wait to listen to all of these. For any swimmers out there, I can’t recommend it enough.

    • beckxoxo says...

      Me too!!!! Turned me into a swimmer when i totally wasn’t before!

    • I didn’t know such a thing existed! I must get one!

    • kadcat says...

      Wait. You can get a waterproof iPod??? You have just blown my mind. I love swimming, and it’s the best form of exercise for me because I have to limit strain on my joints. I find doing laps so boring at times…this has just changed everything. Really and truly. :D

  34. I’m excited about this list! I haven’t listened to podcasts yet and never know where to start. Specific episodes really helps.

  35. I love that you listened specific podcast episodes here, because when I try a new podcast I never know where to start. I already listened to the ‘Tell Me I’m Fat’ episode, but I have yet to try the rest. Thanks for the recs, some of these sound really good!

  36. Sarab3 says...

    Here are two episodes of podcasts I listen to that I couldn’t stop thinking about after hearing them!
    Strangers: “the waxing vergin”
    Revisionist history: “blame game”

  37. Has no one mentioned My Favorite Murder yet? Me and my family are absolutely obsessed. It’s two really hilarious women that each research and tell a true murder story. It sounds gruesome, and it definitely can be, but it feels oddly feminist too. A lot of their discussion around murders is pro women and they acknowledge again and again that the reason they are so fascinated by true crime is that women are uniquely impacted by anxiety, fears, and extra precautions we must take. Anyways, give it a listen because it is fascinating and funny. I recommend it to everyone I know along with the usual suspects(This American Life, Radio Lab, Reply All, The Moth etc)

  38. Olives says...

    Krista Tippett’s (On Being) interview with John O’Donohue about beauty is my go-to whenever I’m feeling blue. Tippett seems to love it as well, as she references the episode from time to time in other interviews. His Irish accent is so soothing and he paints the ordinary in such an extraordinary way. He passed away not long after he gave the interview.

  39. Veronica says...

    Politically Reactive with W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu! It’s my new fave political podcast. Two comedians interview vastly different guests and have great side notes, etc to provide background during the conversation. Kathleen Hanna on 3rd Wave Feminism was good but why not start at the beginning?

  40. Maggie says...

    Invisibilia’s “How to Become Batman”

    • That was a great episode! So fascinating!

  41. Jenny says...

    Reply all had a great 4 part episode called, “On the inside.” Such good story telling!

    • Julia says...

      Yes!!! It was Serial-esque and had me at the edue of my seat.

  42. Mary says...

    Oh my gosh, I’m listening to that Mortified episode right now. /dead

  43. had to chime in again: i am thrilled to get over my irrational dislike for podcasts lately. i listened to 2 Mortified episodes and they were so endearingly awkward AND there’s a show in baltimore next month! just purchased tix to attend.

    thanks so much for this timely post.

  44. Angela says...

    Michael Ian Black’s How to be Amazing had David Sedaris for two episodes and it felt like such a treat. MIB is a really wonderful conversationalist and interviewer and I could listen to him all day.

    I also love Bitch Sesh, the Real Housewives recap podcast with Casey Wilson (from Happy Endings!) and Danielle Schneider. Honestly, I just want to be their best friends.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      I never knew Michael Ian Black had a podcast! I can’t wait to check this out. Thank you for sharing!

      Stella xx

    • I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS

  45. Shashi says...

    Tell Me I’m Fat was really eye opening for me. Particularly about the woman who lost so much weight in 5 months. I don’t want to give it away – but I was left a bit speechless at the end.

    • YES!! That story haunted me for a week… Until I told someone about it and then it haunted me some more.

  46. This is so much fun. I love coming across other podcast fanatics. I recently started posting my favorite podcast episode each week on my blog. There’s usually one that sticks in my mind that I feel the need to share :)

    http://www.theoutsideandin.com/category/podcasts/

  47. Michaela says...

    I love the Modern Love podcast! It’s so interesting to hear the stories come to life with a professional and then get to follow up with the author.

  48. Jessica says...

    I have never gotten into the podcast world… I don’t have a long work commute and generally fill silence with music (or trashy reality tv…) but reading through these has me anxious to check them out!

  49. Caroline says...

    I would recommend every single episode of Radiolab— I can’t miss one, they’re all so good. I specifically loved “La Mancha Screwjob” — it’s about professional wrestling (not an area I’m usually interested in) but I’ve probably listened to it 6 or 7 times! Really well done. Their spin-off “More Perfect” is also phenomenal about the Supreme Court.

    I also HIGHLY recommend “Call Your Girlfriend” with Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow. I saw a post here recently with a quote from Ann and thought “two of my favorite corners of the internet found each other!” The whole podcast feels like a love letter to friendships between women and I’m often texting my long distance bestie (a phrase they use often) on Fridays saying “Dude the new CYG, too good” followed by emoji praise hands.

    • teresa says...

      Me too!
      My favorite Radio Lab is Fu-Gu which was about a WWII Japanese invasion on the US mainland that I had never heard about using paper balloons with bombs tied to them! The bombs are still being recovered today. FASCINATING!!

  50. cal422 says...

    I’ve listened to that Mortified episode and had the same reaction. It is SO funny!!

  51. Kayce says...

    My favorite podcast is TBTL (Too Beautiful to Live). It is a daily podcast with Luke Burbank of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and Livewire) and Andrew Walsh, based out of the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been listening to it every week day for almost a year, and can happily say, it has made my life infinitely better. I can’t imagine a world without it. It will make your heart so happy!!! Check it out! Anyone else a Ten?

    • Julia says...

      Ahh! I used to listen back when it was on the radio. I even attended their one year anniversary and baked a big Nacho Cheese Dispenser Cake (complete with cheese you tortilla chips!). It was such a great show then, I can only imagine how great it is now.
      I’m happy to know it’s still going strong!

  52. Megan says...

    I am so excited to listen to these! I LOVE a good podcast – the two I think have stuck out the most in my mind as mind blowing and fascinating are:

    This American Life #529: Human Spectacle (Act 1 – I am the Eggplant)
    Invisibilia: The Secret History of Thoughts

    I remember my jaw literally dropping as I listened to both of these stories unfold – totally worth a listen!

    • Ashley says...

      I agree with you. I had the same reaction.

      I would also recommend “This American Life, Parent Trap” about Lucy the chimpanzee. It is such an incredible but gut wrenching story!

  53. Nissa says...

    The Truth Podcast has an episode called Moon Graffiti that I find to be totally spellbinding. It was inspired by an actual speech that was written for the president to give in the event that Apollo 11 failed. As we know, it didn’t fail, so this is a dramatization of what could have been. I don’t even know how many times I’ve listened to it or recommended it to friends. It’s that good!

  54. If you love history and don’t mind really long podcasts then I highly recommend Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History specifically the episode “Prophets of Doom”

  55. Christine says...

    THANK YOU INTERNET FOR THESE COMMENTS 🙌

    Seriously checking out every episode mentioned and loving them all. Thanks for sharing, everyone and great post, Jo!

  56. Joe says...

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned The Cathedral by Reply All, later rebroadcast by Radiolab. It’s always the first thing I think of when recommending a specific episode. Heartbreaking and unforgettable, akin to the Living Room episode.

    • Joanna says...

      Yes and yes. This episode still comes back to me randomly. Haunting and beautiful. Wow.

  57. sharon says...

    there’s a relatively new podcast called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text recently discovered. i grew up with the series and reread every book every summer. it’s been super eye opening rereading it as a sorta adult (recent college grad) and following along with the podcast. hope other Harry Potter fans enjoy it – http://www.harrypottersacredtext.com/

    • Rebecca says...

      Thanks! So excited to give it a try!

  58. Stella Ray says...

    I have recently fallen in love with podcasts; specifically those aired on This American Life. The one mentioned in this post is a good one but my favorites are:

    “The Potery of Propaganda”
    “The Birds and the Bees”
    and
    “3 Miles”

    • Hannah says...

      I was reading the comments to see if anyone else mentioned This American Life-Birds & Bees. I cannot delete that one. The one segment about talking to kids about death?! I cannot get it out of my head to this day!

  59. Charli says...

    This is such a great question. I have listened to pretty much all the old Radiolab from the early years two or three times but haven’t found myself really captivated by their recent episodes.

    I love the On Being interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber and have listened to it probably 3 times. I am not a religious person, but I can’t help but love On Being almost every single time. http://www.onbeing.org/program/nadia-bolz-weber-seeing-the-underside-and-seeing-god-tattoos-tradition-and-grace/5896

  60. I HAVE to chime in and say the Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me episode with Mavis Staples with SO funny and charming and wonderful. It’s from probably six years ago but do try to find it, friends!

  61. kj mackay says...

    A friend of a friend knows the couple whose window was being looked into from the Living Room episode of Love & Radio. I tell people not to listen to it. There’s no doubt it is a beautifully crafted story from the perspective of narrator. But please consider what an invasion of privacy it is and continues to be to a wife who is grieving her husband.

    It raises the question of who’s story was it to tell?

    • Heather says...

      Very good point.

    • Lindsey says...

      I really, strongly disagree with the suggestion that this story belongs to one person. The very fact that it exists is proof that this story belongs to the person watching as well as the people being watched. And I don’t believe that it’s an invasion of privacy when no names are mentioned.

    • Julianna says...

      This was the first podcast I ever listened to and, while beautiful and poignant my reaction was the exactly that.

    • kj mackay says...

      Lindsey, sorry i did not mean to suggest any story belongs to one person; i am in no way a fan of censorship.

      i just imagine being in the wife’s position and hearing this podcast and realizing it was about me, having friends and family members ask me about it because there were enough facts in that they recognized it, and yet never being contacted about it by the writer myself, and to keep seeing the story retold every time someone clicks on it or sees it on a ‘best of’ podcast lists.

      so maybe what i really mean is that i find the story insensitive especially around such an intimate, private, painful event as the death of a loved one.

    • Jill says...

      Thank you for telling others not to listen. I just listened to it after reading the recommendation on Cup of Jo, and I wish I’d seen your comment first and not listened. These were strangers and she invaded the most intimate moments of their life (and death). You don’t need to apologize for saying it’s not her story to tell. It isn’t. Period.

    • I haven’t heard this episode, but I can guess what’s about. As a widow, I can say that, yes, it would be devastating to have my pain broadcast out to the world without my notification or knowledge. I don’t mind sharing my story, but it should be my story to tell, not something used by others for their personal gain. I feel horrible for this woman, whoever she is. Not only did she lose her husband, but she lost her privacy as well.

    • Emily says...

      I agree in some ways about this. I had such complicated feelings about this particular podcast.

    • heather says...

      I had the same reaction when I listened to it. It had been recommended to me so many times, but when I heard it I felt ashamed that I was somehow complicit in such an invasion of privacy. It wasn’t so much that the woman had watched them and had all of those feelings as it was that she told the whole world about it on the radio. Not cool!

    • Stacy says...

      Somehow I feel like am very different human with regard to this podcast. I cried and could almost see myself being the person telling this story. In all honesty, I know in my heart that it’s a bit voyeuristic. That said, if I put myself in the place of the woman going through all of this with her husband, I would find some solace in the fact that another person grieved this loss with me, felt all of those emotions, and had this sadness for me after my loss. I think this happens more than we know.

  62. These are all new to me so I’m excited to check them out!! I shared my favorited episodes here: http://theblueeyedperspective.com/?p=624. When people share podcasts but not specific episodes.. I tend to get overwhelmed with options.

  63. Kim says...

    I LOVED “Tell Me I’m Fat” on This American Life. As a fat girl, it felt so so great to hear “my” voice out there. It was interesting, too, to hear the perspective of a former fat person. Her experience made me so sad!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i LOVE lindy west. have you read shrill? it’s so, so smart and hilarious and great.

  64. Bee says...

    Radiolab has a bunch of good ones, but my favorite by far is “Poop Train.” It’s amazing and unexpectedly emotional for a story about poop.

    • teresa says...

      I just listened to the one about the Toyota recall. I can’t stop thinking about it, and have since tried to stop my car using neutral!

  65. Kate says...

    I love Revisionist History, especially his really interesting 3-part series on higher education. Also the episode “Generous Orthodoxy.” And – I like Here’s The Thing (Alec Baldwin) and I loved his interview with Sarah Jessica Parker. She is so well-spoke.n and lovely ;)

    • I was just going to suggest Revisionist History, especially the three-part series on higher education! I listened to it on a long train trip over the weekend and was blown away. Malcolm Gladwell is one of the smartest voices out there and he’s an incredible storyteller.

      Also, I like Here’s the Thing as well, but it took me a while to get over Alec Baldwin’s self-centeredness. Sometimes I get the feeling he asks guests a question just so he can have the chance to answer it himself : /

  66. Kaitlyn S. says...

    Radiolab – The Buried Bodies Case

    The first time I was driving to a conference in Lake George, NY, right through the Adirondack park. My job takes me up there multiple times a week, and I found myself picturing exactly where the events occurred. As a lawyer, I’ve always (at least, I hope) grappled with ethics, and this is a perfect example of where ethics and morals don’t necessarily align. Fascinating stuff. I’ve returned to the episode at least 5 times since it first aired in June, and I foresee myself listening many times more (in fact, as I’m writing this I’m downloading it again for my ride home).

  67. Soooo many recommendations, thank you everybody!

    I’ll add my 2 cents–for all bookworms (and even non-bookworms) I recently discovered Overdue Podcast, these two guys who talk about books. It’s hilarious and wonderful and this description is not doing it justice at all. Just go listen to it.

  68. Sarah says...

    Invisibilia’s “The Problem with the Solution” is amazing. As the sister of a sibling with mental illness, it was so enlightening and a big “ah-ha” moment for me. I invite everyone to listen and think about how we approach individuals who live with this everyday. I was definitely in tears by the end, but felt so empowered.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, sarah!

  69. Haylie says...

    TAL has been killing it lately, especially when it comes to more journalistic stories. The two-art series on refugees that they just posted is so, so good. (“Are We There Yet?” and “Don’t Have to Live Like A Refugee”). I told everyone I know about “Tell Me I’m Fat.” Last year they also did a two-part series called “The Problem We All Live With” about school desegregation, and that was amazing, too. And earlier that year they did ANOTHER two-part series called “Cops See it Differently” which is one of the most humane pieces of radio I’ve ever heard. Also–why not?–I’m really proud of the pilot episode of my podcast! It’s called Philia, and it’s at philiapodcast.org. The first episode is called “Haylie” and it’s about what happened when a baby mouse that I tried to rescue from a cat died. <3

    • Kaitlin says...

      The Problem We All Live With… literally a year later and I still think about it all the time. Such an amazing episode.

  70. Erin G. says...

    revisionist history is so wonderful. Especially “generous orthodoxy”. Proud to be attending the same college (Trinity at UofT) as a much younger Malcolm Gladwell.

  71. Patrice says...

    Speaking of twists — the second story on the episode ‘Lovesick’, from the podcast Risk, is absolutely jaw dropping and riveting. It’s a must listen!!!

  72. Sarah P says...

    The latest episode of Radiolab “From Tree to Shining Tree” BLEW MY MIND. Stop what you are doing, right now, and listen to it.

    An older episode, The Heartbeat, is also excellent. Oh and the one where they talk about CPR…. ahhhh too many good ones. But I think the one about the trees is the best podcast episode I’ve ever heard.

    • Janell Ives says...

      I conquer. That episode or Radiolab was sooo fascinating!!

    • Anu says...

      Agree, also love their Colors episode. I was going OMG! so many times.

  73. I’m such a podcast junkie, so I’m very excited about all the recommendations!
    FWIW, I LOVE This American Life’s, “Fiasco!”
    its an old one, but man-oh-man so funny (especially the first segment) I was driving the first time I heard this episode, and had to pull off the road, because I was laughing so hard I was a danger to myself and others.

    • Haylie says...

      100% this. I’m obsessed with This American Life, and recommend a million of their episodes, but this one is the funniest.

  74. I loved the “Flip the Script” episode of Invisibilia, but the first episode of season 2 “The New Norm” blew my mind and made me cry, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. The story about the oil riggers who learned to overcome the social norm of macho masculinity so that they could express their emotions in a healthy way was so powerful.

  75. Laura says...

    My favorite part about these type of posts is that the comments section is equally enlightening. Thanks for that.

    I enjoyed The Problem with Solution from Invisibilia. It struck a personal chord with me, and I suggested it to my Mom and she also loved it. Their very first episode (Secret History of Thoughts) is also one of my favorites.

    http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/483855073/the-problem-with-the-solution

  76. The Accidental Gay Parents is a 4 part series on The Longest Shortest Time. Bring tissues. It is emotional and heart warming and so incredible.

    • Allison says...

      Totally agree. I loved these episodes!!!

    • Frankie says...

      Could not agree more!

    • Veronica says...

      Tears!!!!

  77. Molly says...

    Hands down the Gringo of the Year is my favorite episode of Mortified. Like you, I was crying from laughing so hard, and have made all my friends and family listen to it.

    • RS says...

      That one was really funny! :)

  78. Elizabeth Cohen says...

    Longest Shortest Time is a MUST!

  79. My favorite This American Life post is called “The Seven Things You’re not Supposed to talk about”. The first part is Hilarious and I’ve relistened several times. I also wrote a post about my favorite podcasts, check it out! http://www.lushbreak.com/?p=289

  80. Kate says...

    These recommendations are spot on – I’ve heard about half of them and am psyched to check out the rest!

    I heartily recommend every episode of 2 Dope Queens!

  81. Sarah says...

    Love this list! A good one from a few years ago that I’ve listened to multiple times- “23 Weeks 6 Days” on Radiolab. It is the story about a baby born right at the threshold of viability. It is serious, but so interesting and touches on the morality issues doctors and parents face, advancements in neonatal medicine, and the intense love parents feel for their children. Warning: happy and sad tears will be shed while listening!

    • I was going to suggest this same episode. It’s unbelievably good!

    • Echoing the love for “23 Weeks 6 Days”! It’s incredible. In the same vein, “Gray’s Donation” from Radiolab is just as good.

    • Sarah says...

      Update: Thinking about the podcast got me googling for updates, and it looks like the parents (Kelley and Tom French) wrote a book that is coming out next month!

  82. Courtney says...

    2 Dope Queens is the best podcast I have heard in forever! Comedy and story telling. I have listened to every episode twice!

  83. i’ve been slowly savoring Dear Sugar Radio i loveloveloved cheryl strayed’s tiny beautiful things and her dear sugar advice column on the rumpus.

  84. Tammy says...

    Music theatre lovers have to listen to the episode “When Madison Avenue Met Broadway” on CBC’s Under the Influence podcast. It talks about the age of big advertising industrials, when some VERY recognizable Broadway writers and performers shilled for products. Totally entertaining!

  85. I LOVE This American Life and Radio Lab and I recently found 3 new ones that are great.

    Death Sex & Money, Found (Baby episode is wonderful) and More Perfect (new Radiolab spin-off)!

    • Lauren P. says...

      I second the Found podcast!! I feel so emotionally connected to world after listening (and that’s all I could ever ask for really).

  86. Shana says...

    I think about the Heretics episode of This American Life a lot. What would happen if we all truly followed our belief systems/ religions? What would we have to cast aside? This one is about casting aside the belief in hell.

  87. erin says...

    The Longest Shortest Time – Accidental Gay Parents is amazing, a series of 4 podcasts.

    So is Reply All’s Disappeared episode that has the history of the word “Yas.” Actually every episode of this show is interesting and funny too.

  88. RS says...

    I agree that some podcast episodes are a tier above the others. I found The Moth through your blog and here are my favorite episodes. Some are funny, some are moving. All are fantastic.

    All at Sea
    https://themoth.org/stories/all-at-sea

    Before Fergus
    http://themoth.org/posts/stories/before-fergus

    A Crushing Connection
    http://themoth.org/posts/stories/a-crushing-connection

    I’ve Heard You Make Cakes
    http://themoth.org/posts/stories/ive-heard-you-make-cakes

    Elevator ER
    http://themoth.org/posts/stories/elevator-er

    An Unplanned Exhibition
    http://themoth.org/posts/stories/an-unplanned-exhibition

    Flight
    http://themoth.org/posts/stories/flight

    The One Good Man
    http://themoth.org/posts/stories/the-one-good-man

    White House Pastry Chef
    http://themoth.org/posts/stories/white-house-pastry-chef

    Fog of Disbelief
    http://themoth.org/posts/stories/fog-of-disbelief

    • RS says...

      I guess I should clarify that these are individual stories and not full episodes… about 10-15 minutes each!

  89. tunie says...

    Oh wow. I am renovating my mother’s bathroom for her and podcasts are keeping me sane! I’ve listened to almost all of these already, haha, but there are a few new ones here for me to check out so Thank You!

    My daily list is most of those above, but also:
    Radiolab: episode on the business of blood donation was amazing but is no longer on the site … I found another site that has posted it:
    Clear Eyes, Full Veins, Can’t Lose – Radiolab at:
    https://huffduffer.com/egordin/317303
    Radiolab: Grays Donation http://www.radiolab.org/story/grays-donation/
    Planet Money – #576: When Women Stopped Coding
    Spilled Milk (food-centric and hilarious every time)

  90. Anna says...

    The Science Vs podcast hosted by hilarious Aussie Wendy Zukerman is my new favorite!
    It pits facts against …all that stuff your uncle says. Features topics like attachment parenting and guns.

    https://gimletmedia.com/show/science-vs/episodes/

  91. Kristi says...

    I adore several episodes of the now-defunct Dead Authors Podcast. It’s improv, with “H.G. Wells” (Paul F. Tompkins) interviewing various comedians pretending to be, well, dead authors. My favorite: Kristen Schaal as Tennessee Williams. The Walt Whitman and P.G. Wodehouse ones are of highest quality as well.

  92. My absolute favorite This American Life episode was “Notes on Camp.” It’s a perfect, fun episode for the summer–maybe you’d only like it if you went to camp growing up, but it’s so good and capturing the magic that is summer camp!

    Also, I recently listened to The Liturgists episode “Black and White: Race in America” and it was so fascinating and so, so, good.

    • Also, can’t wait to listen to the ones you listed (esp. Invisibilia–do you listen to Hanna on the Slate Double X podcast?) and all the ones people are commenting about!! I have a 7-month-old and in the long, monotonous hours of playing I like to listen to podcasts sometimes to break up the Raffi Pandora channel. :)

    • Judy says...

      YES, the Liturgists on race. Outstanding!

  93. I LOVE this post! The only podcast I’ve listened to is Serial, but I need something to entertain me while I paint rooms (or watch the paint dry, as they say).. :-p 50 Shades of Awkward sounds hilarious!

    Denise
    http://www.realtyhousewife.com/

  94. Kara says...

    Not my favorite of the Modern Love series, but that is my favorite podcast right now.

    Embedded also excellent!

  95. Nicole says...

    Please try the “Note to Self” episode called Taking the Lead Bonus” Andrew Moravcsik. He’s married to Anne Marie Slaughter and is the lead parent in their family. Fascinating look at what being the lead parent is all about and fosters some great discussion amongst friends!

  96. heather says...

    This is why I love this blog. The Flip the Script episode and the Tell Me I’m Fat episode have been buzzing in my brain all summer. They really changed the way I think about the world and other people and my interactions with them, and made me desperate that EVERYONE could listen to them so we could all just be… nicer.

    Thanks to you probably a lot more people will listen to them now!! high five, CoJ!!!

    Also: Radiolab’s “From Tree to Shining Tree” blew my mind. Loved it something fierce.

  97. Erin Mary says...

    “Harris Returns” on Pete Holmes’ “You Made It Weird” podcast. Harris Wittels returned to the podcast a few months before he passed away, talking about addiction and rehab and what a road that is. It was really great to listen to in the moment, but since he’s passed, re-listening to it is heartbreaking and (I think) really important to get into the mind of someone with that illness.

    “Gender Creative with Morgan Walsh” on the OMFG podcast. The podcast itself is usually really hilarious (it’s comedians trying to figure out what the “kids” are up to re: slang, etc. Their guest is usually a teenager who helps them out), but this one is a really really great look at raising kids who don’t fit into the gender binary. It was really, really great.

    There are a ton of podcasts episodes that are hilarious and that I go back to constantly (the F&P and Gilly&Garry episodes of Comedy Bang Bang, for example) but the two above are really meaningful.

  98. Weronika says...

    I could recommend pretty much every episode of Stuff you should know, but especially their history oriented podcasts, like ‘How operation mincemeat worked’ or ‘That time Nazis invaded Florida’. Hilarious and informative!

  99. Conner says...

    Fiasco (This American Life) features a story about a production of Peter Pan that goes horribly awry. Every time I listen to it, I can’t stop laughing. For anyone who has ever done amateur theater… no matter how amateur.

    • heather says...

      Fiasco is definitely one of my all-time fave TAL episodes. Makes me laugh out loud.

  100. Lore is hands down my favorite podcast of all time and picking just one episode as a favorite would be nearly impossible. The podcasts are just over 20 minutes and each episode explores an urban legend, folklore, or some sort of scary story. They are told in a manner that sounds like you might be sitting around the campfire – very eerie, yet oddly calming . All of the episodes are thought provoking and take a deeper look into mankind and thought processes in different societies and time periods. Highly recommend!

    • Keeley says...

      Thanks for this recommendation, sounds right up my alley. Going to download some episodes now!

  101. Stephanie says...

    I’ve been listening to Anna Faris is Unqualified. I love how sweet she is with the callers. I’ve only listened to the eps based on who the guest is, so I usually pick frequent podcasters/guaranteed funny people.

    Anna Faris is Unqualified: Jason Mantzoukas, Paul Scheer, and Keegan-Michael Key.

    Fresh Air: Terry Gross interviewing Peggy Orenstein, talking to girls about pleasure. Such an important topic and interesting information.

    Death, Sex, & Money: Autism isn’t what I signed up for (love this mother’s honesty; heartbreaking and beautiful, made me laugh and cry), Siblinghood, Why You’re Not Having Sex

    • Erin Mary says...

      You had me at Jason Mantzoukas!

  102. Jessica says...

    The color episode of radiolab. Mind blowing!!

  103. Adriana says...

    Call Your Girlfriend is my favorite podcast! A podcast between two long-distance best friends. Awesome women approaching all sorts of issues and keenly focused on women power. Recommend x a million!

  104. Caroline says...

    The “Belt Buckle” episode of Mystery Show was magical. Totally agree with Elli above re. the Terry Gross episode on The Longest Shortest Time. Looking forward to checking out the ones on the list I’ve missed!

    • Kristi says...

      Seconded!

    • Haylie says...

      Oh man, yeah, the belt buckle episode. Devastatingly good.

    • Chen says...

      Agreed! Re-told the story once (in first person, from memory, while translating it and probably butchering it a little) to my six year old nephew as a bedtime story. He was incredibly fascinated and intrigued, kept asking me questions about it for weeks.

    • Jenna says...

      Belt Buckle was one of my favorites, ever. So good!

      Also really enjoying the Presidential podcast series by The Washington Post.

    • Emily says...

      The mystery show was such a great podcast – I hope it comes back with more episodes!

  105. Brianna says...

    It’s not an episode, because frankly, all of them are hilarious, but The Babysitters Club Cub podcast is worth listening to if you were a fan of the series (which is 30 years old this year). It’s two 30-something guys dissecting each book with just the right level of snark and analysis.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, how hilarious!

  106. Natalie Brennan says...

    This American Life’s episode “Telephone” shows the BEST parenting decision a dad has for his teenager.

  107. Amy says...

    my dad wrote a porno
    its a guy and two friends and they read his dad’s (horribly written) erotic novel one chapter at a time and comment on it as they go. It’s dangerously hilarious, don’t listen and drive.

    • Tracey says...

      I’ve been listening to this, as well. so funny. Definitely rated R.

  108. Melissa says...

    The Belt Buckle episode of Mystery Show.

  109. Reagan says...

    OMG I have some good ones:
    Switched at Birth (this american life)
    The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar (this american life)
    The Ghost of Rue Jacob (the Moth)
    Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me (the Moth)
    Victims Impact (the Moth–follow up to Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg switched at birth was INSANE! i have thought about it like every other week for the past ten years.

    • Natalie Brennan says...

      Yes!! Switched at Birth!

    • heather says...

      Can we just have an entire thread where we talk about Switched at Birth??? When I first listened to it I didn’t have kids, and I was so bewildered by the parents’ behavior, but now I sort of get it. It came to mind recently when I listened to that More Perfect episode on Adopted Parents v. Baby Girl.

    • Sarah says...

      OMG Adopted Parents vs. Baby girl had me crying as I listened to it going for a evening walk with my baby!

  110. Rose says...

    The last interview Maurice Sendak did with Terry Gross is probably the most moving interview/ podcast I’ve ever heard. A must listen for fans of Maurice Sendak/ his books, and/or for hardcore fans of Terry Gross!

    • Reagan says...

      Yes, I LOVED that one. The angel in the window…

  111. Having an episode list is such a good idea. I see podcast recommendations all the time, but it’s hard to know where to start. I click one, see there are hundreds of episodes, and then just not listen to any because there are too many choices. I’m off to listen to the Dame Wilburn one right now!

  112. Mel says...

    I love listening to Revisionist History, particularly episode 5, Food Fight. It opened my eyes to the issues surrounding inequality in higher education.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this sounds amazing — thank you, mel.

    • heather says...

      YES! I could not stop thinking about Food Fight. I keep bringing it up at social gatherings and boring the hell out of everyone with my ideas for student loan reforms.. I was really impressed to hear that recently Princeton has dramatically increased the percentage of Pell Grant students.

    • Meagen says...

      I love this podcast so much. Have you gotten to “Generous Orthodoxy”? It made me cry, but in a good way.

  113. Andrea in Montreal says...

    I absolutely love This American Life. A few favourites:
    Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde – An unbelievable story
    Send a Message – The motherhood of the traveling pants segment – Confirms my belief in magic
    House on Loon Lake – Creepy and wonderful
    Babysitting – “What Big Teeth you Have” segment

    • Reagan says...

      If you liked House on Loon Lake, you must listen to The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar!

    • Julia says...

      A few This American Life episodes that immediately come to mind as favorites for me are “The Super,” the two-part series on Harper High School, and “The Right to Remain Silent.”

  114. Jamie says...

    Ah, I’m so excited to listen to all of these. Great list.

  115. Elli says...

    The Longest Shortest Time interview with Terri Gross about why she didn’t have kids is also a must-listen!

    • Meredith says...

      The best part, towards the end, Terri just can’t help herself and sort of becomes the interviewer…..getting the actual interviewer to verbalize some pretty uncomfortable thoughts she has had about being a parent. And you can tell in this woman’s voice that she is uncomfortable about it, but she can’t stop either….it’s Terri Gross for God’s sake, asking her questions! Sat in the grocery store parking lot mesmerized by this interview.