8 Awesome Podcasts

Best Podcasts 2016

Have you been listening to any great podcasts lately? A year ago, we rounded up seven favorites, and since then I’ve gotten into many more, including a few that started recently. Here are 8 addictive podcasts to add to your playlist, and we’d love to hear your recommendations, too…

IF YOU’RE A foodie
LISTEN TO Splendid Table
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT Warning: This is not a good podcast to listen to on an empty stomach. Hearing people who are passionate about food talk about it in the most lavish way possible makes you yearn for a big bowl of pasta with garlic ramps. Splendid Table is hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, an award-winning food writer and radio journalist. Each week, she talks to a variety of cookbook authors, chefs, wine experts and anthropologists. Listeners come away with ideas about what to make, where to eat and the overall zeitgeist of the food world. You’ll learn the best wine to pair with Doritos (lambrusco!) and where the American tradition of eating frog legs came from (Detroit!). Bon appétit.

IF YOU’RE Obsessed with music
LISTEN TO Song Exploder
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT The genius of this podcast is its simplicity. Each episode focuses on one song, which is lovingly dissected, note by note, by the musician who created it. The result is equally compelling for a listener who’s very knowledgeable about music and someone who likes music but knows nothing about it (me). Recent shows involve the punk-rock legend Iggy Pop breaking down American Valhalla off his most recent album, Björk discussing her song Stonemilker, and Dustin O’Halloran, the composer of the Amazon show Transparent, explaining how he made its theme song. Radio critics everywhere have been freaking out about Song Exploder since it began in 2014, and their praise is well deserved. As New York magazine said, “Song Exploder is probably the best use of the podcast format ever.”

IF YOU’RE Up for a juicy conversation
LISTEN TO Here’s the Thing
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT A couple years ago, after a slew of weird Twitter behavior and public brawls, Alec Baldwin was not the world’s most popular person. He even wrote an essay saying he wanted to hide away forever. And yet… he then debuted his own podcast, produced out of New York’s NPR station, and listeners fell in love with him all over again. Here’s the Thing, which releases episodes twice a month, presents intimate conversations between Baldwin and a vast array of greats — from Amy Schumer to George Stephanopoulos to the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. You’ll lose track of time listening to each episode, and Baldwin turns out to be a generous, knowledgeable host with one of the best radio voices you’ve ever heard.

IF YOU Geek out on fun facts
LISTEN TO Stuff You Should Know
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT What if when you typed something into Google, the answer was spoken back to you by dorky dudes who were extremely knowledgeable on the topic you queried? That’s what Stuff You Should Know does. Co-hosts Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark, both writers from HowStuffWorks, chat in an entertaining yet authoritative way about basically everything. Tornadoes! Cats! The Great Wall of China! This has earned them a long-held spot on the iTunes 10 most popular podcasts list. I recommend listening during your commute, which turns a dutiful part of your day into time well spent. You will be the star of your next cocktail party conversation.

IF YOU’RE A fan of This American Life
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT Anyone susceptible to going down internet rabbit holes will find this show addictive. It’s a series devoted to the culture of the web — things like bizarre Instagram accounts, quirky corners of Reddit and unlikely YouTube sensations. Its hosts, PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, are master storytellers in the vein of This American Life, who manage to make even the most obscure tale feel universally relevant. I broke out in a sweat hearing one of their subjects recount his story of the worst email he accidentally sent to an acquaintance. Afterward, he said, “I’m moving to Los Angeles soon, and I think a large reason is just so I never run into him again.” Eek.

IF YOU’RE Amused by life’s enigmas
LISTEN TO Mystery Show
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT The intrepid host, Starlee Kine, solves everyday mysteries (for example: Exactly how tall is the actor Jake Gyllenhaal, given that the internet doesn’t say?), presenting them through investigative shenanigans and often following tangents that are just as interesting as the main storyline. You feel an unexpected intimacy with the voices in your ear and a warm-fuzzy feeling as Kine cracks each case after just the right amount of suspense.

IF YOU’RE A romantic
LISTEN TO Modern Love
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT Three months ago, when the New York Times introduced a podcast version of its wildly popular column, Modern Love, some diehard fans weren’t sure it would have the same appeal as the written essays, which have been a weekly ritual for millions of readers since they began appearing in print in 2004. But the podcast is elegant and emotional. Plus, the stories are narrated by an array of actors, like Sarah Silverman, America Ferrera, Judd Apatow and January Jones. Prepare to listen to an engrossing collection of true relationship stories — just keep your tissues at the ready.
TRY THIS EPISODE Maddy Just Might Work

IF YOU’RE In the mood to hang with friends
LISTEN TO Another Round
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT Buzzfeed writers Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu host one of the most off-the-cuff audio shows out there. You can sense their friend chemistry — there are frequent breaks for laughter — and the overall vibe is cultural criticism meets Car Talk meets bar crawl, set to groovy music. As the name implies, Clayton and Nigat actually drink on air. (“I got super drunk once,” Clayton admitted in an interview last year.) But underpinning it all are incisive, can’t-stop-listening discussions about race, gender, news and pop culture with a wide range of fascinating guests, which have included the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, the comedian Margaret Cho, Lena Dunham and Hillary Clinton.
TRY THIS EPISODE Madam Secretary, What’s Good?

Thoughts? What other podcasts do you love? Also, Sampler, a podcast about the best podcasts, is a great resource if you’re looking for more ideas.

P.S. 9 fun Instagram accounts and 8 life-changing apps.

(Photo of Carole King by Jim McCrary.)

  1. Kate says...

    I’m obsessed with You’re Wrong About, which does a deep dive on major pop culture icons and events from the 80s and 90s (mostly), typically featuring maligned, misunderstood women. The Princess Diana series was incredible, and now I’m deep into the OJ Simpson series. The Jessica Simpson and Marie Antoinette episodes were also a blast. Then there’s a spin-off called Maintenance Phase that debunks diet and wellness trends and is DELIGHTFUL. The episodes on Moon Juice (good lord) and The President’s Physical Fitness Test (do you remember how awful that was?) are so good.

  2. Emily M. says...

    If you love watching nature documentaries on Animal Planet or Netflix, give The Wild with Chris Morgan a listen! Fabulous.

  3. Stacey Vargas says...

    You should check out the Florida Men on Florida Man podcast! They cover insane Florida headlines at the start but towards the end its all really cool, lesser known, Florida History. Legends and Lore kinda stuff! is their website but you can find them on any podcast streaming service.

  4. New Fan Alison says...

    I’m new to your blog, and I love how you put this together, including a “try this episode” for each! Thank you :)

  5. Addie says...

    S-town is amazing. I cannot stop listening. Everyone must start today.

  6. Andy Danyo says...

    Always love your podcast suggestions! Here are mine and although both are pretty heavy listening, I feel like I am learning a lot: Trump on Earth (all about how Trump is unraveling federal environmental policy) and one from the World Food Program called Hacking Hunger (the last episode about the famine in South Sudan is heart breaking — an aid woman describes watching a mother trying to breastfeed her baby and nothing is there. It’s just so sad but powerful and important to hear).

  7. Julie Alter says...

    You Must Remember This

    Stories of Old Hollywood, beautifully, engagingly, smartly told.


  8. Margaret says...

    Please listen to Why Oh Why!!! It’s produced here in Brooklyn by Panoply!

    The host, Andrea Silenzi, speaks with friends, experts, and men about where love, dating and sex meets technology. The show tells the stories about relationships by blurring the lines between memoir, documentary, and fiction.

  9. OMG I’ve been podcast-obsessed for the past year and now you’ve given me even more to explore. I LOVE Another Round! Thanks for the recommendations.

  10. Carolyn says...

    Tanis and The Black Tapes are two of my faves. Investigations into creepy stuff. Both from Pacific Northwest Radio. Also like Beautiful Anonymous with comedian Chris Getherd (sp?) as host.

  11. Jessica says...

    I LOVE “Straight Up With Stassi” and “Be Here For A While” by Rachael O’Brien! When I listen to them, I feel like I’m hanging out with my girlfriends, recapping our favorite guilty pleasure tv shows and discussing real topics that people don’t often address in an approachable way. I also find myself laughing out loud — which I love.

  12. T. G. says...

    Check out “Not by Accident” – an amazing and brilliantly told story about someone choosing to become a single mother

  13. Luke says...

    How about “Press X To Jump”? they’re a couple of kiwi guys from little New Zealand with a sideways approach to life and tell it like it is with allllllll sorts of laughs in between! I like to listen to them when i need to escape ya know?

  14. CLC says...

    Thanks for sharing. I tried a few & enjoyed all (Here’s the Thing, Modern Love, Another Round and Mystery Show).

  15. Trivial Warfare is a great trivia show that is worth a listen.

  16. Nousheen says...

    “The Read” is also an excellent podcast. Starts off with a review of pop culture that week but ends with a powerful read – usually a commentary on race and politics.

  17. Julie says...

    THANK YOU so much for posting about Song Exploder. The Long Winters was one of my favorite bands and the episode with John Roderick is so good my husband listened to it 4 times!

  18. bretton24 says...

    The Tao of Comedy is my new fave, so funny and profound! She asks comedian’s life’s big questions.

  19. David says...

    I love these podcast lists, but you guys haven’t posted one of my faves: “Humankind on Public Radio” is the podcast for the national radio show and tells some inspiring stories and tackles serious problems.

  20. Morgan says...

    One of my favorite food podcasts is Burnt Toast by the folks at Food52. Great discussion in an understandable and relatable way. I loved the one about first food jobs!

  21. Dear Hank & John is the funniest podcast around!

  22. Rose says...

    Late to the party, but I highly recommend Throwing Shade. It’s like “The Daily Show” for feminist and LGBTQ issues. The hosts, Erin and Brian, are hilarious. Imagine talking about these issues with your super funny friends. Naturally, sometimes there is a hint of snark. Enjoy!

    • Rose says...

      ** oops, Bryan — not Brian! If you listen to this podcast, you know that’s an important distinction to make. :)

  23. Aubrey says...


    It’s new and soooo riveting! Each episode is top notch.

  24. SeattleGal34 says...

    How the heck did Snap Judgement not make this this?

  25. Ashley says...

    If you like Another Round, you’ll also enjoy Call Your Girlfriend. Amina and Ann have a similar dynamic to Heben and Tracy and they actually just did a crossover episode. One Part Podcast and Girlboss Radio have interviews with rad people. And That’s So Retrograde covers off-the-beaten-path wellness topics in a hilarious way.

  26. The Moth is pretty nifty. Nothing yet has got me as hooked as Season I of Serial.

  27. Chloe says...

    I really enjoy the podcast “Luke and Lucy FM” it’s a weekly podcast done by two northern British radio presenters! They talk about a different topic each week it’s very funny! This week it’s about nights in vs nights out!

  28. Jennifer Malone-Brown says...


  29. Jenna says...

    Thank you for this post. I was really in need of some new material.

  30. erin says...

    Slate’s “Mom and Dad Are Fighting.”

    Allison Benedikt is the best.

  31. LOVE all these recommendations. I follow several of them already. And so many more great podcasts coming through the comments! I’m now inspired more than ever to check a few new shows out.

    I host a podcast as well… it’s a series of conversations with creative women about life, work, artistry, style and more. The first part to each podcast episode is a style profile of their home and lifestyle which I share on my blog, Here’s the link to my podcast:

    Anyone ever listened to it?

    • Just subscribed to your podcast, sounds amazing! I am an artist and am always excited to hear more conversations on creativity.

      x, Paige

      Paige Poppe

  32. Ronda says...

    Someone Knows Something, David Rigden opens the cold case of a 5 year old boy who wandered into the woods and was never seen again.
    What Should I Read Next, Anne Bogel(Modern Mrs. Darcy) interviews readers and asks what are their 3 fav. books, one they hate and then suggests 3 books that they’ll love.