Lately, I have friends ask me for recommendations on podcasts. Since I am a bit addicted to podcasts, I thought I’d finally write a post where I can refer people who ask, because I have too many to try and remember at any one time.
The way things have gone since late 2016, I’ve lately leaned heavily on the escapist side of podcasting. My tastes lean heavily toward sci-fi, horror/suspense, and anything generally that approaches an interesting narrative from an analytical/skeptical angle.
- Limetown [Stitcher]
- This is best described as a synthesis between Serial (or other NPR-like serial reporting) and the X-Files.
- The Black Tapes [Stitcher]
- Another cast-as-a-NPR-style investigative reporting series, this time focusing on paranormal investigators, but from the point of view of a skeptic, and someone interested in (not always successfully) debunking fictional paranormal stories.
- Tanis [Stitcher]
- From the same folks that make The Black Tapes, this focuses on a hunt for a legend that may be tied to the lost city of Atlantis, the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth… and more eerily, a possibly extradimensional, possibly malevolent force that can distort space and time…
- Rabbits [Stitcher]
- The latest entry in the PNWS group of podcasts (Black Tapes/Tanis) this podcast follows a woman attempting to uncover the circumstances behind the disappearance of a friend of hers, last known to be participating in a deeply secret alternate reality game, where players have disappeared or gone insane…
- The Message [Stitcher]
- A podcast about a potential first-contact situation… and strange occurrences for those who have heard the transmission. Similar to Limetown, in terms of storytelling from an investigative journalist.
- N.B.: The same podcast feed was used to distribute a second production, LifeAfter; which I also enjoyed, though not nearly as much as The Message.
- The Bright Sessions [Stitcher]
- Think: X-men talking to their therapist about dealing with their powers… (and the extra-governmental agency monitoring them…)
- Ars Paradoxica [Stitcher]
- Fan of time travel paradoxes? Reasonably accurate, but fictionalized physics gone awry? Government conspiracies? Extra points for a fun little codebreaking exercise in each episode? Enjoy.
- Serial [Stitcher]
- My gold standard for non-fiction, episodic podcast on a particular topic; Serial investigates the cold case of a man currently serving a life sentence for a murder of a high school ex-girlfriend he was convicted of… but a thorough examination of the case raises serious questions about the value of eyewitness testimony… the politics of prosecution… and how finding the truth in an investigation is never as easy at it seems.
- S-Town [Stitcher]
- What begins as an investigation of small-town politics becomes a near-Faulknerian portrait of pain, love, loss, anxiety, and despair…
- This American Life [Stitcher]
- Long-form show with various stories, all composed upon a theme for a single show.
- Snap Judgment [Stitcher]
- Same as This American Life, but with stories coming from a more global set of storytellers.
Non-Fiction, Special Interest Topics
Podcasts focused on a particular theme or topic
- Design: 99 Percent Invisible [Stitcher]
- A Podcast about the designed world; whether graphic design, architecture, sound design, or anything in between, it takes its name from a suggestion that “Any good design should be ninety-nine percent invisible.”
- Language: The Allusionist [Stitcher]
- A Podcast about language… and… yeah, not much more to say, but fascinating little snippets of weird language facts!
- Economics: Planet Money [Stitcher]
- From NPR, covering all sorts of economics-related topics, explaining them for a non-expert audience.
- History: the memory palace [Stitcher]
- Host Nate DiMeo relates vignettes about little-known historical events, or fascinating footnotes to well-known historical events.
“Two People Talking”
This is a section of podcasts where two hosts just gab about whatever happens to be relevant to them that week, whether answering listener questions, or just whatever occurs to them to be interesting.
- Hello Internet
- Two guys who make educational YouTube videos for a living talk about, well… whatever catches their fancy.
- Dear Hank and John
- Hank Green and John Green, also largely of YouTube fame, answer listener e-mails, read short poems… and just generally nerd out.
- Another Round [Stitcher]
- Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton started their podcast as writers for Buzzfeed, and cover a wide range of topics, joke, and generally have a good time. Super refreshing to hear voices of WOC in radio.
- Yo, Is This Racist? [Stitcher]
- Hosted by comedian Andrew Ti and a rotating guest, Andrew and the guest talk about the week’s news as it pertains to racial issues, and answer questions from listeners about different race-related issues.
- BBC World Update: Daily Commute [Stitcher]
- Quick, approximately 30 minute update on world events from the BBC world service.
- NPR Politics Podcast [Stitcher]
- Expert reporting from NPR’s political reporting team; some of the best in-depth coverage of national American politics to be found.