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A Beginner's Guide to Podcasts

Podcasts have recently emerged as a new popular platform for comedy, political satire, political news, history, true crime reporting and discussions and any other conceivable topic. This article contains a list of many of Apple Podcast’s Top 50 podcasts, as well as many independent and unknown podcasts published by independent media creators. Podcasts consistently rated highest among audiences include “My Favorite Murder”, Last Podcast Network’s “Last Podcast On the Left”, WNYC’s “2 Dope Queens”, “Guys We Fucked”, NPR’s “This American Life”, WNYC’s “Radio Lab”, NPR’s “Serial”, Joe Rogan’s “The Joe Rogan Experience” and Dan Carlin’s “Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History”.

Are you hip to podcasts yet? If not, you need to be.

In a nutshell, a podcast is a radio show that you can listen to anywhere-- on your phone, tablet or computer. They're free. New episodes vary by series but generally are posted weekly or bi-weekly. Podcasts are an engaging and hands-free way to learn something new or listen to a story while performing menial tasks. Cleaning the bathroom? Turn on a podcast. Cooking dinner? Turn on a podcast. Commuting to work? Turn on a podcast. Working? Turn on a podcast. And believe me when I say there is a podcast for any singular task you need to get through, any emotion you are feeling or any subject you are interested in. A few fan favorites include:

Comedy

  • My Favorite Murder - TV personality Georgia Hardstark & comedian Karen Kilgariff discuss crimes and serial killers (but it's so much more than that)
  • Last Podcast on the Left - Comedian Henry Zebrowski, aspiring politician Ben Kissel & prolific researcher Marcus Parks discuss crimes and serial killers (but it's also so much more than that)
  • 2 Dope Queens - Comedians Phoebe Robinson & Jessica Williams riff with each other and give a platform for other comedians to perform
  • Real Time with Bill Maher - Comedian Bill Maher & an ever-changing panel of guests discuss/dissect current political events

True Crime

  • Thinking Sideways - armchair detectives research & theorize about unsolved mysteries
  • Hollywood & Crime - a journalist details various unsolved Hollywood murders
  • True Crime Garage - two beer enthusiasts discuss recent crimes & murders
  • Crimetown - journalists cover the organized crime element of various cities

Society & Culture

  • This American Life - NPR host Ira Glass uncovers funny, surprising and true stories about life in America
  • Death, Sex and Money - WNYC host Anna Sale interviews a variety of guests on topics all related to death, sex or money
  • Love & Radio - Journalist Nick van der Kolk delivers a collection of shocking and explicit stories about love and life
  • Serial - one of the most popular podcasts of all time from NPR, hosted by Sarah Koenig, which follows various cases in American society and politics
  • Planet Money - NPR journalists detail surprising applications of economic principles in every day life
  • Radiolab - WNYC hosts Jad Abumrad & Robert Krulwich discuss stories with regard to advances in medicine, politics, society, law and science
  • The New Yorker: Fiction - New Yorker editor Deborah Treisman and a New Yorker-published author read & discuss a work of fiction from the magazine
  • Criminal - Host Phoebe Judge delivers diverse and surprising stories, each containing a criminal or unlawful element

Political/Historical

  • Vox's the Weeds - Hosts Matthew Yglesias, Sarah Kliff & Ezra Klein break down current political legislation into painstaking detail
  • NPR Politics Podcast - A roster of journalists cover political news and events
  • Dan Carlin's Hardcore History - history enthusiast Dan Carlin delivers outrageously detailed and meticulously researched stories from world history, ranging from U.S. involvement in Cuba to the Anabaptist uprising in 1500s Germany.

Additional recommendations for other podcasts found here, here, here & here.