It seems that in 2017 everyone you know listens to podcasts. But I was shocked to find that I know a lot of people who have no idea what I’m referring to when I talk about a beautiful episode of This American Life or the divisive debate surrounding the entire first season of Serial.
To celebrate #InternationalPodcastDay I’m listing, in no particular order, four of my favorite podcasts and a few episodes you should start with as a primer. If you listen to podcasts regularly and would like to dive deeper or if you’re looking to test the waters, trying out a few of these episodes may lead to new favorites and a few new subscriptions.
The PopCast with Knox and Jamie by Knox, Jamie/Wondery | Pop Culture
I started listening to this podcast even though I wouldn’t have considered myself an avid follower of pop-culture. After more than two years and 213 episodes (and counting), I’m still not a pop-culture guru but I am a huge fan of Knox and Jamie and proudly call myself one of the original listeners. The dynamic between these two is so authentic and the exchanges are genuinely funny. Any two people can get together and talk about pop-culture, but the ludicrous way these two do it can never be duplicated.
There are so many epic episodes of this podcast but I’d suggest starting with any of the “Urban Dictionary” episodes. Don’t worry, they’re not raunchy, just hilarious.
Twice-Removed by Gimlet Media | Genealogy
This podcast strokes the ego of my inner genealogist. The host, A.J. Jacobs, takes one guest each episode and digs into their family history while expounding on a theme (resilience, hatred, innovation) that is repeated throughout the lives of each of the guest’s ancestors. While not saccharine sweet, there are a few episodes that will make you tear up unexpectedly or make you ponder life in a way you maybe haven’t before.
My favorite episode is “#3: Nazanin Rafsanjani”. A close second is “#5: Jean Grae”. I won’t give anything away; just listen to them and try not to cry.
Mystery Podcast by Gimlet Media | Mystery
This podcast has a cult following of fans who want questions answered. When is it coming back? What happened to Starlee? Is there going to be a season two? Sadly, it doesn’t look like there will be but the first season alone is worth listening to even without promise of a second. Do you remember being a little girl intrigued by detective shows and imagining yourself in a noir film, clad in a trench coat and magnifying glass, solving the unsolvable? That is what Starlee Kine does, solve what seemed unsolvable, sans trench coat. Starlee takes you on six adventures where she attempts to solve the little mysteries in people’s lives. The premise is simple but… don’t guild the lily, right?
My favorite episode is “#3 Belt Buckle”. It is as mysterious and as odd as it sounds, but it is the episode that made me a fan of Mystery Show forever.
This podcast caters to my history-loving heart so well. It is forty-four episodes of unadulterated American history, president by president. What makes this podcast about American Presidents so unique is that the host Lillian Cunningham discusses each president in a way that makes them feel more like humans you’d date (maybe…maybe not) than monumental figures. And it’s not just one person talking about each president based on her own research, but Lillian invites experts and biographers to talk about the lives, relationships, and personalities of each president in addition to their presidential reigns.
It is very hard to narrow down, but a few of my favorite episodes are “Abraham Lincoln: His hand and his pen”, “Ulysses S. Grant: Lover, fighter, writer”, and “ William Henry Harrison: Great song, horrible death”. Listen to them and then see if you can imagine how a blind date with each of these men would unfold. I bet you never thought you’d be wooed by Ulysses S. Grant…
Whether you’re a pro podcast listener already or a novice looking to start your collection of favorites, give these episodes a try. And let me know what some of your favorite podcasts are. I’m always looking to expand my library.