It seems like everyone has a podcast these days. From famous actors to world renowned chefs to journalists from every possible outlet to your neighbor from down the street, people from all walks of life have taken up their digital microphones and started broadcasting.
The best podcasts feel like sitting down for a cup of coffee with one or more friends who tell fascinating stories, make you laugh, teach you new things, or are just good company.
The problem is, there are so many options to choose from that it can feel overwhelming!
To help you get started on the right foot, we’ve selected seven of our favorite podcasts to share with you. We think there’s a little something for everyone in this mini collection of podcast picks.
But, before we reveal our selections, here’s a quick primer on podcasts and how to listen to them.
What is a podcast, anyway?
If you’re a person of a certain age, you might remember when there were radio shows that would broadcast “same time, same channel” each week or even each day. Podcasts are kind of like those radio shows, except that they live online and are available on demand for listening anytime, anywhere.
A podcast is typically an audio-only show, although a few podcasts also have video versions on YouTube. Each episode of a podcast is saved in an archive of past shows, so you can listen to older episodes as well as the most recent one. Most shows run between 30 and 60 minutes, though there are some that run longer, and other “quickie” shows that may run only 10 to 15 minutes.
There are podcasts for pretty much every topic under the sun. Whatever you’re interested in—news, cooking, pets, travel, knitting, dinosaurs, romance novels, your favorite TV show, Ancient Greek history—there are likely multiple shows you can check out.
Podcasts also come in a variety of formats:
- Some shows are simply a single host doing a monologue;
- Others follow a traditional interview format with a host and one or more guests;
- Some use the panel format of having several regular hosts who talk amongst themselves; and
- There are even shows that adopt the old-fashioned concept of the radio drama, but with a modern twist.
There are many ways to listen to podcasts, but the most popular is via one of several streaming apps. A few of the most widely-used podcast-listening apps are Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify. You can also get exclusive content on sites like Audible. You can search for a specific podcast or topic on any of these apps, or use their “discover” and “explore” features to see which shows are trending with other listeners.
Most podcasts also include “show notes,” which appear on individual episode pages within an app. Show notes typically include key information from the episode, including links to things that were mentioned on the show and additional resources.
Now that you know what a podcast is, and how to listen, let’s take a look at seven of our all-time favorite shows.
1. Better Health While Aging
Hosted by practicing geriatrics specialist Leslie Kernisan, MD, the Better Health While Aging podcast covers a wide range of health and wellness topics relevant to people over 60. Shows include not only overviews about common health problems, but also important tips on prevention and management. Conversations also often touch on common concerns and dilemmas that come up for caretakers who are looking after aging parents or other loved ones.
Lifestyle & Learning
2. Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
This Spotify exclusive is hosted by researcher and storyteller, Brené Brown. She has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. And she is the author of six #1 New York Times best sellers. Her website describes Unlocking Us as “Conversations that unlock the deeply human part of who we are, so that we can live, love, parent, and lead with more courage and heart.” Her guests include other researchers, many authors, as well as mainstream actors and musicians. Many episodes feature Brené’s sisters as co-hosts, which usually leads to some sisterly shenanigans.
3. Baby Boomer Tales
Sometimes, it’s nice to take a walk down memory lane with people who can relate to your sense of nostalgia. That’s just what Baby Boomer Tales offers. Each week, they release a short episode (usually between 15 and 20 minutes long) featuring “Stories and remembrances of people, places and events that changed our world.” Recent episode titles include, “Comic Books and Candy,” “I Don’t Like Some Things in the 21st Century,” and “My Favorite TV Shows – Volume 1.”
If you’d like a little more glitz and glamour, You Must Remember This explores the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century. Running since 2014, this show has become one of the most popular film podcasts around. Guest stars have included actors, comedians, journalists, screenwriters, and producers the likes of John Mulaney, Fred Savage, Patton Oswalt, Taran Killam, Dana Carvey, Adam Goldberg, Max Linsky, Anne Helen Petersen, Kelly Marcel, Craig Mazin, Ram Bergman, Wil Wheaton, and more.
Finance & Retirement Planning
5. Kiplinger’s Your Money’s Worth
This podcast gets down to brass tacks on topics like how to save for retirement, cut your tax bill, invest for growth and income, maintain good credit, and more. The advice is timely, actionable, and down to earth; and the point of it all is to help you earn, keep, and make the most of your money. Recent Your Money’s Worth episodes cover topics including the best tools for investing, how to defuse the retirement “tax bomb,” and how to get tax breaks on college financing.
6. TED Talks Daily
While you may be more familiar with the video TED Talks, did you know that there is also an entire TED Audio Collective, featuring more than 20 different podcasts? While this collective offers an expansive wealth of topics to choose from (business, design, travel, health, climate, and more), why not start with the original. TED Talks Daily is hosted by journalist Elise Hu, who spent nearly a decade at NPR, regularly appearing on both All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Now, on TED Talks Daily, she joins leading thinkers and creators for conversations on topics as diverse as Artificial Intelligence and Zoology. As it says on the podcast page, this is a show designed to help you “change your perspectives, ignite your curiosity, and learn something new.”
7. How to Be a Better Human
Hosted by comedian, TV writer, and radio/podcast host, Chris Duffy, How to Be a Better Human is not your average self-improvement show. In the show’s own words, this podcast “looks in unexpected places for new ways to improve and show up for one another.” Recent episode titles include, “How to stand up for what you believe in,” “How to tell your authentic story,” How to get motivated – by losing?!” And “Body Stuff: Do you really need 8 hours of sleep?” Focusing on sharp insights and clear takeaways, this is a podcast that’s built to help you live a better life one step at a time.
We hope that this has inspired you to check out some new podcasts, or maybe try your first podcast ever.
There are so many benefits to listening.
- Logistically, podcasts can make long car drives more enjoyable.
- They can keep you entertained while you do chores around the house.
- They can help you get your day started right.
- You can reap many emotional and intellectual benefits. Just like reading books, listening to podcasts helps you explore new ideas, learn new things, and see the world through someone else’s eyes.
- Many podcasts can help you relax or make you laugh.
- And, if you and a friend or family member listen to the same shows, it can give you something interesting to talk about!