You have the podcast app on your phone and want to use it. There are tons of podcasts, so where do you start? Check out these 10 podcasts recommended by me!
Hello, everyone! This year I have really gotten into podcasts. I listen to different ones throughout the day, pretty much every day. I have certain ones I love that I listen to as I’m getting ready for work or class, others I listen to while I’m relaxing and crocheting or knitting (when I’m not binge watching Netflix shows). I recently asked on Quora what people’s favorite podcasts were, and wow, podcasts are even more loved than I thought! I had so many recommendations, I hardly knew where to begin. So, that got me thinking: if someone was trying to get into podcasts where would they start?
I remember when I first noticed that awesome free podcast app that appeared on my iPhone during an update, and had no idea what to do with it. I didn’t know how to find podcasts or what were considered great podcasts to listen to. So, I asked one of my friends what to listen to and she recommended one of her favorites, and bam, I was hooked. In the spirit of my lovely friend, I’m going to do the same for you. I have very eclectic taste, with podcasts ranging from quirky radio shows from a made up desert community, to myths and lore, to science and history. Today, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite free podcasts and where you can find them. So, without further ado, let’s talk about podcasts!
Welcome to Night Vale
I have to start with the free podcast that was first recommended to me: Welcome to Night Vale. WTNV is a twice-monthly podcast that began in June of 2012, written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. There are nearly 100 episodes, and they’re about half an hour long each, so they’re great for listening to in the mornings while getting ready for work, or even on the way to work.
Welcome to Night Vale is a fictional radio podcast narrated by Cecil Baldwin (who has an awesome voice!) and he goes over the interesting happenings in the town of Night Vale, a fictional desert community in a place unknown in the USA. The fun thing about Night Vale? Weird is normal there. The show has music played as the weather forecast, mysterious disappearances, strange yet philosophical quotes, and many other things that are hard to explain without giving away too much. To quote the official webpage of the podcast:
WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.
Turn on your radio and hide.
If you have a quirky sense of humor, and love strange happenings, you definitely should try this one out! You can find Welcome to Night Vale on iTunes, podcast apps, and at the official podcast URL, welcometonightvale.com!
This was the second audio podcast I really got into. I’ve always loved myths, legends, and lore. Lore is written by author Aaron Mahnke (who writes amazing books, by the way) and it’s considered a horror podcast because of the content. It’s actually listed as one of the best horror podcasts, so definitely check it out. I really only found one episode scary (I have a fear of dolls, okay?) but other than that, I was fascinated. If I had to choose, this is actually my all-time favorite podcast. New episodes come out twice a month on Mondays, and the podcast started in March of 2015. It soared to the top of the podcast charts, and is in the works for a television show based on the podcast. How awesome is that?
Lore goes over the truth behind the legends and myths of things like vampires, werewolves, serial killers, haunted spaces, and humanity’s fears of certain things. Aaron has a captivating voice, and the podcast’s 15-20 minute episodes are written beautifully. I eagerly anticipate new episodes, and can’t wait for the TV series! Lore can be found on iTunes, podcast apps, and at the official podcast website, lorepodcast.com/episodes.
Myths and Legends
I have a love of myths, legends, and lore, so of course I had to try out the Myths and Legends podcast. Written and hosted by a sarcastic and witty man named Jason Weiser, this podcast goes over the true stories behind popular mythical tales, like Aladdin, Merlin, Odin, and many, many others. You know, the deep, darker tales that are way different from the sunshine and rainbows of Disney-fied versions (key example: The Little Mermaid - not a happy tale).
My favorite thing about this podcast is how Jason tells the stories. He retells these tales in a very modern, easy to listen to way. I really enjoy people with dry senses of humor, and he definitely has one! It comes across well in this podcast. Most episodes are around 30-40 minutes long, and many times the stories are split across several episodes, which I find awesome.
Another cool thing Jason does is at the end of every episode, he has a Creature of the Week segment, where he takes a couple minutes to talk about an unusual mythological creature. This segment is quite entertaining. I would say this is one of the best podcasts about myths and legends out there. If you also love myths, legends, and crazy mythological creatures, you should check this podcast out. You can find Myths and Legends on most podcast apps, iTunes, and the podcast link mythpodcast.com.
The Black Tapes
If you’re a lover of ghost stories and paranormal activities, you need to try this one out. The host, Alex Reagan, ultimately falls into the world of the paranormal while researching a ghost hunter who doesn’t believe in ghosts. How odd, right? This serialized fictional podcast starts on episode 101, and began in May of 2015. The Black Tapes has 2 seasons, the first was weekly, the second was biweekly. There aren’t a ton of episodes, so it’s really easy to catch up. They do have to be listened to in order though, as each episode builds on those that came before it. Each podcast episode is around 40 minutes long, so it’s great for longer drives. I recently started listening to this one, and it’s perfect to have on while I’m making and eating dinner. The Black Tapes can be found on iTunes, podcast apps, Stitcher, and on theblacktapespodcast.com.
A true crime podcast for the ages, Serial is a podcast you’ll have a hard time walking away from. The host, Sarah Koenig, is captivating and her attention to detail is exquisite. There are two seasons so far, and each season covers one story, stretched out over the episodes so you can follow along with every tiny detail about the crime, trial, and Sarah and her team’s digging.
I started listening, and since I have been obsessed with true crime shows and novels since I was a young child (just ask my mother how many times she would catch me late at night watching Forensic Files when I was around 6-8 years old), I was hooked. I’m actually listening to this one right now as I write this post! It’s extremely captivating, and if you like true crime, you’ll love this. Season 1 is definitely the best, and I really had a hard time turning it off. There’s a reason it’s one of the top podcasts according to iTunes. You can find Serial at serialpodcast.org, iTunes, Pandora, and on podcast apps.
DISCLAIMER: This podcast is based on real stories, real crimes, and can be very graphic with some pretty strong language at times, so please be aware of this before listening if any of that bothers you, or before listening around small children. Also, Season 2 is extremely controversial. So, you have been warned. Listen at your own leisure.
Radiolab is a thought-provoking podcast by Jad and Rob. Real-life stories from real people, mainly from the science realm. There’s literally an episode on the power of changing your hair part from the right to the left so people take you more seriously. I know, it’s awesome. Think about when Clark Kent changes his part and all of a sudden there’s Superman! All the episodes go along this quirky line.
There’s a lot of funny sound effects, background music, and lots of funny, nerdy comments. They make science theory super fun. Also, they have Neil deGrasse Tyson on the show a lot, and he’s kind of fantastic. The episodes of this science podcast aren’t very long, some are around 30 minutes, so they’re nice and easy to listen to whenever you have some time. They also have a second podcast, More Perfect, which is about cases flowing through the Supreme Court, and it’s pretty good too! You can find Radiolab (and More Perfect) on radiolab.org, iTunes, or other podcast apps.
Now this is a cool show. The hosts, Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt, go over the math and economics behind ideas around the world. Sometimes this show can go over slightly controversial topics; however, it’s more about what’s behind those topics, rather than discussing why they are good or bad. Very intellectual, it’s a wonderful podcast if you want to start your day off with some critical thinking. Plus, there’s some very cool background music that makes me feel like I’m in some sort of sci-fi show, and I love it. These guys make me laugh, and I feel like I’m learning so much when I listen to this podcast. Each episode is about 30-45 minutes long, and I like listening to it in the mornings. You can find Freakonomics Radio on iTunes, podcast apps, and at freakonomics.com.
Nerdonomy: Nerds on History
This is one I’ve recently gotten into and I love it. What could be better than about an hour’s worth of two huge nerds talking about different aspects of history? It’s not scripted, it’s basically just the two of them talking about a topic, and they go off on tangents. It’s pretty fantastic. There’s some mild language because they’re two college bros talking nerd stuff on the fly, but other than that it’s pretty clean.
I really enjoy how they go in depth on things like how television has changed the way we see the world, and the parallels of religious figures and comic book superheroes. I won’t go into detail so you can listen for yourself, but it’s kind of fascinating, and why I think it’s one of the coolest podcasts about history. If you don’t mind the occasional swear word, you should check this out. They actually have two podcasts, Nerds on History and Nerds on Film, and they’re both pretty great. You can find Nerdonomy on iTunes, podcast apps, and at nerdonomy.com.
Stuff You Missed in History Class
I love history, but the history classes I had growing up usually bored me. It didn’t really have anything to do with the content, since I love history and learning about what happened during certain battles or what events lead to others. But the format of history classes in school usually put me to sleep. This podcast, however, is absolutely fantastic. All the fun of learning about history without being bored in class. Score!
Each episode is about an hour long, but they aren’t overwhelming. There are tons of interviews with real people who are prominent historians, so the information you’re getting is accurate and kind of fun to listen to! Let your hosts Tracy Wilson and Holly Frey take you through some awesome history factoids, and all you have to do is sit back, relax, and listen. You can find Stuff You Missed in History Class on iTunes, podcast apps, and on missedinhistory.com/podcasts.
This is another history podcast, but I enjoy this one a lot. It’s not just straight history. The hosts, Devin, Steve, and Joe, go over interesting and weird true stories, put their thinking caps on, and speculate about what happened. I find this to be a fun podcast because I have a love of the weird, especially if it’s weird and true.
But, that’s not the only reason I like this podcast. There are tons of true story podcasts out there to listen to. What I love the most about Thinking Sideways is the speculation and theory within this one, and the way the hosts try to figure out what happened. The kicker? No one actually knows what happened because these are unsolved mysteries (totally one of my favorite shows as a kid, by the way), so there is no right answer. It’s like a mystery wrapped in an enigma, given to you in a humorous way. It’s kind of awesome. Each episode is about 30-45 minutes long, and they make you think a little bit, so they’re great for in the mornings! You can find Thinking Sideways on podcast apps, iTunes, or the official podcast site thinkingsidewayspodcast.com.
There you have it, folks! Ten pretty spectacular podcasts to start with, and get totally hooked like I did. Do any of you already listen to podcasts? What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this podcast list with your friends and family!
**Featured image via Dream by Day