I’ve written about a few of my favorites before so it’s no secret that I love podcasts. My day job allows for a lot of listening time so I tend to go through a lot of episodes each week. And while I have reviewed plenty in the past, I thought I’d compile some of my favorites all together! I’ve grouped the list by category/related content so if you see one you like and are looking for more, check out the ones in the same group. This list is in no way a true reflection of all the amazing audio content that exist nowadays but just some of my favorites. Some will have easily accessible transcripts, others will also have Patreons and ways to support their work. All that information, if it’s applicable to a show, will be right below each show description.
If you like Welcome To Night Vale, check out:
- The Bright Sessions – this fictional show is the recordings of therapy sessions by Dr. Bright for those who are strange and unusual. In the sessions, we learn more about those who are atypical and who all have rather strange and unique abilities.
- LifeAfter – this podcast follows FBI clerk Ross Barnes as he tries to get through everyday life and work after losing his wife in a car accident several months before. Listening to his late wife’s posts on an audio social media platform is often all that gets him through – that is, until he hears something new and rather weird. That new and weird occurrence leads Ross into a cult like group of people going through similar situations.
- Limetown – this is a fictional podcast that looks into what happened in the fictional town of Limetown in 2004. The mystery of what happened in Limetown both before, during, and after a massive town wide panic is slowly pulled apart by the main narrating voice of Lia Haddock as she interviews previously unknown and scattered survivors. The survivors tell her, and subsequently us, more about the town, what they were working on, and the panic filled three days that lead to the disappearance of more than 300 people. And the mystery unfolds even more when she’s threatened by a further unknown entity.
- The Message – Nicky Tomalin is the host of this fictional podcast and lands an internship with a team of cryptologists as they attempt to decode and understand an alien message from the 1940s.
- The Orbiting Human Circus (Of the Air) – this is a podcast from the Night Vale Presents network and follows Julian the janitor as he works at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris at the radio show, The Orbiting Human Circus (Of the Air). The show follows Julian as he accidentally gets into some trouble and shares some of the performances from the Orbiting Human Circus.
If you like Harry Potter, check out:
- Pottercast – this is actually one of the first podcasts that I started listening too several years ago! Over the last eleven years, Pottercast has had discussions on new information, books, and movies in the Harry Potter universe and interviews with creators and actors in the same vein. Many episodes can be found on iTunes but all episodes can be found on their website.
- #WizardTeam – this show is hosted by Bayana and Robyn as they reread the entire series chapter by chapter. They add commentary and insight to the books both from having read the entire series before and from their own experiences. There are a few extra episodes about things like Pottermore and the new movies that start with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
If you like crime and horror, check out:
- Casefile, True Crime* – this is one of the many crime podcasts that exist currently. Each episode looks at a different case from around the world. Some are unsolved, some are solved and have convictions. All are true stories of crimes that have happened.
- Death, Dying and Other Things – this monthly show, on the other hand, is a fictional podcast with fictional horror stories being told each episode.
- Lore – this is a biweekly podcast that shares historical tales and events that fuel superstition. Each episode is about a different unusual and mysterious thing, such as Robert the Doll, the Stanley Hotel, and the haunting of the Phelps Mansion.
- Someone Knows Something* – the first season of this show (which, as a disclaimer, is the only season I’ve been able to listen to so far) investigates the disappearance of Adrien McNaughton. Adrien was five years old when he disappeared during a fishing trip with family in June 1972 and over the last forty years, the family has had no closure nor any idea as to what happened to him. David Ridgen is a CBC journalist who went to a small town in Eastern Ontario to investigate Adrien’s disappearance.
- Unexplained – similar to Lore, this podcast highlights the unexplained events in history and modern day. Some of the events include the Pollock twins, the Howden Moor Incident in 1997, and the Pontefract Poltergeist.
- Transcripts can be found on the Unexplained website. Episode one can be found here.
If you like feminism, insightful conversations, and politics, check out:
- Buzzfeed’s Another Round – hosted by Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton, this weekly show is an amazing production of stories, conversations, and interviews. Heben and Tracy are hilarious, insightful, and great interviewers. Guests on the show have included: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Hillary Clinton, Issa Rae, Margaret Cho, Janet Mock, and so many more.
- Last Name Basis – this is a somewhat regular show hosted by the real life married couple, Franchesca and Patrick. They talk about a variety of things that are going on, including what’s happening in the science world, cute animal stories, and what’s going on in politics. Plus, they also talk occasionally about being married as an interracial couple.
- Popaganda – this is a show from Bitch Media, the feminist response to pop culture. Episodes switch from Popaganda, a 45-60 minute episode on a specific issue to Backtalk, a quick and fun conversation about the week in pop culture. Issues covered include sexism and racism within kitchen and restaurant industry, sex work, abortion, the prison industrial complex, television and movies, and so much more.
- Still Processing – this is a relatively new podcast and hosted by two New York Times journalists, Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham. They talk about going to the new Smithsonian museum in Washington DC (the National Museum of African American History), current television shows, the election of Donald Trump, surviving Thanksgiving and the holidays, and much more.
*While listening to both Someone Knows Something and Casefile, True Crime, I’ve been thinking about the idea of using someone’s tragedy as entertainment. These podcasts, and many others, take what is probably the worst time in people’s lives and present it to the world for everyone to consume as entertainment. Is there a line between using the tragic events like disappearances and murders to potentially further a cold case and using those same things to further a journalist’s career? While not the first to do so, the hit podcast Serial seemed to really take this idea into a new level and at the same time, brought a whole host of white privilege to the stories of people of color. Some articles related to all this that I’ve been reading include:
- Serial: How a schoolgirl’s brutal murder became casual entertainment by Radhika Sanghani
- From “the greatest podcast ever made” to “shamelessly exploitative”: A guide to the “Serial” backlash by Anna Silman
- Is Serial Podcast Problematic? By Stephanie Van Schilt