I used to hate radio. The sound of someone’s voice blaring through the airwaves, mandating me to “have a good day!” was my equivalent of nails on a chalk board. So when people started hailing podcasts as the future of radio, I rolled my eyes and expected the same corny radio plays you’d be forced to listen to in the back of a hot taxi. But over the last couple of years, there has been a surge of new podcasts that propelled them to becoming a standalone industry, viable medium, and art form in itself.
Now, podcasts have expanded to include comedy, horror, candid conversations between friends, business advice, and more. I was hooked. Suddenly, traffic jams didn’t make me hate myself so much anymore. I became THAT person who listens to podcasts at the gym. I mean, I’m also just your average urban millennial with work-life-health balance, you feel? But really, podcasts make staying productive in the most unproductive of situations easier. If you’re curious about podcasts but don’t know where to start, here are my personal picks for every genre and mood.
If you like music and enjoy learning about the meaning behind songs, Song Exploder is for you. This podcast invites your favorite musicians on air to break down every bridge, chorus, and story in their songs. Here, you’ll hear Phoenix nit-pick “Ti Amo,” Solange discuss the complexities of “Cranes in the Sky,” MGMT share bizarre trivia about “Time to Pretend,” and more.
This podcast is exactly what the title says it is. Could you ever imagine the horror of finding out your own parent wants to produce the next Fifty Shades of Grey? For Jamie Morton, whose father self-published an erotic novel on Amazon, he would rather own up to the mortification instead of considering the logical possibility of changing last names like most of us might do. On My Dad Wrote A Porno, Jamie reads a chapter from his dad’s book every week and adds his own commentary with friends. The results go off on the maximum cringe factor but are just as hilarious and worth your attention.
You don’t need to be into clothes or speak fluent Versace to enjoy this podcast. Tackling everything from creativity in the digital age, the potential of conversational commerce, meditation to boost productivity, and more, BoF provides a lot of illuminating insights on the fashion industry and its impact on society. Featuring the likes of Yohji Yamamoto, Colette’s Sarah Andelman, Glossier’s Emily Weiss, and Tommy Hilfiger’s Daniel Grieder, you can take a page from their valuable life lesson book and apply it anywhere.
This is the cool science class you wish you had in high school. Hosted by psychologist Dr. Suzi Gage, the show discusses a different psychoactive every week. While discussed from an objective standpoint, her points are genuinely interesting and cover practically every substance out there, from cocaine and e-cigarettes, to ketamine and MDMA.
Ever wondered how much coffee the human body can drink before dying? Or what happens if your blood donation is used to incriminate you for a crime? And wtf is a placenta cake? No? Just me? Nonetheless, Answer Me This responds to various listener questions that range from fun trivia to really bizarre facts you probably can’t use to impress people but are still interesting and funny to know.
This tech-focused podcast puts honest and candid female perspectives on the spotlight. Listen as former British Glamour social media editor Emma Gannon talks about online employability, dealing with Facebook trolls, internet personas, and more — all with a “strong female lead” type roster of guests, including Tavi Gevinson, Mara Wilson, and Rowan Blanchard.
Is any “essential podcasts” list ever complete without this highly-praised narrative about John B. McLemore’s “Shittown” home? Exploring his hometown, he weaves through intriguing characters and fascinating plot lines to uncover the real Woodstock, Alabama. More than anything, it’s the prose that truly drives the show and keeps you on the edge of your seat every time.
I’ve been a JVN stan since his Gay of Thrones days, a Funny or Die segment where he would recap each Game of Thrones episode with a client seated in his salon chair. I was ecstatic to see him on the Queer Eye reboot as the Fab Five groomer serving sass and style. Now, he has his own podcast, a bi-weekly exploration of all things that have piqued his curiosity. His episodes, where he also brings in special guests, range from the politically-fueled “Is it really a China vs America world?” to “What’s it really like to be a woman in the military?”