15 #TryPod recommendations for new and seasoned podcast listeners

I remember when I first started listening to podcasts. It was way back in 2004, when I was delighted to discover I could listen to current talks by a favorite speaker (okay, it was Rob Bell) in iTunes on this newfangled device called an iPod that a friend gave me as a (very nice) present. I totally didn’t understand the appeal when Apple launched their little device, then quickly fell in love with it.

Podcasting isn’t new, yet only 1 in 5 Americans have ever listened to one, often because they don’t know what to listen to, or have no clue how to listen.

March is #TryPod month—meaning try a podcast. It’s a campaign to spread the podcast love. Happy listeners are sharing their favorite podcasts on social media using the hashtag, and showing real life friends how to listen to podcasts, subscribe in their favorite apps, and rate and review them on iTunes.

I wish I could show you all in person, but I can give you the next best thing: here’s my post on how to listen to and subscribe to a podcast.

I recommend a few favorite shows and episodes in that post, but I’ve found more good stuff to listen to since I hit “publish” on that one. (Many of these were your recommendations—thank you for that!) I’m happy to share them today for #trypod month.

15 interesting, engaging, entertaining, or downright fascinating podcasts

1. Off Camera with Sam Jones.
I love this podcast and have shared it on the blog before. Of note: the recent episode with actress Maggie Siff, someone whose work I wasn’t familiar with. MMD readers will love her thoughts on how painful it is to say goodbye to the characters she plays once the role has ended.

2. Just the Right Book.
A literary podcast hosted by independent bookstore owner Roxanne Coady. Don’t miss: the recent episode “What’s on the Front Table” (#16) with the book buyer for the The Strand.

3. Longform.
Always a quality podcast; the episode with Terry Gross is especially fantastic. Ira Glass is also pretty great. And I just noticed that the latest episode features Hrishikesh Hirway, co-host of The West Wing Weekly, another personal favorite.

4. Reply All.
This podcast has gotten lots of #trypod love, for good reason. Start with the recent episode The Russian Passenger.

5. From the Front Porch.
Conversations on books, small business, and life in the South from Annie Jones, owner of The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia. (You may know Annie from What Should I Read Next. Listen to her episode right here. It’s a popular one!)

6. Overdue.
Two friends discuss the books they’ve been meaning to read, one week at a time. I especially liked their episode on Tana French’s The Likeness, and their episode on Lord of the Flies with the hosts of the New York Public Library’s show The Librarian Is In.

7. Poem Talk.
I binge listened to this Poetry Foundation podcast recently in preparation for a special WSIRN episode for National Poetry Month. Each week a handful of poets gather for a “close but not too close” reading of one poem.

8. Young House Love.
I’m an occasional listener to this podcast, but I always enjoy it when I do listen. This episode on sponsored posts (#8) blew my mind.

9. Not By Accident.
This Australian documentary podcast is a great example of how the medium can be used to tell really good stories.

10. Sorta Awesome. I think Megan Tietz is the cat’s pajamas, and this recent episode (#92) where Megan and Laura discuss their favorite documentaries was especially great.

11. Lit Up.
Author interviews done right.

12. Revisionist History.
This is Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast. I listened to the Food Fight episode months ago, and I still think about it all the time. He explores the surprising significance of what’s served in the cafeteria at two similar colleges. It’s not what you think.

13. Smartest Person in the Room.
This podcast is now in its third series, yet my favorite episode remains #2 with production designer Ethan Tobman. Go listen right now. If I had a dollar for every person I’ve pushed this episode on, I might be able to underwrite an OK Go video myself! I’m also loving the current Viral series.

14. Five Things.
Host Tara Anderson invites a weekly guest to share five physical objects that have been important in their lives, and they discuss those five things and why they matter.

15. 99% Invisible.
My husband got me hooked on this one. Don’t miss: NBC Chimes.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some good ones, but that’s more than enough to use up all your available smart phone memory.

Listeners, you know what to do: try a new podcast. Share the love for your favorite shows in the comments and with the #trypod hashtag. Rate and review your favorite shows on iTunes—it makes a huge difference to a podcast’s iTunes rating (especially the reviews), which is how so many listeners find new shows.

And of course, I can’t close out without saying: give What Should I Read Next a Try? I hate to pick favorites, so I’ll share what’s popular on iTunes: The library is running my life (#69), The next best thing to reading (#64), When the plot comes full circle (#61), Books so good you’ll forget you have a phone (#63), and this week’s new episode Embarrassing bookworm confessions.

What are YOUR favorite podcasts? Please tell us all about them in comments. 

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  1. Amy says:

    I’ve been looking for some more podcasts to add to my rotation, so I’m very grateful for this list!! I love Sorta Awesome, too, plus Happier and HerMoney.

  2. Jennifer N. says:

    I love Young House Love’s podcast, too! (And yours, of course.) I also enjoy Rad Parenting, The Nerdist, and Art of Charm. I love podcasts that tell stories, fictional or not. These include: Tanis, Serial, Black Tapes, and I nearly binged the entire S-Town Series yesterday (which is from Serial and This American Life.) There is also a Hamilton podcast called The Room Where it’s Happening that is so much fun.

    Podcasts are a fantastic way to be entertained on your commute – and you can find a podcast for whatever interest you want.

  3. Tracy Babler says:

    Some favorites for adults: Pod Save America, What Should I Read Next?, This American Life, Magic Lessons (just learned about this! How did I not know?)

    Some favorites for kids: we produce a podcast called Lu and Bean Read for kids to learn about children’s books, authors, and illustrators. The girls also like Tumble Science Podcast for Kids.

  4. We moved to France in 2004, and I started by listening to NPR online. I didn’t get an iPod until much later, but I got hooked on listening to NPR shows off schedule. It really helped with homesickness. I can’t imagine running or riding the exercise bike or cleaning the house or ironing or sewing or gardening (all things I hate to do) or cooking or driving without somebody telling me interesting stuff.
    My regulars are mostly NPR: Fresh Air (great interviews!), On Point, Planet Money, Freakonomics, The Moth, TED Radio Hour; also This American Life, Serial (duh), S-Town (I’m on episode V), The Allusionist (a must for readers!!!); and la Poudre (in French) and Pardon My French. And still I run out. So I use NPR One. And thanks to you, I have some new ones to subscribe to!

  5. Naomi says:

    I only started listening to podcasts a couple years ago. Some of my favorites are The Simple Show, Read-Aloud Revival, The #staymarried Podcast, and The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey.

  6. Danielle says:

    I loved Revisionist History!
    Others I enjoy:
    S-Town (murder and mystery from NPR)
    Ann Kroeker, writing coach (short, like 5 minute tips!)
    Hashtag Authentic (instagram inspiration!)
    Presidential (still working my way through the presidents–so interesting! Actually, considering the political drama of the last year, it gives me hope!)
    Stuff You Missed in History (always fabulous!)

  7. Rebecca says:

    I love podcasts! My favorites are WSIRN (of course), Happier with Gretchen Rubin, The Book Riot Podcast, The Minimalists Podcast, Stuff Mom Never Told You, and Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert (which only has 2 seasons, but I’m hoping she does a third). I keep up with those regularly, but I subscribe to way more and have a HUGE backlog I’m slowly working my way through. But I love discovering new shows, so my podcast list is always getting longer.

  8. Melanie says:

    No one has mentioned Radiolab yet?! It’s one of my favorites. There was this really great episode on trees and how they communicate with one another several months back that was fascinating.

  9. Beth says:

    I’m embarrassed to admit my new guilty pleasure is Missing Richard Simmons.

    Other podcasts I love are The Mom Hour, Edit Your Life, How She Really Does It, and Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

  10. Shauna says:

    Your podcast, of course, is one of my favorites. I also love Pantsuit Politics, which I found through your blog, Serial, The Simple Show, Another Mother Runner (for…Mothers who run!), Here’s the Thing (fascinating interviews by Alec Baldwin), and NPR Politics.

  11. Kate says:

    I am a complete podcast junkie! Favorites (other than WSIRN) include Book Riot’s Get Booked, Smart Podcast Trashy Books, Sorta Awesome, Pop Culture Happy Hour, Crime Writers On, Approaching the Natural, No Meat Athlete, Rich Roll, Smartest Person in the Room, Special Sauce (from Serious Eats), Our Turn! Women on Gaming, and Greatway Games.

  12. Georgia says:

    I love the Relevant Podcast. It’s got wonderfully ridiculous conversations (like you might laugh out loud at the gym) but also important discussion on culture and faith. Also love Criminal – unusual true stories related to crimes from the past and more recently, Science Vs. – great accent, was surprised by her findings on fracking, and Wooden Overcoats – British humor, punny, completely batty, creative and very well-produced fiction podcast.

  13. I love the new website design! I listen to so many podcasts, so I’m knocking myself for reading this. I just added three more podcasts… I think I might have an addiction…. But thank you for this list!!

  14. Allison says:

    The Myths and Legends podcast is a favorite of mine, and bonus my husband loves it too! Especially great for road trips together! I also started recently the Offshore podcast; season one is about an officer involved shooting in Hawaii. I haven’t gotten very far but it has some great potential.

  15. Kelsi Messer says:

    I’m hooked on The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, Pod Save America, Balanced Bites, WSIRN, On the Media, Sword and Scale (true crime, not for the faint of heart), That Sounds Fun!, Around the Table…and so many more!

    • Ann M. says:

      I love Sword and Scale. Have you listened to Casefile? Same type of podcast as S & S but the host is Australian and most of the stories are as well.

  16. Andreea says:

    Hi Anne,
    This is the first time I am writing on your blog from Romania (“Buna, Anne!”) and my favorite podcasts are:
    (no particular order):

    1. “What should I read next” LOL – I discovered your podcast only a couple of weeks ago so I’ve got a lot to catch up to do; I download every evening a “chapter” of your podcast, usually before going to bed so that I might have a pleasant night. Thank you, Anne!

    2. “You must remember this” – amazing podcast by Karina Longworth for movie buffs like me. I love the storytelling of each episode, the research and the quality of information that is available week after week.

    3. Desert Island Discs – from the BBC archives ( 1949 – 2011). I love the interviews, the guests, the music and…the Britishness of it all. My favorite Discs are the ones from the ’70s – the guest list is impressive!

    4. In Our Time – from BBC’s Radio 4 – educational podcast; each week, a new theme of discussion; highly educational yet accessible. My favorite themes? Of course, those related to literature and books! “The Epic of Gilgamesh” is wonderful!

    5. The Mysterious Secrets of Uncle Bertie’s Botanarium – a scripted fantasy adventure. Oh my, it seems I listen to too much British stuff ( said no one ever 🙂 )

    6. Secrets, Crimes, and Audiotape – they have an audio adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale”, which is quite excellent!

    7. Stranglers – ’cause I am into crime and murder mystery *blush*. Great storytelling!

    8. Morning Short – a podcast with short-stories. Recently discovered!

  17. Donna says:

    Such a great list, Anne! I got into Sorta Awesome last month and I am loving it! I can’t wait to check out Off Camera and Smartest Person in the Room!

    Podcast favourites:
    NPR’s How I Built This
    NPR’s Code Switch (Just discovered this one last week!)
    Garance Dore’s Pardon My French
    Man Repeller’s newest podcast The Call (They’re only 2 episodes in!)
    The Accidental Creative podcast with Todd Henry.(This is the first podcast I’ve ever listened to! It’s based on his book, The Accidental Creative which I love.)

    Thanks again!

  18. Thank you for the recommendations! I listen to a few podcasts each week, but I get overwhelmed whenever I try to find a new one. There are just so many out there! I’m excited to check out Lit Up.

  19. Annie Haynes says:

    WSIRN is my absolute favorite podcast, :-), but I a couple of others I enjoy are Mud Stories with Jacque Watkins and On Being with Krista Tippett.

  20. Holli Petersen says:

    I like a lot of these, but one I’d add is: Bold New Mom. She’s a life coach, who specializes in women and mothers, but really gives life lessons that EVERYONE can appreciate.

    My favorite line from her:

    “What someone else thinks of me is none of my business.”

    It’s like 30 minutes of therapy — for free! I recommend starting from the first episode and then going from there. And, keep a pen and paper nearby for jotting down aha moments.

  21. Esther says:

    Thank you for this! I’ve been looking to change/add my podcast lineup and this is so helpful! On an unrelated topic, what are your takes on the Audible channels?

  22. Ashley V says:

    I wish I had not read this post and the above comments because while I have no business subscribing to more podcasts (I’m a serious addict), I just subscribed to 8 more podcasts. Send help. Of course I’m all about WSIRN, but there are a few game-show podcasts I really like and that have not been mentioned: Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, and Ask Me Another. I also love true crime so I added several of those from your readers’ suggestions.

  23. Kathy W says:

    I’ve got such a long list of podcasts I love! And now I have to add more… here’s a few I really like: Literary Disco – great conversation about interesting books (very funny also), Stranglers (true crime, really well done about the Boston Strangler/s), My Favorite Murder (true crime and is fantastic), S-Town, Serial, The Librarian Is In, Selected Shorts (especially any story read by BD Wong!), Invisibilia, Radiolab, This American Life, 99%Invisible, WSIRN(obv), …so many more…

  24. Hi!! This post is so helpful! I’m VERY new to the podcast world. In fact, I released my own podcast – Life Bonds™ with Dr. Mel last Wednesday! I’d love any suggestions/ input/ feedback from you regarding how to improve it for the listeners.

  25. Meg M says:

    Thank you so much for the list. I’ve added a few more podcasts to my ever growing subscription list. Some of my favorite podcasts are your show, Pantsuits Politics(thank you for bringing this podcast to my attention), Read Aloud Revival, Sorta Awesome, The Politics Guys, The Simple Show, Pastor with No Answers, Bad Christian Podcast, and The Liturgist Podcast.

  26. Misti says:

    Personally, my favorites tend to be the ones that aren’t on iTunes’ front page. The little ones run by regular people, with minimal production.

  27. Jessica says:

    I really, really like the 10% Happier podcast with Dan Harris (loved his book by the same name, too) and OnBeing with Krista Tippett. Her book, Becoming Wise, is also excellent.

  28. Ann M. says:

    I love Radiolab Presents: More Perfect (all about the Supreme Court and it’s fascinating), Undone (sadly cancelled after the 1st season), You Must Remember This, Criminal, The Black Tapes, Off Shore (investigative reporting from Hawaii), the Accused, and Kings Falls AM.

  29. Kelly Sites says:

    I’m obsessed with Podcasts, because I work out daily and listen to a Podcast as I work out. It makes me WANT TO GO to the gym, and it makes me stay LONGER because I have so many things to listen to. I love:

    WSIRN (of course)
    Happy Hour
    Happier with Gretchen Rubin
    Embedded (awesome)
    The PopCast (sooooo hilarious)
    The Simple Show
    Off Camera with Sam Jones
    Casefile (true crimes)
    Smartest Person in the Room
    Lead Stories
    Big Impact Podcast
    48 Hours (true crime)
    Surviving Sarah
    And I LOVE Ted Talks

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  31. Such a great list of podcasts and I didn’t realize March was trypod month! I started listening to Sorta Awesome because of you and love it…and also joined their Book Nerds Facebook group, which has been fun. And, I love Revisionist History…the Food Fight episode and the basketball free throw shooting episodes were fantastic.

    I just started S-Town by This American Life and am HOOKED. Would be great for fans of Hillbilly Elegy and is more like the original Serial podcast than Season 2 of Serial was. Have also been loving The Strategy Hour and The Chopped Podcast (technically for food bloggers) for blogging/business tips.

    Just the Right Book and On the Front Porch also sound great…will have to check those out!

  32. Kyla says:

    Thank you, Anne for introducing me to Pantsuit Politics! I’m s huge fan and feel like Sarah and Beth are my virtual best friends. “Sarah from the left, Beth from the right. No shouting, no insults, lots of nuance.” What more could you ask for?!

  33. Grace says:

    In addition to your show, I listen to and love:
    The PopCast with Knox and Jamie – hilarious and so fun
    Pantsuit Politics – political discussions that are nuanced and insightful
    Spilled Milk – hilarious food podcast hosted by authors Molly Wizenberg and Matthew Amster-Burton
    The Pollsters – interesting finds and data from political and pop culture polling, co-hosted by a democrat and a republic pollster

  34. Peggy says:

    thanks for the great recommendations! My playlist (aside from yours)include Fresh Air, Katie Couric podcast, stuff you should know, Here’s the thing , Jim Parsons is too stupid for politics, and Join us in France.

  35. Anne says:

    I am a longtime podcast consumer, but only recently acquired my first smart phone. I still use this goofy little mp3 plug-in to listen to podcasts in my car, but would prefer to just listen off my phone for better control & ability to change the speed. How do I know if I am using data when I listen??

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