Give me your best podcasts!
June 11, 2015 7:05 AM   Subscribe

I've recently gotten back into podcasts because my commute has changed and become more amendable to podcast-ing. Help me discover some new favorites.

Here's what I like so far:

Cool women talking about their lives, with practical tips for self-improvement... I've been really enjoying Liz DiAlto's Wild Soul Woman and Gretchen Rubin's Happier at Home

Game of Thrones! I've listened to a couple of podcasts and I think I want something with at least book spoilers (I have read the books). What are your favorites?

Other general interests would include religion/spirituality, cooking/food, American history, science fiction...
posted by rainbowbrite to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 96 users marked this as a favorite
RHAP often has Game of Thrones coverage. I don't watch GoT myself, but I am a huge RHAP fan. Great podcast.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:20 AM on June 11, 2015

American history? BackStory. It is literally presented by the American History Guys, with women showing up as guests from time to time, so it may fall short of your preference for cool women, but the historians are well-spoken, witty and mesh well as a group. Each one covers a different period of American history, so the scope is pretty broad.

The show's topics are pretty broad, too. Some I'm remembering off the top of my head (and which you can browse/search here) are domesticated animals and pets (did you know that squirrels were once the pet of choice?), garbage, surveillance, gun control, time, deception, church and state, conspiracy theories, and heath fads.
posted by maudlin at 7:25 AM on June 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

For science fiction, Escape Pod (or the fantasy and horror siblings, Podcastle and Pseudopod), StarShipSofa and Clarkesworld. For food, Gastropod.
posted by jeather at 7:25 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Spilled Milk
And Eat it Too (sort of?)

The Bowery Boys: New York History
Stuff You Missed in History Class (not strictly American History)

Things I really like but am not sure fall exactly under your umbrella:

Oh No Ross and Carrie
Book Riot
Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine
Stuff Mom Never Told You
Gilmore Guys (But probably only if you enjoy the show Gilmore Girls..still it's my favorite podcast as of late)
posted by lucy.jakobs at 7:25 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

For science fiction, Escape Pod.
posted by neushoorn at 7:27 AM on June 11, 2015

Cool women podcasts: Call Your Girlfriend, Another Round, and Ask a Clean Person with Jolie Kerr. Masters of Social Gastronomy is a food and history podcast.
posted by kyla at 7:31 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

In terms of cool women, I'm obliged to offer up the podcast my wife just started, Not Shallow (that link goes to the site, it's also listed in iTunes). You might like the Stuff About Stuff episode as a starter, it's centered around a book about decluttering your life (and, for full disclosure, I appear and talk about shitty cars I've owned).
posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:37 AM on June 11, 2015

Peruse the offerings of I'm sure you'll find at least a couple of podcasts there you'll enjoy.
posted by goggie at 7:43 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cooking: The America's Test Kitchen Podcast is quite good. About 1/3 call-in questions which are usually full of good tips and advice, 1/3 interviews with authors and chefs on some food/cooking/cuisine related topic, 1/3 recipes, reviews, taste tests. (Chris Kimball, one of the hosts, can come off like a bit of a dick on the TV show but I actually think he's much mellower on the podcast version.)

History: I really like Mike Duncan's Revolutions podcast --- you might try he series on the American Revolution first to see if his style is to your taste. He's about 3/4th of the way through the French Revolution at the moment.

Also, this is obviously not just American history, but the BBC's History of The World in 100 Objects I found quite gripping, with many of the selections highlighting fascinating niches I knew little of previously.

Also, the Irish public broadcaster RTE does a series, the Documentary on One, which has a whole wide range of subjects, but has some of the best radio storytelling I've ever heard, bar none. A lot of them deal with religion and spirituality as well. Try Little Star or Millionaire to get a flavor of it.
posted by maggiepolitt at 7:48 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

American history? The Memory Palace. Lyrically told minor stories from (mostly) American history, focusing on the weirdest, smallest events and always looking for an emotional angle to the story.

"The A.V. Club called The Memory Palace a "brisk and sadly infrequent podcast" whose episodes feature "a kind of precious, deadpan delivery similar to This American Life, but more humorous, backed by a surprisingly evocative and effective musical score.""
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:09 AM on June 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I am an American, but my absolute favorite podcast is BBC4's "Farming Today." I learn about so many interesting and unexpected things, and I love hearing people discuss their passions when their passions are things I've never heard of in my life.

How to grow watercress! Diversifying farms by adding riding lessons! The farmer's daughter who went to art school and now has a studio on the farm making the farm-merch she sells at trade shows! Growing acres of delphiniums to make natural wedding confetti from the petals! And don't even get me started on how angry I am that an arable farmer lost a contract for 160 tons of oatmeal because a random sampling found chunks of glass from litterers throwing bottles out their windows on the highway.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:16 AM on June 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm kind of amazed that the best podcast ever, Mystery Show hasn't been mentioned yet!
posted by jimmereeno at 8:42 AM on June 11, 2015 [7 favorites]

I listen to a lot of podcasts during the day/my commute, and I think you might be interested in these, even though some of them don't fit your initial criteria.

99% Invisible -- Short podcasts about the invisible design around us every day.
Amicus -- A really fascinating podcast about the cases currently being decided at the Supreme Court.
Beneath Ceaseless Skies -- Adventure fantasy fiction.
Best of the Left -- Current progressive politics podcast, an aggregator of several sources.
Born Yesterday -- History, not specificially American.
Caustic Soda -- Four comedians riff on a gross or terrible subject for an hour once a week. If you take a look at the subjects you should figure out pretty quickly if you'd be interested.
Clarkesworld -- Fantasy fiction.
Criminal -- A podcast about crime and the law and grey areas.
Death, Sex, and Money -- Basically the title; a podcast about the things we don't talk about enough.
Escape Pod, Podcastle, Pseudopod -- Mentioned above, scifi/fantasy/horror fiction.
Everything Is Stories -- Interviews with people who have very weird/interesting lives, done in a silent interviewer format so it's like the person is talking straight at you. Really fascinating.
Everything Sounds -- A podcast about sound/music.
Hardcore History -- Very long podcasts that go in depth about historical subjects -- some American history but mostly world history. One of the two podcasts I actually pay for.
Life of the Law -- Very similar to Criminal, more focused on the law aspects.
The Memory Palace -- Various history. Short podcasts about tiny pieces of history.
The Moth -- True stories told live.
Radiolab -- Science, sociology, and the way science affects our lives.
Reply All -- Interesting stories about the Internet.
Revolutions -- In-depth discussions of various revolutions through history. He did a great series on the American Revolution.
RISK! -- The Moth, only rated R or NC-17.
Sawbones -- A funny podcast about medical history.
Song Exploder -- A song composer is interviewed about a specific song that they have wrote. Really in-depth and fascinating.
The Story Collider -- Personal stories by and about scientists.
This Is Actually Happening -- Similar to Everything Is Stories but more focused on individual experiences, like "What if you lost a high speed chase?" or "What if you married someone you knew only 10 days?"
Thrilling Adventure Hour -- A funny podcast in the style of old-time radio. Tongue-in-cheek and amusing. Check out an episode of Beyond Belief first, that should give you an idea whether you will like it.
TLDR -- Short stories about odd things from the Internet.
Toasted Cake -- Very short fantasy fiction, generally 10 minutes or less.
Twilight Histories -- Alternate history podcast, teling stories set in worlds where the Carthaginians survived long enough to colonize Mars or the Civil War was a Southern victory. The only other podcast I pay for, the bonus episodes are just as long and fascinating as the free episodes.
posted by possibilityleft at 9:37 AM on June 11, 2015 [34 favorites]

Seconding Backstory, Sawbones, and 99% Invisible for history. (Backstory is more straight-up history presented by history professors -- but interesting -- while the other two are incidentally history-focused, and also fascinating.)

For food, The Splendid Table is the gold standard, in my opinion.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:46 AM on June 11, 2015

StarTalk with Neil DeGrasse-Tyson is great, especially the ones where Eugene Mirman co-hosts.
posted by freecellwizard at 10:34 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Gastropod - my favorite new food podcast.
posted by O9scar at 10:49 AM on June 11, 2015

Okay, here are some of my favorite podcasts that haven't been mentioned and fit at least somewhat into your stated interests:
Bizarre States -- supernatural/occult/haunted stuff, some of which has a historical bent
Dear Sugar -- advice columnists
First Day Back -- filmmaker goes back to work after maternity leave
Footnoting History -- historians (mostly grad students) talk about interesting tidbits and stories from their research
Imaginary Worlds -- how we create and perceive sci-fi and fantasy
Last Stop to Nowhere -- I know you said American history, but this is a really great Australian history podcast
Literary Disco -- smart people read books and talk about them
Lore -- the history of common tropes in scary stories or haunted places/concepts
Note to Self (formerly New Tech City) -- woman-hosted show about the Internet, technology, and our lives
Paranoia Shoppe -- recently revived podcast about conspiracies and the paranormal
PleasureTown -- an episodic story about the history of a (fictional) failed Utopian settlement in Oklahoma.
Speculative Grammarian -- a comedy podcast that takes the form of a journal about satirical linguistics
StartUp -- you can skip the first season if you want, but the new season is about a few women trying to build a new online dating company
Stuff They Don't Want You To Know -- more conspiracy theories
The Adaptors -- women talking about climate change and how it's changing our lives
The Allusionist -- etymology and history of language
The Lapse -- a really compelling storytelling podcast
The Longest Shortest Time -- mostly women telling stories about parenting (I don't have kids and still really like it)
The Mask of Inanna -- Spec fic audio drama about pirate radio and other things
The Podcaster's Guide to the Conspiracy -- I think I'm just recommending all these conspiracy podcasts because you mentioned sci-fi, so sorry if you're not interested in them...
Thoughtfuel -- a sadly short-lived podcast about weird and intriguing things
Welcome to Night Vale -- community radio broadcasts from a desert town where lots of strange things keep happening
You're the Expert -- comedians guess what an academic studies all day

Also, if you missed Serial, you should give it a listen. Twelve-part investigation into a murder that happened in Baltimore in 1999.
posted by naturalog at 11:56 AM on June 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding Mystery Show, it's kind of all over the place in terms of hitting possible interests, but the random human connections she makes and her sense of humor tracking down little mysteries has made it my new favorite.
posted by Sweetums at 6:07 AM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Kitchen Sisters' Fugitive Waves is one podcast I recently found and love that I haven't seen mentioned yet, which would mostly fall under your American History category.
I am seconding Criminal and The Memory Palace which are sort of along the same lines.

Invisibilia is more of a history/narrative/tech sort of thing that I recommend even if that description does it no justice.

But yeah so so many above are great. Thanks for asking this question. I listen to podcasts all day since the job is pretty mind-numbing so this is gonna be a great resource for me.
posted by nogoodverybad at 8:46 AM on June 12, 2015

For SciFi, The Incomparable covers sci-fi, movie, comics, books, etc. with a lot of laughter -- and there are several (smart! funny! opinionated! partially Canadian!) women among the rotating cast. Love this podcast.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:51 AM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Take a look at my show, A Way with Words. We look at language in a question-and-answer caller-based format, which makes it personal: about families, about relationships, about the deeper connections and histories of language. It's light and lively and very non-professorial, plus we get callers from all over the place, which makes for nice accent/dialect texture.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:15 AM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I quite like Boars, Gore and Swords for funny/snarky Game of Thrones coverage.
posted by Bardolph at 5:44 PM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

For Game of Thrones coverage, I like A Cast of Kings (no spoilers, but book explanation sometimes), and A Storm of Spoilers (the name says it all). Both feature Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair.
posted by pitrified at 6:50 AM on June 21, 2015

My current favorite is The Dollop. Two comedians cover events from American history riffing as they go. They definitely have a nose for the quirky and the obscure. There are a lot of mispronunciations and occasionally they take the riffing a bit far, but overall lots of fun to be had. I recommend starting with Ten Cent Beer Night or The Tank Chase.
posted by Locobot at 1:17 PM on July 9, 2015

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