Feel-good podcasts?
August 5, 2019 12:30 PM   Subscribe

I listen to a lot of news and true-crime podcasts and I just need something lighter for this week.

Preferably nothing too saccharine or religious. Can be storytelling - doesn't need to be true stories.

Podcasts I like and already listen to:

- My Favorite Murder (love the hosts' banter and friendship)
- Levar Burton Reads
- 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy
- Casefile
- 99% Invisible
- Household Name
posted by jschu to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 82 users marked this as a favorite
NPR's How To Do Everything is hilarious and not what I expected when I first downloaded it. I learn so many fun things and hear from regular people and experts and the hosts are super witty and funny. Episodes are not too long. It's over now but there are over 200 episodes.
posted by maya at 12:37 PM on August 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

The Allusionist

If you like crime fiction, All About Agatha or Shedunnit
posted by JJZByBffqU at 12:37 PM on August 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I pretty much only listen to No Such Thing As a Fish. I learn and I laugh.
posted by terrapin at 12:38 PM on August 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

Can I Pet Your Dog? is pretty much just a half hour of sheer joy from beginning to end.
posted by Fuego at 12:45 PM on August 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Allusionist. Also Twenty Thousand Hertz. It's similar to 99% Invisible, but about sounds. Oh, and Ask Me Another.
posted by General Malaise at 12:55 PM on August 5, 2019

Ologies with Alie Ward! I like MFM and 99% too, and I feel like Ologies would fit right in. It's always great to hear people who are extremely knowledgeable and excited about something, it's really joyful. (And Alie Ward was Georgia Hardstark's co-host on the Cooking Channel!)
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:59 PM on August 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

I should really stop listening to Hey Riddle Riddle while driving, as I often laugh so much it is a driving hazard.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:59 PM on August 5, 2019

Seconding No Such Thing As A Fish and adding Answer Me This! (like a lighthearted, chatty Ask Metafilter in audio form) and Spilled Milk (two friends who investigate a food topic per episode—eg ramen, Singaporean snacks, white chocolate, sauerkraut). Both are super soothing and binge worthy.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:01 PM on August 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Dr. Gameshow is really good and light and often cute.

I also really enjoy By the Book.
posted by witchen at 1:34 PM on August 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

  • The Allusionist - language and etymology with a side of dry British snark
  • Autonomic - family-friendly actual play podcast about 12 year olds navigating middle school and new superpowers
  • The Dollop - Forgotten stories from American history told by one comedian to another comedian who's never heard them. If you are familiar with the memory palace (also recommended) imagine that plus Drunk History, minus alcohol. I think.
  • Don't Get Me Started - not produced any more, but improvisers talking to fellow improvisers about passions that are not improv; everything from city planning to mascots to tarot to birds.
  • The Empty Bowl - a mellow podcast about breakfast cereal. No, really.
  • Futility Closet - forgotten stories from history told straight up, plus logic puzzles
  • The Good News Podcast - from Cards Against Humanity, but it is what the title says
  • My Dad Wrote a P*rno - I didn't link this one to avoid work filters, but it is hilarious. Very much NSFW. British guy reads out loud the adult novel his dad wrote, and comments on it with the help of two friends.
  • Planet Money - if forced to pick a favorite podcast, it might be this one. Certainly news-adjacent, but typically focuses on smaller stories about the economy and does so with a light touch.
  • Positiviteeny - their description: "messages of hope, support, and inspiration in ten minutes or less"
  • Snap Judgment - storytelling podcast not without its sad parts, but always good.
  • Story Collider - storytelling podcast with a science theme
  • The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe - forgotten stories and events from history, pop culture, and elsewhere
  • We Got This - ridiculous debates over minor subjects - think "hot dogs - ketchup or mustard?"
  • Wonderful! - a married couple each share things they find wonderful, and share listener submissions as well

posted by booksherpa at 1:37 PM on August 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

My Brother, My Brother, and Me is a fun "advice" podcast, with "advice" in quotes because the quality of the advice is comically suspect (that's the point).

Beef and Dairy Network is an extremely dry and weird British comedy podcast that must be listened to from episode 1 to fully appreciate. It's extremely good.
posted by Anonymous at 1:42 PM on August 5, 2019

Do you have any interest in music? If so I can recommend Strong Songs, a breezy podcast about what makes a song "strong".

How cheerful is it? It appears to be hosted by Kenneth from 30 Rock, and his enthusiasm for the topic is infectious.

Recommended episodes: Let It Go and Mr Blue Sky
posted by AndrewStephens at 1:44 PM on August 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Sawbones - a medical history podcast - is my "I want to be educated/entertained but I don't want to feel feelings about it" show. Always interesting, frequently funny, stands up well to relistening.
posted by darchildre at 2:02 PM on August 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Did you listen to 99PI recently where they played 2 eps of Anthropocene Reviewed? Really thoughtful essays, often with personal stories by the host. I find it very soothing to listen to.
posted by radioamy at 2:25 PM on August 5, 2019

Punch Up the Jam is often a laugh out loud delight; comedians and BFFs Miel Bredouw and Demi Adejuyigbe (and usually a guest) pick a song to exhaustively and hilariously analyze and/or make fun of, and then to "punch up" by recording their own version. Definitely no need to listen in order, just pick a song you love, hate, and/or love to hate from the ones they've already done.
posted by yasaman at 2:29 PM on August 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

For feeling the good feelings and a low Weltschmerz burden, I like Stop Podcasting Yourself. Yes, it's two white (Canadian) guys talking, usually with a guest (who is almost but not always a stand-up/improv person) but they're just so goddamned pleasant. You will probably not learn anything new from SPY, but you may feel the warm glow of friendliness, and you won't feel dumber for the experience... it's not a bro-ish morning zoo situation.
posted by mumkin at 2:40 PM on August 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

Approachable with Sam Ravndahl and Alyssa Anderson is light-hearted, varied content. Two roommates/best friends in their mid-twenties discuss beauty standards, entrepreneurship, relationships and more, in pleasant Canadian accents. Think of it like overhearing a fun conversation in a hair salon.

This Podcast Will Kill You, which you've probably already heard of if you like MFM. Two disease ecologists discuss the history and biology of a new disease every episode. Dry, but witty.

Criminal, a true crime podcast unlike most others. Phoebe Judge has one of the most soothing voices I've ever heard.
posted by landunderwave at 2:44 PM on August 5, 2019

The Judge John Hodgman show makes me smile/laugh every time
posted by katie at 3:19 PM on August 5, 2019 [8 favorites]

Seconding Planet Money. Have found many episodes thoroughly engaging, delightful, and i’ve learned a lot.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 3:48 PM on August 5, 2019

If you like the imbecilic laughter of the McElroys and/or the hosts of Car Talk IF ANYONE EVEN REMEMBERS THOSE GUYS then Reply All, the best podcast, is for you. Or if you like “why did this weird technology thing happen?” Or “what’s this Twitter feud about?” Reply All! You heard it here first.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:00 PM on August 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Everything is Alive, which is mainly an interview with an inanimate object (or more than one sometimes). The interview is entirely improvised but there's a segment in the middle where the host will call a real-world person to discuss a topic that's interesting and relevant to the show's interview subject. For example, in an interview with Maeve, a Brooklyn streetlamp, the host called an expert on one of the world's most famous streetlamps, and discussed the theft thereof.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:18 PM on August 5, 2019

For feeling the good feelings and a low Weltschmerz burden, I like Stop Podcasting Yourself.

Another vote for Stop Podcasting Yourself. I like it as low-key funny banter while I'm puttering around doing stuff.

They do a section called "Overheard" where they get their listeners to call in with things they overheard in public that are funny in a "WTF?" kind of way.

Fairly recently, they did an episode with Cassie Cao that was a hoot.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:05 PM on August 5, 2019

Nth'ing The Allusionist
Curious City (stories about Chicago)
Every Little Thing (random "investigative" stuff, sometimes silly and sometimes serious, always educational)
Gastropod (food)
Hidden Brain (phsychology/behavior)
Modern Love (the NYT column read aloud, with some commentary at the end)
The Mortified Podcast (adults reading from their teen diaries)
Out of the Blocks (interviews with local people all in one block or neighborhood, started in Baltimore, now travels to a lot of other cities)
Planet Money, which someone else already mentioned as well.
Radiolab (not always so light, tbh. But almost always fairly interesting)
Reply All (fairly techie, but some of them are hilarious. I see someone also mentioned this above)
The Sporkful (food)

Several of these actually came from earlier MeFi questions, and some I may have missed in the above list too.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 6:15 PM on August 5, 2019

Cosmic Vertigo! The latest episodes have been short little snippets about different bits of the moon landing, but the older episodes tend to be longer about a wide variety of topics. The two hosts, Amanda and Alan, are wonderful and very easy to listen to.

Their credentials:
*Dr Amanda Bauer is an astronomer and science communicator, who recently took up a position as the Head of Education and Public Outreach for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

*Dr Alan Duffy is an astrophysicist and an associate professor at Swinburne University.
posted by lesser weasel at 6:48 PM on August 5, 2019

I like Still Buffering. Here’s a description: Join real-life sisters Sydnee McElroy (Sawbones), Teylor Smirl, and Rileigh Smirl as they help bridge the gap between the teenagers of yesterday and today. "How do you party?" "What do I do with all this hair?" Still Buffering has the answer."
posted by hazel79 at 8:06 PM on August 5, 2019

Seconding Mortified.
The Secret Life of Weddings is all about crazy wedding stories, and it’s very funny.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:34 PM on August 5, 2019

I listen to Hoe Did This Get Made when I need to laugh. It’s 2-3 hosts and 0-2 guests discussing a terrible movie. Sometimes live, sometimes in a studio. I generally don’t watch the films they review, though occasionally I’ll have watched it at some point in the past. Any time there’s a new Fast and Furious movie, it gets reviewed in a live show with Adam Scott as the guest, and otherwise they review a good mix of recent and older films.
posted by itesser at 12:44 AM on August 6, 2019

I'm fond of the Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids podcast for light, funny entertainment.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 12:44 AM on August 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Omnibus! with Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings and musician John Roderick. Twice a week they dive into some obscure bit of history. The conceit is that they are recording to preserve knowledge for listeners in the distant future following whatever civilization-destroying cataclysm is to come (don't worry, the bit about the cataclysm is light-hearted). Funny in a nerdy kind of way.

Sporkful: "It's not for foodies, it's for eaters." OK, I don't love the tagline, but an entertaining podcast with host Dan Pashman and usually a guest. The topics are loosely around food's role in culture and society.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:54 AM on August 6, 2019

I love Las Culturistas, which is two queer NYC comedians chatting with another (or someone else in the culture biz). It's one of the few shows where even the live eps are worth listening to - in fact they're often the funniest.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 4:46 AM on August 6, 2019

I'm surprised no one mentioned Kind World yet, it is the first thing I thought of.
posted by catquas at 9:26 AM on August 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don't know that either of these are feel-good, per se, but they do make me laugh a lot:

It's finished its run now, but you could listen to 2 Dope Queens for comedy that doesn't punch down and centers women and POC.

I've only listened to the first season for some reason, but My Dad Wrote a Porno made me laugh until I cried.
posted by sugarbomb at 10:15 AM on August 6, 2019

Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend is so fun
Alan Alda's podcast is also so good.

I also like Sean Carroll's Mindscape
posted by tarvuz at 9:00 PM on August 6, 2019

I always look forward to Book Cheat, where a guy reads a classic book and tells two funny friends (and us) what happens in it ostensibly so we can all pretend to have read it after listening. The different reactions are fun, and it's always a silly & pleasant time.
posted by moons in june at 3:02 AM on August 7, 2019

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