Hopeful, kind, non-snarky podcasts needed
October 7, 2019 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Help me survive the next few days? A few hours ago I said goodbye to my 13 year old dog Pippin for the last time - he was euthanized today. One of my best coping mechanisms is listening to podcasts but I need some new extra-strength-soothing podcasts to help me through this time.

I prefer non-snarky podcasts (as in, not too biting and nasty), and while I don't mind serious subjects (politics, environment etc) I prefer if they are not relentlessly dealing with dark, violent or upsetting topics. I love shows where you can hear that the hosts like one another. I love enthusiastic people, and kind people.
Podcasts I already listen to:

Kermode & Mayo's film review
99% Invisible
Reply All
West Wing Weekly
Imaginary Worlds
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Topics - anything really.
I would also love to listen to more podcasts that are not from the USA, so if anyone can recommend some of those, that would be great.
posted by Zumbador to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Ahh what a sweet looking bub. Sad days.

I like Sawbones. Misguided medicine (historical, funny, hubs/wife team)

Much interwebs goodvibes to ye.
posted by PistachioRoux at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

Ologies with Alie Ward is one where you might want to give some subjects a pass just based on how you feel about the topic, but it's basically an interviewer getting earnestly excited about some new subject in every episode, and an expert talking about the thing they really love. Volcanoes, bees, museums, it's kind of all over the place, but I think it definitely hits the notes of both enthusiastic and kind.
posted by Sequence at 8:31 AM on October 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'll second Sawbones. And I also found "This Podcast Will Kill You" on AskMe. I have "The Story Collider" cued up, also found here.

Sending kind thoughts your way. Saying good-bye is hard.
posted by kathrynm at 8:34 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

This sounds like Too Beautiful to Live. They have been around for over 10 years, and just put out their 3000th episode. It was recorded in a Waffle House in Orlando.

It started out being Luke and his longtime friend and producer Jen, and now it's Luke and his longtime friend and producer Andrew. They are both kind and thoughtful people, and it deliberately has nothing to do with news (unless it's silly or strange) or politics. Typical topics include airline travel, garbage pickup issues, and puttering. It's very soothing and oddly compelling. This is the introductory episode they put out about a year ago.

And I'm so sorry. Sending you good thoughts. <3
posted by apricot at 8:35 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

So sorry for your loss. I think you may like Judge John Hodgman. While the judge often pokes gentle fun at his guests, his commitment to dealing with all situations in a kind and humane way is really nice. It's also very clear that he and Bailiff Jesse Thorne really like each other.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:45 AM on October 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'm so sorry for your loss.

This is something that may fascinate you as well as soothe you - a few years back the British Museum curated a special selection of 100 objects from their collection, which collectively captures a history of the world. The podcast they released about the objects delves into what the object was for, why it was chosen for this list, and ropes in all kinds of people to comment for each episode (one of the earliest episodes features a stone flint hand-axe, and one of the people commenting on it is Richard Dyson, who talks about how well it's designed). The episodes are all fairly short as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 AM on October 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

If you are a Harry Potter fan, the Binge Mode season on Harry Potter was amazing. The hosts clearly like and respect each other, they take the text seriously and you can tell they really love it to.

Mindless celebrity gossip is the bread and butter of Who Weekly ("Everything you need to know about the celebrities you don't.") but Lindsay and bobby (the hosts) are funny and smart - I really like listening to it.
posted by hepta at 8:46 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

The National Archives (Uk) has a podcast of various researchers talking about their work. Great range of accents, and while the material is about our world, it isn’t urgent.
posted by unknown knowns at 8:50 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Every Little Thing - investigating listeners' factual emergencies. Some great episodes include: Why do we have organ music at baseball games? When were pants invented?
I Hate It But I Love It - two hilarious friends talk about movies and TV that they hate but...you get it. Highlights: nicknaming any alien or monster (Alan Cloverfield, Spido-Dido from Stranger Things), improvised theme songs.
posted by zeptoweasel at 8:51 AM on October 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm so sorry for your loss. He looks like a good good boy.

I enjoy Hidden Brain - it's NPR, kind of pop science storytelling (like if the Moth was science, maybe?), and I find that both the pace of the show and the voice of the host, Shankar Vedantam, are very soothing. It's what I listen to when I'm on overload from my current work/school combo, and need something to capture my interest but not require strict attention.
posted by okayokayigive at 8:56 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Helen Zaltzman of the Allusionist has another podcast, Answer Me This, that she does with a friend and her husband. They answer listener questions about miscellaneous things, and often go off on tangents. There is a lot of friendly chatter and laughter.
posted by esker at 9:09 AM on October 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

I mentioned these two on the recent metafilter thread about podcasts, so copying in my descriptions:

You’re Dead to Me, a new-ish podcast where Greg Jenner, part of the Horrible Histories team, has a comedian and a historian on talking about a particular facet of history. It’s both informative and entertaining. So far they’ve discussed among others Mansa Musa, the History of Football, Harriet Tubman and Joan of Arc, all with a bit of irreverence.

The Birthday Game, Richard Osman (from Pointless) has 3 guests who compete to win a Colin the Caterpillar cake by guessing the age of celebrities who have birthdays that week. It’s fun in spite of the fact that I don’t know who half of the celebrities are...
posted by scorbet at 9:12 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Adam Buxton podcast might work; it’s a basic ‘comedian interviewing people’ format but he’s an empathetic and friendly interviewer. Some of the guests might be a bit UK-centric, I guess? but check it out.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 9:22 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry for your loss. I love We Love You and So Can You with Kristin Meinzer and Jolenta Greenberg, which is a fairly new podcast where they help people solve personal problems based on all the self-help advice they picked up doing their other podcast By the Book (they live by one self help book for two weeks for every other episode, also recommended). It's lighthearted, encouraging, and kind.

Simple Pleasures was a brief podcast with famed chef Yotam Ottolenghi where he cooks for a guest and they chat about simple pleasures. Recommended: the episode with Lin-Manuel Miranda and his wife Vanessa Nadel.
posted by toastyk at 9:25 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'd suggest I Only Listen to the Mountian Goats where a podcast author inverviews the singer of band. A good start would be the episode named "Color in Your Cheeks." It isn't just about music.
posted by bdc34 at 9:28 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry - it's painful to say goodbye to our four-legged friends.

I too like podcasts where the hosts are obviously close and friendly with each other.

I have been really enjoying Overdue lately - "a podcast about the books you've been meaning to read." Andrew and Craig read books and explain them to each other. They're funny without being mean.

If you enjoy that one, one of the hosts, Andrew, is also on Appointment Television - "a podcast about the TV you want to make time for." Andrew, Kathryn and Margaret discuss television and recently, Margaret gets misty again and again about Andrew being a new dad. It's sweet.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 9:30 AM on October 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

2nding Ologies. Lots of very sincere enthusiasm and inquisitiveness. Maybe try Punch Up the Jam?
posted by gnutron at 10:00 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you're at all interested in running, Ali on the Run's You can Run a Marathon series is about all kinds of runners. As a newbie myself, quite enjoying some. Especially Meb's
Pippin is beautiful. So sorry for you rloss
posted by TravellingCari at 10:02 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Hosted by a married couple (Rachel & Griffin McElroy), the podcast is about things that they love. They each bring 2 things they're enthusiastic about each week and also cover small wonders and audience submissions.

For an idea of the type of subjects they cover: http://wonderful.fyi/.
posted by minsies at 10:11 AM on October 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm so sorry for your loss :( I miss my dog too.

Have you ever listed to This American Life on NPR? It's a podcast that tells various stories about the world and the people in it. Some are light and humorous, some are more serious. I love them. They have all their podcasts going back 10+ years on their (the This American Life) website for free. You can scroll through the archive of like 600+ of them and pick ones that sound good to you. They have all sorts.
posted by WinterSolstice at 10:11 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think No such thing as a fish would be excellent for you

I really like Desert island discs too
posted by Ftsqg at 10:38 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

This Is Love: an "expansive, thoughtful, and near-anthropological approach to the...subject of love.” Gentle host, kind stories, warm tone. I have recently and specifically enjoyed the episodes The Town That Stayed Quiet and Ugly Club.

Kind World: I've only listened to a few of these but it seems to fit into your criteria; "Kind World is a radio series about how a single act of kindness can change our lives...deeply intimate stories and interviews that uplift your spirit and restore your faith."

I hope you find some listening that brings you joy and calm.
posted by youarenothere at 10:41 AM on October 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Seconding Answer Me This. The Allusionist was my gateway to that show as well.

I'll recommend Everything Is Alive, the creator and host of which, Ian Chillag, was just lately on The Allusionist. In each episode, Chillag interviews one or more inanimate objects, which are voiced by actors giving a researched but improvised performance.

It's worth noting that some objects will fulfill their purpose and while that is the end of them, they generally look forward to their purpose. You'll get a taste of this in the first episode, "Louis, Can of Cola," or the fourth, "Tara, Bar of Soap." That'll let you decide whether to continue forward. I don't want to suggest it's in any way dark; I found it philosophically satisfying. Plenty of other episodes find objects in their second life, such as "Sean, Subway Seat."

Hello to Jason Isaacs
posted by Sunburnt at 10:53 AM on October 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

I like learning new things when I need to get through a rough time. Podcasts that have scratched that itch for me are:
Lexicon Valley, linguist John McWhorter mixing up linguistics and show tunes
Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness. Yes, the dude from Queer Eye. Utterly charming and way more intellectual than you'd ever have guessed if you just saw him being a goof on the show. He covers any topic that makes him curious - the census, the environment, the history of indigenous peoples of north america, you name it.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:11 AM on October 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

Fortunately... is very warm and fun.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 11:15 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Song Exploder is the most earnest podcast I think I listen to, filled with talented people talking about how they create.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:23 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Strong Songs is very warm and enthusiastic too
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 11:28 AM on October 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm a trivia nerd, so I'm a big fan of Ken Jennings and John Roderick's Omnibus podcast. Collegial, funny but not snarky conversations about weird things from every area of life. I always learn something and I enjoy the banter between John and Ken.
posted by zeusianfog at 11:49 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I find SheDunnit very soothing - not just the topic, which is Golden Age detective fiction, but also the host's voice and the general production of the podcast.
posted by PussKillian at 11:55 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding Judge John Hodgman. Agreed with everything said above - it’s been my happy place for awhile now and there are tons of back episodes.
posted by stefnet at 11:55 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry for your loss. If you're open to something older, I wholeheartedly recommend The Tobolowsky Files. It deals with life, Hollywood, love of animals and a bit of (non-denominational, non-preachy) sprituality. Very comforting. You can dip in anywhere, but if you start at #1 there's some continuity as he tells his stories that builds really nicely.
posted by Mchelly at 12:00 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Podcasts I like include the recently concluded Hidden Almanac, Gastropod, Lingthusiam.
posted by jeather at 12:04 PM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry about your dog. It is always so hard to lose a beloved pet.

Thirding Answer Me This. It is one of the podcasts I've stuck with for close to a decade. Others have come and gone for me, but I always listen whenever it is updated. It has gotten me through some hard times.

You might also like the food focused Spilled Milk podcast; it's hosted by the chef who used to run the blog Orangette and her food writer friend. They have nice chemistry and are good humoured.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:05 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I recently started listening to Anthropocene Reviewed, a podcast written and delivered by John Green (of bestseller YA fame). I highly recommend it if you like thoughtful and short takes on various mostly random subjects. There's a gimmick where he rates stuff on a 5-star scale, but the real draw is his sincere and kind and real remarks about hot dogs and Disney World's Hall of Presidents and whatever else he decides to talk about. Check out the one about Indianapolis and Love at First Sight if you want a sample.

Also, my sincere condolences on the loss of your doggo. We went through that a couple of years ago. I still miss her.
posted by tuesdayschild at 12:25 PM on October 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Thirding Hodgman. My favorite forever.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:28 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

They've stopped releasing new episodes, but Dinner Party Download was lovely and companionable. The premise is that it's information useful to you if you're throwing a dinner party, including cocktail recipes, etiquette advice, music playlists selected by a musician they interview, etc., and it also felt like a nice party chat. Note: I have no experience with throwing actual dinner parties or drinking cocktails, so YMMV.
posted by amtho at 12:29 PM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Frank Turner (singer, songwriter, history nerd) just released an album of songs about interesting women and it has a companion podcast, Tales from No Man's Land, where in each episode he discusses the woman of interest with a historian or other expert and then plays them the song.
posted by Flannery Culp at 12:43 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Probably anything from the SMcElroy family of podcasts (of which Sawbones is one). The McElroy brothers and their various partners, in-laws, and friends are like the first-family of podcasting, and in general the shows are pretty congenial. I listen to Sawbones and Still Buffering (which is the wifely half of Sawbones and her sisters).

The panelists on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour are all genuinely good friends and kind people. They've been doing this for a long time, and their patter is great. One of the regular panelists can get a little snarky, but it's always in a light hearted, amusing way. They review movies, books, tv shows, etc.

If you are already a fan of The Good Place, The Good Place: The Podcast is amazing. Everyone loves working on the show, and it's almost sickening how much they love each other (and especially how much they love Mike Schur and Ted Danson).

I hope these help!
posted by natabat at 12:43 PM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Have you listened to BBC's "In Our Time"? One host -- who's a long-time fixture in British media -- talks calmly with three U.K. academics about something specific, usually for about forty minutes. Here are the archives: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2Dw1c7rxs6DmyK0pMRwpMq1/archive

I just started listening to "Anthropocene Reviewed," and I love it! I suppose it's what used to be called a "feature column" in your local newspaper. Really warm, funny writing -- a quarter- to half an hour each.

The ensemble podcast "The Incomparable" is a ton of people who like each other, and it covers fantasy, scifi, comics, movies, games, anime, and other stuff; sometimes they are boisterous and sometimes they are just sincere. They have a very deep back catalog, so pick a topic that interests you: https://www.theincomparable.com/theincomparable/archive/ Runs about an hour, sometimes well over two when the old friends get to talking -- and often well worth the extended runtime. (And God help you if you stumble upon the clip loop of Steve Lutz choosing Skeletor recursively forever...)

The "Special Sauce" podcast from Serious Eats is good, friendly talk about food and eating and restaurants, though sometimes it disappears into its own goddamn New-York-is-the-awesomest navel. https://www.seriouseats.com/features/special-sauce-podcast

Your Pippin looks like a Very Good Boy indeed; so sorry. I had a similar-looking yellow Lab as a kid, and she was a Pretty Good Dog. If we hadn't loved them -- and been loved by them -- so much, it wouldn't hurt. Those tears are a libation.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:07 PM on October 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Seconding Apricot on Too Beautiful To Live. In the early days, Jen described it as “on a mission to cure global loneliness” and that ethos carries through to today. Every time I go to a live event, I’m impressed by how unfailingly kind the Tens (the fans) are.
posted by FallibleHuman at 1:30 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you're a biology nerd, there is a family of podcasts at Microbe.tv is a good place to find 100s of episodes. The initial podcast that started the whole thing was This Week in Virology. There is also microbiology, immunology, parasitism, and evolution.
posted by kathrynm at 4:18 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you ever watched and enjoyed Buffy, Buffering the Vampire Slayer is ridiculously wholesome and kind, and the two hostesses have started their own separate additional recap shows on My So-Called Life and Veronica Mars.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 7:31 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry for your loss. Pippin looks like a sweet and wonderful pup. If you like stories, I've been listening to Levar Burton Reads lately - the host of Reading Rainbow telling short stories in his lovely voice, and then briefly but so earnestly discussing why he loves them, is something I've found to be very positive and cozy.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:31 PM on October 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

From Canada, there’s “Pop This” which has two progressive, smart female hosts who clearly like each other talking about movies (all genres and eras) in kind of a cultural context, but it’s quite loose and casual. It’s not film review per se and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
posted by HoteDoge at 8:39 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm terribly sorry for your loss. I would like to second the recommendations for Wonderful (created specifically because the hosts wanted to create time devoted to only things that make them happy/are positive), Appointment Television (kind and thoughtful people who are close friends, being kind and thoughtful about TV), Pop Culture Happy Hour (same, although you may want to pay attention to what the subject of the episode is - for example, the Joker episode may contain some discussion that you might want to skip). Additional suggestions are All Things Cozy, and (to the extent a bunch of doofy but kind dudes joking around about stuff is appealing) the Trypod.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 8:42 AM on October 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

You should be listening to Gastropod! It's about food (through a lens of science and history) and the two co-hosts are delightful. They clearly like each other, tease each other, and are having a great time bringing all sorts of cool food information and great stories to their audience.
posted by Lady Li at 10:30 AM on October 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I love enthusiastic people, and kind people.

It's difficult to be more enthusiastic and kind than MythBusters' Adam Savage in his Still Untitled podcast.
posted by ringu0 at 1:11 PM on October 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Still learning the ropes of MetaFilter, am I allowed to thank people? :) But I'm going to anyway. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH. This is so helpful, both the kind messages of support and the suggestions. Am feeling so lucky to have had my lovely dog, and so desperately sad that he is gone. Am going to spend some time today listening to these podcasts while I plant some pretty groundcover plants in my backyard. They will have a chance to survive now that Pippin is no longer there to pee on everything that grows! :)
posted by Zumbador at 10:04 PM on October 8, 2019 [8 favorites]

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