Conversational podcasts that aren’t interviews?
September 13, 2020 7:20 PM   Subscribe

I’m looking for a conversational podcast which isn’t a new interview each time. I’d like to get to know the hosts and their backstories. This is largely because work from home has left me without any social interaction throughout the day and this helps fill the void.

I love the “90 day gays” podcasts which features the hosts, Jake and Matty doing 90 day fiancé episode recaps. They also do other series and I listen to those even though I don’t watch the related shows because 80% of the podcast is them going back and forth and telling stories from growing up in the south and telling jokes. (I used to listen to 90 Day cray cray but Kyle started talking over Kim too much for me to not be annoyed by it). I’ve also enjoyed “awesome etiquette” by the Emily Post institute but it’s a little too structured for me (also I found I didn’t care much for one of the host’s laugh.) “By the Book” has been good to listen to as Jolenta and Kristen are talking about their lives while reviewing the books though I’d prefer something even more conversational and off topic. “Where do we begin with Ester Pearlman” would be great except that it’s new couples each time.

(I’ve also really enjoyed investigative journalism podcasts like serial, s town, doctor death, guru, bad batch, the immaculate deception, etc as long as they don’t focus on murders). However right now I’m focused on more conversational podcasts as they make me feel less lonely.

What would you recommend along these lines?
posted by raccoon409 to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
You've likely heard of it already but just in case, this is pretty much exactly what My Brother My Brother And Me does.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:26 PM on September 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Fake Doctors Real Friends. It helps if you like the tv show scrubs, but it's not a deal breaker
posted by the twistinside at 7:40 PM on September 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

I asked a similar question here and although it’s a couple years old, it’s probably still worth checking out.

My current podcasts that fit this mold, where i feel like i actually know the hosts (in no particular order, on a variety of topics)

* Stuff you should know (Charles and Chuck explain things, but in a conversational manner)
* Grumpy Old Geeks (Jason and Brian are as described)
* The unmade podcast (Tim and Brady talk about podcasts they should make)
* Sawbones (Justin and Sidney are married and talk about weird medical history)
* Accidental Tech Podcast (Marco, John and Casey are apple geeks)
* Omnibus (Ken and John talk about a random thing per episode i guess?)
* A Hot Dog is a Sandwich (Josh and Nicole discuss internet culinary stuff. )
* Ear Biscuits (Rhett and Link from Good Mythical Morning. More serious and real than their youtube channels)
* Beach too Sandy, Water too Wet (new to me and I cant remember names, but they read and discuss one star reviews)
* This Podcast Will Kill You (Erin and Erin cover a different disease each episode)
posted by cgg at 7:50 PM on September 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Waypoint Radio is the podcast that scratches this itch for me. It's a mostly free-flowing conversation between an interesting group of video games journalists. (All that said, it is still ostensibly a video games podcast, so if you really have zero interest in video games, you might not enjoy it.)
posted by firechicago at 7:50 PM on September 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Along the MBMBAM lines, but fewer goofs, more positivity: Wonderful

If you like video games, i find the Besties podcast (which returned as a Spotify exclusive recently) to be a very good “four friends chatting” pod. I started listening from the beginning and it mostly holds up.
posted by supercres at 7:51 PM on September 13, 2020

The delightful (Canadian) duo Dave and Graham from Stop Podcasting Yourself literally have a segment called "Get To Know Us". It IS an interview format in that they have a different guest every week, but they still make sure to talk about what's new in the lives of Dave and Graham too. Plus they've had a ton of repeat guests, many of them their personal friends, so it really feels like you know them and their pals. I straight up cried when Dave's dog died because it felt so personal!
posted by thebots at 7:55 PM on September 13, 2020 [7 favorites]

Kind of a mixed bag, but you might enjoy Baby Geniuses, hosted by Emily Heller and Lisa Hanawalt.
posted by mustard seeds at 8:03 PM on September 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Jordan, Jesse, GO! is what I used when I lived alone and wanted some company.

It's two dudes who have known each other for 15 years chatting with each other and usually a guest who is a comedian, but it's not an interview. Occasionally the guest has something to plug, but for the most part it's funny folks shooting the shit and telling stories. Lots of surreal humor and silly banter. It's not clean, but it's not sexist either.

(I bounced off of MBMBAM because one of them has a voice that's super grating to me)
posted by itesser at 8:06 PM on September 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

If you like dogs, The Golden Ratio podcast is good for this. It's a husband and wife who have anywhere between 4 and 6 golden retrievers at a time (they're involved in rescue work) and are pretty active on social media. They do weekly updates about their dogs and a bit about their lives. There's a bit of an initial effort in getting up to speed (fan wiki here) but it's very conversational and friendly and the hosts are great.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:10 PM on September 13, 2020

Very Bad Wizards
posted by catquas at 8:10 PM on September 13, 2020

Oh man, I know so many of these. Many of the programs on the Maximum Fun network fit this description. Jump around and figure out which personalities you enjoy best. I'm currently working my way through The Greatest Generation, which is about Star Trek, even though I have minimal interest in Star Trek. Others:
-Book Fight (two college writing instructors discuss books or stories, with a LOT of banter)
-The Dork Forest (a comedian talks with various acquaintances about their interests)
-Bodega Boys (Bronx-focused and frequently raunchy, though not in a way I find offensive)
-Judge John Hodgman (I mostly like the "clearing the docket" episodes, which don't include guests)

I'll also suggest a genre that fills that illusion-of-social-interaction niche for me, which is people playing roll-playing games (such as Dungeons & Dragons). You generally don't have to know how the games work to follow along; it's basically just improve storytelling. My favorites include bomBARDed (has a music theme/music school setting -- the players are members of an indie band) and The Adventure Zone (the original story arc, at any rate).

One podcast that is kind of in-between the conversational type and investigative journalism is Ear Hustle, which is about life in prison and hosted by one (now former) prisoner and an artist who volunteers in the prison. The topics can obviously be heavy, and it involves interviews, but it can be very personal and is great. I'd also recommend Criminal, which is more journalistic but focuses on the human experience as it pertains to crime, understood very broadly.
posted by Comet Bug at 8:45 PM on September 13, 2020

It has a different guest each episode but I feel compelled to recommend my current favorite, Scam Goddess, because it is about true crime (scams!) but not murders, and it’s very chatty and overall pleasant, so I think it might combine some elements that you’re looking for.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 8:54 PM on September 13, 2020

The Baby-Sitters Club Club. Tanner and Jack are two kind of nerdy dudes who review books and other ephemera related to The Baby-Sitters Club. Really off the wall but super enjoyable once you kind of figure out their wavelength. I started listening because of the Netflix series (which they just wrapped up) but will shortly have reviewed Every Book in ALL the series. I am going to start the book episodes next week.

Caveat; idk if you ever read the books as a kid. If you didn’t, you might be slightly lost. But I think this is the kind of podcast you’re in the market for. I really love Office Ladies too, but they do a metric crapton of interviews.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 9:17 PM on September 13, 2020

I, too, like to listen to conversational podcasts when I don’t want to feel alone. My go-tos for this are Answer Me This and No Such Thing as a Fish.

AMT: The two hosts, Helen and Olly, are long time friends who answer listeners’ questions about various (generally lighthearted and fun but genuinely interesting) topics. Topics range from history, language, pop culture, etiquette, to “have you ever...?” about the hosts’ own life experiences. I call it Ask Metafilter with chatfilter allowed. Helen’s husband, Martin the Sound Man, chimes in from time to time, and all three have great chemistry as hosts.

NSTaaF: The researchers from the quiz show QI share their favourite facts from the week. Very lighthearted, fun and conversational. The hosts all have good rapport.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:32 PM on September 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

One of many things I love about Home Cooking is getting to know the hosts (Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Hirway) bit by bit through their unfolding conversations about how they've been cooking and eating during the extended period of semi-seclusion many folks are experiencing now.

Caveats: True to title, it does largely stick to the topic of food made at home. Samin and Hrishikesh interview someone as part of each episode and they answer listener questions (often asked via voice memo). Nonetheless, while listening to Home Cooking (particularly while washing dishes/putting away dinner/etc.), I occasionally forget the present moment and hallucinate that my partner and I have multiple friends over and we're all cleaning up dinner together.

It may stay too on-topic to really meet your criteria, but you might also try The Secret Life of Canada, hosted by Leah-Simone Bowen and Falen Johnson. This show regularly reminds me why I *care* about history because the hosts' human reactions and relationships to historical narratives are so clearly centered.

Two more possibilities: Food 4 Thot and Radio Menea.
posted by brackish.line at 9:45 PM on September 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

There are so many of these! My current favorites are: Blank Check, which is both full of amazing film criticism and context, and also lots of great conversation between “the two friends” and guests. I would suggest looking at their catalog and starting with a movie you know and enjoy. Podcast the Ride, which has some crossover guests with Blank Check, and which is ostensibly centered on theme parks and other themed entertainment with a lot of conversation. If you have any interest in Gilmore Girls, the Gilmore Guys podcast also fills this niche. I also tend to follow rabbit holes with podcasts I like by following hosts and guests around to other shows as there is a lot of crossover.
posted by wsquared at 10:16 PM on September 13, 2020

Comet Bug: "-Judge John Hodgman (I mostly like the "clearing the docket" episodes, which don't include guests)"
It blows my mind that some people prefer the docket episodes; I delete those instantly, slightly disappointed that that week is a docket episode. I kinda hate Jesse Thorn but love John Hodgman's interactions with guests.

posted by crazy with stars at 11:31 PM on September 13, 2020

Definitely seconding No Such Thing As a Fish - that's my go-to 'feel like you're hanging out with a bunch of funny friends' podcast. There are four regular presenters who all work really well together and bounce off each other, it's not like you learn their entire life histories but their distinct personalities and running jokes are gently woven into the show. And there are hundreds of episodes, so you can basically listen forever - I find that by the time I get to the end, I've forgotten the early episodes and can start again.
posted by penguin pie at 3:12 AM on September 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

A lot of podcasts in the Bill Simmons universe are pretty conversation. The eponymous flagship is probably a little too interview-y (although there are a lot of repeat guests, and Simmons isn’t shy about talking about himself). If you like movies, The Rewatchables is good. It’s basically three people sitting around talking about a movie. Guests change every episode, but Simmons is pretty close to a constant, and others like Chris Ryan and Sean Fennessy are in a whole lot. The general format is Simmons plus one of those two plus a third, who is often the other of those two but is also often some even more interesting (Shea Serrano, Mallory Rubin).
posted by kevinbelt at 3:45 AM on September 14, 2020

Saga Thing podcast.
posted by flug at 5:31 AM on September 14, 2020

Seconding The Ringer Podcasts from above if you're into film/tv. I like The Watch (Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald), and The Big Picture (Sean Fennessey and Amanda Dobbins. Sometimes there are interviews. I don't always stay for the interviews but I always do for the Hanging Out.

Topics are sometimes more serious, but my current go-to is You're Wrong About, and it probably says a lot about me that the vibe of this show feels a lot like hanging out with my actual friends. Their topics can get serious, but Disco Demolition Night Episode is not too maybe a good place to start.
posted by thivaia at 5:54 AM on September 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

I’ve been into FANTI lately, and am always into The History Chicks.
posted by functionequalsform at 7:04 AM on September 14, 2020

(Oh hey, another Judge John Hodgman listener who prefers the Clearing the Docket eps! I assumed I was alone.)

Seconding The Omnibus, Answer Me This, MBMBAM. I'm female but tend to listen to a lot of dude-conversation podcasts for some reason, so I'll add Roderick on the Line (John Roderick from Omnibus talking with friend Merlin Mann) and Friendly Fire (John Roderick, Adam Pranica and Benjamin Ahr) talk war movies. I'm not actually a huge movie watcher and I've never seen most of the movies, but they are wide-ranging discussions with humor, and cover lots of cultural ground.

Since you seem to be ok with true crime, you might like My Favorite Murder, with Karen and Georgia. Lots of personal chatter about the hosts that let you get to know them. Obviously some of the topics are heavy, although they do minis with listener stories that usually have more light-hearted stories in them.

I also listen to You're Wrong About, but most of the episodes are about really heavy stuff and I don't think you get to know the hosts quite as much as you do with other podcasts.
posted by PussKillian at 7:46 AM on September 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yes Friendly Fire. Also The Greatest Generation and The Greatest Discovery if you have any interest in Star Trek (Ben and Adam from Friendly Fire talking about Star Trek, their lives, and growing up as nerds). The episodes are upbeat and funny and friendly and instantly make me feel less alone.
posted by bananacabana at 9:53 AM on September 14, 2020

The Thomas Jefferson Hour is an old favorite of mine, and does this.
posted by amoeba at 10:55 AM on September 14, 2020

Phone a Friend is my current favorite for this; it's George Ezra (the singer) and a friend chatting about mostly their own mental health; lots of in jokes and genuine affection for each other. Very sssschnuggly as they would say. I also like two of John Roderick's podcasts Omnibus and Roderick on the Line for this feeling as well. And those have years of back catalog compared to the very new Phone a Friend.

They all remind me of sitting quietly in a room and listening to the conversation. I feel safe and part of something without being responsible for anything, in a good way. No one is waiting for me to add to the conversation but I'm totally welcome. I wish all parties could be like that.

There are several mentioned above that I do listen to, but feel more performative like the people are role playing a more entertaining version of themselves, or are waiting to hear the audience laugh. So they don't give me that "inside the bubble" feel.
posted by buildmyworld at 1:49 PM on September 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

You might like Throwing Shade on Earwolf. They do interviews and the focus is supposed to be on LGBTQ and women's issues in the news cycle of the current dystopia but the show manages to be mostly about Bryan and Erin, the hosts. I know all about them and their pets and their significant others and their parents and I love them forever. They also have a fantastic spinoff podcast called Groceries that is now finally free on Earwolf interspersed with the Throwing Shade episodes. It came about because so much of Throwing Shade was just Erin or Bryan discussing their trips to various grocery stores and the items they found at the grocery stores and what shopping at the grocery stores was like and things clerks at the grocery stores said and what happened next. I say "fantastic" because it's old--from prepandemic days. So if you, like me, tend to exhaust yourself with panicnews and need to calm down with something that is definitely NOT ABOUT ANYTHING HAPPENING NOW, it's perfect.

Seconding everybody who recommends Judge John Hodgman. I don't skip the docket clearing episodes, though I do prefer the single cases. Go all the way back to the beginning and you can find the ones where they cleared the docket every episode after the main case and there's slow jazz and the sound of a crackling fire. The best ever to go to sleep to.

I find both these hosting duos extremely comforting because their friendships feel real and deep and longstanding.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:19 PM on September 14, 2020

I'll nth Sawbones and This Podcast Will Kill You and You're Wrong About.

The Weirdest Thing i Learned this Week is good too. I think Inside the Criminal Mind might scratch your itch, but it's been a bit since I listened to it.

Like Greatest Generation, there's Rachael Watches Star Trek.
posted by kathrynm at 4:49 PM on September 14, 2020

Along with a lot of the pods already mentioned here (mbmbam! tpwky! JJHO!) I also love Dopey, which is a podcast about substance use and addiction.. kind of? It used to be hosted by two guys who met in a rehab facility (both sober), and they would tell stories and take calls from listeners with stories sometimes and generally shoot the shit, but a few years ago one of the hosts relapsed and died of an overdose, which has changed the show, obviously. It's still mostly just fun but it does have a bit more of a recovery bent (before it was staunchly against recovery stories), which I also don't mind at all! Sometimes there's celebrity interviews now that Dave hosts alone, but not all the time. Anyways that makes it sound heavy but it really isn't.

heavily seconding throwing shade (and groceries) - erin and bryan are the podcast hosts that make me feel the most like this.

Also if you're a scrubs fan I've been enjoying "fake doctors, real friends"
posted by euphoria066 at 10:10 PM on September 14, 2020

Hello Internet is my favourite “conversational” podcast. It’s the podcast about nothing (and everything.) The chemistry, especially in the older episodes, is great. It has been on hiatus for a while now, but there’s a pretty vast back catalogue of episodes.

If you like that you’ll probably also like The Unmade Podcast. It also features Brady Haran from Hello Internet with his childhood mate from Australia coming up with podcast ideas (both seriously and silly.) Trust me, it works.
posted by howling fantods at 5:32 AM on September 15, 2020

A bunch of things I was going to suggest have been mentioned, so I'll rec Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly. It's a spin-off of Marketplace on public radio, and it's transitioned to a daily show In These Times, but the hosts are coworker pals who clearly enjoy each other's company a great deal and shoot the shit about current events, usually with a tech or economy hook, that interest them and occasionally bring on other interesting people to talk to. And a regular "make me smile" segment that is often focused on tasty drinks and silly internet ephemera. It feels very conversational, both with each other and with the audience. Also in the NPR-iverse is Pop Culture Happy Hour, which is focused on current and sometimes past pop culture.... anything, really. I also like It's Been a Minute With Sam Sanders, which is also on the real radio. He's a former NPR politics correspondent who got burned out after 2016 and started his own human interest talk show, so he does interview people, but it's all very kind and personable and his Aunt Betty opens every show!

I also enjoy Oh No Ross and Carrie, which is within the Maximum Fun orbit. They do hands-on investigations of fringe religions, psuedoscience, woo, etc., and talk about their experiences (and their family and friends and pets). And their back catalog, like that of Sawbones and some other MaxFun shows, is HUGE, so it'll both take a while to get through and you're not cheating yourself if you skip a particular topic that doesn't interest you.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 6:55 PM on September 17, 2020

I was just listening to You Look Nice Today: California King, which I found by following the Roderick Podcast trail back a bit. This is Merlin Mann, his cohost from Roderick On The Line, and two others. My understanding is that it was YLNT about ten years ago, they stopped making it, and then restarted after quarantine started with California King added. It’s very loose and there are lots of inside jokes and ribbing and it’s very much being inside a congenial friendship. The episodes are very short.
posted by PussKillian at 4:11 PM on September 19, 2020

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