Podcasts for Beginners: Twenty-One of the Best to Get You Started

You’ve been hearing people speak about their favorite podcasts for years. You’ve listened to your friends, smiled, feigned interest, and wished that you knew what they were talking about, but had neither the time nor the inclination to delve into the world of podcasts. But, sometimes you’re just not in the mood for a book, music, conversation or television and it turns out that podcasts are pretty awesome, so here I offer you, podcasts for beginners.

Top twenty podcasts

Twenty-One Favorite Grown and Flown Podcasts:

1. The Moth (The Moth) (Performing Arts)

True Stories Told Live

2. Revisionist History Malcolm Gladwell (ThePanoply Network) (Society and Culture)

“Reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea.Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.”

3. How I Built This with Guy Raz (NPR) (Business)

“Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best-known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.”

4. This American Life (This American Life) (Personal Journals)

“Each week we choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme.”

5. Stuff You Should Know (HowStuffWorks) (Society and Culture)

Stuff you should know

6. Serial (Season One)(This American Life) (News and Politics)

“Serial tells one story—a true story—over the course of a season. Each season, we follow a plot and characters wherever they take us…Each week we bring you the next chapter in the story, so it’s important to listen to the episodes in order.”

7. Happier with Gretchen Rubin(Gretchen Rubin/The Panoply Network) (Self-Help)

“Gretchen discusses happiness and good habits with her sister Elizabeth Craft.”

8. Dirty John (L.A. Times/Wondery) (Personal Journals)

“An investigative journalism podcast hosted by journalist Christopher Goffard”

9. We’re Alive-A “Zombie” Story (PodcastOne) (Performing Arts)

“This audio drama focuses on a group of survivors in a world on the brink of collapse.”

10. Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People (Earwolf and Chris Gethard) (Comedy)

”1 phone call. 1 hour. No names. No holds barred. That’s the premise behind Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, hosted by comedian Chris Gethard. Every week, Chris opens the phone line to one anonymous caller—and he can’t hang up first, no matter what. From shocking confessions and family secrets to philosophical discussions and shameless self-promotion, anything can and will happen!”

11. Recode Decode hosted by Kara Swisher (Recode) (Tech News)

”One of tech’s most prominent journalists, Kara Swisher is known for her insightful reporting and straight-shooting style. Listen in as she hosts hard-hitting interviews about the week in tech with influential business leaders and outspoken personalities from media, politics and more.”

12. Caliphate (The New York Times) (News & Politics)

“Caliphate follows Rukmini Callimachi who covers terrorism for the New York Times, on her quest to understand ISIS.”

13. 30 For 30 Podcasts (ESPN, ESPN Films, 30for30)(Sports and Recreation)

“Sports stories like you’ve never heard before.”

14. My Favorite Murder (Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark) (Comedy)

“Lifelong fans of true crime stories Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark tell each other their favorite tales of murder and hear hometown crime stories from fans and friends.”

15. Bitch Sesh: A Real Housewives (Earwolf and Casey Wilson) (Comedy)

“Casey WIlson and Danielle Schneider (Hotwives of Las Vegas)…dish on the season’s (Real Housewives on Bravo) wildest moments…answer all your Housewives questions.”

16. College Essay Guy (Ethan Sawyer) (Higher Education)

“Practical, up-to-date interviews with experts in college admissions, financial aid, personal statements, test prep and more…” Ethan Sawyer, nationally know expert in college admissions essay writing, is author of  College Essay Essentials: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Successful College Admissions Essay.

17. 99% Invisible (Roman Mars) (Design)

“…a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture.”

18. Armchair Expert (Dax Shepard) (Comedy)

Dax Shepard talking to people attempting to, “discover human ‘truths’
without any laboratory work.”

19. The RFK Tapes (Crimetown Presents) (History)

“Over ten episodes, hosts Zac Stuart-Pointer and Bill Klaber comb through previously secret police tapes and track down people who were there to investigate troubling questions about one of the most significant crimes in American history.”

20. On Being with Krista Tippett (On Being Studios) (Society andCulture)

“Groundbreaking Peabody Award winning conversation about the big questions of meaning-spiritual inquiry, social healing, and the arts.”

21. #AmWriting with Jess & KJ (Writing)

“#AmWriting is a show about writing, reading, and getting (some) things done. Jessica Lahey writes the Parent-Teacher Conference column for the New York Times’ Well Family and is the author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. KJ Dell’Antonia is a columnist and contributing editor for the New York Times’ Well Family.

In their podcast, they talk about writing short form, long form and book length, give tips for pitching editors and agents and constantly revise how they tackle the ongoing challenge of keeping your butt in the chair for long enough to get the work done.”

Mechanics of listening to a podcast:

1. Pick up your phone or other device and search for the podcast application by putting podcast in the search bar.

2. Once you have found the podcast app, search for the name of the podcast you are looking for. Choose an episode and simply press the play arrow.

3. You can listen to a podcast two different ways. Do as above, press play and start listening or download it for future listening. Listening directly from the app uses data. If you download it when you have WIFI, you can listen to it without using data. Downloading is useful if you want to listen to a podcast when flying.

4. You can listen to any episode and/or you can subscribe so that you receive episodes as they come out. And, the best news of all, most of them are completely free.

Listening to podcasts is a fantastic way to learn new information even while you are commuting and to relax while you gather fascinating stories. So, hop on the podcast bandwagon. You won’t regret it.


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About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, Kveller, The Forward, and Grown and Flown where she is Managing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

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