The Best Podcasts About Everything

1150 words · 6 minute read · under Life

Since I discovered the world of podcasts in early 2015, my consumption of music has declined steadily.

Podcasts became my go-to source of general knowledge and entertainment and are a big part of my daily routine. I can’t listen to them if I’m at the computer though. I forget I’m listening to them and seem to focus only on the screen in front of me. Rewinding does nothing, as within 3 seconds I stop listening again.

For those moments, I still prefer music (or total silence!). Somehow it just helps me to get in the zone quickly, and if they disappear in the background, who cares. Also, nothing like a good happy song paired with a nice cold beer to mark the start of the weekend on Friday afternoon!

But whenever I’m cooking, washing dishes, commuting or walking the dog, podcasts are the only thing I listen to.

Below are some of my favorite podcasts about Everything (other than development)!

My favorite murder

A true-crime comedy podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. I discovered it right after it started, around episode 7, and it’s one of my favorite podcasts ever. It’s hard to choose a favorite episode, as I honestly love all of them, but ep. 18 (Mary Vincent’s survival story) is hard to beat.

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Reply all

Half an hour episodes, featuring weird stories that in a way or another involve technology. Spam emails that work, crazy e-commerce logistics around the world, fake amazon reviews industry, weird internet celebrities, Reply All is a guaranteed source of entertainment and useless knowledge. Love it! If you don’t know where to start, try ep. 79 Boy in Photo or ep. 104 The Case of the Phantom Caller.

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Criminal

I love murder stories, but I hate gore. While I’ve tried many podcasts about crime in the past, at the end I decided to listen only to My Favorite Murder (comedy) and Criminal (storytelling), as everything else just feels too dark to me.

Criminal is produced by Phoebe Judge and tells stories of people doing wrong and being wronged. The episodes are well researched and many times, touching. Ep. 31 American Dream and ep. 39 Either/Or are great ones to get started with.

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99% invisible

This show is about design, in all aspects of life. From urban design to avoid pigeons and park benches to avoid homeless people, to graphic design in the cinema industry, 99% Invisible is engaging, well-produced and any episode is guaranteed to make you think.

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The moth

Oh, The Moth, what a show! Each one of the episodes is a rollercoaster of emotions. Sad endings, life lessons, happy meetings. I absolutely love this podcast and any episode will be amazing, I promise. But if you’d like a specific recommendation, try Pagan Fundraisers, and more specifically the first story in that episode, The Curse.

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Mortified

I thought I was weird, until I discovered Mortified. In it, adults read their teenage journals, not-surprisingly full of weird love stories, school dramas, drug experimentation and sex obsession. Some of the stories made me laugh out loud (like, really loud)! Each episode is about 20 minutes long and you should definitely try ep. 22 Fifty Shades of Awkward!

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Grownups read things they wrote as kids

This is a Canadian show in the same style as Mortified, and yes, you need both in your life. One can never have too many laughs! The gas leak story in the recent ep. 520 A Virginal Sex Goddess had me in literal tears of laughter.

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Invisibilia

This show is all about human psychology and it is incredibly well researched and produced. Instead of recommending a specific episode, I’ll suggest you start from the very beginning, from season 1, episode 1. Each season has a theme, and some of the episodes will stick with you longer than others, but I really think listening is order is the best approach.

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Hidden brain

As the name suggests, this is also a show about human psychology, but here each episode is independent from the other. The episode When Did Marriage Become So Hard is a recent one I really enjoyed.

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Unexplained

This is a one-man show, entirely produced by Richard MacLean Smith. I discovered it at the very beginning, in early 2016, and I was immediately hooked. Start at the very beginning, season 1, episode 1, Opening the Gate. It’s delightfully spooky.

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Special mentions

The podcasts below deserve special mentions because, even though I still subscribe to them, I don’t listen to them regularly anymore. I usually pick and choose which episodes I’ll listen to.

For example, while I have learned a lot in the past from Radiolab and This American Life, I feel since the US elections in 2016, they became essentially about politics. It feels like they are replaying a lot of old (and truly interesting) content, but every new episode produced has to do with the american political scene. While I don’t mind listening to a reportage or reading an essay about it from time to time, this is not a subject I am particularly interested in.

Point of inquiry

Try ep. 227 Taste the Science and ep. 247 The Relentless Ascent of Atheism for a start.

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Planet money

This show talks about money and economy is a smart, non-obvious way. Any episode is a good entry-point, as the show is really well-written and produced (as is everything from NPR I heard so far).

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Radiolab

Nowadays I rarely listen to new Radiolab episodes, but their archive is full of gems. Try the episodes Patient Zero and Remembering Oliver Sacks to begin with.

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Freakonomics radio

This show is about economy, but not in a financial way. It’s about humans competing, great ideas that don’t sell, game theory, trade wars, losers and winners. It’s really, really good, and most episodes will be a great starting point!

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This american life

Last, but definitely not least, This American Life. It used to be one of my favorite shows, and I learned so much from it. The reportage-style episodes took me all over the US and the world and gave me so much food for thought. Again, deranked because of excess politics since 2016. Still, their archive is extremely rich and the episodes are a joy to listen to. They have a great recommendations page and some of my personal favorites are the story Squirrel Cop on ep. 510 Fiasco, and Hero Today, Gone Tomorrow on ep. 587 The Perils of Intimacy.

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If you are interested in tech and front end web development, and are searching for some good shows about it, I have also written about the best podcasts for beginner developers.

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