At some point in the recent past, podcasting made the jump from DIY tech for radio wannabes to reputable mainstream medium. You may recall when podcasts first popped into the public consciousness over a decade ago along with the newly ubiquitous iPod. Despite wavering levels of popularity, podcasts never really went away, and now they are solidly in the mainstream once more.
The term “podcast” is—and always was—a misnomer. Podcasts aren’t exclusive to iPods—or any one particular device. A better term would be on-demand radio. And like any other on-demand content, they work on nearly every platform.
If you are looking for some new content, we put together a list of podcasts that are definitely worth checking out. We include links to the iTunes and Google Play pages for each podcast, but the content is accessible on any device. All you need to do is add the RSS feed for the podcast in question or search for it in an app, such as Pocket Casts and Castbox.
For those brave enough to venture into creating a podcast, at the very least you will need audio editing software to get the best recordings. We also recommend taking a look at dedicated podcast creation services, such as Cast, which take you through the entire process, including hosting and distribution. You’ll need your own recording setup, too, of course; for that, you can read our feature on the best USB microphones.
Our collection is just a small sampling of podcasts, though there are certainly many more quality ones out there. If your favorite is not on the list, let us know in the comments. Happy listening!
Best Comedy Podcasts
Best News & Politics Podcasts
Best One-on-One Podcasts
Best Culture, Games, & Music Podcasts
Best Informative Podcasts
Best Fandom Podcasts
Best Miscellaneous Podcasts
Best PCMag Podcasts
A Piece of Work (Google Play, iTunes)
A Piece of Work is a mixture of comedy and art. Hosted by Abbi Jacobson, it’s everything you want to know about modern art but you were afraid to ask.—Emily DeCicco
Comedy Bang Bang (Google Play, iTunes)
This long-running improv pod has caused me to embarrass myself—on numerous occasions—by making me laugh out loud on my daily subway commute. The show is a combination of straight interviews with celebrity guests followed by one or two kooky characters. Even host Scott Aukerman’s sponsored commercials offer hilarious bouts of surreal anti-humor.—Evan Dashevsky
Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast (Google Play, iTunes)
Gilbert Gottfried can be a divisive figure (personally, I love his over-the-top, nasal delivery of often-tasteless jokes; my wife, not so much). His podcast Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast brings on assorted celebrity guests to talk about the entertainment industry in general, and old movies and TV shows in particular. Most of the cultural references are way before my time (much time is spent discussing The Honeymooners, for example), but the pure joy that Gottfried takes in talking show business is a draw in and of itself. (Note: The show often takes particularly un-PC turns—if all you know of Gilbert is his cartoon work from Aladdin, maybe do some YouTubing first.)—E.D.
Last Podcast on the Left (Google Play, iTunes)
It’s kinda like if Coast to Coast AM were hosted by funny skeptics, not paranoids cuckoos.—Eric Griffith
My Brother My Brother and Me (Google Play, iTunes)
Three brothers—Justin, Griffin, and Travis McElroy—provide absurd “advice” in a way only their unique senses of humor allow. Always hilarious and usually ridiculous, the brothers respond to listener-submitted questions and comb the depths of Yahoo Answers for some of the funniest off-the-cuff discussions and tangents in podcasting. It always makes me smile or laugh on my commute, and their good-natured riffing is a consistently reliable mood-lifter in these trying times.—Matthew Buzzi
My Favorite Murder (Google Play, iTunes)
It takes a certain type of person to seek out what is effectively a comedy podcast about graphic murders and true crime horrors. But those fascinated by the subject, or even just casually interested, will find plenty to like here. Veteran comedy writer and performer Karen Kilgariff and TV host Georgia Hardstark bring the indomitable, rambling charm of their friendship to balance out the darkness. Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.—Matt Safford
Stop Podcasting Yourself (Google Play, iTunes)
Comedy delights from our neighbors to the north. Two hosts, one guest, lots of Canadian accents and laughs. Highlight: Overheards, where the hosts and listeners share the weird-ass things they’ve heard and seen out in the world.—Whitney Reynolds
Surely You’re Joking (Google Play, iTunes)
Do you enjoy astronomy, physics, and subatomic particles? What about comedy? Dr. Kevin Peter Hickerson hosts a roundable of knowledgeable guests from the scientific and comedic community to discuss (mostly) scientific topics.—Ben Moore
The Adam Carolla Show (iTunes)
While he is undoubtedly one of the godfathers of the format, Carolla’s podcast can come off like a local morning terrestrial radio show (that may or may not be a plus for you). If you’re already familiar with (and enjoy) Carolla’s unique brand of witty frat-boy-isms, this is a podcast for you.—E.D.
The Mental Illness Happy Hour (Google Play, iTunes)
A podcast about mental illness isn’t going to appeal to everyone. But former Dinner and a Movie co-host Paul Gilmartin brings plenty of charm (and his own issues) to earnest conversations with comedians, clinicians, and regular people living and coping with a gamut of mental struggles and diagnosed disorders. The tone often bounces from lighthearted to dark and back again, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find more deeply human and heartfelt conversations anywhere.—M.S.
The Bugle (Google Play, iTunes)
UK-based co-host Andy Zaltzman humorously takes on the week’s happenings with wall-to-wall zings delivered in an envelope of particularly British linguistic agility.—PCMag Staff
Keep It (Google Play, iTunes)
There’s so much to say “Keep it!” to lately. Ira Madison III, Kara Brown, and Louis Virtel kvetch about all the happenings in culture and politics over the past week. They’re smart and funny and I hope they keep it up for a long time to come.—Chandra Steele
Pod Save America (Google Play, iTunes)
Former Obama staffers Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer had a must-listen podcast during the 2016 campaign, Keepin it 1600. When the results didn’t exactly go as planned in 2016, the duo—as well as fellow White House alums Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor—regrouped with Pod Save America to discuss “challenges posed by the Trump administration” and more. The effort is part of Crooked Media, which now produces 10 podcasts, like the foreign policy-focused podcast, Pod Save the World.—Chloe Albanesius
The Gist with Mike Pesca (Google Play, iTunes)
If you ever see me doubled over laughing on the streets of New York, look for headphones before you call Bellevue. I’m probably just listening to The Gist with Mike Pesca. This 30-minute daily show from the former NPR sports reporter is all about rhetoric and word play, even if the premise is that it’s about news and current events. His thick Brooklyn accent is almost as irresistible as the thick skin he shows when reading his own hate mail. This show is an absolute joy.—Jill Duffy
The Morning Stream (Google Play, iTunes)
Free form conversation every Monday through Thursday.—Jesse Hannah
The NPR Politics Podcast (Google Play, iTunes)
If the news of the day (or hour, or minute) is getting you down, this podcast is great for keeping things in perspective. Twice a week, or whenever major news breaks, some smart people sit down at a mic to discuss the facts of the madhouse that is American politics in 2018. Never exaggerated or boring, the hosts are interested and interesting. It’s the antidote to Fake News.—Max Eddy
Real Time Podcast (Google Play, iTunes)
Bill Maher’s live political-culture chat show Real Time on HBO is one of the premium channel’s strongest remaining raisons d’etre. But here’s a little secret—you don’t actually don’t have to pay for HBO to get it! If you can wait a bit. It’s not exactly a podcast, but around three days after the live Friday broadcast, HBO makes an audio version of the episode available for free—as well as jokes that didn’t make the monologue cut (known as “2 Minutes Maher”—skippable IMHO) and an audio version of the Web extra (“Overtime”—always worth a listen even if you’ve watched the episode).—E.D.
Reveal (Google Play, iTunes)
A coproduction between the Center for Investigative Journalism and PRX, this in-depth journalism podcast uncovers stories at both the local and national level. Each episode incorporates a ton of interviews and research, so you will be sure to get the full details of each piece.—B.M.
Waking Up with Sam Harris (Google Play, iTunes)
Controversial public intellectual Sam Harris could never be described as being too animated. His (somewhat ironically titled) Waking Up podcast values logic above all else. If you are looking for high-brow deconstructions of everything from global jihadism (a favorite topic of Sam’s) to the benefits of meditation, Waking Up is worth adding to your queue.—E.D.
Fresh Air (Google Play, iTunes)
Terry Gross is one of the best interviewers in the business. And like most (all?) NPR shows, her one-on-one broadcast Fresh Air is available as a podcast.—E.D.
Love + Radio (Google Play, iTunes)
The show’s official bio: “Nick van der Kolk’s Love and Radio features intimate and otherworldly-produced interviews with an eclectic range of subjects, from the seedy to the sublime.”—Sam Winstanley
The Joe Rogan Experience (Google Play, iTunes)
Comedian and UFC color man Joe Rogan hosts a variety of thought-provoking guests who appear to discuss topics as varied as martial arts, astrophysics, and consciousness-expanding medicinals.—Jeffrey Wilson
The Moment with Brian Koppelman (Google Play, iTunes)
The Moment with Brian Koppelman is an interview podcast that explores the world of entertainment and celebrity, usually taking an introspective turn. Formerly part of Grantland, it has since moved to Slate. Koppelman, also known for his Vine series “Six Second Screenwriting Lessons,” digs into what makes people tick and what drives them to continue their creative work. At times, Koppelman seems to enjoy the sound of his own voice and thoughts a little too much, but he has enough personality to keep the conversation interesting.—J.D.
WTF with Marc Maron (Google Play, iTunes)
One of the pioneers of the genre, comedian Marc Maron has helped define what podcasting can be. Each show opens with a humorous—and often exceedingly personal—monologue followed by an in-depth conversation with a guest (most of whom are fellow comedians, but the roster has really opened recently). Even if you’re not a fan of Maron’s self-obsessed brand of misanthropy, he is a hell of a captivating interviewer.—E.D.
You Made It Weird (Google Play, iTunes)
If you like to go deeeep and have two hours to kill, then comedian Pete Holmes’s very in-depth one-on-one interview series is for you. Not only do Holmes and guest go into biography and career, they usually veer into philosophy and nature of existence (every episode usually features the question “what do you think happens after you die?”)—E.D.
Drink Champs (Google Play, iTunes)
N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN discuss endless untold hip hop stories over drinks. What more do you want?—J.R.
Giant Bombcast (Google Play, iTunes)
The Giant Bombcast is a hilarious ongoing observation on life, the Internet, and everything from dudes who happen to write about video games for a living. Also consider its East Coast spinoff, the Giant Beastcast.—Jordan Minor
Jalen & Jacoby (Google Play, iTunes)
A former Grantland flagship podcast, Jalen & Jacoby pairs an ex-NBA star (Jalen Rose) with a sports nut (David Jacoby) to form a potent mix of sports, hip hop, and general pop culture talk.—J.W.
Linoleum Knife (Google Play, iTunes)
This is my weekly go-to for learning about new movies. The criticism is on point, and the banter between hosts Alonso Duralde and Dave White is always entertaining.—Alex Colon
Super Best Friendcast (Google Play, iTunes)
This weekly podcast features lively discussions of all things related to video games and pop culture.—Will Greenwald
The Podquisition (Google Play, iTunes)
Jim Sterling’s main podcast, The Podquisition, is just one part of the Jimquisition content brand. Check out related podcast, The Spin-Off Doctors, for more.—W.G.
Who Charted? (Google Play, iTunes)
Each week co-hosts Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack welcome a celebrity guest to count down that week’s top pop tunes and movies (or “space make-em-ups,” as Howard calls them). Most of the top-performing music and movies are—rightly—ridiculed as soulless cultural waste; however the show makes room for the occasional guilty pleasure.—E.D.
Who? Weekly (Google Play, iTunes)
Did you ever see a bold-faced name and wonder “who is that?” Every Tuesday Lindsey Weber and Bobby Finger talk about all the Whos are and what they’re up to, and on Friday they take calls from listeners. I hate celebrity gossip and yet somehow I love Who? Weekly. That’s the typical audience of this podcast. One day I’ll call in and leave Lindsey and Bobby a message. Good form, Bella Thorne.—C.S.
99% Invisible (Google Play, iTunes)
Even if you’ve never given two thoughts about design or how the material world around us is put together, this weekly series will help you find the fascinating in the everyday.—E.D.
ArtCurious (Google Play, iTunes)
Van Gogh was maybe murdered, the Mona Lisa that is on display at the Louvre might be a fake, and an avant-garde artist could just be Jack the Ripper. If you thought art was boring then you haven’t listened to ArtCurious with Jennifer Dasal.—C.S.
The Dollop Podcast (Google Play, iTunes)
The Dollop is a darkly funny (and often profane) history podcast where veteran podcaster and comedian Dave Anthony reads a twisted story of America’s past to his friend, Gareth Reynolds, who has no idea what the story is about. Previous subjects include America’s disability-shaming ‘ugly laws’ and San Francisco’s 40-foot-tall ‘spite fence.’—M.S.
Freakonomics Radio (Google Play, iTunes)
Based on the best-selling book series, the fascinating Freakonomics podcast goes in-depth on various topics using purely empirical, number-driven evidence to uncover how the world really works.—E.D.
Radiolab Podcast (Google Play, iTunes)
Robert Krulwich and Jab Abumrad put together an amazing podcast that is both extremely scientifically informative, and symphonically lovely to listen to. Also, their downloadable app is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.”—C.P.
StarTalk Radio (Google Play, iTunes)
Host Neil deGrasse Tyson explores the world of science (with an emphasis on his area of expertise: cosmology). Neil can sometimes come off as a middle school science teacher desperately trying his best to get his class excited about science—and that’s strangely comforting in a way. He also shares hosting duties each episode with a guest comedian—most of whom are kind of annoying, but you’re usually in good hands when Eugene Mirman is around. (And check out PCMag’s interview with NDT on our podcast, The Convo) —E.D.
Stuff You Missed in History Class (Google Play, iTunes)
A fun and in-depth look at notable past events that you probably don’t know about.—Annika Celum
Stuff You Should Know (Google Play, iTunes)
From the people at HowStuffWorks.com, every episode of this podcast tackles and takes apart a topic—like tornados or bitcoin or the sun—so you can come away with a good working knowledge. The hosts, with their southern accents and easy chummy chemistry, explain everything in layman’s terms, with more than a few fun pop cultural tangents along the way.—W.R.
The Bowery Boys New York City History (Google Play, iTunes)
Covering sundry topics from the Coney Island Boardwalk to neon lights to the history of drag queen performers, this long-running podcast explores the untold and retold tales from the Big Apple. It smartly walks a line between in-depth minutiae you’d expect from a small-town historian and big-picture history.—M.E.
The History of England Podcast (iTunes)
Do you like England and the history thereof? Then let this charming man recount the entire history of the island in these dispatches from his shed. Lively, engaging, and thoroughly researched, this podcast has topped 250 episodes and has only made it to the reign of Henry VIII.—M.E.
How Did This Get Made? (Google Play, iTunes)
Comedians Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas watch terrible movies like Spider-Man 3, Barb Wire, and The Wicker Man and then pick them apart. They also read the unintentionally hilarious 5-star reviews by Amazon.com users about these bad movies.—Pete Haas
Pop Culture Happy Hour (Google Play, iTunes)
NPR’s weekly rundown of what’s happening in pop culture. Episodes can be about books, comics, movies, music, television, or pretty much anything else that’s worth talking about.—A.C.
Star Wars Minute (Google Play, iTunes)
Each and every minute of the original Star Wars movies dissected. Literally—each episode deconstructs one 60-second chunk (yep, including the opening title sequences).—Chris Radtke
The Secret Cabal (Google Play, iTunes)
A bi-weekly show about gaming of all kinds. Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, Role Playing Games and much more. The show includes geek topic discussions, board game walk-throughs and reviews, gaming community and industry news, and role playing game theory topics.—Matthew Downs
Anna Faris is Unqualified (Google Play, iTunes)
Not-so-great relationship advice from completely unqualified Hollywood types.—Sarah Hollenbeck
Atlanta Monster (Google Play, iTunes)
Revisiting a forgotten chapter in American crime, this podcast explores a series of child killings that terrified the city of Atlanta. It’s a labyrinthine experience, with no dead ends, but no answers either.—M.E.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (Google Play, iTunes)
Official Bio: In Hardcore History the very unconventional Dan Carlin takes his ‘Martian,’ outside-the-box way of thinking and applies it to the past. Was Alexander the Great as bad a person as Adolf Hitler? What would Apaches with modern weapons be like? Will our modern civilization ever fall like civilizations from past eras?—S.C.
Dear Sugars (Google Play, iTunes)
This podcast from the New York Times and WBUR dives into the concept of empathy. Hosts Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond take questions from listeners during each episode.—S.H.
Hurdle (Google Play, iTunes)
Hurdle covers stories of overcoming obstacles and embracing a healthier, more fulfilled life along the way.—Sophie Laplante
In the Dark (Google Play, iTunes)
In the Dark is similar to Missing and Murdered (see below) in that it follows a 1989 cold case murder. But this particular case, that of 11-year-old Minnesota boy Jacob Wetterling, was solved as this podcast was coming together. If you think that will make for an anti-climactic listen, you’re wrong. In the Dark is as much about how local authorities bungled the investigation into this high-profile case as it is about the crime itself.—C.A.
Missing and Murdered (iTunes)
In the wake of Serial’s success, a number of true-crime podcasts have cropped up, with journalists investigating decades-old cold cases. A notable entry in this genre is CBC’s investigation into Alberta Williams, a young Indigenous woman murdered in British Columbia in 1989. In this eight-part podcast, CBC’s Connie Walker talks to law enforcement, Alberta’s family and friends, and suspects in the case to try to get a handle on what really happened that night almost 30 years ago.—C.A.
No Such Thing as a Fish (Google Play, iTunes)
You won’t find facts presented like this anywhere else: Four QI researchers (a.k.a. “The QI Elves”) present their favorite discoveries of the week. The Large Hadron Collider was once turned off for a short period of time because a piece of baguette was found in the machinery, for instance. The hilarious broadcasts range from 30 to 50 minutes, while the team riff off each other, expand on various facts, and lose themselves in fascinating tangents.—Stephanie Mlot
Risk (Google Play, iTunes)
Sort of like a cross between This American Life and The Moth, but usually a lot more risqué. It’s people telling true stories, but the ‘risk’ element is that these are the sort of stories people usually wouldn’t dare share in public.—A.C.
A episodic investigation into a real-life crime. The first season was an engrossing investigation into a 15-year-old murder near Baltimore. The second season is a look into accused deserter Bowe Bergdahl (it’s not as good, but season three might return to the show’s roots.)—E.D.
StartUp (Google Play, iTunes)
Another This American Life alum starts a new podcast, following his attempt to create a tech startup that will allow anyone in the world to easily make a podcast. It’s a little meta, but very interesting, because Alex Blumberg comes off like a normal shlub with an idea, so it feels like something anyone could go through. If they worked for years at NPR, of course.—E.G.
Unexplained (Google Play, iTunes)
A podcast that smartly and calmly explores events and stories that defy explanation. Don’t listen for solutions or exposés, just unusual stories recounted soberly by a calm British man.—M.E.
Welcome to Night Vale (Google Play, iTunes)
A fictional podcast about the desert town of Night Vale somewhere in the southwest. In the guise of a radio newscast, the narrator peppers banal local townie announcements with surreal, paranormal events that show that there’s something not quite right here.—W.G.
Fast-Forward with Dan Costa (Google Play, iTunes)
PCMag editor-in-chief Dan Costa goes one-on-one with the world’s most influential entrepreneurs, CEOs, experts, and analysts to discuss how technology will impact society, culture, and business as we accelerate into the future. This isn’t about the daily news cycle, it’s about previewing the future that awaits us all!—E.D.