Welcome to my 4th annual list of my favorite (new to me) podcasts. Over the last few years, my podcast choices have shifted away from food and more into politics and news. If you read my End of 2017 Wrap-Up post, then you know that 2017 was a rough year for me, and a lot of that had to do with what’s going on in our country these days. I’m an anxious person and all of this drama doesn’t exactly put me in a great place. I like to squash my anxiety by gaining control of situations, so for me right now this means surrounding myself with as much political information as possible, and especially in the form of podcasts. I know some people with anxiety about our current state of political affairs would probably want to jump off a cliff if they listened to as much political gossip as I do. It’s definitely a balancing act for me as well, and some days I have to turn off the news and listen to an interview or a silly podcast instead. I’ve got a little bit of everything for you down below.
In other podcast news, has anyone else HAD IT with the Apple podcasts app?! Especially after I updated to iOS 11, my podcast app would constantly freeze up and quit on me. I’m happy to report that I’ve switched to the Overcast app and it is a LIFESAVER. I can’t even explain the luxury of opening my app in the morning, seeing my new podcast episodes fall smoothly into my feed, downloading them without the app quitting, and then when you hit “play” the episode plays IMMEDIATELY. What is this life?! So if you’ve been having issues with your podcast app, I highly suggest making the switch.
As for the illustration above, here’s a little explanation: If you’re a fan of Crooked Media, then you’re well aware of their “Friend of the Pod” t-shirts. (You’ll see more about them below.) When I got my shirt in the mail and put it on, I realized “Friend of the Pod” could be my superhero name and putting on that shirt felt like donning my uniform. I am a friend to MANY pods, in a way that feels a little superhuman, if you ask me. My podcast habit is a bit obnoxious and I probably annoy my friends with how often I talk about them. Have you ever seen this meme? That’s me all the time. So this year’s illustration is the superhero/real-life version of me, and shows me the way I often listen to podcasts at home: with an apron on in the kitchen, my phone in the pocket, t-shirt and leggings on so I can be comfy AF. It’s a pretty true self portrait, except for the cape. I borrowed that from Robert.
As always, please let me know your recommendations for other shows in the comment section. I’ve gotten some good ones there in the past.
If you want even more recommendations, check out the archives:
NEWS + POLITICS
The Daily – Michael Barbaro, the host of this daily news podcast from The New York Times, has been described as “America’s Podcast Sweetheart.” I think that’s really accurate. This show delves into one or two major news stories each weekday, and the way Barbaro talks to the guests and other reporters brings a real human touch to the news cycle. You’ll hear him get surprised or choked up, or even giggle at something silly. He cracks jokes with his fellow reporters. He sounds like a real human person digesting the news. In my opinion, this is some news podcasting at its finest. You don’t just hear the news, you FEEL the news.
FREQUENCY: every weekday
FAVORITE EPISODE: any of these ones
Pod Save America – This super-popular political show from former Obama staffers has kind of taken over the podcast world. (They have several shows now under their media company titled “Crooked Media.”) Their Nintendo-esque patriotic theme song has become a source of comfort to me over the last year as I trust them to break down the news for me in a digestible way, while also giving me a couple laughs and helping me to understand what the heck is going on. They have a focus on activism and have really made a difference in some more local elections across the country. If you need one good political show to listen to, it should be this one.
FREQUENCY: Mondays and Thursdays
FAVORITE EPISODE: a good place to start would be their interview with Obama
Dumb, Gay Politics – This show is kind of the OPPOSITE of Pod Save America. Best friends Julie and Brandy break down the news each week like they’re talking about reality TV. These women are what I think would be described as “extra,” and while they may not be for everybody, I love listening to them when I’m tired of hearing people talk rationally and logically about the news, and I just want to hear somebody rant about how crazy everything is. With segments like “The Eye of the Shitstorm,” “Gay Guys and Their Feelings,” and “Julie’s On Her Period and Wants to Yell at Somebody,” they bring an interesting brand of humor (as well as some interesting perspectives) to the wild world of politics right now.
FAVORITE EPISODE: Reclaiming Our #TimesUp with Julie Bindel
Fake the Nation – Negin Farsad, a Muslim Iranian-American comedian, sits down each week with two other people (usually comedians) to discuss a couple news stories from the week. Her show is thoughtful, light-hearted and funny, and it has become one of my new favorite shows that I look forward to each week. Her background gives her an interesting perspective on foreign policy and American politics that’s often hard to find these days. The tenor of this show falls squarely between Pod Save America and Dumb Gay Politics, in case you’re looking for something that splits the difference.
FAVORITE EPISODE: You Get a Car!
Lovett or Leave It – Jon Lovett, aka “The Funny One” from Pod Save America, has his own show on the Crooked Media network. Always a live show, it’s part panel discussion, part game show, part interview show. Each week he has a group of about three comedians/actors/writers, etc. to help him go through the news of the week, break down video clips of weird things that happened, or complain about stuff via “The Rant Wheel.” Audience members participate by playing games, and overall it’s just a fun way to wrap up your week with a lighter version of the news.
FAVORITE EPISODE: He Can’t Say Anything To Your Face
FEMINISM + LADY RAGE
Stuff Mom Never Told You – I used to listen to this feminist show a while ago but then fell off the wagon a bit. This year I began listening again because they got new hosts, Emilie and Bridget. These two are in their early 30s (or late 20s … I’m pretty sure) and have brought a fresh millennial voice to the show. Each episode touches on something from a feminist perspective and a little bit of a history lesson, whether it be women and whiskey, #MeToo, role overload, problematic favs, or trying to figure out where the heck the pockets are on women’s clothing.
FREQUENCY: Wednesdays and Fridays
FAVORITE EPISODE: The Magnificent History of Women and Whiskey
Unladylike – Hosts Cristen and Caroline were the original hosts of Stuff Mom Never Told You (see above), and now they have a brand new podcast. This one takes some of the ideas of SMNTY and pushes them a little further by talking to other people who have actually lived through the topics. It answers the ultimate question: “What happens when women break the rules?” As the t-shirt from my women’s college says, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” I can’t wait to see where this podcast takes me.
FAVORITE EPISODE: How to Pay for an Abortion
For A Bad Time, Call … – When I first heard about this podcast I was immediately intrigued but then got a little worried that it would bum me out. Every episode (only a few minutes long each) is a compilation of voicemails from women who have called in to voice some rage about anything from being catcalled on the sidewalk to bad chicken nuggets. But, I’m happy to report that listening to the show feels like venting with your girlfriends, and it manages to be simultaneously funny, thought-provoking, enraging and sad. I’m loving it.
FREQUENCY: every other Friday
FAVORITE EPISODE: Voicemail Spotlight: How to Not Talk About Your Universal Experience
Mouthy Messy Mandatory – I discovered this one after reading host Katie Anthony’s viral article about Aziz Ansari, “Not That Bad” (which you should all read, in case you haven’t). Each week she sits down with her cohost, Ronit, to go over general lady business stuff and news from the week with a feminist angle. This show has quickly become one of my favorite places to find thoughtful perspectives from smart, funny ladies about everything going on right now.
FAVORITE EPISODE: Good Guys, Bad Guys, & Aziz Ansari
LIFE STUFF (LIKE FOOD, FITNESS & MONEY)
The Nuanced Life – I found this show because of the hosts’ other podcast, Pantsuit Politics. While that one touches on all things political, this sister show of theirs is about everything else. One of the things that keeps me coming back to Pantsuit Politics is the way Sarah and Beth treat each topic with nuance (hence the name) and care, and I generally appreciate their thoughtfulness about the human condition. Getting to hear them bring that perspective to non-political topics is a pure treat.
FAVORITE EPISODE: Let’s Talk About Sex
Fit & Fearless – Tally, Zanna and Vic, aka the #GirlGains crew, discuss fitness, intuitive eating and body confidence in this fun “wellness” podcast. Each host has struggled with her own version of disordered eating or body dysmorphia, etc., and use this podcast to spread body positivity and a more mentally healthy version of the fitness life. They talk about listening to your body, eating what you want without guilt, using food as nourishment, and how women should lift weights (if you’re into that kind of exercise). It’s a new show, but I’ve been enjoying it so far. (Plus it’s from the UK, so the accents are fun.)
FAVORITE EPISODE: Why Weights Make You Badass – Not Bulky
Gatherings – My friend Chrystina is a master at bringing people together, and her podcast with Jessica is all about that: gathering people together. In each episode they talk to people about hosting parties and staying in touch, but with more of an emphasis on REAL people. This is not about Pinterest-perfect parties. It’s about planning parties you’ll actually have so you don’t get too stressed about them, and where you can focus on the real point of the party: being with people you love.
FAVORITE EPISODE: shameless plug: on Episode 5 I talk about my cookbook obsession and how I plan my pizza crawls
Brown Ambition – I don’t listen to this one religiously, but I’m always glad once I’ve started an episode. Mandi and Tiffany talk about all things financial (personal finances, business, etc.), but they also throw in a good dose of general life chatter and things that come up naturally as friends. It’s a nice, light financial podcast.
FAVORITE EPISODE: The Student Debt Show of Your Dreams ft. Financial Aid Expert Angela Howze
MEDIA + ENTERTAINMENT
Gilmore Guys – You should already be well aware of my love for the Gilmore Guys podcast. But I wanted to bring it up again this year because they are currently discussing Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (an Amazon Prime original), from the creator of Gilmore Girls. Instead of Kevin and Demi (the original hosts), Kevin is hosting with Alice Wetterlund, fan favorite from the original Gilmore Guys run. If you were a fan of Gilmore Guys, you need to watch Maisel and then listen to these fun discussions of the episodes.
FAVORITE EPISODE: Maisel Goys 102: Ya Shivu v Bolshom Dome Na Kholme (with Jamie Lee)
Keep It! – This is Crooked Media’s new pop culture podcast hosted by Ira Madison III. Each week he breaks down some pop culture news and gossip with the help of some friends, but of course it touches on political stuff because it’s from Crooked Media. There are only a few episodes out so far but I’m enjoying it.
FAVORITE EPISODE: Sex and the Petty
36 Questions: The Podcast Musical – Robert became obsessed with this one and then forced me to listen to it during a road trip … and I loved it. This is a 3-part musical DESIGNED for listening via podcast, starring Jonathan Groff and Jessie Shelton. I’m already a fan of Jonathan and now I’m a big fan of Jessie as well since she has one of the most unique voices I’ve heard in a while. The story follows this couple through the unfolding of a deep dark secret, and as they try to repair their relationship through the 36 questions that made them fall in love in the first place. It’s beautiful and it will make you cry.
Red All Over: A Handmaid’s Tale Podcast – When I found this podcast it practically made my year. The way Kelly and Molly manage to bring humor to the haunting TV series Handmaid’s Tale (AND the book in separate episodes) is life-giving and exactly what I needed in 2017. Their chemistry is fantastic and they make me laugh so much in the way they discuss the show. Plus, as avid readers, they bring up a lot of books that I read in my childhood, so that’s a bonus. They’ve also recapped some movies that came up a lot in their discussions (like Ever After), as well as Alias Grace, the Netflix original series also based on another Margaret Atwood novel.
FREQUENCY: sporadic – episodes often released binge-style all at once
FAVORITE EPISODE: Hulu Recap 1: I’m Your Puppet + Ever After Movie Recap: Wave at the Gate
By the Book – This is a recent find and has quickly become one of my favorites. Friends Kristen and Jolenta pick various self-help books and live by them for two weeks, and then report on their experiences through the podcast. It’s extremely honest and funny, and they often share personal recordings of themselves throughout the weeks trying various things from the books and discussing everything with their respective spouses. Things get REAL from time to time, but overall it’s really fun and then at the end they give their verdict on whether or not they would recommend the book. Every other episode highlights listener feedback from the main episode.
FAVORITE EPISODE: The Five Love Languages
GETTING TO KNOW PEOPLE
Katie Couric – Obviously Katie Couric is a champ at interviewing people. In her podcast she talks to people with the help of her cohost and coproducer, Brian. They have a very cute dynamic together and it brings that casual intimacy that makes me love podcasts to this show. If you like interview format shows, then this is a great one.
FAVORITE EPISODE: Wonder Woman: Amy Schumer
Making Obama – If you didn’t listen to Making Oprah, DO THAT RIGHT NOW. It’s in the same feed as this one. Making Oprah is one of my favorite podcast series of all time, so I was over the moon when I found out that Obama would be their next subject. These episodes are taking us through the rise of Obama BEFORE his presidency. The show is only partially released so far, but I’m loving it and I can’t wait to learn more about that part of his life.
S-Town – Guys I have a confession … I’m pretty sure I enjoyed this podcast from the creators of Serial MORE than Serial. It’s completely different, though. This show starts as one story and takes you in an entirely different direction, which is exactly what happened to the reporter. The journalist from this show brings the same human quality to the podcast as Michael Barbaro does to The Daily (see above). I would describe it as a story about people, and it just sucks you in. And, the best part about it might be the original score.
Illustration at top created with Illustrator.
Prints of my illustrations (plus other products with my work on them) are available in my Society6 shop.