Podcasts are great. They can make a long commute bearable and often entertain while educating. There are podcasts for every subject under the sun, making it possible to deepen your understanding of something you love or discover a new interest. Here are five that I never miss:
The Simpsons is widely regarded as one of the most influential shows to grace television, particularly for the first decade or so it aired. Everything’s Coming Up Podcast dissects the show, with each episode of the podcast focusing on one episode of the show. Hosted by comediennes Allie Goertz and Julia Prescott, each episode also features a third guest host. Many of them are quite famous, and some have even worked on The Simpsons itself!
Listening to this podcast not only brings back great memories from one of my favorite shows of all time, it also floods me with nostalgia for the days when my friends and I would sit around and quote The Simpsons ad nauseam. It’s good to feel like your have a tribe. Allie Goertz and Julia Prescott are the historians for mine.
A sci-fi comedy radio drama, Our Fair City tells the tale of a far-flung future world trapped in nuclear winter. The majority of humanity struggles to survive in the last city. The residents of this city are all policies of HartLife, an insurance-company-turned-nation-state. It’s a hilarious post-apocalyptic dystopia loaded with mad scientists, mutant creatures both friend and foe, and corporate leadership run amok.
Our Fair City just re-produced their entire first season, and there are five more following it to leave you at the very least smirking, if not laughing out loud. Just mind the carnivorous mold.
Hosted by astrophysicist and science superstar Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Star Talk covers a wide range of topics at the intersection of science and culture. He often has celebrity guests alongside the researchers and scientists that specialize in the topic du jour. The show isn’t afraid to go into controversial topics or even take a controversial stance. Bill Nye recently did a show about how he’s rethinking the roles and safety of GMOs. Star Talk is a fascinating and entertaining way to expand your horizons and see the world around you in a new way.
On the flip side of Star Talk is Stuff You Missed in History Class. Hosts Tracy and Holly present two deeply-researched topics each week. The subjects range across the whole of human history, covering the gamut from the history of harmonicas to Britain’s former practice of exporting orphans to their colonies. If Star Talk helps you better understand the world we find ourselves in, Stuff You Missed in History Class helps understand how it came to be.
Minor Television Personality John Hodgman is one of my favorite writers. Each week, he presides over minor domestic disputes. Is a hot dog a sandwich? How often should one wash a bath towel? Should a father compel his studious daughter to stop doing homework in order to watch his favorite movies? Hodgman listens to both sides of an argument and doles out a sentence that is just and fair. Unless someone gets his obscure cultural references, in which case they win by default. The show is always engaging and funny, and it is layered with inside jokes and snarky commentary that makes each episode a blast to listen to.
BONUS: Shameless Plugs
I excluded a few shows I listen to from the running because I know people deeply involved with them. It think it would be disingenuous to put them in a top five, but it would also be foolish not to mention them at all!
My best friend Dmitry and I love art, and we also love bantering. We combine the two here. We choose a subject for each episode, research it(or not), and then present its history and our opinions on the subject.
Hosted by my good friend Christina, the PSTPcast features a roundtable discussion of video games. I occasionally write for Press Start To Play, and have even been on a few episodes of the show itself.
Ana Fernatt is an incredibly talented blogger, a social media maven, an engaging host, and an all-around great person. She interviews all sorts of people and gets them to open up and tell unique stories that you really don’t hear anywhere else.