The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Podcasts
The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Podcasts
As a solopreneur, I spend a lot of time by myself. Dyeing, rinsing, packing, shipping, styling… you get the idea. In addition to acting as background noise, podcasts allow me to multi-task, as I get to learn about new subjects and ideas, catch up with pop culture news and get advice from business leaders and entrepreneurs. It also helps me stay on task, whether I’m working out or just working, keeping me from playing DJ every five minutes in my music apps. So after 4+ years of podcast listening, I’ve tried out everything from true crime to weekly news and have the Apple Podcasts list to prove it. Here’s my guide to the best pods out there (in my humble opinion).
IF YOU ONLY LISTEN TO ONE
Make it This American Life’s “No Coincidence, No Story.” I promise, it’s my favorite ever.
ALL TIME FAVES
My podcast addiction started with Missing Richard Simmons back in 2017. It was so smart and fun that I immediately got my mom hooked as well. Dan Taberski’s deep dive into the fitness guru’s life—and subsequent “disappearance”—is a fascinating look into the pressures of fame. Dirty John is another one that had me on the edge of my seat. I would say next to season one of Serial (a classic, so get on it if you haven’t yet), it’s the best true crime podcast I’ve listened to. If you’re a Housewives fan, Bitch Sesh is one to download immediately. Casey and Danielle are hilarious and have the most amazing guests – everyone from Roxanne Gay to Ziwe to Kristen Wiig—breaking down the week in Bravo. A recent listen that really left a mark is Believed, about the women who brought down serial-abuser Larry Nassar. It’s a tough listen but is an important and incredible story of strength, and a hard look at how a system failed so many young women. Finally, for the best in celebrity (and science, art, psych…) try out Armchair Expert, Dax Shepard’s one-on-one interview podcast. It lives up to the hype.
I’m not as into the true crime, but for those interested in the genre, I would say look into S-Town, Up And Vanished, Room 20, and A Killing on the Cape, all of which I found really engaging. I’m not a Dateline girl, but I have friends (hi Amber!) who are obsessed with the show’s podcast. While not necessarily true crime, The Dropout is also a great story (although I would highly suggest reading “Bad Blood” if you’re into the Theranos saga). Finally, right now I am obsessed with The Line (what can I say? I stan Dan Taberski) and it’s look into the blurred lines of war and the special ops teams that navigate them. It is FASCINATING.
I never miss an episode of Keep It! (DM me Ira! I want to send you tie dye!), they never fail to make me laugh and tackle subjects light and heavy in Hollywood; my girl Not Skinny But Not Fat always has amazing guests from the world of reality TV; the ladies from Comments by Celebs are great for a roundup of what’s trending in celeb news that week (shout out to my fellow SU alums); and Las Culturistas is always my go-to for a fun listen (their Taylor eps are epic).
If you follow me on Instagram you know I love Gloss Angeles. I think Kirbie and Sara always tell it straight and have amazing product reccs and of-the-moment beauty news. Breaking Beauty, hosted by two Canadian beauty editors, is another great pod for beauty reviews, product launches and reccs.
Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, Second Life with Hillary Kerr is one to try. Hillary does a truly great interview and tells interesting and inspirational stories from women who have successfully pivoted from one career to another. Obviously, How I Built This is a staple in my pod library. Guy Raz has had just about everyone on the show, but it’s the less obvious guests (the brothers behind Life is Good, the fractured partners who started Seventh Generation) who will keep you riveted.
WEIRD AND WACKY
Supernatural with Ashley Flowers is a strange but fun podcast that tackles a different subject each episode. My teenage daughter and I both listen and love to discuss the insane stories Flowers’ tells—everything from the Roanoke Colony to King Tut. The End of the World with Josh Clark is one that I listened to with my husband and father, and we COULD NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. Every episode explores a different existential threat (just Google the Great Filter) with input from scientists, philosophers, physicists and other experts. It’s worth the listen but hot tip: make sure someone else is listening too, you will want to discuss. Finally, The New York Times' The Jungle Prince was a one I had to keep pausing to Google photos that I had to see to believe.
If you don’t have time to invest in a whole season, or just want a taste of pod life, there are definitely some standout episodes to try. Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell is a treasure trove of one-off genius. My favorites? Analysis, Parapraxis, Elvis (season 3), Divide and Conquer (season 3), Hedwig’s Lost Van Gogh (season 5) and “Oh Howard, You Idiot” (season 5). Reply All is on hiatus and embroiled in some toxic workplace controversy, but I will say that I truly enjoyed “The Case of the Missing Hit” and “Brian vs. Brian.” Finally, I am not an Oprah OR Gwyneth superfan but their interview, which kicked off the GOOP podcast, is really interesting and I genuinely came away with deep and actionable advice that I’ve applied to my home and work life.