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A definitive list of the most interesting podcasts ever made

Don't be a bore — share the love.

THE only reason I’m even half-interesting as a human being is because I listen to a relentless amount of interesting podcasts. There’s no way I’d be able to hold down the conversations I do if it weren’t for someone in a home recording studio feeding me lines.

To share the love, we’ve put together the beginnings of a continuously updated list of the most interesting podcasts of all time.

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Say Why To Drugs

Top Interesting Podcasts - Say Why To Drugs

Out of the UK, Say Why To Drugs is a podcast that explores drugs from a deeper, more scientific perspective than what you might get from your stoner friend, Jake. In each episode, host Suzi Gaze profiles a new drug, explaining what it is, why people take it, what the potential positive and negative side-effects of it are, and what myths have surfaced in connection with it over the years.

Say Why To Drugs comes in at number 35 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Stuff To Blow Your Mind

stuff-to-blow-your-mind

From HowStuffWorks.com — the folks who bring us the famed Stuff You Should Know podcast — comes Stuff To Blow Your MindHosts Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick meet weekly on the show to “examine neurological quandaries, cosmic mysteries, evolutionary marvels, and our transhuman future.”

Stuff To Blow Your Mind comes in at number 34 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Library Talks

NYPL Library Talks

The New York Public Library’s Library Talks brings together some of America and the world’s most interesting thinkers, artists, and educators. In each episode, you’re invited to eavesdrop in on a discussion or lecture that will bend your mind and expand your thinking. Learn about queer life in New York before the Stonewall riots, unpack Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley’s baggage and deconstruct Frankenstein, and learn about a Chinese poet from the 8th century. You’re guaranteed to find a long list of winners in its episode back catalog.

The New York Public Library Podcast comes in at number 33 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Footnoting History

unnamed

From the near assassination of Napoleon Bonaparte on Christmas Eve in 1800 to the Black Widow, who killed 11 of her male suitors, Footnoting History is an intriguing collection of non-fiction stories and tidbits told by several investigative hosts. If you’re a storybook enthusiast, you’ll enjoy this diverse grouping of audible tales, which span dozens of episodes dating back to 2013.

Footnoting History comes in at number 32 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Sodajerker On Songwriting

sodajerker-on-songwriting

If you love music, you’ll dig Sodajerker On Songwriting. Its hosts, Simon Barber and Brian O’Connor are a songwriting team from Liverpool in the UK who started a podcast to talk to some of the most successful musicians around the world about how they write songs. From Ben Gibbard and Martha Wainwright, to Mann & Weil and PJ Morton, the pair invite you to listen in on some inspiring chinwags.

Sodajerker On Songwriting comes in at number 31 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Spycast

SpyCast

If you have a fascination for all things espionage, Spycast is for you. If you don’t have a fascination for all things espionage, but love a good story, Spycast is for you. Brought to us by the historians at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC, host Dr. Houghton gives his listeners a compelling insight into the international spy world, dating back decades. With special guest interviewees from the CIA and other top spy organizations from around the world, each episode is more intriguing than the last, even though for us common folk they often trigger more questions than they answer.

Spycast comes in at number 30 as one of our most interesting podcasts.

Radio Diaries

Radio Diaries

Radio Diaries tells the extraordinary stories of ordinary life. The show is a patchwork of genuine human stories, covering all areas of American life and beyond. Incorporating first-person accounts from those at the centre of the events covered, the show often pays homage to the quietest voices with the most resounding accounts of life, unique events that have occurred, and the human relationships that have formed through society’s history.

Radio Diaries comes in at number 29 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

A Paranormal Chicks

Paranormal chicks

Fans of true crime, mystery, and the supernatural will be deeply satisfied, as will anyone who wants a funny cozy experience with two best friends, bringing you “Southern, sass and raunch.” A Paranormal Chicks goes the extra mile to “creep it real” when they tell you about Lake Ronkonkoma’s Indigenous princess, the haunted costume shop of Modesto, The Broomstick Killer, and more. This podcast’s loyal and enthusiastic following has gone as far as to get tattoos of the Paranormal Chicks’ show art, proving this is a show to live and die for.

A Paranormal Chicks comes in at number 28 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen

Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen

Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen ran for 20 years for artists, creatives, culture junkies, and rogues. The Peabody Award-winning show dispensed pop culture news and updates and interviewed dozens of guests from Chinua Achebe to Neil Young.  This evergreen exploration of creativity no longer publishes new episodes, but it’s still a worthwhile exploration of creativity.

Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen comes in at number 27 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

To The Best Of Our Knowledge

To the Best of Our Knowledge

Produced and distributed by Wisconsin Public Radio, To the Best of Our Knowledge is a riveting podcast that delves into all things science, culture, society, art, personal development and everything in between. From Yosemite rock climbers to the history of psychedelic drugs, each episode delves into a new subject area, with expert guests and interviewees along for the ride.

To the Best of Our Knowledge comes in at number 26 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Witness History

BBC Witness History

Witness History presents “the story of our times told by the people who were there.” Brought to the world by the BBCa prolific podcasting network, what I loved most about the show is that the episodes are short and to the point. Witness History does a great job of finding genuinely interesting stories, and they don’t beat around the bush. To get a sense for whether you’ll like the show, listen to the episode, Hypnotising Saddam’s Son.

Witness comes in at number 25 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Between the Liner Notes

Between the Liner Notes

In each episode of his show, Between the Liner Notes, host Matthew Billy would take his listeners on a new journey through the history of musicInterviewing guests who played a role in how the music industry and its stars and hits came to be, the show will be all-consuming for anyone with an ear and a heart for music and its nostalgic origin stories.

Between the Liner Notes comes in at number 24 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Sidedoor

Sidedoor

The more I listen to the Sidedoor podcast, the more it grows on me. Produced and released by the Smithsonian Institution, host Lizzie Peabody delves into the museum’s vast catalogue of over 155 million treasures. With the help of biologists, zoologists, artists, astrophysicists, and more, she shows us stories that can’t be found anywhere else.

Smithsonian Sidedoor comes in at number 23 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

The Infinite Monkey Cage

The Infinite Monkey Cage

The Infinite Monkey Cage is a radio show broadcast by the BBC since 2009. Each episode has been released as a podcast for the world beyond the UK to enjoy; and enjoy they have. The show’s uniqueness comes from its perfect blend of humor and science, which combine to give you “lol” and “aha!” moments throughout each new installment.

The Infinite Monkey Cage comes in at number 22 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

The Forward

The Forward Podcast with Lance Armstrong

If Lance Armstrong as the yellow-jersey-winner isn’t the most divisive figure in sporting history, he’s at least on the podium. In what seems like a concerted effort to re-introduce his personal brand back into the public psyche, he’s entered the podcasting arena with The Forwarda show that sees him interview interesting guests from sport, culture, politics, business, and more. This will likely be a polarising inclusion in this list, but if you think you can let Armstrong back into your world, there are quite a few good episodes in the back catalogue. The show appears to be on hiatus since March of 2022.

The Forward with Lance Armstrong comes in at number 21 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

Hosted by David Axelrod, the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, The Axe Files is a CNN show dedicated to politics. Interviewing political luminaries and key players in every episode, Axelrod’s goal is to go beyond the “soundbites” of everyday political reporting and become the conduit between the public and the people in charge of the farm.

The Axe Files with David Axelrod comes in at number 20 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Science Vs.

Science Vs

From the biggest myths about birth control to the scientific truths and impacts of climate change, Science Vs. is a regular science variety show hosted by Wendy Zukerman in partnership with Gimlet Media. If you want to learn about real-world science that probably affects you from a millennial host who knows how to unpack and deliver her complex subject matter to a Gen Y/Z audience, this Spotify-original podcast should be in your queue.

Science Vs comes in at number 19 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

99% Invisible

99% Invisible

In 99% Invisiblehost Roman Mars takes an interesting topic you’ve probably never thought much about and crams as much information about it as he can into a podcast episode that runs for less than 30 minutes. Focussing on how design is enmeshed with virtually every aspect of our lives, generally without us even noticing it, you’re guaranteed to learn something new in every episode.

99% Invisible comes in at number 18 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Slow Burn

Slow Burn

Produced by Slate Group, Slow Burn spends each season investigating the depths of a divisive and influential event in 20th Century American history. Watergate, the Clinton scandal, The L.A. Riots, and now, Roe V. Wade are just some topics this show explores. You’ll examine what you think you know and unpack a lot more perspective.  Slow Burn is a must-listen for anyone interested in big historical events that affect the lives of all citizens.

Slow Burn comes in at number 17 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

How to Be Amazing With Michael Ian Black

How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black

How to Be Amazing With Michael Ian Black was a show that will teach you how to be amazing. Well, probably not. But if it fails to achieve that, at the very least, it will inspire you to try. Billed as a performing arts show, Michael Ian Black interviewed a wide variety of creative people for over a hundred episodes before finally putting the show on hiatus in 2019.  You can still experience Michael Ian Black’s amazing interviews on Audible or Amazon music, and some of the episodes are on the podcast’s website.

How to Be Amazing With Michael Ian Black comes in at number 16 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Invisibilia

Invisibilia

If you’ve listened to a few shows on the NPR network, you know they’re the often-imitated standard of the podcasting medium. Their top-rated science show, Invisibilia, is no exception. For over seven years, this show has explored “the intangible forces that shape human behavior—things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions, and emotions.” Explore theories about power, how to become Batman, French McDonald’s, and more.

Invisibilia comes in at number 15 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

u+1f60c

u+1f60c

Easily one of the finest examples of what audio storytelling can be, u+1f60c is a rare gem among podcasts. Creator James T. Green releases new episodes rarely, but when he does, they are dreamlike experiences that carry you to new understanding. He describes this podcast as “an audio zine, scraps of documentary that isn’t allergic to rhythm.” If this sounds like an acquired taste to you, try the episode PMHx, which aired on BBC Radio’s Shortcuts and is the most narratively traditional piece in his big colorful audio quilt.

u+1f60c comes in at number 14 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Snap Judgment

Snap Judgment

Snap Judgment is cinematic radio bliss. From WNYC, the makers of the podcasts Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, Note To Self, Invisibilia, and more, Snap Judgment combines funky beats and pace-setting backing tracks with real-world stories. Each episode invites you into a new world, absorbs you, and releases you at the end, a little stronger.

Snap Judgment comes in at number 13 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

Imaginary Advice

Imaginary Advice

Is it storytelling? Is it an audio experiment? Is it that weird dream you keep having but can’t figure out? Is it a puzzle? Ross Sutherland’s Imaginary Advice is like finding a beat-up book in an unexpected place and discovering it was written and published just for you. No two episodes are alike, but they make a story about loneliness and perseverance. Don’t miss this unforgettable and surprising experience.

Imaginary Advice comes in at number 12 as one of our most interesting podcasts. 

11. TED Radio Hour

TED Radio Hour

The TED Radio Hour is backed by and based on the inspirational video juggernaut, TED. Organising thousands of original TED talks into an amalgamation of common ideas, themes and topics, the podcast is a thrill-ride of education and inspiration. If you love that feeling of your mind being bent, prodded and expanded, you’ll love tuning in here.

TED Radio Hour comes in at number 11 as one of our countdown of top interesting podcasts. Heard this podcast before? Leave it a review.

10. Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio

The podcast that explores the hidden side of everything — that’s the tagline for Freakonomics Radiothe podcast spinoff of the much-famed 2005 book, Freakonomics, by rogue economists Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. As podcast hosts, the two authors apply their same unique approach of bringing economic theory to a range of different subject matter, which makes for as compelling listening as it did reading.

Freakonomics Radio comes in at number 10 as one of our countdown of top interesting podcasts. Heard this podcast before? Leave it a review.

9. On the Media

On the Media

In On the Media, hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield deep-dive into the entanglement that often occurs between the American media, politics and society. Exploring the collision against a backdrop of current affair issues, like Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact on Puerto Rico, each episode lifts the veil on the depth and breadth of the media’s influence.

On the Media comes in at number 9 as one of our countdown of top interesting podcasts. Heard this podcast before? Leave it a review.

8. Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

If Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant don’t each have the best jobs on the planet, they must be in the running for a podium finishHaving pumped out episode upon episode of content for the Stuff You Should Know podcast, they now travel the world entertaining and educating their loyal listeners. SYSK is a never ending catalogue of interesting yarns spun by two regular dudes who read a lot, talk a lot, and teach a lot. There’s not a topic left that they haven’t mulled and bantered over, and your best bet is to trawl through the library and pick out those that interest you most.

Stuff You Should Know comes in at number 8 as one of our countdown of top interesting podcasts. Heard this podcast before? Leave it a review.

7. The Memory Palace

the memory palace

Please, do your mind a favor and treat it to the listening delights of The Memory PalaceEach episode is a short vignette told by Nate DiMeo, an undeniable podcasting talent. With a sound composition that elevates the drama of the stories he tells, DiMeo takes his listeners on a journey into the human stories that shape the past, present and future world we inhabit. The Memory Palace is a deserved place-getter on this list and should be one of the next podcasts you devour.

The Memory Palace comes in at number 7 as one of our countdown of top interesting podcasts. Heard this podcast before? Leave it a review.

6. Philosophize This!

Philosophize This!

If you’re a philosophy noob who has steered clear of the subject matter for fear of being bored to death, Philosophize This! may just be the podcast to win you over. Told in chronological order through history, host Stephen West does a brilliant job of unpacking some seriously dense topics — from Plato and Aristotle through to Marxism — into short, accessible episodes. With an episode catalogue dating back to 2013, the show is highly rated and has clearly built a strong reputation in the education genre.

Philosophize This! comes in at number 6 as one of our countdown of top interesting podcasts. Heard this podcast before? Leave it a review.

5. How I Built This

How I Built This with Guy Raz

From how Jann Wenner founded and built Rolling Stone into the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll magazine of all time to Sara Blakely’s ingenious invention of Spanx, How I Built This  — another product of the expansive NPR network — hosts some of the most ambitious and successful entrepreneurs of the past half-century and brings us their inspiring stories of empire-building. This is a must-listen show for anyone with an enduring entrepreneurial spirit.

How I Built This comes in at number 5 as one of our countdown of top interesting podcasts. Heard this podcast before? Leave it a review.

4. Reply All

Reply All

Reply Alla hit podcast released by Gimlet Media, is a pod about the Internet. The show is premised upon seeking to better understand how the Internet impacts people’s lives and vice versa. With such fertile subject matter to tap, the variety of each episode is unique, unexpected and always entertaining.

Reply All comes in at number 4 as one of our countdown of top interesting podcasts. Heard this podcast before? Leave it a review.

3. Radiolab

Radiolab

Wow. Radiolab is freaking good. The highly rated, two-time Peabody Award-winning radio show, brought to you on all good podcast apps by WNYC Studios, is “designed for listeners who demand skepticism, but appreciate wonder”. With that bold tagline for their own show, hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich live up to their reputation as dynamic storytellers and have condensed the practice of captivating an audience down to a fine art.

Radiolab comes in at number 3 as one of our countdown of top interesting podcasts. Heard this podcast before? Leave it a review.

2. Lore

Lore

“Because sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction”  — that’s the tagline for Lorea show about the world’s weird and wonderful folklore. Focusing on the mysterious and darker side of our human history, in each new bi-weekly episode host Aaron Mahnke draws his listeners into new and uncharted worlds where, as is promised, the truth turns out to be more frightening than fiction.

Lore comes in at number 2 as one of our countdown of top interesting podcasts. Heard this podcast before? Leave it a review.

1. Pod Save America

Pod Save America

If you are even remotely interested in American politics, you need to subscribe to this podcast.  Pod Save America is the flagship pod of Crooked Media, a media company created by four ex-Obama White House staffers. Since its release in January 2017, it has already cemented itself as a formidable force in progressive American politics. While certainly left leaning, it’s a reliable source of up-to-date information on American politics and policy that cuts through the constraints of traditional media reporting.

Pod Save America comes in at number 1 as one of our countdown of top interesting podcasts. Heard this podcast before? Leave it a review.

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