It’s officially holiday season here at the Kestrel headquarters, and we’d like to give you a little gift! Podcasts are all the rage right now, but it can be tough to know where to start with so many options. If you’re looking for recommendations, look no further! Below is a list of some of our favorite podcasts (in alphabetical order). Download one for your commute, or stream one while curled up next to a fire. There’s a little something for everyone here. Happy holidays, and happy listening!
Often described as a show about architecture, this little show is so much more than that. Host Roman Mars and his team look at what makes our modern world tick: shipping containers, airport carpet, highway signage and everything in between. Every episode will leave you with at least one fun fact to share at your next happy hour.
Though similar in name to the previous show on this list, Invisibilia (Latin for all the invisible things) focuses on “the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.” Combining pop-science and pop-psychology, this is a show that will make you say, “Huh, I never knew that!” over and over again.
Remember the straight-laced guy who played the PC in those ever-present Apple ads of the 2000s? That’s John Hodgman. But the comedian, actor, and author plays a very different role in this show: Internet Judge. Each week he adjudicates a minor (and often silly) dispute between friends or family members. The premise may seem silly, but the life lessons Hodgman imparts in each ruling are always clever, heartwarming, and thoughtful.
A relative newcomer to the podcast world, this show takes listeners along for the ride as host Megan Tan, a recent college grad, struggles with finding her passion, her career, and herself. The problems she faces are universal, but her open and honest dialog and curious personality will keep you hooked on her story.
The best possible descriptor for this show: quirky. Host Starlee Kine plays a Sherlock Holmes For The Modern Era, digging for the truth behind seemingly mundane little mysteries. Her methods are clever enough, but it’s her lengthy asides with the strangers she meets along the way that will delight you over and over again.
If you ever feel like you’re too reliant on technology, this is the show for you. Host Manoush Zomorodi wonders how today’s tech tools are affecting our brains, and she takes listeners with her from Brooklyn to Silicon Valley as she seeks answers from teachers and tech gurus alike.
One of the giants of the podcasting world, this Peabody Award-winner is essential listening, regardless of your interests. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich tackle topics big and small, from “What’s the soundtrack for the end of the world?” to “If you could wipe mosquitos off the face of the earth, would you?” Come for the fascinating discussion, stay for the exceptional sound editing and production.
If you like hosts with great camaraderie, this is the show for you. PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman dig deep into the hidden crevices of the Internet and unearth some fascinating stories, all while maintaining the sort of witty banter you only hope to share with your roommate / best friend / younger brother.
The show that started the modern podcast boom, Serial is a twisty-turny investigation of a real murder. The central question: is the teenager sent to jail for killing his ex-girlfriend truly guilty? Produced by the master storytellers at This American Life and hosted by veteran reporter Sarah Koenig, this podcast is one you’ll sit in your car listening to long after you’ve pulled into the driveway.
What happens when you quit your job making podcasts to start your own podcasting company? This is the (admittedly meta) podcast about that process. Host Alex Blumberg, veteran of This American Life and Planet Money, is a master storyteller, and his microphone follows him everywhere. The result: an intimate look at what it’s really like to start your own business.
Ever wondered what makes a pop song so addicting? Hosts Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding break today’s chart-toppers down into their component parts to find the secret sauce that makes them hits (and keeps them stuck in your head). For pop culture lovers, music nerds, and anyone who loves a good search for hidden meaning.
Ira Glass is the godfather of modern podcasting, and his show is essential listening. Ira, on the This American Life website, says it best: “There’s a theme to each episode of This American Life, and a variety of stories on that theme. Most of the stories are journalism, with an occasional comedy routine or essay. There’s lots more to the show, but it’s sort of hard to describe.” If there’s one show on this list to start with, make it this one.