Want to learn a new skill or deep dive into a subject you already love? Then an educational podcast may be right for you! These heady gems are riveting, engrossing, and informative, designed as they are to both teach and entertain.
To celebrate this special genre, I thought it would be fun to introduce you to some of my all-time favorite educational podcasts. Though they cover a wide range of topics (from Old Hollywood to the LGBTQ+ rights movement), they’re all perfect for folks looking to acquire some capital K Knowledge.
If you’re a film buff, you’ve gotta check out You Must Remember This, a popular podcast that tells the “secret and/or forgotten histories” of Hollywood’s golden age. Film historian Karina Longworth hosts the pod and brings a ton of research, specificity, and expert-level knowledge to each and every episode. I like ‘em all, but I particularly like when she spends a few episodes diving into a specific celebrity (the six-episode stretch on Joan Crawford is a major, major standout).
Over the past year, Throughline has become one of my absolute favorite podcasts to listen to. Each week, hosts Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei “go back in time to understand the present,” tracing the “throughlines” of various subjects (like Vladimir Putin or the grocery store banana). It’s always a wild ride, as the duo interview experts, unearth interesting historical details, and map out how in the world we got from there to here.
For those interested in design and architecture, 99% Invisible is the podcast for you. Each episode hones in on a single topic or type of design, and includes interviews from architects or folks who have been influenced by said subject. The whole premise is that when we look at a building we see and understand maybe 1% of it, but there is so much more at play. I especially like that the episodes hover around 30 minutes, making them perfect for a quick commute or lunch break.
Revisionist History is a fascinating podcast for how it challenges and re-examines moments in history that have long been classified as “understood.” For host Malcolm Gladwell, it’s less about reporting on the facts of a historical situation, but more about interrogating the process of making history itself. Why are certain people remembered and others not? Why do certain details endure for centuries while others change with each generation’s retelling? In this way, the whole pod is really a thought experiment in the power of collective memory.
The aptly named Making Gay History podcast is all about bringing the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement to life by highlighting the heroes who’ve powered it. It’s an intimate, personal, and deeply educational pod that touches on everything from the first bricks thrown at Stonewall to the Act Up protests of the 80s and 90s. Each episode is fairly short, so you can take them in doses or binge them all in one sitting. I also like that it’s really accessible, but doesn’t skimp on the facts or details, which makes it great for folks who know a lot about the topic and those just getting their feet wet.
Invisibilia is like a master class in human empathy. In each episode, Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin delve into stories of love, loss, grief, and resilience. Though the topics change, the main thrust remains the same: What are the invisible things that connect us to one another and make us human? No other podcast makes me laugh or cry nearly as much as this one does, and though it’s not about science or history, it is certainly educational on matters of the heart.
There are a lot of history podcasts available online, but one of my faves is The History Chicks. As the name suggests, this pod focuses exclusively on women in history, bringing to life their stories with research, humanity, and plenty of nerdy charm. If you’ve been looking to stock up on your fill of fierce and unsung heroines, this is most definitely the podcast for you!
Well, that about does it for this guide to the best educational podcasts! For more pod fun, check out our round-up of the best
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