Now that smart phones are as much a part of our daily lives as water, podcasts, too, have become integral to many. Whether it’s on your commute to work, while you’re at work waiting eagerly for the five o’clock bell to metaphorically ring, or when you’re trudging through those seven miles on the treadmill because your buddy bet you couldn’t drink an entire case and damn it, you don’t like losing, there are ample opportunities each day to put some headphones in and listen to other people for a little while.
The thing is, there are literally thousands of podcasts out there. Tens of thousands, even, covering every topic imaginable (the podcast Sleep with Me is literally a guy that helps you fall asleep by rambling and mumbling about nonsense). So how do you choose? The answer is easy: You don’t have to.
We’ve collected some of the best podcasts to listen to in 2018. Whether you’re into politics or sports, true crime or motivational speaking, it’s all on there.
Beards, Booze, and Bacon
A personal favorite around here. Covering everything in the title and more (such as our recent episode on all things Cuba), Beards, Booze, and Bacon is The Manual, distilled into a podcast. Now, you can take us with you everywhere you go (which, we’re strong proponents of).
Comedian Dan Cummins wants to learn more about the world and help you do so too. He tackles everything from murderers to conspiracy theories to people like “Eleanor MF’n Roosevelt” (one of his latest Timesuck subjects), truly engaging with each subject while still managing to crack hilarious jokes.
The Bill Simmons Podcast
The Ringer host Bill Simmons brings in a rotating cast of characters — including recurring cameos from Cousin Sal and Joe House — to talk, well, sports (what else did you think it would be?). Each week, Simmons et al cover a variety of topics — enough to give you plenty of ammunition, even if you never watch sports but need to talk about it in the office.
WTF with Marc Maron
The title says it all. In the podcast, comedian Marc Maron tackles that very question: WTF? In order to try to do that, Maron brings on fellow comedians and a slew of other guests to talk, debate, joke, and try to get to the bottom of life.
This American Life
Hosted by the legendary Ira Glass, This American Life is the quintessential podcast: stories about people told in a compelling way every week (without the need to try and catch it when it airs on public radio).
Pod Save America
Hosted by four former aides to Barack Obama, Pod Save America brings in journalists, politicians, comedians, and more to talk about (obviously) politics. A recurring theme is how to navigate the challenges posed by the current presidency.
Sure, you’re probably getting a ton of news every morning when you wake up and immediately scroll through Facebook, but Up First from NPR delivers the most important news of the day in quick 15-minute segments.
30 for 30 Podcasts
If you don’t know what the 30 for 30 series is, you’ve been living under a rock. Produced by ESPN, these highly-lauded sports documentaries have now made their way to the podcast world, giving us even more opportunities to learn everything we ever wanted to about sports.
Made by the folks behind Up and Vanished, this podcast is a new true crime series that aims to dig into a 37-year-old crime case about a series of child murders in Atlanta. If you’re a fan of any of the HowStuffWorks podcasts, then you’ll want to check this one out.
TED Radio Hour
For those that spend hours watching TED talks on YouTube, this is the perfect podcast. Spanning every topic imaginable, the TED Radio Hour tackles new ideas, fascinating theories, all while offering new approaches to old problems. Need some inspiration? This is a great place to start.
Welcome to Nightvale
A radio drama that takes place in the fictional town of Nightvale, fans of the weird and funny will definitely want to check this one out. Not only does it feature new music every week (a great way to find new artists without even trying), but the show has become so successful that multiple books have been spawned from the original podcast.
The Joe Rogan Experience
Joe Rogan has come a long way from hosting Ripley’s Believe It or Not. On The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan talks to myriad different people, picking their brains and very easily getting listeners to open their minds and think about topics they’ve never previously considered before. Oh, and it’s pretty damn funny.
My Dad Wrote a Porno
Not many of us can say that our dad wrote a porno, but host Jamie Morton can. Though his father tried to keep it a secret, Morton is now reading the book, a chapter at a time, which is hilarious to us but, surely, a bit therapy-inducing for him.
The tagline “it’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters” explains everything you need to know about The Sporkful. Host Dan Pashman interviews a wide range of people to not only talk about how to make food, but why food is important and the wider ramifications for that.
For those that have always wanted to understand the economy but couldn’t (it’s not our fault numbers are hard), Planet Money could be what you’ve been looking for. Planet Money makes the economy easy to understand and engaging, no matter your level of previous economic understanding.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
This is your AP History class on steroids, if your AP History class was enjoyable. Dan Carlin’s episodes often hit the four-hour mark but, by the end of a series, you’ll be damned if you don’t know everything there is to know about a topic.
The GaryVee Audio Experience
Motivational speaker, vlogger, entrepreneur, alligator wrestler (okay, we made that one up). Regardless, Gary Vaynerchuk seems to do it all. On this podcast, Gary Vee presents ways to kick ass in business and marketing. Looking to take yourself to the next level? This is for you.
Last Podcast on the Left
Perhaps the funniest true crime podcast out there, Last Podcast on the Left digs deep, providing thoroughly-research looks at not just criminals and murderers, but also conspiracies, aliens, ghosts, and more. Whip up this cocktail to enjoy while you listen.