With over 30 million episodes of 750,000 podcasts available at the touch of a button, it might be a little overwhelming to look for something new. No matter what subject you’re into — business, sports, true crime, even sewing — chances are that there are at least 100 podcasts about it, with new ones coming out every month.
Trying to figure out which of those podcasts is good would be a gargantuan task. You could listen to friends or hope that the “You Might Also Like” section of your podcast app is up to snuff, but those might be hit or miss. Know what’s not going to be hit or miss? Reading the rest of this article and realizing we picked out the best podcasts for you.
We’ve collected some of the best podcasts to listen to in 2019. Whether you’re into politics, sports, true crime, or something else, we’ve got you covered here.
Game of Our Lives
Premiering before the World Cup this year, Game of Our Lives is about soccer, but it’s also about so much more than that. Host David Goldblatt talks plenty about soccer – which as a global sport is a means to understanding the world – but in he also spends times discussing topics as wide-ranging as politics, cinema, and more. If you want to understand the world through one lens, you have to be able to at least see that there are other lenses out there, and that’s what this podcast aims to do.
One of two true crime podcasts on this list, Dr. Death follows the story of Christopher Duntsch, a Dallas-based neurosurgeon who, it is safe to say, did not follow the Hippocratic Oath. Saying that he had even wandered in the direction of it would be a stretch as well. This podcast from Wondery explores what happens when a power-hungry doctor is not stopped by the people that should stop him until it is too late.
We’ve all seen The Real World and Big Brother, but what happens when the people forcing other people to live together (in a space secluded away from the world, no less) are from NASA? In The Habitat, six volunteers are sent to a remote island in Hawaii to live for a year as pretend astronauts on a pretend Mars. The sextet chronicles their highs and lows through audio recordings, which are spliced together in the podcast with documentary narration. Listening to see if one person might kill another is addictive to say the least.
Ever wonder how companies like Amway were and continue to be successful, despite the fact that they are pillaging the people that work for them for everything they have? What about the fact that a Waffle House’s ability to be open is literally used to help understand how bad a hurricane is in the South? Household Name digs into the stories behind the brands and companies we all know and see just about daily and gives us an inside look at their successes, failures, and more.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: Ears Edition
If you don’t know what The Daily Show with Trevor Noah is, you’ve clearly been living under a rock for the last few years. The show made famous by Jon Stewart and now helmed by Noah now has a podcast arm. Ears Edition features both highlights and extended interviews from Daily Show episodes. If you’re one of the ones that just watch the show highlights that Comedy Central puts on YouTube the following day, this podcast is for you.
After finding fame with his original podcast, Lore, Aaron Mahnke branched out, creating two new series: Cabinet of Curiosities and Unobscured. Think of Cabinet of Curiosities as the little brother of Lore while Unobscured is the older brother who went to Harvard Medical School. Not only are the episodes of Unobscured longer than Lore, but the season is a serialized narrative, focusing on one topic only (in the case of Season 1, it’s the Salem Witch Trials). If you like Lore, but want more, then Unobscured is the way to go.
Produced by the New York Times, Caliphate follows journalist Rukimini Callimachi as she attempted to understand ISIS. With the War on Terror costing the U.S. billions of dollars, Callimachi is hoping to get at who the country is really fighting and why. On the other side, she also explores why people join ISIS. Why does the organization appeal to so many and how? For anyone interested in current events, this is a must-listen.
Everything is Alive
An “unscripted interview show,” Everything is Alive is an interesting take on exploring the world. How so? In each episode, an interviewee is an inanimate object telling its life story. Ever wanted to hear how a bar of soap feels? What about an elevator? Think of this as that part of Fight Club concerning Jack’s organs, except you’re not part of Project Mayhem or burning yours and other people’s hands with lye.
A Very Fatal Murder
The second crime-related podcast on the list, this series comes to us not from the producers of 48 Hours, or the creator of any of the shows on Investigation Discovery, but from The Onion. Yes, the premier peddlers of satire have produced their own “true crime” podcast, wherein a plucky journalist travels to a tiny town in Nebraska to explore the death of one of the most popular high school girls in the area.
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd
Dax Shepherd loves talking to people. That is, in short, the premise for Armchair Expert. By talking to people, though, Shepherd tries to get at what makes us human. In each episode, the actor-turned-podcast host attempts to gain at least a nugget of information about how to be a better human. With a focus on the challenges people encounter, Shepherd dives headfirst into the task of being an armchair expert of life.
Hosted by comedian Dan Cummins, Timesuck is an investigation into just about everything in life. Weekly topics range from true crime to the paranormal to history and beyond, and are all hallmarked by Cummins’ signature wit. What helps Cummins stand out from other informational comedy podcasts is his willingness to investigate his own thoughts and beliefs and — through dialogues with people around the world — change his mind if he finds information the prove specific points.
We Like Drinking
Like drinking? The hosts of We Like Drinking do, too. Each week hosts Jeff Eckles, John Ruyak, and Jeff Solomon sit down with professionals from around the spirits industry to talk about booze. It doesn’t matter if you’re into beer, wine, whiskey, or something else with an ABV, the panel at We Like Drinking has most likely talked about it at some point. Perhaps the best part about We Like Drinking? They drink while they interview, so you’re always learning about new alcohols to try.
30 for 30
Developed out of the über-successful 30 for 30 film series, ESPN’s 30 for 30 podcast series takes the best parts of the documentaries and brings them to audio format. If sports are you thing, these episodes follow athletes from around the world to learn their stories, unraveling what makes someone successful (or not) while also offering a look at how sports can influence cultures around the world. The stories go beyond sports, though, offering something for sports fans and non-sports fans alike.
Small Town Murder
One of the consistently-funny true crime podcasts, Small Town Murder explores crimes in small towns (population under 30,000) that are, often-times, bat sh*t crazy. If you thought Florida was the only state for crazed criminals out there, Small Town Murder is a testament to the opposite. What helps hosts James Pietragallo and Jimmie Whisman dig into more than just the crime at hand. The duo look at what makes every town tick, from real estate sales to the local holiday parades that drive small-town life.
Beards, Booze, and Bacon
Did you think we wouldn’t be a little narcissistic and include ourselves on this list? If you’re looking for more from The Manual in your life, then this podcast is for you. From award-winning chefs to race car drivers to the owners of major breweries, we’ve talked to the best of the best in all of the industries you care about. We’ve talked to some great people in our first years, and the list of guests is only getting better from here.
If you burn through all of these, you should check out our favorite podcasts for road trips, the best fiction podcasts overall, podcasts to listen to at work or while you work out, podcasts perfect for your commute, the greatest history podcasts, hilarious comedy podcasts, some spooky horror podcasts, these appetizing food podcasts, or The Manual’s own podcast. And if you’re new to podcasts, you’ll need one of the top apps for listening.
Article originally published December 28, 2018. Last updated to include new suggestions for 2019.
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