You know a podcast is making you cleverer when it involves homework. Each episode of ‘Start with This’ (the second brainchild of the creators of ‘Welcome to Night Vale’, a creepy podcast set in an imaginary US town) gives listeners something to consume and something to create: usually a book or TV show in the first instance, and a writing assignment in the second. The object is to help boost your creativity, and the subjects of the episodes are satisfyingly varied, from ‘Present Tense’ to ‘Non-Lovecraftian Horror’.
The golden age of radio didn’t end – it evolved. Now we live in the time of peak podcast, an era where we can get a direct infusion of knowledge, comedy, music, opinion, intrigue and discourse while showering, working, running or just lazing about. There are seemingly infinite podcasts out there, from influential squawk-boxes like Joe Rogan and Howard Stern to amateur shows produced in basements. That’s the beauty: Anyone with a mic and a hard drive can make a podcast.
The best podcasts maximize the medium’s potential, incorporating interesting voices, immaculately curated topics and an ear for storytelling. They include true-crime opuses and whip-smart comedy. Among them, you’ll find enriching lessons in history and deep-dive nerdery, stories that hit close to home or transport you to faraway lands. Together, they have the power to make you gasp, giggle, scratch your head and walk away feeling smarter. From old-school trailblazers to brand new names, these are the 50 best podcasts to listen to right now.
Contributors: Anna Rahmanan Eddy Frankel, Andy Kryza, Phil de Semlyen, Alex Plim, Dave Calhoun, Andrzej Lukowski, Cass Knowlton, Dalia Barth, Isabelle Aron and Alexandra Sims
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