Before You Leap: From the shameless plugs department, B4uLeap is our occasional (monthly or so) podcast at the Center for Environmental Health. We interview leading scientists, authors, thinkers, comedians, social critics and more on topics related to health, food, activism, creativity, humor and more. With occasional updates on health, environmental and food activism.
Judge John Hodgman: Fake internet radio Judge and Famous Minor Television Personality John Hodgman decides real-life cases sent in by listeners. In hilarious fashion, he gets to the crux of each case, and typically issues a ruling that reveals his insightful and empathic nature. Bailiff Jesse Thorne adds some trenchant humor, and occasional guest expert witnesses are called in. Is a hot dog a sandwich? Is it ok to pick pizza coupons out of the trash and use them for free food? How moldy is too moldy when it comes to, well, eating moldy food? Is a machine gun a robot? Listen in to learn. Posts weekly, usually Thursdays or so.
The Savage Lovecast is the funniest, most sensible sex advice podcast on the interwebs. Dan Savage has been doling out sex advice via his weekly syndicated column for about three decades, and he brings the same blunt humor to the podcast. In addition to callers’ questions, there’s typically there’s a guest for a brief interview and sometimes a sex researcher or expert comes on to discuss recent science, politics, or other sex news or issues. You can listen to the free version or (my preference) pay a few bucks for a subscription to the Magnum version. Posts weekly every Tuesday.
Mystery Show is a new podcast from the funny, charming, amazing Starlee Kine, who you may know from her contributions to NPR’s This American Life. On Mystery Show, Starlee solves real mysteries with one rule: no using the internet. The only thing not to like: waiting for new episodes since the show’s first six episodes were posted in July. Hopefully more episodes are coming soon!
Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast might be an acquired taste, and you may not want to acquire it. Gilbert and his co-host Frank Santopadre interview celebrities (Chevy Chase, Judd Apatow), character actors (Paul Dooley, Richard Kine), and many show business relative unknowns who worked with greats and near greats (former child actor Michael Oliver from the Problem Child movies; Bill Mumy from Lost in Space; Max Baer Jr from the Beverley Hillbillies, etc). You’ll need a high tolerance for hearing Gilbert tell the same jokes (and badly sing the same songs) in just about every episode. Also a high tolerance for Gilbert. And scatological and/or sexually repulsive (think The Aristocrats) humor. Frank tries, usually unsuccessfully, to keep things under some semblance of control. But stick with it – you’ll hear stories you won’t hear anywhere else, from people you may never hear from again (Gilbert and Frank favor geriatric guests, although they have had youngsters like Artie Lang and Jim Norton on the show). Gilbert and Frank also do a weekly podcast featuring short reviews of (usually) obscure old movies, their “Colossal Obsessions” podcast. In addition to the movie reviews, you may hear some of the same old jokes and Gilbert may (badly) sing the same songs. Posts weekly, around Mondays with the movie short posting later in the week.
Roderick on the Line lets us listen in on a weekly phone call between techie and creative consultant Merlin Mann and musician John Roderick of the Long Winters. Because there aren’t enough podcasts featuring two white guys in their forties (approaching 50!) just chatting. But really, it’s awesome. My favorite podcast to listen to while kayaking on Lake Merritt in the early mornings. Posts weekly, I think Mondays usually (I told you I was behind!)
The David Steinberg Podcast is another new podcast that’s already become a favorite. Don’t hold it against him that he interviewed Gilbert Gottfried for his first episode.
Doug Loves Movies features comedian Doug Benson playing movie quiz games with fellow comedians as guests. Enjoy the laughs, try your hand at the movie quizzes, but whatever you do, don’t shout out the answers – Doug really hates that! Usually posts weekly, sometimes twice a week or more.
The Moth Radio Hour has true stories told on various stages across the country. The granddaddy of storytelling podcasts, they’ve been doing storytelling from before storytelling became hip. Posts every week or so.
The Smartest Man in the World: comedian Greg Proops rambles his way through this funny, political and, yes, smart podcast. Typical topics include women’s rights, great women in history, old movies, baseball (especially Negro Leagues ball and anything related to the San Francisco Giants), race, recently deceased luminaries, and more. Posts weekly on Mondays.
Bullseye is a weekly public radio pop culture show. I’ve been listening since the days of the show’s original incarnation as the Sound of Young America (the archives are worth checking out), host Jesse Thorne curates an array of comedy, music and pop culture offerings that are always worth a listen. Jesse also founded the Maximum Fun network of goofy, fun and even sometimes informative podcasts.
Stop Podcasting Yourself is another funny podcast from the MaxFun network. Comedians Graham Clarke and Dave Shumka have a really nice rapport, and they’re both really funny. Voted Canada’s best humor podcast at least a couple of times, and it’s not just for Canadians! If you haven’t been listening you missed the Hulk Hogan news segments, but you can still catch “Overheards” where Dave, Graham, guest comedians and listeners dish on their recent eavesdropping. Posts weekly usually on Mondays.
Criminal is a “true crime” podcast with surprising stories from and/or about criminals, crimes gone wrong, crimes gone right, and more. Posts every other week or so.
Unfictional: host Bob Carlson curates documentary audio shorts from producers across the country. Posts weekly or so.
Le Show is the podcast and weekly public radio show from legendary comedian Harry Shearer (The Simpsons, Spinal Tap, the movies of Christopher Guest and more). For 30+ years, Le Show has been Harry’s weekly rant, including current regular segments on nuclear power (with Addi the Atom), climate change (News of the Warm), fracking (What the Frack), and of course the Apologies of the Week. Also original songs sending up everything from torture apologist John Yoo (“Torture Memo Man”) to Christmas (the recent “Too Many Notes”).
WTF with Marc Maron: if you’re reading this you surely already know WTF. Comedian Marc Maron briefly shares stories from his angst-filled life, then has long, deep conversations with celebrities, fellow comics, directors, and oh yeah, the President of the United States. Posts Mondays and Thursdays.
Snap Judgment with host Glynn Washington is a great storytelling podcast featuring far out stories, including (usually) at least one each week from Glynn, who can really tell a story. Heard weekly on many NPR stations.
The Memory Palace with host Nate Dimeo features often odd or forgotten stories from history, telling the stories with amazing detail and an easy-going pace. Posts about 10 or so podcasts per “season” over a few months.
Only a Game is a weekly sports podcast and NPR show featuring jovial (and poetic) host Bill Littlefield, weekly news reviews by columnist Charlie Pierce, and short audio features from a bevy of independent contributors.
Hidden Brain is a relatively new NPR podcast, with host Shankar Vedantam, featuring stories of brain science and human behavior and other fun brainy science stuff. Posts weekly or so.
Story Collider is another science podcast, featuring brief stories from scientists and researchers in a wide range of fields and on a wide array of topics, from the funny to the inspirational. Posts weekly or so.
Studio 360 with host Kurt Anderson, a weekly NPR culture show, features interviews with artists, authors, musicians and other creative people you may not hear anywhere else.
99% Invisible is a podcast about design that will make you think differently about the most mundane things, from how Monopoly was invented (and why it looks like it does) to the James Bond villain Goldfinger, who was named for a real person. Posts weekly or so.
Risk! With host Kevin Allison tells sometimes risqué (ok, sometimes very risqué) stories, often from live storytelling events, often hilarious, sometimes cringe-worthy, sometimes just plain crazy. Posts weekly or so.
Politically Reactive is the best politics podcast of the wacky 2016 election season. Comedians W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu talk election politics, race, gender and all that stuff, with guests like Robert Reich, Amy Goodman and others. Posts weekly through the November election.
Revisionist History is author Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast that aims to take a fresh look at subjects as diverse as shooting free throws (the underhanded “granny shot” is the way) to whether it’s better to donate to colleges that are already flush with cash or to less well-endowed schools (stop laughing, you know what I mean!) that serve lower-income students. Posts weekly, mid-week.
Code Switch looks at the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, and how they play out in our lives and communities. From a team of NPR journalists including Shereen Marisol Meraji, Gene Demby, Kat Chow and others. Posts weekly, usually mid-week.
Fake the Nation is a comedy and politics podcast by my favorite social justice comedian Negin Farsad. With some funny guest comedians, Negin take son the politics of the week, from elections to race and gender and whatever. Check it out. Posts weekly.
Invisibilia is an NPR podcast that looks at “the invisible forces that control human behavior.” They offer really good stories, co-hosted by former “This American Life” contributor Lulu Miller with Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel. They post in seasons of a few (7 this season) episodes each, posting weekly during the season, now in the 2nd season.
Reply All and Surprisingly Awesome are two fun podcasts from Gimlet Media. Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman and covers anything related to the internet and digital life. Awesome is hosted by Adam Davidson of the NY Times and NPRs Planet Money with screenwriter (Anchorman, The Big Short, former SNL head writer) and Will Ferrill buddy Adam McKay.
Off-Camera is a celebrity long-form interview podcast hosted by photographer/director Sam Jones. Some fun deep-dives.
Hang Up and Listen is a sports podcast from Slate, hosted by their sports editor Josh Levin, writer Stefan Fatsis, and former NPR reporter Mike Pesca. A fun sports show, and yes, it’s ok to fast forward through the Premier League Soccer segments. Posts Mondays.
The Bill Simmons Podcast, hosted by the well-known sports commentator is fun (if you like Bill, apparently that’s a touchy subject). Posts weekly, usually Fridays.