This is an update to my earlier What I Am Listening To post about the podcasts that are currently on my device at the end of 2017. In my case, the device is mostly my phone, but I also load certain podcasts on a flashdrive and leave it plugged in my car for driving (though I could just run my phone through the car’s audio, I like leaving the phone for call and GPS).

A study shows that one in four Americans has listened to a podcast in the past month. That number is up from 9% in 2008. The demographics of listeners shows them to be wealthier than average: 45% say they have an annual household income over $75k, compared with 35% of the general US population. The audience also skews younger, with 51% of monthly podcast listeners under age 34.

I have every day podcasts that I listen to that are mostly news. Then I save others, especially longer ones, to listen when I am walking, working outside or even working on the computer. I use them much like I used to use the radio, except now I do my own programming schedule. Those longer ones I download at home on wi-fi so that I don’t have to stream them using data when I am out in the world.

You can find these in Apple iTunes, on Stitcher’s app, and most of them are also on websites in case you like to listen on a computer.

This list is updated from the earlier post. Some shows have gone away (I am saddened by the loss of garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac and News From Lake Woebegone), some I have just lost interest in, and some are new to my list.

There are ones I listen to almost every day – many of those are short – and then longer ones that might only be released weekly or even less frequently – most of those are longer.

It should be its own post, but I also listen to books on audio, which are a big time commitment.


There a few I didn’t add to the list that I did sample but that just didn’t grab me. Like televisions these days, there is so much good competition that I’m a tough critic.  But you might like Pod Save America (political), Risk! (regular folks on stage telling emotional stories), Lore (urban legend weirdness stories), Welcome to Nightvale  (radio broadcasts from a fictional town where the out-of-the-ordinary is ordinary and conspiracy theories abound), two trivia shows: Doug Loves Movies  and Tell Me Something I Don’t Know ( a panel takes trivia from the audience).


Short and Daily Regular Listens

  • Up First – NPR’s short take on news to start the day
  • The Daily – a big story for today from The New York Times
  • NPR Hourly News Summary – in less than 5 minutes
  • WSJ Tech News Briefing
  • NPR Business Story of the Day
  • Film Reviews from WSJ with Joe Morgenstern – brief reviews of new films
  • Marketplace Tech 
  • The Poetry Magazine Podcast – looks at what’s in the newest issue of the magazine
  • Brainstuff – five-minute  answers to questions like Why balloons stick to our hair? How do squirrels organize their nuts?

Longer Shows – weekly or less frequently updated – I choose episodes I’m interested in

  • By the Book – the two hosts live for a few weeks following the suggestions of a self-help book and report back on how life changing or not the plan turned out.
  • Make Me Smart – Molly Wood and Kai Ryssdal talk about the economy, technology and culture and try to get help from listeners and experts about the ones they want to know better.
  • In Our Time – a BBC show that takes on academic topics from Moby Dick to Thomas Beckett to Plato’s Republic, but all in a listenable level although the guests are usually college professors.
  • Hidden Brain – fascinating stories that take science and research and make it interesting to anyone. Hosted by Shankar Vedantam
  • Here’s the Thing – Alec Baldwin is a terrific host/interviewer of people in many different fields
  • Poetry Off the Shelf – poets, poems, poetry topics
  • Fresh Air – one radio program that I have listened to since before podcasting – but podcasts allowed me to catch the shows I was missing. With a superb interviewer, Terry Gross.
  • The Business – is in show business, movies and television, hosted by Kim Masters
  • Slate’s Culture Gabfest – highbrow and pop topics – highbrow and pop hosts
  • How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black – not the usual celebrity interviews – very revealing interviews.
  • The Treatment – mostly movies with another great host who seems to have seen and read everything, Elvis Mitchell,
  • Maltin on Movies – as in Leonard Maltin, film critic and human film encyclopedia. Interviews with all kinds of movie folk. Often co-hosted by his daughter, Jessie.
  • To the Best of Our Knowledge – One of my favorites. Big ideas and themes covered in different ways.
  • FT Life of a Song – FT = Financial Times but this UK podcast is all about digging into the origins of songs in all genres.
  • WTF with Marc Maron – Long interviews that travel interesting paths with musicians, actors, writers, comedians and even Barack Obama done in his garage. I sometimes fast forward past the intros that are often promoting his own work, but great interviews.
  • On Being – formerly Speaking of Faith and wisely changed to represent what it actually covers. Krista Tippet is the amazing host.  Excellent website.
  • Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me – a current events quiz show that’s quite funny
  • The Sporkful – Dan Pashman’s show for eaters
  • Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen – pop culture and the arts. Great host. Special American Icons episodes are great: Wizard of Oz, Moby Dick, Disney Parks, I Love Lucy, Superman, The Outsiders…
  • 99% Invisible – the mostly invisible design of things
  • Revisionist History – Malcolm Gladwell’s series takes unusual views of one topic
  • The Dinner Party Download – cultural oddities and drink recipes based on history
  • You Must Remember This – the first 100 years of Hollywood with host and writer/researcher Karina Longworth. Themes are things like Jane Fonda + Jean Seberg, the Blacklist, Dead Blondes, Boris Karloff + Bela Lugosi, Charles Manson
  • Bookworm – host Michael Silverblatt is a terrific reader and talks to almost everyone important in contemporary writing (fiction, non-fiction, poetry). I haven’t heard of many of the books/writers but all the shows are well done. Huge archive. From KCRW radio.
  • The Nerdist – long-running show hosted by professional talker Chris Hardwick with a vairiety of interesting people. Interview runs pretty long – about 90 minutes.
  • Katie Couric – She does her interview thing that she has done well for many years in podcast form.
  • Harry Shearer – Le Show – a creative mix of news, commentary, music and original skits and songs.

Still on my list but I listen very selectively when I have time

  • The Paris Review – topics that might appear in the magazine
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour – multiple hosts on movies, books, TV and the rest
  • Radiolab – hard to pin down what it is about – it’s about almost anything
  • Planet Money – the economy explained
  • This Week in Tech TWiT – Leo Laporte and crew. I started listening to this years ago but I’ve fallen off as a listener to his shows as they tend to ramble on for 2 hours or more lately. Also the case for This Week in Google – Leo and Jeff Jarvis with some focus on Google but almost an extension of TWiT.
  • This Week in Law – Another one in the series that I listen to selectively when a topic catches my fancy.
  • On the Media – a good weekly media analysis
  • The World Next Week – a “preview” of world events from the Council on Foreign Relations
  • Triangulation – Leo Laporte (Man of a Thousand Podcasts) talks to smart people in tech. These are more controlled (and shorter) and I select based on the guest.
  • Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty – short doses of language, writing and that scary grammar stuff in an engaging way.
  • Slate’s Audio Book Club – monthly look at new and important books
  • Open Source with Christopher Lydon
  • Science Friday – just that – stories about science for the rest of us.
  • Invisibilia – the invisible forces that control us
  • This American Life – one of the originals. A theme is several acts fill up about an hour.
  • Selected Shorts – short stories read aloud by actors. I tend to select selected episodes but when I just listen to an episode I am inevitably surprised to discover some new or classic story.
  • Freakonomics Radio – an extension of the ideas in the books. Economics (ugh!) but done in a way that is interesting (Hurrah!)
  • The Carson Podcast – interviews with people who guested on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Always touches on Johnny and the show but also digs into the entertainers big and small interviewed.
  • How I Built This – interviews with innovators on how they built whatever they built
  • Stuff You Should Know – grew from the articles on the website. Two likeable guys with more information (usually) than you on a very wide variety of topics.  Most shows are about 30 minutes.
  • Things They Don’t Want You to Know – is another offshoot but needs to be seen because they are video (vodcast) and they are full of all those conspiracy theories. Fun.

Archived, Available But Not Current Programs

  • I had listened to the two previous installments of the true story Serial which were good, although neither had a real ending. During this last period, I listened to the third one called S Town about John who despises his Alabama shit town and decides to do something about it. He asks a radio reporter to investigate a murder, but it’s really about John. This one has an ending. Sort of.
  • Missing Richard Simmons – On February 15, 2014, fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared and the host of this podcast searches for him. Much like serial, some people were disappointed that he didn’t really “find” him (like a Serial ending) but I thought it was a good ending.
  • Esquire Classic Podcast – looks back at classic pieces from the magazine
  • Unretirement – Life after you retire when you still want to do.. something.
  • By the Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin – crazy, funny Jeff (Curb Your Enthusiasm) does freeform interviews on stage with folks. On hiatus while he works on his TV show, The Goldbergs which is a kind of The Wonder Years for the 1980s.