The last few years have been the era of the podcast. We’ve seen everything from investigative journalism to tabletop roleplaying games made into these delicious audio treats. They make our morning commutes and our weekly chores that much more bearable. Also we can learn a thing or two, which is a nice bonus. Some of these podcasts have even become TV shows. Imagine that.
But while everyone has their podcast niche, there are a handful of undeniable greats. This list varies per person, of course, but here’s our list of the 10 Best Podcasts Of All Time.
With Dungeon and Dragons’ recent popularity in mainstream culture, it only makes sense for us to include this iconic D&D sort-of-podcast. Critical Role is actually a web series and the audio is uploaded as a podcast, but we’re still counting it. Listening to professional voice actors play D&D is far more entertaining than it sounds, and Dungeon Master Matt Mercer does an amazing job weaving a story for his players.
The episodes can be a bit long though, so it can take a while to get through all of the episodes. The group is currently on their second campaign dubbed “The Mighty Nein.”
Hardcore History is our pick for best informational podcast. Listening to 5 hours of Dan Carlin talk in excruciating detail about a historical event might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but listeners are guaranteed to learn something new. This podcast started all the way back in 2006 and covers topics from the Bubonic Plague to the Asia-Pacific War.
Since the podcast is episodic, new listeners can pick a topic of their choosing or just start from any random episode. There are a few topics that are more than one episode long though, so people should just make sure they start at part 1 of a topic.
This is our pick for the best nonsensical podcast. Described as a comedic advice podcast, it’s pretty much just three brothers spouting hilarity for an hour. The show started in 2010 and has since gained something a cult following. Notable fans include Lin-Manuel Miranda, who even snuck in a few My Brother, My Brother and Me references into his musical, Hamilton.
There are over 400 episodes out, so for people looking to get into a podcast that they can binge listen, this is a pretty good choice. Just don’t blame us if you start talking like the McElroy brothers. It can be a bit contagious.
Our choice for best political podcast has exploded into something of a media empire. Originally started by a group of former Obama staffers in 2017, the group has since created Crooked Media. They now not only release articles and tour the country, they’ve also launched several other podcasts, covering topics from pop culture to activism. The Pod Save America crew has figured out how to talk to frustrated millennials about politics in a way they understand.
But fair warning, as the name of the media company suggests, they’re not looking to explore all sides of the conversation. For listeners who aren’t interested in the liberal argument, this may be a podcast to avoid.
The Black Tapes falls into the interesting category of fictional podcasts. The creators edit the show to sound like an actual podcast with a host and interviews, but the events that occur are fabricated. The podcast follows host Alex Reagan who investigates supernatural cases with skeptic and paranormal investigator Dr. Richard Strand. The Black Tapes does a great job pulling the listener into this world of creepy occurrences and conspiracy.
Currently, there are 3 seasons of the show out, but there will be a fourth season coming out at some point. Also, just a pre-warning, the show can get a bit creepy, so we recommend not listening to this alone at night.
Lore has also become a TV show on Amazon Prime, but there is something spookier about listening to these stories instead of watching them. It almost feels like we’re hearing ghost stories around a campfire, except we get to avoid the whole camping thing.
Like The Black Tapes, Homecoming is fictional, but it plays as more of a radio drama than a podcast. Told through conversations, the story follows Heidi, who used to be a caseworker at a mysterious facility treating military veterans. The show is exciting and mind-bending and stars actors that most people would recognize, including Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, and David Schwimmer.
Amazon Prime recently made the podcast into an impressive TV show starring Julia Roberts.
The first season aired back in 2014 and centered around the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee. This is arguably the most popular of the three seasons and fed into our love of true crime, but season 3 is definitely worth a listen as well. Host Sarah Koenig gets an inside look at the Cleveland courthouse and paints a vivid picture of how our judicial system works and the problems most of us don’t usually see.
This Australian investigative podcast takes a look into the disappearance of Lynette Dawson back in 1982. It’s a fascinating listen because throughout journalist Hedley Thomas’ investigation, everyone seems to know who’s responsible, but for over 30 years, no one has been arrested. The podcast uncovers new evidence and it’s easy to get frustrated and wonder why police never investigated some of these leads.
The Teacher’s Pet is a well-made, well-researched, and incredibly interesting podcast. At the time it aired, things were happening real-time, which gives it a sense of urgency, despite Lyn Dawson having disappeared over 30 years ago.
The O.G. podcast. This American Life was the podcast before podcasts were even a thing, which is why it gets the number one spot. It’s an hour-long radio show that covers a theme generally told in three acts. Each act follows a different story, and all of them are captivating. It’s no surprise since the show has been going on since 1995; Ira Glass and co. have had plenty of time to perfect their craft.
Pretty much all of the 600+ episodes are worth a listen. A few of our favorites are "The Break-Up" and "The Feather Heist", but honestly, new listeners should just look at the list and just go for an episode.
What are your top 10 podcasts? Let us know in the comments!