Hi, my name is Ashley and I’m addicted to podcasts. Unless I’m working or conversing with a person of interest, I’m probably listening to one. Podcasts are basically proof that time is a construct. They make train rides feel faster, long walks go by in seconds. I even listen to them on runs because if I listen to music, I count the songs and wait for minutes to creep by whereas podcasts blur them into oblivion.
Since everyone is always asking me for recommendations, and since the next few months are notoriously travel-heavy, I’ve documented a shortlist of podcasts below which I think you should download immediately. Listen to them in the never-ending security line, while you wait at the gate because you dutifully showed up early like the airport asked, keep listening while you watch in awe as people de-board the plane with no sense of order, and then maybe pop them on if and when you need to avoid some family drama.
Busy Phillips and Steve Agee are definitely not doctors. The two actors recently joined forces for “We’re No Doctors,” a super gross podcast where they discuss medicine and don’t really fact check but it’s fine because they’re NOT doctors. Some of the episodes are just banter between friends but some of them dive deep into flesh-eating bacteria, moroccan hospitals and Busy’s journey through the whole 30 diet. Warning: if you’re squeamish or as big a hypochondriac as Steve and Busy, you might want to steer clear. I’ve had a flesh-eating virus since I started listening.
Start with: H1N1 with Nicole Sullivan. She legit had swine flu.
I’ve been listening to this podcast since the first episode but, in times like this, it’s an extra nice reminder that women in comedy and entertainment have always been there and they’ve always been killing it. Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin have been doing stand-up for decades and they’ve been naming names on this podcast for over a year. They don’t have guests but they do let you eavesdrop on an hour of their conversations every week and the situations they encounter are applicable to more industries than just comedy.
Start with: Any of them.
I found out about this podcast because hosts Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton have both done some incredible work for Man Repeller. The only thing I love more than British accents is a critical take on pop culture and boy do they bring it. Not only do they come every week with fantastic recommendations in the form of books, journalism and more, they also recap actual news and it’s an extremely digestible way to find out what’s happening in the world.
Start with: They’re very timely so subscribe now and listen when the next one comes out.
4. The Call with Erica Williams Simon
This is a Man Repeller production that I started listening to before I even stepped foot into Man Repeller’s office. Erica brings in the most intriguing guests from such a variety of industries, no matter what you’re searching for there’s inspiration to be found inside The Call. Because she’s based out of Los Angeles, a lot of her interviews are with women in entertainment and entrepreneurship carving their own paths and it’s fascinating to hear about all the different roads that have led to one recording studio.
Start with: Lena Waithe. This was recorded before she became Emmy Winner Lena Waithe and it’s amazing to listen to someone living every ounce of her dream.
If you’ve heard of podcasts you’ve probably heard of this one, but I still feel like it’s worth mentioning (which is probably why he’s nearing his 900th episode.) Maron is an incredible interviewer and, while he seemed to fall into a rut after he settled his beef with the entire comedy community, he’s really found a groove again interviewing people to get to know them and not to bury a hatchet.
Start with: Lorde. The most recent 50 episodes are available for free and this was a stand out episode from the last few months. They both share an intense love of music and I found myself pausing the episode multiple times because they’d talk about a song with such enthusiasm that I needed to download and listen to it that very minute.
I’m a late subscriber to Bachelor Nation, I even looked down upon the franchise until a few summers ago when a friend forced me down the rabbit hole. Now, not only do I tune into every season religiously and harbor strong feelings about every announcement of the next Bachelor/ Bachelorette, I also listen to SEVERAL bachelor alumni podcasts. Off the Vine is without a doubt my favorite. Kaitlyn is so honest about everything from chewing her own toenails (sorry) to how she felt about having to compete to be the Bachelorette. Her guests aren’t always out of the Bachelor world but when she does talk to fellow former lovers/competitors/etc, she really gets them to dish.
7. Natch Beaut
Jackie Michele Johnson is an American treasure. I started listening to Natch Beaut after hearing her on another podcast at some point because her voice is like butter. She’s a vegan and a beauty fanatic but she admits to being wildly uneducated when it comes to makeup. I love learning along side her and I’m inspired by the enthusiasm of her product reviews. As someone who didn’t even use a moisturizer until last year, listening to her talk about eyebrows for days feels like a full-on education. As a vegan, she also endorses vegan/cruelty-free beauty so you don’t have to worry about falling in love with a product that’s hurting bunnies and what not.
This is another podcast that I listen to partially for its British-ness; Kristy Young has the most soothing voice I’ve ever heard. She interviews prominent figures about the eight albums and book they’d bring when deserted on a desert Island and they’re presented so thoughtfully it’s impossible not to be lulled into a meditative state during every episode. While most American podcasts interview celebrities and reality TV people (which I love, don’t get me wrong), Desert Island Discs mixes in scientists, scholars, classical musicians and more. The genres vary dramatically and I always learn something new.
Start with: John McEnroe. He shares so many personal stories with his picks — he’s basically met every musician he’s ever been a fan of, plus he talks about yelling at people and being yelled at.
This is as newsy as my podcast preferences get. Rolling Stone Music Now is obviously an extension of the magazine. The episodes range from in-depth interviews with artists to expansions on some of their music rankings. It’s extremely informative, almost scientific if you ask me. Any podcast that gives me additional insight into Liam and Noel Gallagher’s never-ending feud is top 10 in my book.
Start with: The Case for Taylor Swift. This episode delves into a published ranking of every Taylor Swift song I could have listened to the writers go back and forth for eight hours.
This is the best podcast in the world, but I hesitate to include it because new episodes are few and far between. Adam Scott and Scott Aukerman (Adam Scott Aukerman) are U2 fanatics discussing U2 album by album. They go off topic regularly so if you’re not a U2 fan (yet) there’s still a lot in it for you. There’ll probably be a new episode at the beginning of December when “Songs of Experience” comes out and wow I just love U2 so much.
Start with: U2 Talk 2 U. I wept when I heard Bono’s voice and finally developed an understanding of how Beatlemania happened.
If you have any to add, please throw them out in the comments, and if you’re looking for an even more niche recommendation, let me know because my honorable mentions list is decades long and I’d love to just keep talking about podcasts forever.