If you spend more than 20 minutes in the car to and from work or if music doesn’t take your mind off the pain of running, you might want to try tuning into podcasts, which you can listen to on just about any Android or iOS smart phone. With a mobile app like Podcast Republic or Podcast Addict for Android users and Stitcher Radio and Instacast (and of course iTunes) for iPhone users, you can subscribe to podcasts you like, which will automatically update when there’s a new episode.
According to NPR, Apple reported downloads of podcasts through iTunes reached 1 billion last year. RawVoice, which tracks 20,000 shows, said the number of unique monthly podcast listeners has tripled to 75 million from 25 million 5 years ago.
No matter how niche your interests, there’s a podcast out there with your name on it. Politics, parenting, dating, entertainment, social commentary, sports, business, and technology are well-covered territory, but you can dig in even further—if you’re die-hard about Harry Potter, for example, Hogwarts Radio will satiate all your muggle-loving needs. Or, if you’re trying to teach yourself to play guitar, The Guitar Podcast should cover your bases in no time.
Here are four podcasts we love that are worth a listen.
This American Life
This American Life is a weekly public radio show produced by Chicago Public Media, and pumped out to more than 500 radio stations nationwide. Hosted by Ira Glass, this year, the show
marked its 500th episode. It’s also available as a podcast, which works perfectly for its format. Each week, This American Life tackles a theme—everything from deadbeat landlords to getting away with murder—and tells a variety of stories on that subject. But in addition to the charming and funny stories, the show also utilizes its supreme producers and relationships with outlets like ProPublica to tackle serious issues, like gun violence in Chicago schools and climate change.
There’s something so raw and naked about someone telling a personal story live on stage, and The Moth, a not-for-profit dedicated to doing just that, offers up a weekly podcast that delivers on that premise. At the center of each podcast is a story or a series of stories—also loosely focused on a theme—that is sometimes funny or charming, but often harrowing and raw. Last year, an episode called Tired From New York, in which comic writer Jessica Klein shared her story of landing her dream job of working for Saturday Night Live and how her image of what it would be like differed from the reality of it. Just last week, the Moth aired Fighting Chance, in which Amy Cohen talks candidly (and somehow hilariously) about testing positive for the BRCA1 breast cancer gene mutation after her mom died of the disease and how she dealt with it.
The Atlantic Senior Editor Hanna Rosin joins Slate writer Amanda Hess and New York editor Noreen Malone to discuss current issues that are hitting a nerve with women, which include everything from domestic violence in the NFL to whether to freeze your eggs. This podcast has the feeling of sitting around with your most informed and engaging girlfriends discussing issues of interest, and the trio also offer up recommendations of books, articles, and other random things they like, which are often genuinely good and interesting.
If you’re like me, you love hearing good new music, but don’t have the time or energy to wade through bad new music to get there. Music junkies Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton do all the leg work for you on NPR’s All Songs Considered. Boilen’s show introduces listeners to all genres of music, from that emerging Latin America band you’ve never heard of to the more mainstream indie fixes. They also offer up themed playlists (like best workout music) and annual best new music playlists, which are often an eclectic mixture of terrific new artists or new songs from great old artists.