If there’s any takeaway from the continuous rise of podcast culture, it’s the enduring appeal of the human voice. Sure, we date via swipe and shop with a click, but nothing can compete with the simple pleasure of a great story. But with hundreds of thousands of titles on offer, it can be intimidating to find the perfect podcast for you. So we asked a few of the smartest women we know what they can’t stop listening to. Here, a collection of some of our favorites, from truly “terrifying” true crime to laugh-out-loud-on-the-train comedy to keep you occupied all season long.
Yael Aflalo is leading a retail-revolution with her company, Reformation—sustainable, socially responsible designs favored by Rihanna and Emily Ratajkowski. The new mom, who has been busy prepping for the fall launch of a new store in San Francisco, muses that if she were to ever launch her own podcast, “it would definitely be about leading a sustainable lifestyle and other things I have learned and want to learn about.” Count us in. Her favorite podcasts are TED Radio Hour: “They are very inspiring, and put me in a creative and optimistic mood.” And Freakonomics Radio: “I love learning new things and looking at the world in new ways. I especially like new information that contradicts things I thought were true. This show does that all the time.”
Sophie Buhai confesses that she typically listens to podcasts while going on long walks around Silver Lake. As the jewelry designer preps her Spring 2017 collections, the L.A. native takes a listen to some hometown history with the podcast, You Must Remember This. “It’s like the US Weekly of Hollywood’s first century,” Buhai told Vogue.com “I love Hollywood history and the secret scandals of Tinsel Town’s biggest icons. My favorites are the podcasts on Isabella Rosselliniin the ’90s and the 12-part examination of Charles Manson and Hollywood in the late ’60s.”
Leslye Headland crafts heroines who are sharp, complicated, and sometimes cruel. The filmmaker and playwright currently has her plate full as she prepares for the off-Broadway debut of her new play The Layover, as well as her wedding. For anyone who watched Kirsten Dunst and Isla Fisher trash their best-frenemy Rebel Wilson’s wedding in her film Bachelorette—Headland promises that her big day will be low-key by comparison. She listens to her friend Melissa Stephens’ Fear Based Life, a “spirituality-based podcast about people’s fear and their beliefs. . . . She’s so vulnerable and funny at the same time, and the guests are very open.” When she needs a laugh, Leslye turns to How Did This Get Made, an appreciation of bad movies, and The Baby-Sitters Club Club: “I cry with laughter every single week. . . . It combines two of my favorite things—storytelling aimed at preteen girls and overly wrought English-lit majors dissecting and geeking out over these books.”
Elizabeth De La Piedra is an artist with that uncanny “it-factor.” The Aussie-Peruvian photographer has a following ravenous for details about her work, family life (with her cooler-than-thou toddler and hubby Josh Young of Flosstradamus) and thrifting habits (emphasis on the ’90s and early-aughts). When it comes to her own listening obsessions, however, the self-professed former goth says it’s all about murder. “I love true-crime podcasts. I’m talking JonBenet Ramsey, Casey Anthony, Madeleine McCann . . .” She favors Generation Why for the hosts’ dedication to research. “They debate bias for either side, which creates an honest dialogue when reviewing evidence and testimony.” She also follows Sword and Scale for its “incredible production quality and unique perspective,” but admits some episodes are a little too unnerving. With “very real 911 calls, interviews and recordings, I can’t listen to all of them. Some affect me more than others, but I always wait every week for a new episode!”
Monica Paolini says she listens “whenever I can get a chance”—on the subway, at the beach, or in the design studio. Monica codesigns Sea with her childhood best friend, Sean Monahan. Their collection is breezy and urbane, and just a touch romantic. Kind of like her favorite podcasts, like storytelling phenom The Moth, “highly addictive” Modern Love, and 2 Dope Queens: “Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams host this show from Brooklyn, showcasing their favorite comedians around the world. It continuously has me laughing out loud—on the train, in front of strangers.”
Lindsey Caldwell keeps us tuned to the latest music, whether she’s moving the crowd as DJ-of-choice for events hosted by Iman, Naomi Campbell, and the late Prince, or via her own podcast, Look Both Ways on The Lot Radio. The show is recorded in a shipping container in Williamsburg that was “converted into a radio-station-slash-coffee-kiosk with a little yard.” She describes her podcast as “soulful songs from the past, present and future.” Besides her own show, Lindsey lovesDelancey Music Service for discovering dance music and The Read for the hosts’ blend of hilarious pop-culture commentary and perspective on “more serious topics like current issues from an African-American perspective.” She also listens to disco, house, and soul “by one of the most knowledgeable music folks I know,Duane Harriott.” Lindsey admits: “I’ll steal songs off his playlist to play in my own sets all the time. . . . It’s great for dinner parties and just listening in your headphones while aimlessly walking around the city—my favorite.”
Jessie Willner’s leather jackets have been described as works of art. The Mighty Company founder combines luxe materials with a direct-to-consumer philosophy. The result? Heirloom-quality pieces with a touch of rock ’n’ roll. When the L.A. native needs a break from dressing stars like Gigi Hadid, she’ll listen to podcasts while “lying in bed with my pup.” She favors design by 99 Percent Invisible, comedy by Nerdist and motivation by StartUp: “Each season revolves around a different storyline or a mashup of many. It’s all a bit cathartic to listen to when you’re going through your own version of making something out of what was once nothing.”
Julie Houts achieves the impossible: She skewers Insta-culture while simultaneously mastering it. During the day, she designs womenswear for J.Crew, but at night she sketches sharp, stylish caricatures of modern life—rendering herself vulnerable, hilarious, and real. It’s no surprise then that her favorite podcasts are as cheeky and relatable as her illustrations, from Upright Citizens Brigade’s Ronna & Beverly to This American Life. “I listen for the same reason that all people exactly like me listen, which is ‘I don’t know, really. I just do.’ At this point, it is largely just to research and attempt to mimic Ira Glass’s speech patterns.”
Aurora James, the creative director for Brother Vellies, tells us that her mental space is “pretty much 50/50—Hillary and accessories.” Not at all surprising for someone who blends her passion for social and environmental change with high fashion. Her CFDA Award–winning collection is a collaboration with local artisans in Nigeria, Kenya, and Morocco, and Aurora says she typically listens to podcasts “when I’m on planes.” Her favorites include This American Life and, “because you know I love a good leaning-in session,” Million$: Women Entrepreneurs Talk Money. Recently, she recorded a podcast with Oh Boy by Man Repeller: “We talked for over an hour. I think I cried. This guy is good.”
The business end of Twin. In charge of landing interesting new projects, making clients happy, and coffee. A maker of beautiful music and master of oral sound effects. A secret Jim Henson nerd. Will always find ways of working smarter. Will never participate in karaoke.