Kelly Alto

The 50 Best Podcasts Right Now [Time]

Kelly Alto
The 50 Best Podcasts Right Now [Time]


The 50 Best Podcasts Right Now

Eliana Dockterman

The podcast renaissance shows no signs of letting up. The impulse to retreat into downloadable radio shows appears to be more appealing than ever, and S-Town, the much-anticipated new series from the producers of 2014’s blockbuster Serial, just dropped seven episodes on Tuesday.

Once you've made your way through the mystery about a man in a rural Alabama town, you'll likely be left with plenty of time to listen to other pods on your commute, during a road trip or while you're at the gym. Whatever your tastes, there’s no shortage of options. TIME's culture team has a few suggestions.

These are 50 podcasts that we're listening to right now. Whether you're a politics junkie or a pop culture maven, a romantic or someone who just loves to hear two intelligent people discuss their obsessions, we have the right pod for you.

2 Dope Queens

Genre: Comedy, Cool People Talk About Stuff

What it's all about: Recorded live on stages around New York City, Phoebe Robinson (host of Sooo Many White Guys and author of You Can't Touch My Hair) and former Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams invite their favorite comedians, like Hannibal Buress and Ilana Glazer, to do standup and tell stories. In between sets, the two real-life friends talk about race, their divergent tastes in men and Billy Joel.

Perfect for: People who feel comfortable laughing out loud while listening to a podcast on the subway

Episode to get hooked on: "#21 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the U2 Concert"

99% Invisible

Genre: Life, Explained

What it's all about: 99% Invisible is all about the design details we never think about—how people record sound at sporting events, the elements that make McMansions so awful or the placement of missing kids' pictures on the back of milk cartons. It may sound random, but by the time each episode is over, these explorations illustrate larger truths about the world around us.

Perfect for: People who sweat the small stuff

Episode to get hooked on: "Milk Carton Kids"

Alice Isn't Dead

Genre: Fiction, Mystery

What it's all about: The Welcome to Night Vale creators spin an eerie yarn about a truck driver searching for her wife, long presumed dead. As the trucker cruises across America, she encounters towns lost in time and a serial murder straight out of a horror film.

Perfect for: People who enjoy Stephen King novels

Episode to get hooked on: "Part 1, Chapter 1: Omelet"

Anna Faris Is Unqualified!

Genre: Comedy, Interview

What it's all about: Anna Faris loves talking to strangers. The actor and comedian invites celebrity friends on her podcast to help her give not-so-great relationship advice to listeners. In between, she also peppers the celebs with hilarious questions.

Perfect for: People who love celebrity friendship

Episode to get hooked on: "Episode #17: Chris Evans and Jenny Slate!"

Another Round

Genre: Cool People Talk About Stuff, Interview

What it's all about: Buzzfeed's Tracy Clayton and Late Night With Stephen Colbert's Heben Nigatu chat with a guest over drinks about everything from gender and race to pop culture and Oprah GIFs. Their casual, disarming banter has been crucial in establishing a rapport with high-profile guests like Hillary Clinton.

Perfect for: People who love a good happy hour

Episodes to get hooked on: "Madam Secretary, What's Good? With Hillary Clinton," "Practical Tactical Brilliance With Lin-Manuel Miranda"

The Axe Files With David Axelrod

Genre: Politics, Interview

What it's all about: David Axelrod, who served as the Chief Strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, interviews Washington power players like Madeleine Albright and Sean Spicer.

Perfect for: People who are CNN junkies

Episode to get hooked on: "Ep. 5 - Mitt Romney"

The Bill Simmons Podcast

Genre: Interview

What it's all about: Bill Simmons—The Sports Guy, the man behind The Book of Basketball, the founder of Grantland (R.I.P.) and The Ringer—chats with NBA players, late-night hosts and his dad about his favorite topics: sports, pop culture and...Boston.

Perfect for: People who are bros and bro-ettes

Episode to get hooked on: "Ep. 177: Malcolm Gladwell"

Blank Check With Griffin & David

Genre: Pop Culture

What it's all about: Comedian Griffin Newman and Atlantic movie critic David Sims review directors' bodies of work, focusing on artists whose early projects earned them "blank check" opportunities—big-budget passion projects like AvatarThe Phantom Menace and the Jupiter AscendingEven when they're lambasting some truly absurd filmmaking, their love for these movies shines through.

Perfect for: People who hate-watch blockbusters

Episode to get hooked on: "Jupiter Ascending"

Call Your Gilrfriend

Genre: Cool People Talking About Stuff

What it's all about: Long-distance BFFs Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman call each other to chat about everything from the Kremlin to the Kardashians. By the end of their conversation, you'll wish you were their friend too. In between catching up, they interview the likes of Huma Abedin and Tavi Gevinson.

Perfect for: People who consider themselves "bad feminists"

Episode to get hooked on: "Episode 34: Sexy Bellybutton Feeling"


Genre: True Crime

What it's all about: A mix of Serial and This American LifeCriminal is a narrative series about the people who commit crimes and those who are unwitting victims. Each episode examines a new true story.

Perfect for: People who wish true crime shows had more rigorous journalistic standards

Episode to get hooked on: "Episode 51: Money Tree"

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History

Genre: History

What it's all about: History podcasts can sometime sound like someone's reading from a textbook. But non-historian Dan Carlin poses questions like, "Was Alexander the Great as bad as Hitler?" and "What would it take for another war between the great powers?" and uses history to find an answer.

Perfect for: People who dozed off during Western History 101 in college

Episode to get hooked on: "Shows 50-55 - Blueprint for Armageddon"

Dear Sugar

Genre: Love & Sex

What it's all about: Before Wild became a runaway bestseller, author Cheryl Strayed made her name giving advice to the downtrodden and heartbroken in her "Dear Sugar" column. She and co-writer Steve Almond now answer the deepest, darkest and most painful questions together in the Dear Sugar podcast.

Perfect for: People who are heartsick

Episode to get hooked on: "The Infidelity Episodes: Part 1Part 2 and Part 3"

Death, Sex & Money

Genre: Life, Explained

What it's all about: This show is about taboo topics: prostitution, corrupt cops, infidelity, poverty and the like. Famous guests, normal people and listeners share their stories with host Anna Sale, who uses traditional reporting tactics to illuminate dark topics.

Perfect for: People who hate small talk

Episode to get hooked on: "Cheating Happens"


Genre: Deep Dive

What it's all about: Embedded picks a news topic—immigration, police shootings, the high rate of suicide in Greenland—and dives deeply into the story. By spending time with its subjects, the podcast builds empathy that might change your assumptions about what's "right" or "wrong."

Perfect for: People who love documentaries

Episode to get hooked on: "The Police"

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast

Genre: Politics

What it's all about: Stats guru Nate Silver and his fellow FiveThirtyEight writers came much closer than other poll-watchers to predicting the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. In 2017, this coterie of data geeks continue to analyze the latest political news by the numbers.

Perfect for: People who care about what comes after the decimal point

Episode to get hooked on: "Data Under Trump: 1/2/17"


Genre: Life, Explained

What it's all about: This show is basically the bestseller Freakonomics in podcast form. Host Stephen J. Dubner explores and explains everything from the Super Bowl to the state of the American middle class using social science.

Perfect for: People looking for more answers

Episode to get hooked on: "Failure Is Your Friend"

Fresh Air

Genre: Interview

What it's all about: Terry Gross has lent her soothing voice to NPR's Fresh Air since 1975. Widely acknowledged as one of the most skilled interviewers on radio, Gross has consistently convinced the world's most interesting people to reveal their philosophies on life.

Perfect for: People who want to hear from the most sought-after artists, writers and thinkers, all of whom clamor to be interviewed by Gross

Episodes to get hooked on: "Chris Rock" (1996), "David Rakoff" (2012), "Meryl Streep" (2012)

Gilmore Guys

Genre: Pop Culture, Comedy

What it's all about: A diehard Gilmore Girls fan and a Gilmore neophyte dissect every single episode of the show, including Netflix's recent A Year in the Life installments. Come for their love-hate relationship with Gilmore creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, stay for their hilarious guests

Perfect for: People who obsess over Gilmore Girls—or hate it

Episode to get hooked on: "307: They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They? (With Jason Mantzoukas)"


Genre: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories

What it's all about: Jonathan Goldstein helps his subjects confront the moment when their lives went wrong so they can move on. In one episode, a man named Gregor traces his resentment of others' success to a moment when he lent then-struggling musician Moby a set of CDs.

Perfect for: People who would rather talk through their problems with their friends than a therapist

Episode to get hooked on: "#2 Gregor"


Genre: Fiction, Mystery

What it's all about: The scripted psychological thriller opens on a meeting with a soldier who has just returned home and slowly reveals its mystery from there. It boasts voice acting by Oscar Isaac, Catherine Keener and David Schwimmer, among other stars.

Perfect for: People who loved The Night Of and Gone Girl

Episode to get hooked on: "1. Mandatory"

How to Be a Girl

Genre: Parenting

What it's all about: Marlo Mack's son had always liked wearing dresses and playing princess. When he was three, he told his mother that something had gone wrong when she was pregnant because he was supposed to be born a girl, not a boy. This podcast explores Mack's experience as a mother raising a transgender daughter.

Perfect for: People who are parents

Episode to get hooked on: "#8: Meeting Laverne"

How Did This Get Made?

Genre: Comedy, Pop Culture

What it's all about: Comedians Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas and June Diane Raphael skewer those movies that are so bad, they're good, like Grease 2Gigli and Green Lantern. They tap the L.A. comedy world for their guests, including Wyatt Cenac, Adam Scott and Jenny Slate.

Perfect for: People who are cinephiles, but not snobby ones

Episode to get hooked on: "xXx: Return of Xander Cage: Live! (w/ Adam Scott)"


Genre: Life, Explained

What it's all about: This podcast takes a close look at the invisible forces that guide us, like our impulses to join groups or change our personalities.

Perfect for: People who are erstwhile psych majors or armchair psychologists

Episode to get hooked on: "How to Become Batman"

Longest Shortest Time

Genre: Parenting

What it's all about: Inspired by her own early struggles with motherhood, This American Life contributor Hillary Frank tackles topics ranging from sex after parenthood to biracial parenting to family planning for queer parents through narrative reporting. But it's not just a show for parents: it's been endorsed by non-parent and radio legend Terry Gross.

Perfect for: People who love shows about families like Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish

Episode to get hooked on: "Episode #60: The Accidental Gay Parents"

Making Oprah

Genre: Deep Dive, Pop Culture

What it's all about: The three-episode documentary series offers a behind-the-scenes look at Oprah's iconic show. Interviews with producers, executives and Oprah herself break down her impact on America's attitude toward race, her role in popular culture and the logistics behind that famous "You get a car!" moment.

Perfect for: People who love "making of" documentaries and/or Oprah

Episode to get hooked on: "Episode 1: No Strategy, No Plan, No Formula"

Missing Richard Simmons

Genre: Mystery

What it's all about: A former Daily Show producer and devotee of Richard Simmons' workout classes tries to figure out why the ebullient fitness mogul retreated into his mansion without so much as a goodbye to his friends three years ago.

Perfect for: People who are starved for Serial-like stories and also love celebrities

Episode to get hooked on: "1: Where's Richard?"

Modern Love

Genre: Love & Sex

What it's all about: Actors like Colin Farrell, John Cho and Sarah Silverman bring the essays of the New York Times' popular "Modern Love" column to life. Host Meghna Chakrabarti then checks in with the writer of that column to see how their marriage/affair/breakup/move across the country/grand gesture worked out.

Perfect for: People who read the "Modern Love" column, obviously

Episode to get hooked on: "Valentines Day Special"

My Dad Wrote a Porno

Genre: Comedy

What it's all about: Host Jamie Morton's father went through a mid-life crisis and wrote an erotic novel called "Belinda Blinked." It's bad. Very bad. Even the title is confusing: Did he mix up blinked with winked? Most people would be mortified, but Morton and his friends read and mercilessly lampoon a new chapter every week.

Perfect for: People who aren't easily embarrassed by their parents' Facebook pages

Episode to get hooked on: "S1E1 - The Job Interview"

Nerdist Podcast

Genre: Comedy, Interview

What it's all about: Stand-up comedian, Talking Dead host and famed nerd Chris Hardwick hosts this podcast with his friends Jonah Ray and Matt Mira. Each week they interview celebs—everyone from Tom Hanks to Lena Dunham. In the best episodes, they uncover that famous people secretly love geeking out too.

Perfect for: People who dream of attending Comic-Con every year

Episode to get hooked on: "#63 Wil. Wheaton"

No Such Thing as a Fish

Genre: Comedy

What it's all about: The writers behind BBC's panel quiz show, Quite Interesting, produce a podcast filled with the most interesting, random facts and discoveries they've learned that week.

Perfect for: People who are both anglophiles and comic nerds

Episode to get hooked on: "Episode 120: No Such Thing as HMS Kevin"

The NPR Politics Podcast

Genre: Politics

What it's all about: It's harder than ever to stay on top of what's going on in Washington, D.C. In this podcast, NPR's politics team digests and explains the news of the day.

Perfect for: People who can't keep track of which crisis the government is going through at the moment

Episode to get hooked on: "Russia/Gorsuch Hearings"

Planet Money

Genre: Life, Explained

What it's all about: A spinoff of a classic This American Life episode about the 2008 financial crisis, Planet Money endeavors to explain booms, busts and business with wit.

Perfect for: People who are not-so-business-savvy and would rather listen to a podcast than read the Wall Street Journal

Episode to get hooked on: "When Patents Attack!, Parts 1 and 2"

Pod Save America

Genre: Politics, Cool People Talk About Stuff

What it's all about: In 2016, a group of former Obama speechwriters and staffers (dubbed "the Obama bros" by the Internet) started the podcast Keepin' It 1600 as a way of discussing the election with guests from both sides of the aisle. They've since switched their name and, with it, their mission. Their perspective as former D.C. insiders brings new dimension to their conversations with politicians and journalists about the best ways to challenge Trump.

Perfect for: People who have used the #Resistance hashtag

Episode to get hooked on: "Obama's Last Interview"

Pop Culture Happy Hour

Genre: Pop Culture

What it's all about: The roundtable show lovingly dissects and reviews the current pop culture landscape. Each episode ends with a segment called "What's Making Us Happy This Week" in which the hosts recommend books, comics, music, movies and television you may have missed.

Perfect for: People who want to know what show to binge or movie to see this weekend

Episode to get hooked on: "2016 Favorites and Unfinished Business"


Genre: Fiction-ish

What it's all about: Host Carly suspects her friend's disappearance can be explained by a mysterious game that, according to rumor, can make players go insane or die. What's real? What's fiction? It's hard to tell—but fascinating to listen to—as Carly tries to find her missing friend.

Perfect for: People nostalgic for that moment when we couldn't tell if The Blair Witch Project was real or not

Episode to get hooked on: "Episode 101: Game On"


Genre: Life, Explained

What it's all about: A mainstay for podcast lovers, this long-running show explores philosophical and scientific topics in a fun and accessible way. You know, easy stuff like "morality" and "time."

Perfect for: People looking to expand their consciousness

Episodes to get hooked on: "Season 6, Episode 1: Stochasticity," "Season 2, Episode 5: Space"

The Read

Genre: Cool People Talking About Stuff, Pop Culture

What it's all about: Hosts Kid Fury and Crissle chat about pop culture, politics and black excellence, praising their faves while taking others to task. Their no-holds-barred dressing-down of celebrities is often incisive and always hilarious.

Perfect For: People who just cannot right now

Episode to get hooked on: "Say No to F— Boys"

Reply All

Genre: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories

What it's all about: The creators of this podcast dig deep into social media and Reddit to find deeply personal stories about how we affect the Internet and how the Internet affects us. (Robert Downey Jr. is going to star in a movie based on an episode called "#86 Man of the People.")

Perfect for: People who spend hours upon hours reading Reddit threads

Episode to get hooked on: "#79 Boy in Photo"

Revisionist History With Malcolm Gladwell

Genre: History

What it's all about: Malcolm Gladwell made ten episodes of a podcast in lieu of writing another book. Each episode, he examines moments in history, like times when satire achieved its opposite intent, to draw a grand conclusion.

Perfect for: People who've read all of Gladwell's books

Episode to get hooked on: "Episode 10: The Satire Paradox"

Savage Lovecast

Genre: Love & Sex

What it's all about: The least judgmental man in the world offers callers unorthodox, but often useful advice about love and sex, from the kinky to the mundane. Famed for his "Savage Love" column, Dan Savage also takes time at the beginning of each episode to give an impassioned monologue about the news of the week or a recent personal experience.

Perfect for: People who need to hear real talk about their poor romantic decisions

Episode to get hooked on: "Episode 382: Live Valentine's Day Show"


Genres: True Crime, Deep Dive

What it's all about: The first season of this podcast re-examined the case of a young man convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in 1999. It became a phenomenon, with amateur Reddit detectives unearthing new clues and circulating various theories. Serial's success helped jumpstart the podcast craze of the 2010s.

Perfect for: People obsessed with shows and movies like Making a Murderer and The Thin Blue Line

Episode to get hooked on: "Season 1, Episode 1: Alibi"

Slate Culture Gabfest

Genre: Pop Culture

What it's all about: Three smart critics (Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens and Julia Turner) discuss all things culture—high and low. They spend as much time jokingly analyzing Internet memes as they do reviewing the latest albums.

Perfect for: People who want to impress their friends with a smart take on the latest hot TV show

Episode to get hooked on: No. 443: "Nature Made Me a Freak, Man Made Me a Weapon"


Genre: Life, Explained

What it's all about: The first season of Startup was pretty meta: This American Life and Planet Money alum Alex Blumberg records his experience trying to start a podcast network startup...on a podcast. His willingness to allow listeners hear him sometimes fumble through the process is both sincere and refreshing.

Perfect for: People who are wannabe entrepreneurs

Episode to get hooked on: "#1 How Not to Pitch a Billionaire"

Still Processing

Genre: Cool People Talk About Stuff

What it's all about: Your friends' dinner party conversation, elevated. The New York Times' Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris chat about everything from Kanye West's breakdowns to Trump's tweets to Facebook's China bid. They often bring journalists, friends and Pulitzer Prize winners into the studio to help them "process" it all.

Perfect for: People who cannot handle 2017 without a little help

Episode to get hooked on: "Episode 10: The Day After"

This American Life

Genre: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories

What it's all about: The grandaddy of all podcasts, This American Life pioneered narrative storytelling on the radio by seeking out the most compelling stories from ordinary people. Alums of the show have since branched out, many establishing other pods on this list—all while adopting that famous Ira Glass voice.

Perfect for: People who live in Brooklyn and have hipster tendencies

Episode to get hooked on: 487 & 488: Harper High School, Parts 1 and 2, 560: Adbi and the Golden Ticket, 339: Break Up


Genre: Politics

What it's all about: The Trumpcast creators over at Slate probably thought they could get back to other political coverage around mid-November. Instead, they're locked into producing a weekly digest of the President's activity, featuring an ace imitator reading real tweets.

Perfect for: People who have push alerts set up for Trump's tweets—for better or worse

Episode to get hooked on: "No! They're Best Friends, Really!"

Welcome to Night Vale

Genre: Fiction, Mystery

What it's all about: This surreal, fictitious radio show chronicles the goings-on in a nightmarish town called Night Vale. The radio host delivers reports of hooded figures and ghoulish strangers in a perfectly sinister pitch.

Perfect for: People who love Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast

Episode to get hooked on: "1 - Pilot"

Who? Weekly

Genre: Pop Culture, Cool People Talking About Stuff

What it's all about: Confused by a TMZ headline about a pop star and former Nickelodeon actor whose sex tape turned out to be totally fake? You need Who? Weekly in your lifeThe podcast features explainers and anecdotes about those Z-list celebrities whose faces you might recognize but whose accomplishments you can't list, like their evergreen example Rita Ora. (Who?)

Perfect for: People who always pick up celeb gossip magazines before a flight

Episode to get hooked on: "Spencer Pratt? (Ft. Spencer Pratt)"

WTF With Marc Maron

Genre: Interview, Comedy

What it's all about: The admittedly insecure comic Marc Maron has a knack for getting people—even the most guarded—to open up to him. His podcast became a must-listen (for more than just comedy fans) in 2010 when he and Louis C.K. worked out their issues in one tense episodeWTF became essential listening again in 2015 when Maron interviewed President Obama from his garage studio.

Perfect for: People who don't get uncomfortable when feelings get raw

Episodes to get hooked on: "Louis C.K. (2010)""President Barack Obama"

You Must Remember This

Genre: History, Pop Culture

What it's all about: Film writer Karina Longworth tells deeply researched stories about Hollywood's first century, humanizing icons like Marilyn Monroe. The totally entrancing podcast made a brief foray into true crime when Longworth dedicated an entire season to the life of Charles Manson.

Perfect for: People who are tuning into Feud: Bette and Joan right now

Episode to get hooked on: "Six Degrees of Joan Crawford"