15 Best Podcasts of All Time You Should Listen
Consumer data company Statista expects roughly 160 million podcast listeners by 2023, based on the popularity trends observed in 2021. You’ll also need help on which new audio adventures are worth your time, given there are so many new releases vying to meet this expanding need.
In May of this year, the remaining co-hosts of Reply All officially concluded their run as one of the most popular podcasts of all time. But we also welcomed a large number of remarkable newcomers.
While true crime once again rules the digital airwaves, we’ve gathered a wide range of new podcasts for you to check out. Please note that only podcasts, seasons, and limited series released after December 2021 were considered for inclusion on this list. From Serial Productions’ investigative journalism with a personal touch to PRX’s audio virtual dating show to a fictional drama about real-life superhero vigilantes, you’ll find yourself binge-listening to these remarkable series if you know about the best podcasts of all time.
1. Kuper Island
Although the podcast concentrates on the accounts of four students, one of whom did not escape the atrocities, host Duncan McCue also reveals the rippling effect this haunting tragedy has had on every subsequent generation of first nation peoples. As the son of a man who survived the school, McCue not only provides incisive reporting, but also compelling human narratives based on his own relationship to the institution.
Our is not an easy listen, but it captures so much more than the anguish and misery imperialist empires throughout the Americas imposed on the indigenous peoples of this continent. There is also an abundance of collective communal resilience and an unbreakable spirit, as evidenced by the way the story’s characters learn to achieve a semblance of peace by speaking out against these irredeemable atrocities rather than burying them. This is the reason, Kuper Island podcast is the one of the best podcasts of all time.
2. This is Dating
The pandemic pushed many people’s dating lives into freefall. However, PRX’s charming, socially-removed, blind dating podcast This is Dating is here to stop that downward spiral and restore your optimism. Hosts Hiwote Getaneh and Jesse Baker gently lead romance-seekers, frequently sending them on a series of filmed first dates after consulting with a relationship coach. While the couples engage in their activities, the co-hosts guide the dialogue when necessary. Part Netflix reality dating show, part Esther Perrel therapy session, This is Dating is not only gripping entertainment for everybody, but also a really uplifting picture of the modern dating scene, with many emotional moments and important lessons for us all.
3. Harsh Reality
As the star of the first dating reality television program centered on a trans woman, Miriam represented a variety of things to a wide range of individuals. She was mainstream heterosexual society’s earliest personal encounter with a trans person. In the transgender community, she was a double-edged sword of representation long overdue and transphobia. In this series, however, podcast producer Trace Lysette focuses not only on Miriam as a celebrity or pioneering television personality, but also as a person. Harsh Reality is a heartbreaking depiction of a woman subjected to some of the worst that predatory 2000s television had to offer, including gut-wrenching and sobering clashes with transmisogyny as well as joyful celebrations of her glamour.
4. Cover Story, Season 1: Power Trip
Season 1 of the investigative podcast series from New York magazine (presented by journalist iO Tillett Wright) is quite a journey – literally. In addressing the exploding popular attention that psychedelic treatment has received over the past few years, the show’s meticulous reporting injects the subject with much-needed skepticism. The first part of the season delves into the early days of the worldwide underground functioning of the movement. You hear the disturbing accounts of many psychedelic treatment advocates-turned-survivors, including co-host Lily Kay Ross, whose trust in a viable solution for PTSD made them susceptible to emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of leaders. While the first half is sufficiently eerie, the second half argues that a dangerously unthinking effort to rapidly integrate these experimental psychiatric treatments into respectable institutions threatens to subject even more people to comparable traumas. That’s why, this season 1 is the one of the best podcasts of all time.
5. Trojan Horse Affair
The Trojan Horse Affair analyzes a local school board scandal that became a global news event, upholding Serial Productions’ reputation for unearthing the universal significance behind a seemingly self-contained true story. In 2013, in Birmingham, England, an anonymous letter purporting to contain documents exposing an intricate Islamic terrorist scheme to infiltrate British school systems was sent to a municipal counselor. The entire town was stunned by the letter’s accusations against administrators and community leaders who had assisted a number of schools with a Muslim majority to begin to excel. Hamza Syed, a burgeoning journalist from Birmingham, felt uneasy following the dismissal of the suspected administrators in the wake of the subsequent moral panic, media frenzy, and counterterrorism probe.
6. Will Be Wild
The Capitol uprising on January 6, 2021 left many with the same question: how could this occur? This eight-part series by Pineapple Studios and Wondery does a superb and utterly engaging job of answering this topic. Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz infuse their account of those who were closest to the historic incident with humanity. There are interviews with concerned family members who informed the FBI about the potential violence they were hearing, government officials who listened and attempted to raise warnings about the domestic terror danger, and even Trump rally attendees. If you believe you know everything about this once-in-a-lifetime news story, Will Be Wild will demonstrate how much we still have to learn about what transpired on that fateful day and what it means for the future of American democracy. So, Will be Wild podcast is the one among the best podcasts of all time.
7. Sorry About The Kid
Three decades ago, when Alex McKinnon’s younger brother was murdered by a police car, he was too young to understand the trauma of losing his best friend. Therefore, the little kid in mourning resorted to concealing these terrible recollections, not realizing that he was also burying all the positive memories of his sibling. McKinnon, as an adult and with the assistance of counseling, strives to rediscover a sense of his brother, whom he worries forgetting more with each passing year. In this heart-wrenching four-part documentary, he interviews his therapist, parents, and friends in order to confront the sadness he has avoided since boyhood.
8. Wild Things
In 2003, the story of German-born Siegfried & Roy partner Roy being fatally attacked by one of his own tigers during a live Las Vegas show dominated the news cycle. But decades later, when journalist Steven Leckart conducted an investigation into the unresolved questions surrounding the historic incident, he discovered just how little we were told about what transpired that evening. This enthralling eight-part exposé endeavors to uncover the hidden reality beneath all the illusions, guiding listeners through disturbing revelations gleaned from conversations with close collaborators, case investigators, and even eyewitness to the horrific night in question.
9. Sweet Bobby
Kirat, a radio host, believed for years that she was a participant in a tragically beautiful love story for the ages. Certainly, her long-distance relationship with a handsome doctor named Bobby had its ups and downs, most notably the plethora of medical emergencies and illnesses that kept them physically apart. But nothing had prepared her (or her audience) for the astonishing truth behind the web of falsehoods surrounding her most significant romantic connection. We won’t say anything more in order to avoid spoilers.
You will want to stay for the conclusion of this catfishing story to end all catfishing stories. Similar to Sympathy Pains, Sweet Bobby is a part of an exciting new genre of true crime podcasts that examine cons that feel illegal, but which the law cannot help to correct. There is no simple road to justice, other than potentially shedding awareness on the irreparable harm caused by the criminals.
10. Critical Role
With the recent popularity of Dungeons and Dragons in popular culture, it only seems right to add this legendary D&D podcast. Critical Role is a web series whose audio is uploaded as a podcast, yet we continue to count it. Listening to professional voice actors play Dungeons & Dragons is significantly more entertaining than it sounds, and Dungeon Master Matt Mercer does an incredible job of creating a narrative for his players.
However, the episodes can be very lengthy, so it may take some time to see all of them. The group is now engaged in their second “The Mighty Nein” campaign.
11. Hardcore History
Hardcore History is the best informational podcast in our opinion. 5 hours of Dan Carlin discussing a historical event in great detail may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but listeners are guaranteed to learn something new. This podcast began in 2006 and discusses themes ranging from the Bubonic Plague through the Asia-Pacific War.
Due to the episodic nature of the podcast, new listeners can choose a topic or begin with any episode. There are a few topics that span multiple episodes, therefore listeners should ensure they begin with part 1 of a topic. We are sure that you know the reasons why Hardcore History podcast is the one of the best podcasts of all time.
12. Pod Save America
Our pick for best political podcast has become a veritable media empire. In 2017, Crooked Media was founded by a group of former Obama staff members. In addition to publishing articles and touring the country, they have created various podcasts on topics ranging from pop culture to activism. The crew of Pod Save America has found out how to communicate effectively with disillusioned millennials about politics.
As the name of the media company suggests, they are not interested in exploring both sides of the debate. This may be a podcast to avoid for those who are uninterested in the liberal argument.
This podcast is also somewhat unsettling. As suggested by the title, the focus is on dark tales and myths from our history. Each topic is presented in a melancholy tone with scary music in the background after extensive investigation. In some episodes, listeners not only learn about the origins of cinematic monsters, but also get a little scared. We recommend the episode “Unboxed” for the creepiest atmosphere.
Lore has also been adapted into an Amazon Prime television series, yet there is something eerie about hearing these tales rather than viewing them. It’s almost as if we’re listening to ghost stories around a campfire, but we don’t have to go camping.
14. This American Life
The ultimate podcast. This American Life was the first podcast, which is why it occupies the top slot. It’s an hour-long radio program that often tells a story in three acts. Each act tells a unique story, and they are all intriguing. Since the show has been airing since 1995, it is not surprising that Ira Glass and company have had ample time to perfect their trade.
Almost all of the 600+ episodes are worth listening to. Some of our favorite episodes are “The Break-Up” and “The Feather Heist,” but honestly, new listeners should just look at the episode list and pick one at random.
15. The Super Hero Complex
The recent golden age of realist superhero satires comes to audio storytelling with the fiction podcast Super Hero Complex. While Deadpool and Prime Video’s The Boys are far more PG, they all deconstruct the modern superhero craze in similar ways.
Superpowers may not exist in the world of The Super Hero Complex (produced by Novel), but the phenomenon of masked vigilantes who take on crime is growing in popularity. Journalist David Weinberg investigates what this trend says about us as Americans by profiling one of the most famous self-proclaimed heroes of all time: Seattle’s Phoenix Jones. Some claim he’s the world’s only real-life superhero, while others, including the police, claim drug charges reveal a larger fraud behind his persona. The Super Hero Complex is well worth a listen, even if you don’t usually listen to fictional podcasts. It features some of the best, most organic performances in fictional podcasting to date.
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