This year I plan to listen to more conversations between strangers.
Not to just ANY conversation mind you, I want to listen to more podcasts. Listening to podcasts stimulates my brain in a way that no song ever could. I challenge you to grab yourself a big pair of comfortable headphones, get set up on the treadmill or lace up your sneakers for a long walk, and try out some of my ultimate favorite podcasts for the new year.
The First 40 Miles
Okay, I’d like to first start out with a confession: I have never gone backpacking before. But I did happen to accidentally stumble upon the First 40 Miles while perusing for new podcasts and I fell completely in love.
Husband and wife duo Heather and Josh Legler are utterly charming together. You can tell that the two of them make a genuinely good pair. Josh has always been a backpacker but Heather is new! That’s why their slogan is: “If you are new to backpacking, or if you’re hopelessly in love with someone who wants you to love backpacking, then this podcast is for you.”
They talk about the basics of the sport, how to reduce pack weight, how to leave nothing but footprints, and how to encourage your friends and family to spend more time in the outdoors. By the time you listen to a few of their podcasts you’re ready to conquer the Pacific Crest Trail in true Wild fashion (or maybe not).
The Moth Podcast
Most people who love NPR such as myself are already familiar with The Moth Radio Hour but did you know they have a podcast? Essentially they re-air all the live episodes of The Moth Radio Hour plus they incorporate archived stories recorded over the past twenty years.
For those of you who don’t know The Moth is a collection of stories from incredible people from all around the world who have experienced strange or inspiring circumstances. The Moth listens to every pitch they receive and has the best stories perform live on their mainstage shows which are then recorded for radio and then later podcasts.
Because the stories are recorded in front of a live audience there is a raw authenticity from both performer and audience. There are natural reactions and stumbles and tears and sighs and pauses. They are true to life and true to storytelling.
Lore has the tagline: “sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction” for a reason. Critically-acclaimed, Lore is about true life scary stories. There is a running theme of dark history, creatures, spirits, and nightmares.
This is definitely a podcast to listen to in the dark…
The host of American Hysteria Chelsey Weber-Smith brings listeners through the panics, scares, conspiracies, urban legends, and nightmares of American popular culture. From razors in your apples to stranger danger to the Illuminati there is no topic safe from exploration.
American Hysteria dives into how these shared-fears shape our psychology and culture and how they came to be feared in the first place. The main take-away is often that we fear the wrong things because sometimes these mass panics are covering up something far darker…
Welcome to Nightvale
If you’re an old pro in the podcast game then you’ll definitely already know the cult-classic Welcome to Nightvale. It is a twice-monthly podcast that comes directly from the fictional desert town of Nightvale where strange happenings are always afoot.
There are mysterious lights, dark hooded figures, a forbidden dog park, and an aggravatingly handsome scientist named Carlos who always alludes our host. The host Cecil Baldwin has a syrupy voice and a knack for comedic yet spooky timing. This is one of the ultimate podcasts for horror and sci-fi fans alike!
If you’re a fan of the YouTube channel Good Mythical Morning then you will absolutely enjoy the audio genius of Ear Biscuits. The comedic duo of Rhett and Link slow down a little bit in a more intimate setting at “the round table of dim lighting” to discuss more important things such as their life-long friendship, YouTube, their private lives, and sometimes pop culture.
The natural chemistry between Rhett and Link is what has made them such a success so far in their career and that is absolutely no difference in their podcast Ear Biscuits. Their southern twang and shared memories make for a homey yet exciting experience.
You’ll know Jonathan Van Ness from Netflix’s makeover of Queer Eye where he remakes men through their hairstyles (and does a damn good job at it). Something that is truly unforgettable however is Jonathan’s infectious personality and positivity. So when I found out he has a podcast called Getting Curious I was all over it.
In each episode, Jonathan sits down with an expert on a topic or event that is making him curious. It’s as simple as that! He talks about everything from what white people need to learn about racism to the opioid crisis and all the way to therapeutic clowns. All the topics are interesting and Jonathan’s personality carries the whole show.
Milk Street Radio
You’ll remember Christopher Kimball best as the host of the extremely popular television show America’s Test Kitchen. He has since parted ways with them (it was VERY sad day for me) and has now moved onto his new company he calls Milk Street.
Milk Street has stunning cookbooks, a television show, and most importantly a weekly hour-long podcast. Kimball travels around learning shared secrets about cooking, food, culture, wine, farming, restaurants, literature, and the kitchen sink. Literally! If you enjoyed Christopher Kimball on America’s Test Kitchen then have no fear: he is back and he is better than ever!
Spooked comes to you from the same people who bring you Snap Judgement which is also extremely good (and maybe even better if you’re easily scared). The host of both podcasts, Glynn Washington, claims to have a long history with spirits, witnessing his first exorcism as a teenager and coming from a long line of people who were haunted.
Spooked seeks to search out the world of the divine, the strange, the mystic, the spooky, and tells scary stories to keep you up at night. Horror fans rejoice!