Discover something new
November 3, 2015 4:13 AM   Subscribe

"It isn’t easy to discover new podcasts. There are just SO many out there. Sometimes the best approach is to simply turn to a friend and say, 'Hey, what are you listening to these days?'" So, NPR has created, a "friendly guide to great podcasts."
posted by zarq (82 comments total) 158 users marked this as a favorite
Hey, thanks--if the NPR curation doesn't make me finally start listening to podcasts, maybe the links in the comments will.
posted by box at 4:35 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

It is hard to find good podcasts. Since making a good podcast takes longer than just throwing some garbage together and yelling it into a microphone, the ones I like the most come out infrequently. Hardcore History finally released an episode after a long hiatus. Damn Interesting only releases episodes sporadically. Mike Duncan is taking a break from Revolutions for the birth of his baby.

I'm not complaining. All of those podcasts are great and I don't mind waiting for the best quality. I hope this thing from NPR will help full the gaps between.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:39 AM on November 3, 2015 [7 favorites]

This is really cool. I listen to a bunch of podcasts and I actually do pretty well for myself with podcast related newsletters, plus good podcasts tend to recommend other good podcasts.
posted by KernalM at 4:49 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

As someone who listens to a lot of podcasts, this is awesome.

If you, on the other hand, find even this overwhelming, or just want a different sort of list, go to radiotopia and work your way down.
posted by signal at 4:49 AM on November 3, 2015 [8 favorites]

Is this a list of great individual episodes of podcasts? Or a list of the most recent episodes of generally-great podcasts? I'm confused.
posted by ropeladder at 5:02 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't really get the "it isn't easy to discover new podcasts" complaint - finding interesting, non-corporate media that matches your tastes and interests has never been easy (and now, thanks to the Web, it has in some ways never been easier). Talk to friends, follow up on leads from the stuff you like, poke around - if anything, podcasting's biggest challenge is being first and foremost targeted at a demographic that somehow grew into an expectation that things that interested them were going to easily and algorithmically sorted for easy consumption. Media has never worked that way, unless you just wanted what was right on the surface.

Anyway, no podcast list is complete without the Microbeworld family of shows, including the incomparable This Week in Parasitism.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:03 AM on November 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

Holy crap, Switched on Pop. How did I not know about this?
posted by uncleozzy at 5:06 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love podcasts, but I worry that I sort of rely on an interconnected network of podcasters who support each other, and that limits the diversity of what I listen to. For instance, I overwhelmingly listen to US-based podcasts. I think the only exception is The Allusionist, and that's on a US-based podcast network. A big majority of the podcasts I listen to are hosted by white people. I would like to branch out a little bit, so I'm happy for any tool that helps me break out of my "NPR and affiliated, Slate and affiliated, Jesse Thorn and affiliated" rut.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:06 AM on November 3, 2015 [6 favorites]

Thank you for this!! I'm getting so into loving podcasts.... I look forward to the end of my day when I can snuggle down into my bed and start a new one. One problem.... They relax me so much that I usually fall asleep within minutes so it takes me several nights to get through one. On the upside.... I've solved my problem of finding a drug free way to fall asleep!
posted by pearlybob at 5:24 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

ropeladder: Is this a list of great individual episodes of podcasts?


Or a list of the most recent episodes of generally-great podcasts?


Probably should have been clearer about it in the post. Sorry about that.
posted by zarq at 5:33 AM on November 3, 2015

I think my biggest problem is not not being able to find podcasts, but being able to choose what podcasts to listen to. I have a finite amount of time in the day when I can listen to them so it gets hard to choose what to subscribe to. Right now I have three that are constant (Citizen Radio--I've been listening to that for nearly four years now, The Struggle Bus--a recent addition, a show hosted by two women about mental health and personal advice, and Lore--which everyone on the Blue already knows about).

I really wish I had more time to listen to more podcasts as I have dropped off some that I really liked--Our Hen House, Spilled Milk, British History Podcast--but barring having a super long commute or a road trip where I do nothing but, I have to be choosy.
posted by Kitteh at 5:37 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

just buzz me when there is a better podcast than Car Talk
posted by Yosemite Sam at 5:38 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

What's so good about car talk? I don't get it. Cars are changing, how can the show keep up? Eventually it will be categorized as a history show.
posted by rebent at 5:45 AM on November 3, 2015

I don t understand how this is a problem, but I do like podcast reviews.

so many productions I listen to are a bit aimless, and take 20 minutes of discussion and fluff it out into an hour. It s nice to have a review system.
posted by eustatic at 5:46 AM on November 3, 2015

Car Talk has always been as much a comedy show (or a hang-out-with-some-fun-guys-while-you-do-your-errands show) as a car-advice show. I'm not a fan, but I don't think the cars have ever been the entire point.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:46 AM on November 3, 2015 [9 favorites]

I've actually found it difficult to find new podcasts because--and I don't know if it's just because of the type of podcast I'm generally into or what--I've found that a lot of podcasts are crappy at describing themselves, at least outside of the confines of iTunes (which I don't use, so I have no idea if that platform encourages better description). A lot of them seem to assume that the prospective listener already knows the general format and angle of the series so the description is something abstract and flowery about the central position of storytelling to the human experience. This is not helpful.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:49 AM on November 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

I really like Slate's The Gist podcast, lately. As a bonus, it's ... honestly I don't know how many a week, but several.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:49 AM on November 3, 2015

It's too bad the main page is completely nonfunctional without javascript turned on, so that even the links don't work. Still a nifty resource though.
posted by XMLicious at 5:50 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wish there was some sort of metric for production values on this. I don't mind the standard "two people sitting around rambling about stuff" podcast, but I do mind the "it sounds like one person is Skyping from a barrel while another is 50 feet tall and yelling" production.

The rise of NPR/Serial inspired podcasts has been nice - stuff like The Black Tapes, Tanis, Limetown, and The Message - but I can't figure out how those podcasts can thrive long term. The amount of work required to produce each episode is amazing. Advertising may get them some money (I had a few beers with Aaron from Lore and he's at the "I could do this full time.... decision point") but I can't see it supporting multiple producers and paying voice talent. Still, I'll enjoy it while it lasts - I wish I had the skill to put together something of my own.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:56 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

AbitraryAndCapricious, if you're not already listening to them, check out Call Your Girlfriend and Another Round. Both of them are hosted by women of color (CYGF is hosted by Aminatou Sow and Anne Friedman, Another Round by Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton) who talk about race, pop culture, politics, etc. generally through a feminist lens. They're really, really excellent.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:02 AM on November 3, 2015 [8 favorites]

Oh, another thing: I am terrible at being able to just start from the current episode of any podcast, so when I find ones I want to listen to, I can't not start from the first episode. For example, I really really really like Tell the Bartender, but gave up 15 episodes in because there was no way I was going to catch up to now. (I don't mind podcasts that have, say, maybe ten episodes under their belt because that is do-able.) This is not a flaw in the way podcasts are prodigious but a flaw in my brain.
posted by Kitteh at 6:05 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I see Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me is the first listing. I used to enjoy that on Sundays when I was baking -- back in the stone age when you had to tune into a radio station at a specific time. I will undoubtedly download that because I love comedy news content.

Radio content is still my go-to listening material even if we now call it a podcast. My number one favorite for many, many years has been the BBC News Quiz which you can get as the Friday Night Comedy Podcast. Of course I miss Sandi Toksvig but I must say I have always loved Miles Jupp and he is doing a very good job as host.

My husband and I love CBS's Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids. It is similar to the BBC's My Teenage Diary, but I think GRTTWAK does it better because the venue is open to poems, songs, short stories, and anything else that people wrote as kids. Plus it is all amateurs so the readings can be very moving or funny.

I enjoy watching competitive reality shows and thanks to euphoria066 I now follow up on my viewing with a visit to Rob Has A Website which features podcasts for Survivor and The Amazing Race as well as many other TV shows.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:16 AM on November 3, 2015

This is a neat resource but I have more trouble finding time to listen to the backlog of podcasts on my phone than I do finding new ones.
posted by octothorpe at 6:17 AM on November 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

just buzz me when there is a better podcast than Car Talk


I see Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me is the first listing.

They need a 'featuring Paula Poundstone' filter for Wait Wait episodes, because she's just crackerjack.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:27 AM on November 3, 2015 [8 favorites]

This is most of my subscription list, some may not have updated in some time. I'm always looking for new additions to the lineup and always get good recommendations from MetaFilter.

A History of Alexander the Great
Amnesty’s Secret Comedy
Ancient Warfare
Ballistic Radio
BardCast (Shakespeare analysis, sadly seems abandoned now)
Cast of Kings (GoT podcast)
Council on Foreign Relations
Dan Carlin's Common Sense/Hardcore History
Dead Authors Podcast
Friends In Your Head
Futility Closet , History of China, History of Philosophy, History of Russia, Hooniverse, How Did This Get Made?
Heavy Hands
History Extra
History of Byzantium
History of England
History of Rome
HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast
Inside the FBI
Inside the NYPD
Ken & Robin Talk About Stuff
Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Film Reviews
Naval History
NPR Intelligence2
One Shot
Plot Points
Role Playing Public Radio
Shall We Play A Game?
Terrorism & Organised Crime
The Black Tapes
The Bugle
The Flop House
The Guardian Science and Politics Weekly
The History Network
The Knowledge Project
The Memory Palace
The Message
The Rialto Report
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe
This is That
To The Best Of Our Knowledge
Twilight Histories
Unspeakable Oath
Us & Them
WTF with Marc Maron
You Are Not So Smart
You Made It Weird

BBC podcasts:
A History of the World in 100 Objects
All in the Mind
Inside Science
Costing the Earth
File on 4
From Our Own Correspondent
Global News
Great Lives
In Our Time (all of them)
More or Less
The Bottom Line
The Infinite Monkey Cage
Thinking Allowed
World Service
The Inquiry
The Report
The Life Scientific.

“Stuff” Network Podcasts:
Stuff From the Future
Stuff Mom Never Told You
Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know
Stuff To Blow Your Mind
Stuff You Missed in History Class
Stuff You Should Know
posted by longbaugh at 6:31 AM on November 3, 2015 [6 favorites]

When do you find time to do literally anything other than listen to podcasts?
posted by leotrotsky at 6:37 AM on November 3, 2015 [20 favorites]

The people I know who listen to a lot of podcasts either sit in front of a computer all day (this is me) or drive a lot for work. Or have long commutes. I can easily do 3-4 hours of podcasts a day which would be 20 hours a week. That's a lot of content.

That said, I have to admit that I really gravitate towards silly, entertaining chat shows because something like TAL requires too much of my attention to function as background while working.
posted by selfnoise at 6:45 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

This list would be more accurate if it was just episodes of The Best Show with Tom Scharpling over and over.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 6:46 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

"Longbaugh" is Middle English for "long haul cart driver" is my guess.
posted by notyou at 6:48 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've already got too many podcasts I'm subscribed to... I don't need more!
posted by kmz at 7:07 AM on November 3, 2015

I sleep very little :)

I should say that I am not up to date and I don't listen to every single episode of every single podcast. Some I will have listened to every show, some I'll dip in depending on the content.
posted by longbaugh at 7:16 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I do storyboards for a living, which can be very isolating, so THANK YOU for this. I love that it links to actual recommended episodes.

I still enjoy the rhythm of Uhh Yeah Dude more than any of the other twowhiteguystalkingshit shows I've found.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:17 AM on November 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is pretty great, thanks!

And not to completely derail the conversation....but do enough people really like "Lore" enough for that guy to make a living of it?

I tried to like it, i listened to maybe 3 or 4 podcasts...and I just couldn't get past how contrived the speech terribly hard he worked to structure a sentence so that it sounded dramatic or intriguing...but failed.

Like an off-brand Ira Glass that is just wrong somehow, you know?

Does he get better and find his own voice somewhere in the series? I really did want to like it, it seems like something that would be completely in my area of interest, and I'd love to give it another chance...
posted by das_2099 at 7:26 AM on November 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

I see Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me is the first listing.

FYI, there's no "first listing." It'll show different things at the top of the main page different times. I can tell you that the people who made this were meticulous about, in particular, not promoting or favoring NPR podcasts over other ones, so Wait Wait getting some kind of prime positioning would never, ever have happened.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 7:48 AM on November 3, 2015 [6 favorites]

I don't consider stuff produced by BBC and NPR to be podcasts…to me, that's recorded radio.

"Real" podcasts are the self-produced material, that would never find a home on corporate media.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 7:59 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

This episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything (part of the Radiotopia collective), not only talks about how podcasts got started and finally reached their tipping point into mass culture, but also how (some) podcasters are finally getting paid:

The Secret History of Podcasting
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 8:06 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

BBC podcasts:
A History of the World in 100 Objects

That was a great series. The other two standouts for me (aside from one-offs or comedy shows) were Attenborough's Life Stories (10 minute anecdotes from David Attenborough's life ) and Tweet of the Day (2 minute recordings of British birds).
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:06 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

The world of podcasting is so diverse. I love it. None (with the exception of the ones EVERYONE knows i.e. Radio lab, This American Life) of either the ones on that site or in the recommendations here are on my list…so hers mine :)
I tend to be a more techy so bare with me:

We Have Concerns- Anthony Carboni and Jeff Cannata talk about science stories, def very funny.
The Flop House- So much better the How Did This Get Made, features ex head writer of the Daily Show
The /Filmcast- Film news and reviews
The Cast of Kings- A game of Thrones Podcast- The unspoliery review of GOT
A Storm of Spoilers -The spoilers version. Both feature Joanna Robinson who is fantastic
The Adventure Zone- The McElroy section; This one is the 3 brothers (and their Dad) playing D&D
My Brother My Brother and Me- Does what it says on the tin, great comedy here
Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine- Justina and his wife, a doctor, looks at medical history of different topics
Clockwise- 4 tech stories, 30 mins, 4 guests.
The Incomparable- just listen. if you don't like this weeks topic delete and try the next. always different
Reconciliable Differences- John Siracusa and Merlin Mann talk about them selves. Surprisingly honest and direct. LONG shows though.
Robot or Not?- John Siracusa and Jason Snell talk about is a thing is a robot or not. Super short, longest one so far? Cylons 9 mins 59 secs
Accidental Tech Podcast- Mac stuff, more John Siracusa
The Talk Show with John Gruber- More Mac stuff
Welcome To Macintosh-History (and interesting stories) about Mac stuff. Think TAL
Oh No Ross and Carrie- They join cults and try pseudoscience so you don't have to
Radiolab- We all know this one
Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project- Great little one with Mefi's own Adam Savage.
A Life Well Wasted- TAL for video games. hasn't been updated for a while but still very good stuff there
The Bugle- Brit comedy show with John Oliver
Serial- who doesn't have this…can't wait for the second season
posted by ShawnString at 8:08 AM on November 3, 2015 [7 favorites]

(A bunch of those are in Earbud.)
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:10 AM on November 3, 2015

If I had to guess, I'm probably at 60 hours of podcasts in a week (at my iPod's "2x" speed [really 1.25x, but that's a different story]). I'm at a computer all day, listen to them on my drive to/from work, listen to them while walking the dogs three times a day... I still have a perpetual backlog of things to listen to.

And yet I can't help but review the list and find new shows to listen to / investigate.

My name is Ryan, and I am addicted to podcasts.
posted by RyanAdams at 8:11 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I subscribe to ...

The Brain Storm Think Tank Podcast (general RPG)
Common Sense with Dan Carlin (current events / politics)
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History (history)
Designers & Discourses (RPG design)
The Good Friends of Jackson Elias (Call of Cthulhu RPG)
Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff (stuff)
Lore (weird)
The Ozarks Explored (weird)
Philosophy Bites (philosophy)
Roll for Initiative (classic AD&D)
Sanctum Secorum (RPG inspirational literature)
The Save or Die! Podcast (classic D&D)
Spellburn (Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG)
Stuff You Missed in History Class (history)
posted by graymouser at 8:12 AM on November 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh, and as for the "when do you get time to listen to this," I'm an insomniac, and I've listened to talk-radio at night since I was a little kid. Podcasts are *such* an improvement on talk radio. In the pre-podcast days, most non-infuriating talk radio was pretty insipid. I also listen to podcasts while I cook and do housework.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:13 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't consider stuff produced by BBC and NPR to be podcasts…to me, that's recorded radio.

Not only do they both have podcasts that either aren't broadcast or which differ from their aired versions, but the BBC and NPR actually don't produce much of what they air. .

Anyway, this looks like a very good resource - they've got at least one episode from Hazlitt's discontinued Arcade, so it's not just "what's new". I'd be really impressed if they had any B-Side Radio (Tamara Keith's long defunct thing) episodes..
posted by unmake at 8:15 AM on November 3, 2015

I love this. The tagging, the "recommended by" listeners and famous, the highlighting of an episode. I'm going to find this really useful.
posted by travertina at 8:16 AM on November 3, 2015

the BBC and NPR actually don't produce much of what they air

That may be true of the BBC, and it's true of PBS. It is not true of NPR. NPR makes a ton of stuff, including radio news magazines, radio non-news shows, radio/podcast hybrids, and podcast-only projects.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:24 AM on November 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is the kind of tool that I'd love to see include a women/queer/PoC filter. I subscribe to over 100 podcasts (I do at least 30 hours of listening perweek at work and I do a lot of dog walking) and have made a huge effort to find more things hosted by not-white-dudes. It's difficult.

If you're also looking, an abridged version of my list thus far is:
Another Round
Coupla Questions
That Was Us
Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race
SOUND AND FURY: the angry asian podcast
Mystery Show
Science Vs.
Death, Sex, and Money
Wham Bam Pow
Girl on Guy
Sports Without Balls
The Actor's Diet
The Read
Agent Carter Declassified
posted by komlord at 8:26 AM on November 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

I really like comedy podcasts, and among other things, I think I have listened to almost every of the nearly 400 episodes of Comedy Bang Bang since it started.

I say this because looking at the lists of NPR suggested episodes for my favorite podcasts, I.... approve. The episodes they suggest for Comedy Bang Bang, U Talkin U2 2 Me?, and the Dead Authors Podcast are all among the top of those programs, and generally accessible to first time listeners.

So, that fills me with some confidence. Yeah!
posted by blahblahblah at 8:30 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Spawn On Me and Justice Points are two great gaming podcasts hosted entirely by women/POC.

Match 3 (aka Gita and Two Others) and the Giant Beastcast have diverse hosts as well, and are just killing it every week.

Lots of women-hosted comedy podcasts, but my absolute favorite is Baby Geniuses. Lady to Lady is great as well.
posted by kmz at 8:44 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

That may be true of the BBC, and it's true of PBS. It is not true of NPR.

I'm sure NPR produces 'a ton' of stuff on their own, but I'd hazard that the majority of content aired on NPR-affiliates is produced by other organizations, be they local stations or independent production companies whose work is distributed through PRI, PRX, or other distribution networks. Cites: OTM: This is not NPR, NPR Explained.
posted by unmake at 8:50 AM on November 3, 2015

I mean, Linda works at NPR so probably doesn't need NPR Explained.
posted by listen, lady at 9:01 AM on November 3, 2015 [15 favorites]

Sure, I understand how NPR works. I'm just providing a little clarification, since "doesn't produce much of what they air," with the emphasis there, sounded to me like maybe confusion with a system like PBS that really doesn't focus on making stuff directly. It may be a semantic/sentence structure distinction between "Much of what affiliates air isn't produced by the network" and "they don't produce very much," and since I now get what you mean, I promise I'm not fighting. Just trying to be clear about a system that can be really really not logical from outside. I don't think we disagree; it's all good.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:05 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

the BBC and NPR actually don't produce much of what they air

I can't speak for NPR, and BBC TV is another matter, but BBC radio is mostly produced in-house (this may change), with the rest bought in from independents that are largely staffed by ex-BBC people. Which technically isn't in-house, but it's commissioned in largely the same way and you'd be hard pressed to hear the difference. Most of the time.

BBC TV exists in a large national and international competitive market: BBC radio does not.
posted by Devonian at 10:07 AM on November 3, 2015

The Cracked Podcast
posted by Apocryphon at 10:48 AM on November 3, 2015

I didn't see this on here - for those of you who like outdoorsy stuff The Dirtbag Diaries is great, with good production and a lot of variety. A few examples: this recent one about Maps; one about community among outdoorsy folk, You Are Not Alone; this "Short" about the weakest link on an outdoor trip: Denial on Denali; and to showcase some of the humor and variety, The 5 Types of B.O. (some of them open with ads, some not)
posted by barchan at 10:50 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Podcast audiences are kind of weird and I'm really glad for this service (though I'm jealous I wasn't able to be involved because I've dreamed of making something like this for some time). I started writing about podcasts earlier this year and consequently end up talking to a lot of people about podcasts. One thing I discovered pretty quickly is that, no matter how little sense it makes, a podcast listener might be directly to adjacent to a podcast they will eventually love but never know about it.

I call it the Audience Archipelago. Lots of listeners are clustered around a half dozen or shows and they're pretty happy with those shows. They might try and find new podcasts so they try their hand at maybe going out to another island in their little archipelago chain but are quickly overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the podcasting sea. There's so much to try and it's really hard to tell whether or not something is going to be worth your time and, as others have said, there's a paucity of good descriptions on iTunes to make it easier.

So the listener will just kind of groove on their podcast jam until a friend yells over from another island and gives them a friendly nudge in the right direction, or maybe their favorite podcaster tweets about another show they like or ... you get the idea.

I'm glad NPR are doing this. I think it'll help kind of sketch a rough map to help navigate the podcasting seas.
posted by Tevin at 11:13 AM on November 3, 2015 [7 favorites]

What I'm really starting to wonder, as part of the "how to find good podcasts" conversation, is how to get listeners to discover your podcast?

In most internet-based media nowadays, there are metrics for this sort of thing. Want to get twitter or instagram followers? Use hashtags strategically and stay on brand. Want to get blog readers? Publish a lot of useful evergreen content with pretty pictures. Google rankings comes into it. SEO is a thing. For the rest of digital content, there's a real sense of "if you build it, they will come."

But I have a few friends with really great podcasts, who do all the things you're supposed to do, and they still have a lot of trouble finding larger audiences. I think this FPP is a cool thing, but what with the popularity of NPR and NPR-adjacent podcasts, I wonder if this is a real help at all for people looking for things that aren't Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, which is a radio show and not a podcast, anyway.

What I really want is something more like the Netflix recommendation system or Pandora's metric of feeding you music you'll probably like based on the stuff you've already demonstrated an interest in. Stitcher somewhat does this, but because podcasting relies so heavily on either networks or shared subject matter (or simply "listeners who subscribe to x also subscribe to y"), it's a somewhat flawed system. If you listen to This American Life, Stitcher will give you The TED Radio Hour. It probably won't give you a smaller podcast or a podcast that tells stories in a manner inconsistent with "NPR Voice".
posted by Sara C. at 11:38 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I wish there were a better Netflix-style recommendation engine for podcasts too. I tried Stitcher briefly and didn't end up finding anything I liked. I assume the lack of such is because there isn't enough money in podcasting generally to invest in building/coding that algorithm, and bigger content providers would prefer to just promote the stuff on their network.

I'm glad to hear the News Quiz is back - I'd unsubscribed from Friday Night when it was that weird filler show, and I missed it. Seconding We Have Concerns, which consistently makes me laugh on my walks. No Such Thing As A Fish is like a delightful stroll through the weirder bits of Wikipedia with the QI Elves, Gamers With Jobs does what it says on the tin, and Shut Up and Sit Down is great for board game reviews in video and podcast form. Slate's Political Gabfest and Kermode and Mayo usually round out my Fridays.
posted by tautological at 12:11 PM on November 3, 2015

They need a 'featuring Paula Poundstone' filter for Wait Wait episodes, because she's just crackerjack.

This is how I decide which episodes to listen to. I'm so hopelessly behind that it's become less of a current events podcast and more of my own personal Paula Poundstone podcast.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:59 PM on November 3, 2015

Four words: Roderick on the Line.
posted by Jeff Morris at 2:21 PM on November 3, 2015

cltr+f "uhh yeah dude"


my people
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:02 PM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Dumb question: for podcasts with no RSS feed, like StruggleBus and Lore, how are people even following? You can get your own personal email from WordPress every time there's a new StruggleBus, but I was hoping for something a little more advanced.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 3:10 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I subscribe to those two via iTunes so I know when there is a new episode for me to listen to. But then, I might be the only person I know who doesn't use RSS feeds.
posted by Kitteh at 3:12 PM on November 3, 2015

I'm a podcaster (I host Role Playing Public Radio and RPPR Actual Play) and I make a lot of effort to get new listeners. Instead of just sticking with a few preferred games, I try new games on a regular basis. I run games that tie into popular settings like Five Nights at Freddies or Night Vale. I update on a regular and consistent basis. I use social media like Twitter and Facebook. I've also found that you don't have to limit your show to the formatting standards of others - I regularly post episodes that are 3 hours or more and listeners eat them up. I have a few podcast episodes that are 6 hours each and listeners clamor for more.

As a counterpoint: I run an actual play podcast and our listeners consistently want more episodes and more play time. They devour 6 hour episodes the day they're posted. In fact in a recent discussion on the RPPR Facebook group, a lot of listeners wanted me to increase the posting cycle from once a week to twice a week and bear in mind that the shortest AP is over 2 hours.

for an example, look at this comment from

Guys, this was absolutely amazing.
I’ve never been so drawn into an actual play like this one before, I listened to all six hours in one go. I actually felt sad at the end, realizing that’d probably be the last I would hear of these characters. The players all role played fantastically, their friendships were as compelling as they were humorous. There were quite a few heartwarming moments in there, and overall, I just have to say, this affected me on a level RPG’s rarely do.
It was alternating between hillarious and terrifying, which in my opinion is the most effective way for horror to work in an RP game. It doesn’t leave everyone bummed out after the game, and it creates the greatest moments.
I do have one thing to say though.
I started listening to it at midnight, and ended as the sun rose.
And then I realized I had class that morning. S**T!

Discussion of listener habits::
posted by clockworkjoe at 3:12 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kitteh's iTunes observation makes me think that a lot of good podcasts are burying themselves by not being easily followable outside that app. That's unfortunate, but maybe there's some $$$-related reason behind it.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 3:25 PM on November 3, 2015

Dumb question: for podcasts with no RSS feed, like StruggleBus and Lore, how are people even following? You can get your own personal email from WordPress every time there's a new StruggleBus, but I was hoping for something a little more advanced.

So, Lore has an RSS feed, via Libsyn. iTunes just does a very thorough job of keeping you from finding the feeds for podcasts in the store. I pretty much exclusively listen to podcasts now via Pocket Casts on my phone, which is pretty great, and has its own set of charts. How the app decides the ranking, I have no idea.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:34 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think being tied to particular platforms might be what makes it so difficult to both find podcasts and induce people to find your podcast.

I'm a huge fan of history podcasts, and am especially interested in the history of places, specifically cities. I just recently found out there's a podcast called The Hidden History Of Los Angeles. (Which happens to be the city I live in.) It probably took so long to find because it's only on iTunes, and iTunes has piss-poor find-new-podcasts functionality.
posted by Sara C. at 3:35 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Since others are posting lists, here are my current Downcast podcast subscriptions.

CBC: As It Happens.
BBC: Global News - The World This Week.
NPR: Hourly News Summary - Story of the Day - World Story of the Day.
Other: DNAinfo Radio Chicago.
(I miss NPR’s Most Emailed)

All in the Mind
Hidden Brain
Science Friday
Sleek Geeks
StarTalk Radio

El Langoy ("Lo mejor del cine, series de TV, comics, videojuegos y actualidad comentado por 4 geeks desde Lima, Perú.")
Podcast Serie Peru (History of Peru, by Diana Uribe; I just started this, so I have no opinion yet)
Radio Ambulante
Radio Pedal Peru (bicycle activism)

Circulating Ideas (librarian interviews))
Curious City (Chicago)
Great Detectives of Old Time Radio (old radio episodes)
History of Byzantium
In Our Time (Melvyn Bragg)
More of Less: Behind the Stats
No Such Thing as a Fish (QI Elves)
Oxford Biographies (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
Pop Culture Happy Hour (NPR)
To The Best of our Knowledge (PRI)
Revolutions (Mike Duncan)
Rimasun: Quechua Language Podcast (I can only speak a few works, but I love how it sounds)
Stuff You Missed in History Class
The Sword and Laser (SF/fantasy book club)
Under the Influence (how advertising works; episodes disappear behind a paywall after a while, but his earlier program Age of Persuasion is still available)
Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (NPR news quiz)
A Way With Words (phone-in show about words and language)
The World in Words (about languages)
Writing Excuses (4 writers about writing techniques)
You Must Remember This (history of Hollywood)
posted by bentley at 6:59 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I won't go through my entire list, as most of them are pretty well known and have already been mentioned, but for any trivia buffs who aren't already listening, I'd like to plug PodQuiz — 20 trivia questions and answers each week, in four categories with five questions each. The first category is always music, categories 2-4 vary from week to week. The host, James Carter, is up to episode 554(!) meaning he's been doing it for over ten years.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:30 PM on November 3, 2015

CBC has a similar show called "Podcast Playlist."
posted by salishsea at 11:09 PM on November 3, 2015

I use an old-fashioned "podcatcher" to download podcasts to my laptop regularly, from the RSS feeds. Then every few months I clear off the space on the mini-sd card in my sansa clip+ (running rockbox, naturally) and load another 16G of podcast glorp onto it.

A few observations:
  1. Snap Judgement needs to get over the notion of "re-runs". This isn't a time-bound medium, and we have access to your whole archive as it is, Glynn!
  2. Radiolab needs to stop changing the guids of all the entries when they slap a new fundraising message on the front of every episode in the archive. I've accidentally downloaded all of Radiolab several times over the years, and needed to delete most of it again. All just to listen to complaints of how much their hosting costs. Stop breaking the RSS feed, then!
  3. I tend to binge. I'm always catching up. I'm sitting here in November listening to podcasts from June. For pity's sake, stop referring to events as taking place "Next Saturday". If you mention a date on a podcast, list the full date with year!
  4. Consider how your filenames sort. Many times I'll get on a new podcast and the files named Bonus_Episode_001.mp3 will sort before Episode_074.mp3, which is damned confusing when my hands are occupied and I can't fuss with the playlist.
I accept that the way I'm doing this is very 2004 and I'm probably nobody's target audience. It's possible everyone downloads purpose-built "apps" for their smartphones and I'm just the 2015 version of "did I mention I have no television" with all this. But RSS is what we all need, and I will continue using it just to keep the dream alive!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:08 AM on November 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

Speaking of RSS feeds, this site doesn't appear to have one. For shame, NPR, for shame.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:51 AM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

I should also like to say that if you decide to listen to the Dead Authors Podcast please get both the Ayn Rand and L Ron Hubbard (a two-parter) episodes straight away. Absolutely brilliant.
posted by longbaugh at 3:31 AM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

RPPR? I started listening to you guys after attending your seminar Beyond Lawful Good and Evil at Gen Con.

Which just goes to show how random the discovery of podcasts can be.
posted by nolnacs at 5:47 AM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use an old-fashioned "podcatcher" to download podcasts to my laptop regularly, from the RSS feeds

"Podcatcher" is still the preferred nomenclature for things like Pocket Casts, and could reasonably be used to describe the many dedicated phone apps for getting podcasts. It does seem like the desktop / laptop arena has kind of been ceded to Apple, which is kind of a shame. I mean, it seems like most of the file ordering issues you're experiencing could be solved by a better sorting system within the program downloading the files. If that doesn't exist, that's poor, and the market needs more contenders.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:50 AM on November 4, 2015

Just to try and squash the iTunes-doesn't-use-RSS meme here: iTunes uses RSS. It wraps some other stuff around it, but at the base each feed is RSS.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:57 AM on November 4, 2015

I kind of like "re-runs", though I think it only works well with certain formats. For example it can work well with long-running shows where, while you could theoretically find this show in the archives, it would be a lot of work, and maybe this re-run is timely for some reason. It also works well for podcasts were the archives are a feature for paid subscribers only (I'm specifically thinking of the time Marc Maron "re-ran" his interview with Robin Williams shortly after Williams' death).

And certainly it's more acceptable for radio shows that need to put out some content every week.

The convention for actual podcasts is to just go dark for a few weeks as needed, ideally with some sort of warning or structure in place.
posted by Sara C. at 10:39 AM on November 4, 2015

I travel a lot so my list it pretty big too. I'll leave out the ones I think have been mentioned already - everyone knows WTF, TAL, You Must Remember This, Mystery Show, etc.

99% Invisible (design, architecture, hidden geography)
A Duck In A Tree (mysterious ambient industrial band Zoviet France's ambient, found sound podcast)
All In The Mind (ABC National Radio show on the brain, behavior, neuro-psychology)
Brain Damage (every episode a new Pink Floyd live bootleg)
The Close Up (Film Society of Lincoln Center)
Five Hundy By Midnight (long long running podcast about Las Vegas, gambling, etc. Super funny, sardonic, lots of in jokes, destroys all morning radio)
Death, Sex & Money (WNYC show about, well, just that. Hard questions, tough choices, etc.)
SpyCast (from the International Spy Museum. Interviews with current/former members of the intelligence community, authors, policy makers, etc.)
New Books in Popular Music (exactly what the title says. Author interviews)
Radio Misterioso (the only podcast on esoteric and high strangeness subjects that's worth your time)
Skylight Books (author events/readings from the LA bookstore)
Agony Column (author readings and interviews)
The Memory Palace (I don't want to give it away. They're short and all worth listening to)
Travel Commons (traveling from the perspective of a full-on road warrior business traveller)
The Jodcast (astronomy podcast from Jodrell Bank observatory)
The Trap Set (my fave new discovery. it may look like an interview series with drummers, but it's mostly about artistic discovery and musical journeys)
The Watt From Pedro Show (Mike Watt plays records, talks with friends, really the only other music mix podcast I listen to)

I also podcast, but it's more like a "making mix tapes of new unknown music for my friends" rather than a full-time social media radio hustle.
posted by quartzcity at 2:08 AM on November 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Forgot to mention

Revolutions (revolutions in history. from the same guy who did the mammoth History of Rome podcast)
Reveal News (investigative reporting from CIR/PRX)
Oh No Ross and Carrie (former evangelical get skeptical and investigate dubious cults, churches, fringe groups, health claims, etc. "so you don't have to." recent episodes have included the Church of Satan, Self-realization Fellowship, and Soylent)
Sword and Scale (intense true crime podcast)
You Can't Eat The Sunshine (Los Angeles history podcast from the offbeat folks who run the Esotouric tours of SoCal)
posted by quartzcity at 2:17 AM on November 5, 2015

The Long Haul Podcast is long defunct, but was made by two NPR producers / freelancers and consists but is a very motley mix of interesting well-produced long and short reportage. For instance: “Dog Mountain”, about Vermont artists Steven and Gwen Huneck, their love of dogs, and their lives; “Execution Day”, about local Texan reaction (or lack thereof) to Jerry Lee Hogue’s execution; “North Dakota Grocery”, about the opening of a community grocery (finally!) in a small North Dakota town; and “Naloxene: Back From The Dead”, about distributing OD-recovery drug Naloxene to heroin addicts in Chicago. There's a lot to listen to
posted by Going To Maine at 3:28 PM on November 5, 2015

When do you find time to do literally anything other than listen to podcasts?

AntennaPod is a free player that integrates with Prestissimo to speed up playback without altering pitch. I recommend ramping up 10 percent every month or two. I'm at 1.6x presently.

The only side effect is that the hearing the same show on the radio sounds quite a bit slow now. Fortunately the cure for that is more podcasts.
posted by pwnguin at 12:42 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

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