Listen Up: Our Editors Are Obsessed With These Podcasts

The best way to spend your free time

Updated 08/23/18
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Best Podcasts 2017
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In the digital age, where our days are spent at work with eyes glued to our inboxes and nights are spent endlessly scrolling through our Instagram feeds (or food videos on Facebook), there comes a time when we just want to give our eyes a rest. But unless we're seasoned meditators, it can be hard to just sit and do nothing without falling asleep or going stir-crazy. Enter our newest obsession: podcasts. The return to audio as an information medium has left us feeling informed and accomplished in even the most mindless times of day: brushing our teeth, commuting to work, or cooking dinner.

The question is where do you find podcasts that will hook you in like a best-selling beach read? We turned to our MyDomaine editors to find out. Ranging from politics to psychology, these podcasts are not only addictive, but they're thought-provoking, smart, and entirely captivating. Just press play—these podcasts will make you laugh, cry, think, learn, and everything in between.

If You Love Politics: Pod Save America

I can't get enough of Pod Save America. I wake up to it, I brush my teeth to it, I walk to work listening to it… It's hosted by four former aides to President Obama—Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor, and Dan Pfeiffer—who worked as speechwriters, senior advisers, and spokespeople in the Obama White House.

Three of the four hosts co-founded Crooked Media—a political commentary media company—to offer a lighthearted, no-BS (and, at times, hysterically funny) approach to politics. On top of their own well-informed opinions, they invite senators, congresspeople, journalists, and comedians to discuss anything from healthcare to the Russia investigation.

If you want to be informed and entertained all at once, this is your podcast. Even the sponsored ads will make you laugh out loud. If like me, you just want to listen to it on repeat, Lovett's other podcast—Love It or Leave Itis another favorite. As they say, if you can't cry about it, you might as well have a good laugh.

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If You Love Feminism: Never Before

I only recently came across Never Before by way of Lena Dunham's Women of the Hour (she's also the executive producer of the podcast). Janet Mock is an American author (she wrote the New York Times best seller Redefining Realness), TV host, and transgender rights activist who is continuing the conversation around unspoken issues such as gender, politics, and diversity via her new podcast.

It's only in its infancy (eight episodes in), but so far, the conversations and interviewees have been incredibly varied and the conversations have been thought-provoking. I particularly love the interview with Academy Award nominee Gabourey Sidibe, touching on topics such as body confidence, class transition, and navigating Hollywood through this lens. I highly recommend it. And you should definitely tune into her chat with Dunham, where Mock asks some pretty tough questions about dealing with public scandals and how to say sorry when you know you've made a mistake.

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If You Love Psychology: Help Me Be Me

No matter what you're going through in life, there's most likely a Help Me Be Me episode that tackles it. Described as "self-help for people who hate self-help" by host Sarah May Bates, each episode tackles a common life challenge and offers practical tools for how to handle it; she covers everything from starting a new relationship to being more assertive at work.

It's essentially a therapy session with your best friend packaged into a 30-minute podcast. Bates is just a normal, highly empathetic and introspective woman who's made a lot of positive changes in her life and wants to spread the wealth. No matter what the issue, you'll unplug your headphones with a newfound sense of clarity.

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If You Love Storytelling: The Moth

Every week, I impatiently wait for the latest episode of The Moth to appear in my queue. The podcast is an extension of the nonprofit's in-person storytelling events, which take place around the country. The stories are told by real people (and the occasional celebrity like Malcolm Gladwell) in front of a live audience—and they're all 100% true.

If you love a well-told story, I highly recommend subscribing. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll feel inspired. Here are a few of my recent favorites: Facing the Dark, People, Places, Problems, and Explorers, Organizers & Interrogations.

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If You Love True Crime Stories: Serial

Just about everyone freaked out when creators of This American Life released Season 1 of the popular podcast Serial in 2014 and suddenly brought podcasts into the mainstream. The podcast has since released two complete seasons, both focused on different criminal cases, while a much-anticipated third season is expected to shake things up and deviate from the typical crime-case format.

Season 1 had me hooked as I learned the story of Adnan Syed, a high school student arrested for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. The podcast is narrated by journalist Sarah Koenig, who digs deeper into the 1999 event that put Syed in prison for a crime he says he didn't commit. Syed has since been granted a new trial, leaving Serial fans (aka me) dying to find out what will happen next. It's like CSI for your commute, except these stories are entirely true. It will have you itching to compare notes and theories with other listeners about what really went down and how our justice system works.

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If You Love Entrepreneurship: The Ground Up Show

I'm not much of a podcast devotee, but when I'm traveling for work, I always download The Ground Up Show. It's a Q&A podcast hosted by Matt D'Avella, the director of Netflix documentary Minimalism. Each episode, he chats with people who have built interesting careers from scratch. In his words, it's about how to "create something from nothing," according to TED Talk speakers, filmmakers, investigative journalists, and more.

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If You Like Tech: Recode/Decode

There's something about Kara Swisher. She's brutal with her line of questioning, doesn't mind her p's and q's, and she never lets an interviewee off the hook (even if they have a friendship), and that's what I love about her. This no-holds-barred style of journalism in the pursuit of truth is how all interviews should be conducted. Swisher gets the elephant out of the room, and no stone is left unturned by the end of every Recode/Decode podcast (mind the clichés).

Most of the interviews are around tech, but this also leads to conversations around politics, media, and popular culture with some of the world's most influential leaders and personalities. If you haven't listened to one yet, then I highly recommend her chat with U.S. Representative and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards; and creator of Transparent, Jill Soloway.

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And now, the nine podcasts we couldn't live without this summer.

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