Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
Labor Day weekend is tailor-made for summer send-off rituals. This season, podcasts ruled the roost in terms of zeitgeist hype. So much so, it left us asking the question—are podcasts the new beach read? To explore the notion, we cultivated a list of our top nine broadcasts that had us continually coming back for more. If you're planning on soaking up some sun this weekend, these undeniably addictive serial series make for the perfect travel companion.
From in-depth interviews to unsolicited advice, our favorite hosts sound off on everything from career moves to bizarre historical anomalies. We know you'll echo our insatiable appetite for their unmitigated candor, raucous verve, and probing curiosity. Summer would not have been the same without them. These are the very fireside chats that made our morning commutes a joy and lengthy overseas flights a breeze. Lucky for you, they're here to stay indefinitely. Allow us to deal you in.
Standup comic Marc Maron's twice-weekly podcast launched in 2009. Recorded in either Maron's home garage or random hotel rooms, the candid interview series consists primarily of personal and professional explorations with comedians and comedy writers in the entertainment community. Consistently ranked among the top comedy podcasts, it's the ideal starter kit if you're late to the podcast trend party.
In five words or less: Storytelling with funny folks
Anna Faris describes her podcast as "not so great relationship advice from completely unqualified Hollywood types." Vogue describes it as "WTF with Marc Maron meets Dear Abby." Guests include celebs and comedians from Chris Evans and Jenny Slate to Keegan Michael Key. The vibe is improvisational and cool. As host Faris is an adorable instigator—but then we knew that.
In five words of less: Good advice from questionable sources
Upgrade your ears with a pair of noise-cancelling, luxe headphones.
Author of five New York Times bestsellers (The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath), Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast is quite literally living in the past. Each episode the research maven deep dives into an overlooked or misunderstood historical event. Subjects include everything from Toyota recalls to why smart people make dumb choices.
In five words or less: Watercooler talk certified fresh
At the top of my list of personal favorites, How Did This Get Made? takes a swing at poorly scripted, acted, or otherwise inexplicably bad box office gems. Dialogue is picked apart line for line. Production value and acting chops stripped to the bone. Listening to a panel of comics take apart Hollywood's most inexcusable exploits brick by brick is the epitome of ear treats. Films span every genre from Burlesque to Spiderman 3 to Howard the Duck.
In five words or less: Hollywood trainwreck rubber-necking
Hosted by one of our favorite website founders and lifestyle authors, the inimitably stylish Garance Doré, Pardon My French is Exhibit A in a case for the French making just about anything wildly and effortlessly stylish. As host, Doré sits down with friends and contemporaries to take pages out of their personal style bibles. Her muse-worthy guest list includes musicians, designers, authors, and celebrated persons of interest.
In five words or less: Je ne sais qoi explained
Garance Doré's stylish tome ranks among our favorite coffee table reads.
Hosted by Sam Jones, Off Camera tees up in-depth, long-form interviews with some of the most intriguing celebrities and artists of our time. The conversational format is rawly prolific and insatiably curious. If you dig actor and/or musician interviews, welcome to your Shangri-La. Guests include everybody from Jon Hamm to The Edge.
In five words or less: A farewell to canned responses
In her appropriately titled podcast, author of #Girlboss, Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoroso, interviews female movers and shakers of a similar ilk. Pulling back the curtain of their success, her candid conversations offer insider-only hacks to big business and creative fields. She talks to everyone from Courtney Love to the CEO and founder of ClassPass, Payal Kadakia. Amoruso's own unfiltered, vibrant voice is chock full of charisma.
In five words or less: Filter-free cool kids table
Compact travel accessories make listening on the go easy.
Maybe the most fun how-to series on the internet, comedian Michael Ian Black's long form interview series puts celebrities and modern wunderkinds in the hot seat to chat it up about, quite simply, how they got to be this cool. Guests include the likes of Rookie magazine founder and prolific fashion-world prodigy Tavi Gevinson to Amy Schumer and Miranda July.
In five words or less: Tastemakers talkin' shop
There's no way to be certain, but our best guess is until Robyn O'Neil's Me Reading Stuff hit the airwaves, no one had ever uttered the names Emily Dickinson and Heidi Montag in the same breath. Such is the range of literary prose visited upon in short 10-minute episodes via the American artist's podcast series. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll marvel at the wonder of the written word—all alongside O'Neil, who holds nothing back in her emotive gestation of each work.
In five words or less: Reading Rainbow with jokes
Download the required reading list and take it to-go via Kindle's insanely compact and light new edition.
Have a favorite podcast? Let us know what you're listening to in the comments below.