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Podcast Recommendations: The Very Best

I’m a smidge obsessed with podcasts. About eight years ago the stereo in my truck broke and we were too broke to fix it so I started listening to podcasts while I was driving. Since then my consumption has only increased and I’m currently subscribed to 53 podcasts. I get asked all the time for podcast recommendations and I’ll start with a list of my Top 5.

If you’re new to listening to podcasts, here are the ones you should start with:

5. 99% Invisible

99% Invisible is a show about design – but not in the way you think. It’s about the little details that go mostly ignored in architecture, technology, art, language, and so much more. Episodes are usually around 20 minutes so they’re easy to work into your weekly rhythms.

Have you wondered where the Jolly Roger (the universal symbol of piracy), came from? And what does it have to do with nuclear waste? Do you know why Palm Trees–which are actually weeds, by the way… not even trees–became an iconic symbol of Southern California? If you’re intrigued, 99% is for you!

Episode 155: Palm Reading is my favorite because the world class city of Riverside makes an appearance in the narrative. Heck yes!

4. RadioLab

Trying to explain RadioLab is hard. They tell stories about life, ideas, and science – and that may sound off-putting to some of you, but trust me: it’s great. The hosts, Jad and Robert, interview science and other experts about really heavy or complicated topics  and the production mixes clips of interviews, news or radio, sound effects, and conversation in a way that helps my brain track along and actually learn.

My all time favorite episode is 23 Weeks 6 Days, a story about life, death, pregnancy and marriage – it is just so good. The Cathedral tells the incredible story of how a video game helped a father deal with their sons diagnosis of terminal cancer – you will definitely cry. And then there is Home Is Where Your Dolphin Is, the story of a lady who lived in the same apartment as a dolphin in the 1960s and let’s just say things got weird.

3. Criminal

Ok, Criminal is awesome. I’ve been listening since the debut of the show with an episode all about a lady who was murdered by an owl. Not killed: MURDERED. Crazy. Or maybe you can just listen to an episode all about how to fake your own death. Either way, subscribe.

Lindy and I got to see Criminal live in May and it was so rad.

2. This American Life

This American Life is basically the godfather of podcasts. It started as a public radio show sometime in the 90s and they began podcasting the show in 2006 – they’ve been at this game a while. The host, Ira Glass, is a master storyteller and the show itself has birthed so many other fantastic podcasts like Serial, S-Town, The Mystery Show.

Every week they use stories of real life people just living their lives to help you think more deeply about both life and current events. They’re also just a lot of fun sometimes.

In 2015 they did a two part show called Cops See Things Differently that really helped me process some of the race related challenges our country has been working through these last few years. A story about refugees living in Greece was super challenging much like one about immigrants living in the US. And then there’s this awesome one from a few weeks ago about lady pirates. If you’re going to be listening to podcasts you’ve got to listen to This American Life.

1. The Debrief

How could The Debrief not be my #1 recommendation? Every week I get to sit down with Pastor Matt Brown and my friends and walk through really tough questions about faith, life, and the bible. But here’s the deal, even though I’m on the show I still listen every week. I think it’s just that good.


I’ve got lots of other podcasts I’ll be sharing with you soon. In the meantime, what are your 5 favorite podcasts?