The 12 Best Podcasts of 2016 You Need to Hear

Anya Zhukova 20-12-2016

Last year, MakeUseOf shared with you the 20 best podcasts of 2015 The 20 Best Podcasts of 2015: As Recommended by MakeUseOf Have you ever wondered what your favorite MakeUseOf authors listen to when they want to learn something new, hear a good story, or simply be entertained? This article means you need wonder no more. Read More as recommended by our authors. This year we want to share 12 more we consider to be the best podcasts of 2016. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, to discover something new, or simply seeking to be entertained, these are the podcasts you really need to hear.


Why Podcasts?

Not everyone realizes it, but podcasts have been around since the 1930s in the form of radio shows. Nowadays when we say podcast we mean an audio file you can download from the internet.

Podcasts are similar to audiobooks, but with a few distinctive differences What's the Difference Between Podcasts and Audiobooks? What's the difference between podcasts and audiobooks? This look at podcasts vs. audiobooks explains everything you need to know. Read More . You can download and listen to podcasts using apps like Stitcher, Soundcloud, and Spotify, or create one of your own using just your phone. Podcasts are portable and personal, and some of them will even make your own life look dull 11 True Story Podcasts That Make Your Life Look Dull These days there are podcasts about every subject under the sun. But the 11 podcasts listed here focus on true stories that are likely to make your own life look dull by comparison. Read More .

12 Months = 12 Podcasts

We’ve chosen 12 of the best-rated podcasts of 2016 that will provide the perfect entertainment for you through 2017 and beyond. Some of these pods are new, and some of them are all-time classics.

1. Millennial

Millenial Podcast

“A podcast about what people never teach you — how to maneuver your 20s,” Millennial is an engaging podcast about, well, being a millennial. Produced by Megan Tan, a radio producer from Portland, Maine, this podcast has joined Radiotopia in 2016, becoming the 14th on the network.


Millennial is the Tans’ audio autobiography featuring interviews with people from Megan’s life: her friends, coworkers, and family members. A twenty-something trying to balance her career, social, and personal lives while searching for her life’s purpose. It’s hard to not relate.

2. Philosophy Bites

Philosophy Bites Podcast

Hosted by Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds, both authors of several BBC radio shows, Philosophy Bites offers exactly what the name suggests it will. It features bite-sized interviews with philosophers each on a specific topic.

This podcast has over 25 million downloads. Some of the episodes of Philosophy Bites have been transcribed and compiled into books. Perfect for providing some thinking material when you have some downtime.


3. Shut Up and Sit Down

Shut Up and Sit Down Podcast

Learn how to impress your friends next time you play Dead of Winter, with two board game gurus: Paul Dean and Quintin Smith. An ideal introduction to board game journalism, SU&SD will tell you everything about board games, card games, and party games — basically every kind of games that you can play in the house with family and friends.

4. The Nerdist [No Longer Available]

The Nerdist Podcast

The Nerdist is a comedy show “about what it really means to be a nerd”. Hosted by Chris Hardwick, Jonah Ray, and Matt Mira, this offers interviews with comedians and those related to nerd culture (or sometimes both) that will keep you entertained for months.


The show was created back in 2010 and has only grown its audience and popularity since. If, after listening to the podcast, you find yourself craving for more of The Nerdist, check out the TV show based on the podcast.

5. Pitch

Pitch Podcast

Pitch is an engaging narrative podcast about music. “The one (music) podcast to start with,” Pitch is delivered to you by the three music journalists and producers. Namely, Alex Kapelman, Whitney Jones, and Afi Yellow-Duke. The Pitch podcast will help you get more background knowledge about the music you love, as well as make sure you follow the hottest trends in the music industry.

6. Working

Working Podcast


Working is a podcast about how Americans do their jobs. What does a Nuclear Nonproliferation Expert do all day? What’s the first thing an immigration lawyer does in the morning? What’s it like interning at the White House? David Plotz provides the answers to all those questions you always wanted to ask your neighbor about his job but never knew where to begin.

7. IQ2

IQ2 Podcast

Gain an open mind and learn about serious issues with the Intelligence Squared podcast, “the world’s premier forum for debate and intelligent discussion”. The show has both live events that you can follow on YouTube and online presence in the form of a podcast. IQ2 is a perfect podcast to make your commuting meaningful, as well as to help you learn more about the art of debate.

8. Analog(ue)

Analogue Podcast

Analog(ue) is a podcast about digital devices that you can listen to without being afraid of not understanding how things work. The show is presented by a U.S. developer called Casey Liss and a full-time British podcaster called Myke Hurley. Between them they cover different ways of how the gadgets are used both in the U.S. and the U.K.

At the same time, both presenters state their mission as showing the audience “how the devices change our lives for the better, but also for the worse”.

9. Pop Rocket

Pop Rocket Podcast

Pop Rocket is a weekly discussion of culture news and trends. Both entertaining and informative, it’s presented by Guy Branum and his team: Wynter Mitchell, Margaret Wappler, and Oliver Wang.

You can expect the hosts to cover the news in the media sphere, as well as have some laughs discussing things like the phenomenon of the white/gold/blue/black dress. Pop Rocket is also a great source for finding new shows/books/music to enjoy in your free time.

10. The Truth

The Truth Podcast

The Truth is a Jonathan Mitchell’s audio-fiction program that is essentially “movies for your ears”. Each episode is 10–20 minutes long and takes the form of an independent story. The Truth has both spooky and funny stories. Even though the stories are all developed by the team, the dialog is frequently improvised, and you’ll find an unexpected ending to every piece you listen to.

11. Radiolab

Radiolab Podcast

An all-time classic from New York public station WNYC, Radiolab is a podcast about science and philosophy and the way those two subjects overlap. The show has received several awards in the years of its existence. Each episode is approximately 60 minutes long, and there are 14 seasons of 5–10 episodes each available online.

Stories, interviews, and expository discussions together with sound effects and experimental music make Radiolab a compelling and thought-provoking podcast we thoroughly recommend.

12. Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know Podcast

SYSK is a show by American bloggers Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, two men who like to talk about anything and everything. The most popular episodes of SYSK include pieces on spam, hangovers, tipping in restaurants, cheese, Barbie, and pinball.

Being downloaded millions of times each month means this podcast is consistently ranked in the Top 10 on iTunes. If you like SYSK, you should also check out the full-length Stuff You Should Know TV show aired on Science Channel in 2013.

How to Listen to These Podcasts

Are you ready to start listening to these podcasts but not sure where to begin? Follow the MakeUseOf guides to the best podcast apps for iOS The Best Podcast App for iPhone and iPad: 7 Top Choices Compared Looking for the best podcast app for iPhone and iPad? Enjoy your favorite podcasts with these great feature-filled podcast apps. Read More , the best podcast apps for Android 4 App Showdown: Which Is the Best Android Podcast App? There are great podcast apps available for Android, whether you're willing to pay for an app as good as anything you'd find on an iPhone or want a polished, free app. Read More , the best podcast managers for Windows The 6 Best Podcast Managers for Your Windows PC What's the best way to listen to podcasts on a Windows PC? Pick one these podcast managers to queue them up and get started. Read More , and the best media players for Linux 3 Fresh & Lightweight Music Players For Enjoying Your MP3s on Linux If you're a Linux user who loves music, you've probably noticed that audio players come in all shapes and sizes, from iTunes alternatives to lightweight apps. Which lightweight music player should you choose? Read More .

Do you agree with our list of the best podcasts of 2016? Can you think of any other popular podcasts of 2016 that should have made the list? What was your favorite podcast of 2016? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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  1. Francesca Rheannon
    December 26, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Writer's Voice is a great book show that's been around for 12 years (since the earliest days of podcasting!). It features in-depth interviews with both upcoming and established writers in a real eclectic mix, covering all genres (except romance fiction) -- literary fiction, sci fi, history, politics, science and more. Also, for those who are looking for a progressive bent, this is the podcast for you. Check it out at writersvoice[dot]net

  2. Maurice Castonguay
    December 22, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Nice list. I would include the best history podcast out there, Hardcore History. For self improvement I would suggest The Tim Ferriss Show and/or Tony Robbins. For an offbeat pick of quality conversations I would throw out there Tangentially Speaking.

    • Anya Zhukova
      December 22, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      Thank you for your additions, Maurice!
      It's hard to fit all of the good ones in just one article, so we decided to stop at 12 podcasts for 12 months :)

  3. Phids
    December 21, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    The one on this list that I listen to now is Philosophy Bites. Pretty good stuff. Some other good podcasts not on this list that I started listening to this year include 99% Invisible, America's Test Kitchen Radio, and Reply All. Also, I got back into Freakonomics Radio after I gave it a second chance and now I really like it. And if you play fantasy hockey, I suggest the Keeping Karlsson podcast!

    • Anya Zhukova
      December 22, 2016 at 1:04 pm

      Thank you for sharing!
      Both 99% Invisible and Freakonomics Radio have been mentioned in other MakeUseOf podcast lists before. I'm intrigued by the Keeping Karlsson one, will give it a listen.