Last year, MakeUseOf shared with you the 20 best podcasts of 2015 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.
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. 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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 apps for Android, the best podcast managers for Windows, and the best media players for Linux.
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!