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Don’t Like Podcasts? Read 17 Alternatives to the Most Popular Shows

Dann Albright 04-01-2016

I don’t like podcasts.


That’s just the way it is. They’re too slow, the artsy music and sound effects drive me nuts, and a lot of them just feel like they don’t have a point.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I will not listen to podcasts. My wife does, so I do hear some really great podcasts 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  on occasion, but I never seek them out on my own.

And I know I’m not alone. There are a lot of people out there who feel the same way.


Just because we don’t want to listen to podcasts, though, in this article, I’ll give you some recommendations for written alternatives to seven of the most popular podcasts on the air right now. Be sure to share your favorite alternatives (or requests for new alternatives) in the comments below!


If You Like This American Life


This American Life, the most popular podcast in the country (when Serial isn’t on), focuses on telling true stories that don’t get told anywhere else. Sometimes they’re related to current events, sometimes they’re perspectives that aren’t represented in the mainstream media, and sometimes they’re just stories that are interesting. If I had to classify This American Life, I’d call it creative non-fiction.

Which is exactly what Hippocampus magazine is all about. Memoirs, essays, book reviews, interviews, all presented with a flourish that makes you appreciate the artistry of writing and storytelling. The Atlantic, though it has less of a creative focus, presents stories that open your eyes to new things in the world. And Creative Nonfiction sums it up with their tagline: “True stories, well told.”

If You Like Serial



Ah, Serial. The surprise smash hit of the century. It combines true crime with mystery, interviewing and reporting with speculation, professional investigation with amateur snooping. To be honest, this show is unique. If you like Serial, the best thing to do is probably listen to Serial. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t good things to read out there that are similar!

io9’s True Crime section is a good place to start. It’s less mysterious than Serial, but the fact that it’s all taken from real life makes it a fascinating, and sometimes disturbing, read.

The Unsolved Mysteries sub-Reddit is a great place to see what people are wondering about and the issues that are evading explanation. Neither of these will string you along like Serial does, but because the seasons are short and far between, they should be good resources to keep you learning.

If You Like Radiolab



No written medium will blend information and sound like Radiolab, but there are definitely sites out there that will help you learn fascinating things about science. While not everything that you hear on Radiolab is related to science, that’s a good portion of it, so that’s what we’ll focus on here.

Zidbits seeks to answer the questions that you have about science, health, and an assortment of random facts. Ever wonder if hot water really freezes faster than cold, or why nothing can go faster than the speed of light? Zidbits is for you.

The Wired science blogs are also a great place to learn a lot of really fascinating new information that includes the science of science fiction as well as leading-edge research.

If You Like Fresh Air with Terry Gross



Terry Gross talks with some of the most interesting people out there, including authors, editors, poets, historians, filmmakers, music critics, actors, and just about anyone else you can think of. Fresh Air is a great way to find out what’s going on in the world and what people are doing to influence it.

If you want to know more about people, then Interviewly is a great place to get started. It takes Reddit AMAs and presents them as more traditional interviews, making them easier to read.

Interviews with Interesting People has the same idea; it’s not clear if the site is still being updated, but there are a lot of great reads available.

If You Like Planet Money


Want to know how economics works and see the weird ways in which money affects our world? Planet Money looks into things that are complex, simple, serious, or goofy, as long as they have something to do with money, the economy, or consumers. It doesn’t focus much on personal finance The 8 Best Podcasts About The World of Finance Which finance-based podcasts are going to help you become obscenely wealthy? We take a look at some of the best. Read More , but you can definitely learn useful things to help your budget.

The Equitablog from The Washington Center for Equitable Growth covers a lot of important issues to anyone interested in the economy. Stories about the gig economy, the Earned Income Credit, the Affordable Care Act, and healthcare spending have all appeared in the past two days; this is a very productive blog.

Another very productive blog is Barry Ritholtz’s The Big Picture, which tackles a range of issues related to economics.

If You Like Stuff You Should Know


Stuff You Should Know focuses on exactly what the title implies — interesting stuff that you should know. Whether it’s about history, science, psychology, or interesting people, this show is all about learning, and it will definitely make you a more educated person (at least when it comes to semi-useful facts).

One of the best e-newsletters Learn Something New With 10 Worth-It Email Newsletters You will be surprised at the quality of newsletters today. They are making a comeback. Subscribe to these ten fantastic newsletters and find out why. Read More out there is Now I Know by Dan Lewis; it’s a daily newsletter that focuses on one fascinating fact or story. It’s pretty short, easy to read, entertaining, and always extremely interesting. You should sign up regardless of whether you listen to Stuff You Should Know.

Today I Found Out is a website with very much the same idea — help people learn about interesting things (even if you didn’t know they were interesting before).

If You Like 99% Invisible


Design is everywhere in our lives, but we rarely notice it. It can make things easier, more difficult, more peaceful, more hectic, more beautiful, or uglier, and you probably never stop to think about it. 99% Invisible is trying to change that by highlighting great design in the world and exploring how it affects us.

The first blog I have to point out here is Colossal, a fantastic look at design in its largest and smallest forms. It contains tons of high-quality photos of breathtaking design that will get you thinking about why things look the way they do.

Dezeen and Contemporist also focus on architecture, while The Design Blog showcases all sorts of things, from packaging to signage to clothing.

Finding New Things to Read Every Day

Of course, no website or blog will ever fully replace a podcast; each show is shaped and driven by a unique crew of people that give the novel approach to its topic area. But these blogs and websites can help you learn a lot about the things you’re interested in if you don’t like listening to podcasts. There’s something out there for everyone — it just takes a bit of searching to find it.

And if you are a fan of podcasts, be sure to check out these great literary podcasts Listen Up, Book Lovers: 10 of the Best Podcasts for Bibliophiles If you're always on the lookout for great book recommendations, these podcasts will keep your “to read” list full, and offer some insightful commentary into the lives of authors everywhere. Read More , awesome gaming podcasts Attention, Gamers! Here Are the 10 Best Gaming Podcasts Video games were one of the first mediums to go all in on podcasts, and there are now a wealth of gaming podcasts from which to choose. Here are 10 of the best. Read More , and podcasts about productivity Let's Talk Productivity: 7 Podcasts You Should Listen To For Working Awesomely Let us talk about productivity -- or let these seven life hackers talk about the little things we can do to work awesomely. Plug in...sit back...and listen. Read More .

What are your favorite podcast-alternative places to read online? Which podcasts would you love to find alternatives to? What have you found that seems irreplaceable? Leave a comment below so we can all find something great to read!

Image Credit: Pile of tiles by cherezoff via Shutterstock, Arina P Habich via Shutterstock.com.

Related topics: Podcasts, Reading.

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  1. Wayne Lee
    February 21, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Well Dann I am a slow reader, have delexia .I happened to love pod cast because I'm an auditory learner. Thanks for the Article.

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      Yeah, that would make a big difference in how you value podcasts! I'm a rather fast reader, so I can see why we'd have differing views on them. Podcasts are fantastic for a lot of people, and I'm glad you find value in them. There are definitely a lot of really great ones out there.

  2. Donna
    February 1, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Dann, thank you for including Hippocampus Magazine in this post. Very interesting. I like how you matched up writing with podcast themes. I discovered a few new place! - Donna, founder/publisher of Hippocampus Magazine.

    • Dann Albright
      February 3, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      You're very welcome! I really enjoyed what I read on Hippocampus, and I'll definitely continue reading in the future. I'm glad you found some new things to read—that's always really fun!

  3. Adam
    January 9, 2016 at 11:46 am

    ... I dnt know what to say, not sure how someone can hate a podcast, its like saying u hate all movies, all tv shows or all books. There a podcasts for everything, any subject. I love podcasts cuz they can be about anything. im anti social lol, but hey its good to hear a convo. RIP TECHNOPHILLA

    • Dann Albright
      January 10, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      Well, there are definitely are some people who don't like all books, and I'm sure there are people who have a very strong preference for movies over TV shows. It's not a problem of subject, it's a problem of media; I know they can be about anything, but the fact that they're so much slower than I can read is the problem.

  4. Alan
    January 4, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Thank you for this. I also HATE podcasts. I can read 5 times faster than anyone speaks, even fast talking New Yorkers. If I needed to listen to all of the things I want to read every day I would never get anything done.

    This is a great list. I'll be adding some of these to my daily reading list.

    • Dann Albright
      January 10, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      I'm glad you found the list useful! I knew there'd be someone else out there who felt the same way about podcasts. :-)