These podcasts aren’t like the tired Serial or The Nerdist or that Marc Maron character or a slew of other podcasts that are overrated.
In order to give some love to some of the most underrated podcasts out there – or if you just need something different to fill the day – here are ten of the most underrated pods you could be listening to right now.
If you were to choose only one podcast, this WNYC show should/might be it. Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, each episode is a science- and philosophy-focused investigation into topics ranging from Furbees to emo soccer goalkeepers. If an audio-only production can be visual, this veteran podcast is the one to pull off the feat, and why it remains underrated even though it’s well known.
BBC Global News
The British news outlet ties a tidy bow on worldwide news, including the important happenings in the United States, without the sensationalism or annoyster advertising. There are two episodes each weekday and one each on Saturdays and Sundays, and they typically run about 30 minutes per. This is the podcast to hear if you want to stay informed (or at least pretend that you are).
How Did This Get Made?
Goofballs Jason Mantzoukas, Paul Scheer and June Diane Raphael tear apart the super-terrible movies that somehow managed to get produced. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen the movie that’s discussed — the hosts’ jokes and catchphrases are killing.
The audio essay version of the weekly New York Times guest column, a contemporary first-person commentary on topics that revolve around love and heartbreak, features well-known actors, actresses or comedians reading choice essays. Afterwards, host Meghna Chakrabarti interviews the authors in a where-are-they-now style. Overall, the raw emotions contained in written form are amplified in audio form and sometimes leave us weepy-ish.
Each week, Aaron Lammer, Max Linsky and Evan Ratliff talk to some of the most accomplished long-form journalism and nonfiction writers, such as Adrian Chen, Kurt Anderson and Margo Jefferson. And each week, the whip-smart interviewers, who always do their pre-chat homework and then some, ask original questions that often lead to compelling tendrils related to the writing craft and/or general life experiences. This podcast has easily been one of our favorites since its inception.
Slate’s Political Gabfest
It’s probably better to listen to political talk than to actually talk out loud about it. Yes, it’s liberal, but Slate magazine’s weekly pod features intelligent political discourse from John Dickerson, Emily Bazelon and David Plotz. It got a little rough and annoying leading up to the presidential election – and the election postmortem hasn’t been stellar – but name any Trump/Hillary-centric TV show, radio broadcast, magazine story, social media discussion or podcast that hasn’t been the worst?
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Death, Sex and Money
The WNYC-produced show features Anna Sale, in a Terry Gross-like manner, getting the most out of her guests, whether it's a mega-celebrity or an everyday Joe. It’s always a wild card with the interviewee — one week it’s former U.S. senator from Wyoming Alan Simpson; the next Jane Fonda.
A relatively newbie podcast, Oxford Biography, an aural arm of Oxford University Press, showcases well-researched profiles of a wide variety of VIPs that range from the late crime novelist Raymond Chandler to William Booth, who founded the Salvation Army.
Russ Roberts, who has taught at George Mason, Washington and Stanford universities, presents nuanced, topical ins-and-outs about economics in a completely not-boring manner — in other words, it’s an economics podcast for non-economists.
Kumail Nanjiani’s The X-Files Files
Pakistani-American stand-up comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) decided to start from the very first episode of the ten-season, 208-episode The X-Files and, with the help of former actors, writers and producers from the science-fiction show, talk about every episode. It’s a totally ridiculous concept that works. Sadly, a new episode hasn’t been uploaded for a bit, but the back catalog is absolutely worth exploring.