The Best Podcasts of 2015: A Guide for New Listeners

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Gastropod — A bewitching show about food, science, and history from veteran journalists Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley.

Imaginary Worlds — Delightful trips into the worlds created by fantasy and sci-fi authors and filmmakers, from public radio producer Eric Molinsky.

Inquiring Minds — From Climate Desk and Mother Jones, an interview show focused on science topics in the news. I was a guest back in July.

Invisibilia — The first season of this NPR show about “the invisible forces that control human behavior” was all too short. Waiting impatiently for Season 2.

Limetown — Haunting serial drama about the disappearance of a town full of people who were involved in a secretive mind-control experiment. This show, The Message, Welcome to Night Vale, and Radiotopia’s The Truth are the four best fiction podcasts I’ve heard.

Longform — Interviews with famous authors and journalists by the guys behind the Longform reading-recommendations app and the Atavist magazine.

The Message — The first eight-episode season of this science fiction serial from General Electric and Panoply had amazingly good writing and high production values.

The Memory Palace — Host Nate Demeo reads what are, in effect, prose poems shining light on forgotten people and episodes in history.

Mystery Show — A Gimlet show in which This American Life alum Starlee Kine uses her storytelling and detective instincts to get to the bottom of everyday mysteries. It’s like Serial without the crime.

The New Yorker: Politics and More — Weekly discussions of politics with staff writers from The New Yorker.

The New Yorker Radio Hour — Co-produced by The New Yorker and WNYC and hosted by The New Yorker editor David Remnick, this new variety show is exactly what you’d think The New Yorker would sound like, if it were a radio show.

Note to Self — A funny, engaging, highly relatable show about technology and our personal lives, from WNYC’s Manoush Zomorodi. Formerly known as New Tech City.

On Being — Krista Tippett’s trademark deep interviews with thinkers, artists, and scientists who can help shed light on spirituality and “the big questions of meaning.”

On the Media — Can’t-miss weekly show from WNYC rounding up the latest hijinx on the part of the mainstream press or the people they’re trying to cover.

Out on the Wire — A companion podcast to Jessica Abel’s new book Out on the Wire, a graphic documentary/how-to book for storytellers of all stripes. I’m learning a ton from this show and from the accompanying working group on Google+.

Planet Money — Born from the financial crisis of 2008, Planet Money is still the best podcast on business, economics, fiscal policy, and the wacky human behavior driven by money.

Radio Diaries — A non-narrated show, expertly carved together from audio diaries recorded by regular people. I suggest starting with the episode on prison guards.

Radiolab — The epitome of the highly produced, sonically sophisticated storytelling show, with an emphasis on science.

Reply All — A fun show from Gimlet about the bizarre situations people get into with help from the Internet.

Serial — Now in its second season, this is the show that introduced tens of millions of people to the podcasting phenomenon. It stretches a single non-fiction story over a whole season; this time around it’s about Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who went AWOL in Afghanistan.

Signal — A great podcast about the precarious business of biotech and drug development, from Xconomy alum Luke Timmerman and CNBC reporter Meg Tirrell. … Next Page »

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