The Wide World of Podcasts: NHPR Producers Give Their Recommendations
It's a golden age for podcasting, with thousands you can listen to any time, anywhere. NHPR producers discuss the latest trends in podcasting, and give their picks for all kinds of listening, from in-depth reporting, to storytelling, to comedy, and more.
- Rebecca Lavoie - NHPR’s Digital Director, but she’s also the host and producer of several podcasts, including one which reviews other podcasts. That show is called Crime Writers On…, and it’s been downloaded more than twelve million times.
- Maureen McMurray - Director, Content Innovation and Audience Development at NHPR. She is the former executive producer for the Creative Production Unit at NHPR, which produces Civics 101, Word of Mouth, and Outside/In. She has also worked as a producer on both the Catholic Channel on Sirius/XM and on Martha Steward Living Radio.
- Justine Paradis - Producer/reporter for NHPR’s podcasts Outside/In, Civics 101, and Word of Mouth – also formerly a producer at Millennial podcast from Radiotopia. She also organizes occasional “listening nights” and writes a podcast + media email newsletter, “sheets to the wind”.
WATCH this show:
How Do I Listen?
A Beginner's Guide to Podcasts from Wired is also a useful tool.
Below is a list of podcasts that began as podcasts, not as radio shows that were converted to podcasts, such as mainstays like This American Life or Radiolab, though they may now air on some radio stations.
Host Sarah Koenig and her team launched the podcast boom with their narrative nonfiction story, which is told over multiple episodes. They investigate the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a high school student in Baltimore, and the conviction of her ex-boyfriend, high schooler Adnan Masud Syed, by revisiting key locations, talking to witnesses, and sharing their own thoughts about the case.
Twenty minutes a day, every weekday, this podcast produced by the New York Times and hosted by Michael Barbaro covers news by talking to reporters and those involved in stories, and provides context. NHPR will start airing The Daily on Monday, July 9th at 6:30 PM.
Produced by WNYC Studios, More Perfect looks at the history, and some of the biggest cases, of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Maron's show, which has over 900 episodes, features the comedian interviewing comedians, musicians, actors, and more. It is one of the most successful and long-running interview-format podcasts.
Groundbreaking Shows To Listen To Now:
In the first season of this investigative reporting podcast, reporter Madaleine Baran and her team reported on the investigation surrounding the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling in 1989. Shortly before the release of the first episode, Danny Heinrich confessed to the murder. In Season 2, the team moved to Mississippi for a year to look at the case surrounding Curtis Flowers, who has been tried six times for the death penalty for a quadruple homicide in a furniture store.
Rukmini Callimachi, a reporter for the New York Times who covers ISIS, takes listeners inside her reporting. She reports from a hotel room in Canada with a former ISIS member, in Mosul after ISIS fell, and in a refugee camps to speak with girls who escaped captivity.
The audio art project podcast The Heart launched a series in 2017 about sexuality, power, and consent, told through the story of one woman.
Third Coast International Audio Festival's podcast, and a great place to find innovative and interesting podcasts and producers.
Newsletter and publication about audio storytelling and the podcast industry.
In-depth, eclectic interviews that portray people and situations in innovative, interesting ways.
Short documentaries and adventures produced by Josie Long for BBC Radio. Phil Smith is a frequent contributor and one of my favorite makers. He'll often use poetry or literature to frame a piece about contemporary love, relationships, or modern life. For instance, in "A Very Different Time," Smith weaves a reimagining of W.H. Auden's "Paysage Moralisé" with personal accounts of escaping Syria as a refugee.
Not precisely a podcast, but this production group consistently produces some of my very favorite work. Try "A Cow a Day", in which producer Pejk Malinovski follows a cow through the ancient city of Varanasi from sunrise to sunset, or Sally Hership's "As Many Leaves", an audio diary and meditation on heartbreak.
14-part documentary series from Scene on Radio on the history and meaning of whiteness in America.
Produced by Gimlet Media, this podcast will "go back to the time our divisions turned into a war, and bring stories left out of the official history."
Though currently not producing any new shows, this podcast from Panoply looked at relationships, and the intersection of sex and technology.
Why do we say the things we say? This podcast attempts to answer that question, through history and context. On the website, you can also search for an episode based on a word they have discussed.
A podcast based out of Australia for Radio International, This is About looks at stories about things that happen to people, from communism, the story of a donor to a fertility clinic, and the life and death of one of the producers of the program, Jesse Cox.
Interviews with authors and journalists about their writing process, and their biggest stories.
Maureen loves to listen to local podcasts that cover issues and feature voices from different regions.
A monthly podcast by VPR that investigates questions and stories about Vermont, guided by questions from the people who live there.
Kids ask the questions, and the show finds the answers. From VPR.
This Kentucky-based podcast from Louisville Public Media and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Journalism follows the story of a preacher turned politician, and the lies that helped fuel his career.
Produced by WFAE, the public radio station based in Charlotte, North Carolina, She Says follows the story of a sexual assault survivor as she tries to find justice in the Mecklenburg County court system.
A show from Nashville Public Radio that looks at what connects people, "whether it's food, death, ritual, language, family, or friendship."
A production from West Virginia Public Broadcasting, this podcast explores the cultural issues that divide people, including money, drugs, religion, and race.
From Wyoming Public Radio, a show about where human experience and nature meet.
From WBEZ, the behind-the-scenes story of Oprah's talk show.
Rebecca reviews true crime podcasts, films, and television shows for her podcast, Crime Writers On..., and below are some of her favorite picks for serialized and in-depth true crime coverage, and other podcasts she enjoys.
A series from the 30 for 30 documentary team at ESPN that covers the rise of Bikram Yoga, and the troubled history and behavior of its founder, Bikram Choudhury.
A 7-part serialized true crime podcast that looks at the case of a double murder in the Bronx at the height of the crime wave in the 90's by journalist Steve Fishman.
The second season of the Missing & Murdered podcast from CBC looks at the disappearance of a young Cree girl, and the widespread separation of Cree children from their families in the 20th century. \
Musicians deconstruct their songs to tell stories about how they were made.
Investigation of the murder of Sophia Toscan du Plantier in West Cork, Ireland in 1996, with unprecidented access to the main suspect.
A show "born out of a desire for open and honest conversations about the things that we think about a lot, and need to talk about more."
"One phone call, one hour. No names. No holds barred."
The story of crime in Providence, RI, through the impact of one corrupt mayor, Buddy Cianci.
Podcasts that help you learn or accomplish tasks:
For Smart Speakers (ex: Alexa, start Chompers!)
In two minutes, help your children build good tooth brushing habits.
A podcast from Marketplace about the economy, technology, and culture.
"Tak[ing] on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what's fact, what's not, and what's somewhere in between."
Uses current events to dive into the U.S.'s past. Some topics include the early days of photography, the Chicago World's Fair, and the history of hair.
For Language Learning:
"Spanish-language podcast that tells Latin American stories from anywhere Spanish is spoken."
Bilingual podcast created for the Latinx community in the Midwest.
A Lord of the Rings podcast that studies everything written and created by Tolkien for the epic.
Two men discuss the seminal series of young adult books about babysitting.
Two friends watch and analyze cases covered on Dateline.
Two women discuss the intersections of fandom, literature, and culture.
A music scholar who doesn't like Billy Joel sits down with a Billy Joel fan to talk about his music, going song by song.
Fun, Strange, Hilarious, Heartfelt:
Jamie Morton reads aloud the adult novel his father wrote for two of his friends.
"A podcast about our bodies and the life we live because of them."
The two female hosts explore the ways women express their desire. They discuss Hollywood actors, representation, and feature original fanfiction.
Each episode takes listeners inside one couple's therapy session.
A weekly Harry Potter podcast that has been going strong since 2005.
A podcast that brings listeners inside San Quentin prison.
"Investigating a strange world and making science accessible."
A comedy show hosted live in Brooklyn by Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams.
"Intimate, funny conversations with all kinds of artists who (mostly) aren't white dudes.
"A twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events."
Three brothers answer Yahoo questions. "An advicecast for the modern era."
"An audio podcast...about the life of my six-year-old transgender daughter."
Podcasts Created By NHPR:
A podcast refresher course on some basics you may have forgotten, or slept through, in school.
Exploring the nooks and crannies of New Hampshire.
A show about the natural world and how we use it.
A podcast about how great writers conjure and craft their work.
Featuring authors from around New Hampshire, and books about New Hampshire.
Exploring the wonder of the landscape that surrounds us in New Hampshire.