Podcasts have been increasing in popularity over the past few years. Cited by Convince and Convert, 40% of Americans ages 12+ have listened to a podcast. 67 million Americans listen to podcasts each month, which is an 11% increase from 2016. Want to try listening to a podcast but don’t know where to start? Below we have ranked the best podcasts of all time based on quality, popularity, and general appeal.
Best Podcasts You Need to Listen to
1. The Bright Sessions
The Bright Sessions was named one of the best podcasts in 2016 by iTunes, Wired, and Popular Science. It’s an audio science fiction drama about therapy sessions for people who have supernatural abilities. The Bright Sessions uploads new episodes every other Wednesday. Because the episodes are connected, you should start listening from episode 1 season 1 for it to make sense. The podcast is currently on its third season and is written and directed by Lauren Shippen.
2. Stuff You Should Know
The Stuff You Should Know podcast is free to listen to and is produced by How Stuff Works. Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark are the hosts of Stuff You Should Know. Listening to this podcast is a fun way to learn about new things.
New episodes are out multiple times per week. Because each episode is on a different topic, you can pick and choose which ones catch your interest. Examples of Stuff You Should Know episodes are How Itching Works and SYSK Selects: What’s the 10,000 Year Clock?. Something you may not have heard about before is charismatic megafauna, which was explored in another episode.
3. Reply All
Downloaded about three million times each month, Reply All is one of the best podcasts of all time. Anyone who uses the Internet will find this podcast interesting. It’s about how the Web affects humans and how humans shape the Internet. Have you ever wondered how such a silly, simplistic video could become popular on the Internet? Reply All explores the answers to these questions and more.
Some of the episodes take on a serious tone, such as Timbuktu. One episode shared the story of how Girl Guides had their beginning in concentration camps owned by Japan. This was discovered by Reply All through an email from a Girl Guide cookie advisor being sent to the wrong person. Even when she was trolled, she remained polite and cheerful. Reply All interviewed her and looked into the history of the Girl Guides to investigate if they’re really that cheerful.
4. Flash Forward
Flash Forward is a fun podcast that stretches your imagination. The host Rose Eveleth theorizes what the world would be like based on a fictional scenario. For example, one of the episodes is on a fictional technology that could make videos of you doing anything. Anyone could create a video of you doing things you’ve never done. As you can already imagine, that has potential for a lot of abuse, craziness, and confusion over what’s true.
After Eveleth has discussed her idea of how the scenario would unfold, an expert provides their own explanation. Flash Forward is a great podcast to listen to if you like “what if” questions. It’s also good for creative types and anyone who likes imagining how the world will change.
Do you like watching crime shows like Criminal Minds and Law and Order? Then you’ll also love the Criminal podcast. It discusses some of the strangest real stories of crimes. Phoebe Judge, former host of WUNC North Carolina Public Radio and Mississippi-based writer, is the host of Criminal. This podcast releases two episodes every month on Fridays, thus being easy to keep up with.
Examples of stories shared on the podcast include stolen identities, bullies having the tables turned on them, and murder. In episode 63, a woman who served 17 years in prison for killing her abusive boyfriend told her story. It had been an accident but the court didn’t see it that way. What’s bizarre about her story is the abuse didn’t start until she turned down his marriage proposal.
One of the best podcasts of all time is the psychological thriller Homecoming. Unlike other fiction podcasts, it doesn’t have a reporterly setup. The audio goes straight into the story taking place at a military reentry facility. Like The Bright Sessions, you should listen from episode one because the podcast is sequential. Established Hollywood actors are behind the voices in Homecoming. These actors include Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, Catherine Keener, and Amy Sedaris. Homecoming was so popular that it will be adapted into a TV series.
It’s hard to narrow down the best podcasts of all time with so many good podcasts out there. The six best podcasts listed above were selected based on quality, popularity, and general appeal. They are podcasts that most people can find entertainment or value in.
The Bright Sessions and Homecoming are two of the best fictional podcasts. The remaining four on the list are good non-fiction choices with Flash Forward being a mixture of fiction and non-fiction.
Do you have other interesting suggestions in mind? We’d love to hear all about them.