Fall’s Best Podcast Harvest
October 03, 2016
Stop what you’re doing and fire up your podcast app. Chances are you have a commute home ahead of you, and there’s one way to make it better: pre-downloading five podcasts we’re pretty sure you haven’t heard yet.
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Perfect for when: you need to laugh. The program’s general lack of structure is proof that sometimes, people are so truly funny, they could talk about anything and find a way in. But this isn’t technically new—once Vanity Fair profiles you, you’ve kinda arrived. What is new and welcome is the co-hosts’ perspectives. In a world that’s homogenous (NPR’s podcast studio), Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams are a needed breath of fresh air. When you can manage to stop LOL’ing.
Start with: Episode 1. The show gets stronger, tighter and funnier over time. Like a sitcom. (Remember early-days Friends? Evolution works.)
Perfect for when: you’re feeling uninspired. Jamie Derringer, founder of Design Milk, and designer Amy Devers chat candidly with some of the most innovative and creative minds in design right now. What makes this even more special is that design is so inherently visual, that the makers and voices behind them aren’t always easy to find. From intentionally creating a studio culture to making ends meet to mentoring and being mentored, each episode’s a masterclass. Start with: Episode 12 featuring industrial designer David Weeks, who’s known certainly for his lighting but is equally innovative in how he forged his path to success and now runs a studio. Great sound bite: “I never once thought it wasn’t going to work. I was always like ‘I’ll figure it out, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll modify it.”
Perfect for when: you’ve finished My Favorite Murder, the hit true-crime series, and are fiending for more. Sword and Scale is in its third season and what love most about it, is its focus on unthinkable crimes. Making a Murderer, this surely isn’t. Start with: Episode 75. Host Mike Boudet ponders what crime-journalism should be, in the age of oversharing social media when we can learn as much from civilian Instagrams as we can from a police press conference.
Perfect for when: your niece and nephew are driving you nuts. Or you’re wondering why there aren’t more podcasts for children. If parents’ big gripe is that screentime is rotting their kids’ brains—and they’re not wrong—doesn’t audible entertainment seem like the answer? Brains On! thinks so, and it’s basically like Radiolab for the six-year-old breakfast nook set. Except instead of Jad and Robert, a different kid co-hosts each episode and tackles one question by interviewing a series of experts. It’s beyond tolerable. It’s good. Start with: “How do airplanes fly?” from June of this year.
Perfect for when: you’re pondering the concept of destiny. Gimlet’s newest podcast Heavyweight (so new it hasn’t yet set up its own sure-to-be-excellent Instagram account) is like a time machine that’s piloted by the super-duper-friendly Jonathan Goldstein. He chats with regular folks to find the moment they took the wrong turn, made the wrong choice, or veered off course. Start with: either of the only two episodes in existence, both from last week. We recommend “Buzz,” conversations between two brothers who haven’t spoken in decades, by choice. Can Jonathan get them to reconnect?