An old boyfriend and I used to tease that people who listen to podcasts incessantly can’t bear to “be alone with their thoughts.” Obviously we were reluctant to fall into that category, but as freelancers we were earbudders. Hearing stories from another voice, even if tinged with unmistakable NPR idiosyncrasy, was a welcome afternoon respite, a dual sense of intimacy and escape once the heavy-lifting of the morning’s creative work was done. That, coupled with my somewhat naive and unexercised hope of becoming a TG-KT-CR-IT (Terry Gross-Krista Tippett-Charlie Rose-In Training), and I used listening as tutelage.
Curator was previously in the habit of editing eponymously, assembling and directing readers toward art that’s reflective of a certain conceptual framework. We’ve let some of that go—though it brings much joy! Here’s a basic stab at getting back to that, a simple gesture that some of you might appreciate, a list.
In no particular order, these are podcasts (or radio shows) which might be pleasing in certain moods.
What’s Going On, Literary
New Yorker Radio Hour | The New Yorker’s editor, David Remnick, presents a weekly mix of in-depth interviews, profiles, and short bursts of humor.
The Author’s Voice: New Fiction from the New Yorker | New Yorker fiction writers read their stories.
Pray-as-You Go | Produced by the British Jesuits, Pray-as-You-Go combines music, scripture and some questions for reflection as a framework for your own prayer.
PZ’s Podcast | Grace-based impressions and outré correlations from the author of Grace in Practice, Paul F.M. Zahl.
The Mockingcast | A weekly digest of goings-on in the Mockingsphere. The first half of each episode is devoted to an interview with a prominent thinker/writer/artist/preacher, and the second half features a round-table discussion of that week’s news with hosts Scott Jones, Sarah Condon and David Zahl.
Workwise | Ken Kinard and Mike Boyes share a passion for helping people thrive at work. They discuss creativity, leadership, personality styles, productivity, and how to create a healthier workplace. And they featured yours truly here!
History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps | Peter Adamson, Professor of Philosophy at the LMU in Munich and at King’s College London, takes listeners through the history of philosophy, “without any gaps.” The series looks at the ideas, lives and historical context of the major philosophers as well as the lesser-known figures of the tradition.
Creative Mornings | CreativeMornings is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community and their podcast reflects material derived from those gatherings.
Mom on Pop | The A.V. Club editor-in-chief John Teti invites his mom, Bonney Teti, to share her unfiltered opinions on pop culture.
The Best Show with Tom Scharpling | Three hours of Mirth, Music and Mayhem hosted by Tom Scharpling, the grandfather of podcasting, and Jon Wurster. The show is a combination music, call-in, and comedy Internet radio, which previously aired on New Jersey-based radio stationWFMU from 2000–2013. ( A longtime fav.)
Judge John Hodgman | Have your pressing issues decided by Famous Minor Television Personality John Hodgman, Certified Judge.
Comedy Bang! Bang! | Join host Scott Aukerman for a weekly podcast that blends conversation and character work from today’s funniest comedians. While Scott begins by traditionally interviewing the celebrities, the open-door policy means an assortment of eccentric oddballs can pop by at any moment to chat, compete in games, and engage in comic revelry.
Walking the Floor with Chris Shiflett | Chris Shiflett, guitarist for Foo Fighters, Dead Peasants, and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, hosts “Walking The Floor” where he engages a wide range of musical guests, writers, athletes, and artists in one-on-one interviews exploring their creative inspirations, failures, successes and everything in between.
WFUV’s Alternate Side | In-studio performances from Fordham University’s indie station
All Songs Considered | Hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton spin new music from emerging bands and musical icons.
Oldies But Goodies
On Being | On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? KT explores these questions in their richness and complexity in 21st-century lives and endeavors. She and her guests pursue wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge; they esteem nuance and poetry as much as fact.
Radiolab | Radiolab, with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, is a radio show that has been weaving stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries for fourteen seasons.
Fresh Air with Terry Gross | Its 1994 Peabody Award citation credits Fresh Air with “probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights.” The show gives interviews as much time as needed, and complements them with comments from well-known critics and commentators.
Date Prep, Or No Date Prep
Modern Love | Modern Love: The Podcast adds new dimension to the popular New York Times column, with readings by notable personalities and updates from the essayists themselves.
Dear Sugar | Hosted by the original Sugars, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, the podcast fields relationship questions—no matter how deep or dark.
2 Dope Queens | Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, along with their favorite comedians, for stories about romance, race, hair journeys, living in New York, and Billy Joel.
Nerding Out or Happy-Resting-Face-Place (When I’m not Reading)
The Bowery Boys: New York City History | The Bowery Boys, Greg Young and Tom Meyers, have lived in New York for the past 20 years and have been curious about the city since the day they arrived. Join them for a fun take on history, a “romp down the back alleys of New York City.”
Revisionist History | Each week for 10 weeks, Malcolm Gladwell will go back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.
Stuff You Should Know
Invisibilia | Invisibilia (Latin for invisible things) is about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Co-hosted by Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel, Invisibilia interweaves narrative storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently.
Surprisingly Awesome | Revealing the hidden awesomeness in everyday things
Embedded | Hosted by Kelly McEvers, Embedded takes a story from the news and goes deep. What does it feel like for a father in El Salvador to lie to his daughter about the bodies he saw in the street that day? What does it feel like for a nurse from rural Indiana to shoot up a powerful prescription opioid? Embedded (EMBD) takes you to where they’re happening.
Bon Appetit Foodcast | Featuring interviews with chefs, writers, and anyone who has anything to say about food.
99% Invisible | 99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about—the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.
Don’t let the length of this list overwhelm you! Don’t let this become another pressure. Know that no one is listening to all of this material. This list is just a little menagerie for folks looking to enliven their highway commutes, a trick for people who are scrubbing their baseboards, material for a stag sunbather. It’s good stuff, and it deserves an audience—that can be you or not.