5 Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter and Happier Right Now

“Why aren’t you listening to podcasts when you’re doing mundane things like driving or washing the dishes?” That’s what I tell myself whenever I’m bored and doing things I would rather not be doing (like running). Seriously—podcasts have made life more interesting and me more thoughtful, and they’re free and amazing and basically you should just go listen to some right after you finish reading this.

Maybe you don’t listen to them because you don’t know where to start. And if you do listen, maybe you’re looking for some new ones. I have re-energized my teaching by using podcasts in the classroom (my students are currently making podcasts to be played on local radio ANY DAY NOW :D), but I’ll save a post for that at a later date. Right now I’m just going to share some of my faves because they’re awesome. 

Disclaimer: These podcasts made me smarter and happier. You may disagree. Listen for yourself and decide!

1. Reply All

NERD ALERT. Reply All is one that I can’t get enough of these days, probably because it’s about the Internet, which is weird and wonderful and never stops being terribly awesome. The show explores different questions and mysteries that shape our culture through the Internet/technology. I know it sounds nerdy, and it IS, but it’s the best kind of nerdy. And I desperately want to be friends with P.J. Vogt and Alex Goldman, the hosts. They just seem like the coolest dudes. A great first episode to listen to, in my opinion, is this one (hint: it involves Uber and Russia).

2. Missing Richard Simmons


Photo credit: Stitcher

Did you know Richard Simmons basically disappeared about three years ago? I didn’t. Did you know he was one of the most motivational and inspiring people of the weight loss world? I didn’t. I mostly thought he was just…strange and wore short shorts. And had exercise videos. The host of this podcast (one of Richard’s clients and friends), decides to trace back to the root of why Richard disappeared and what he’s doing now. It’s a short story of about six episodes, so it’s a good one to binge. You’ll learn a lot about Richard and his life, and get a look into the complex life of a celebrity. Listen to it on Stitcher.com.

3. Sawbones: A marital tour of misguided medicine


Photo Credit: Podbay

People in the healthcare profession or not, this one’s for you! The hosts Sydnee and Justin McElroy and are married. She’s a doctor, he’s not, and they explore different things that doctors and healthcare professionals did back in the day that were not-so-effective, like bloodletting—among other things. It’s hilarious, there’s married person banter, and you learn stuff. Check, check, and check. This is one my husband recommended to me, and it’s one of our first picks for a long car ride. Since he’s a doctor and I’m not, it’s fun to listen to because it sounds like some conversations we tend to have. Even if you’re not particularly interested in healthcare, it’s a great show! My husband and I just simulistened (is that a word?) to a recent episode about Hydrogen Peroxide while we went on a run the other night, and we couldn’t stop laughing. Listen to it on Podbay.

4. The Weeds


Photo Credit: Vox.com

POLITICAL NERD ALERT. This one is credited to a very good friend with whom I drove from the great state of Ohio back home to Colorado. We had our podcasts cued up, and she chose this one—it did not disappoint. The Weeds is produced by Vox, so there’s obviously some left-leaning tendencies there. As someone who is ‘head in the sand’ about politics (recently), I thought it was a good listen because it doesn’t make you feel stupid and it is well-researched with legitimate hosts who know what they’re talking about. An episode in particular she had me listen to was one revolving around educational policy before, unfortunately, Betsy Devos was crowned Educational Secretary.  I’m sure there are many other political podcasts I should get my hands on. Any suggestions? Listen to The Weeds on Vox.com.

5. More Perfect


Photo Credit: WNYC Studios

Do you love Radiolab? Do you love political history, specifically about the Supreme Court? Am I selling this well enough? Seriously. This one is so, so good. Radiolab is one of the best-produced podcasts out there, and they spared no effort on More Perfect. From how the Supreme court got so…Supreme, to the history of the phrase ‘Cruel and Unusual Punishment,’ More Perfect digs into questions surrounding the law of the land. My favorite episode? Object Anyway, regarding the”Supreme Court ruling that was supposed to prevent race-based jury selection, but may have only made the problem worse.” Listen to it on WNYC.org.

Happy Listening!



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