Because selection bias, if you’re reading this I’m willing to bet you listened to, and loved, Serial.
Maybe you had never previously listened to a podcast before and picked up Serial halfway through, on the recommendation of a rabid fan. Maybe you heard it on This American Life. However you got to it, it’s over – at least for now.
Here are a few excellent podcasts to fill the Serial-sized hole in your Thursday morning commute. If you already listen to podcasts, you’ll almost certainly know the first few.
Radiolab is my favorite podcast, and one of my favorite things, period. Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich have consistently put out eminently re-listenable, curiosity-driven inquiries that rival the best efforts of journalists and entertainers everywhere. It has an extensive back catalog of episodes, so it’s the perfect companion for a long run/bus ride (during which I’ve listened to literally hundreds of hours of it) or your daily commute.
Born from the 2008 financial crisis and This American Life, Planet Money is an economics-focused podcast consistently delivers entertaining, thoughtful, and edifying 15-20 minute episodes.
Start With: Just download the most recent two or three
The Memory Palace
Host Nate DiMeo’s The Memory Palace highlights historical ephemera – entertaining vignettes that could be footnotes in your college history textbook. DiMeo has an uncanny ability to dredge up the fascinating, humanist, often-heartbreaking tales behind World Fairs, elevators, and the Civil War. New episodes are rare these days, but it has a long back catalog to pull from.
99% Invisible is all about design, and the little things that so blend into the background of our daily lives that we forget that they were once made. Roman Mars is a remarkable storyteller, and this podcast will teach you to look at the daily things in your life differently.
In some ways, the most similar to Serial, StartUp (now Gimlet Media) is a, well, serialized look at starting a business. It’s hosted by Alex Blumberg, a great storyteller who was a founding member of Planet Money and a former producer for This American Life.
Start With: Episode One
Very Bad Wizards
A philosophy and psychology podcast for a (smart, curious) lay audience. Hosts Tamler Sommers (a philosopher) and David Pizarro (a psychologist) are friends and have a natural rapport, which they use to cover complicated philosophical concepts — but always in a way that is easy and entertaining to follow.
The only daily podcast I listen to, The Gist is hosted by Mike Pesca, an entertaining guy who was made to be a daily podcast host. He’s smart, funny, and clearly in love with the job.
Start With: yesterday’s episode
Slate’s Political Gabfest
Slate’s Political Gabfest is a weekly digest of the most important stories in American politics. The hosts are informed, smart, and entertaining, and I learn something every episode.
Start With: last week’s episode