40 Best Podcasts of 2020
If you’ve never immersed your toes in the vast world of podcasts, prepare for your new obsession. With a similar format for speaking on the radio, podcasts usually include a host or hosts discussing material ranging from news to the kitchen, interviewing special guests or among themselves, sharing stories, performing an audio play or a delicious hodgepodge of all of the above. Most of the best podcasts have themed songs or background music to fill the silence, and their duration may vary depending on your attention span. Some of the shorter podcasts are only 5 minutes long, while others run for hours. And because they come in such a range of styles and subjects, you can log in to keep your mind busy while doing chores, cooking dinner, exercising, or any other foolish task.
This year, a Pulitzer Prize was awarded to a podcast for the first time in its history, validating the media in a whole new way. The winner was This American life, a podcast version of the hugely popular radio series. Our favorite podcasts of 2020 range from comedy podcasts that take you on a shoot, to story podcasts that take us to another world, real crime podcasts that give listeners a chance to play amateur detective, shows kitchen scolding the stomach, etc. . You will also find your new favorite here.
1 out of 40
Host Allison Behringer opens the curtain on medical mysteries and phenomena in this intimate documentary-style podcast. People share their medical mystery stories in a revealing and raw way that can make you say, “Oh, me too!”
2 out of 40
This American life
The first podcast to win a Pulitzer Prize, this narrative podcast was a popular radio show long before the form existed. Its huge order book of episodes alone will give you plenty to fill your ears. Let the host Ira Glass guide you through fascinating stories about the people among us, in a beautifully produced pod.
3 out of 40
Quirky comedian Chris Gethard invites anonymous callers to tell him their stories in this hour-long show that never goes in the direction you think. People bring all kinds of conversations on the line, like what it’s like to break up in your quarantine, to want to be a wrestler, and how a job interview went. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes zen, and totally fascinating.
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4 out of 40
Reply to all
While this long-running podcast hosted by Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt is supposed to be about the Internet and technology, it really covers much more than that. They answer questions from callers on the impact of technology on their lives and discuss Internet phenomena and problems. It’s fun, contagious and educational at the same time.
5 out of 40
News junkies will love this series of audio documentaries on politics, power and what really happened during the most significant events in our country. The first season reveals the disputed election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, and the second sinks into Iran-Contra.
6 out of 40
This scary podcast invites you to gather around the digital campfire while people tell the real scary stories that really happened to them. It’s just the right amount of scary, but you may still want to hook up during the day.
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7 out of 40
All the small things
Have you ever wondered who we should blame for the pants? Why the hell are we keeping the plants inside? And do dogs still say “woof” in other languages? Answer these and other burning questions with this podcast that lives up to its name.
8 out of 40
How did it happen?
If you like movies that are so bad, they’re good – or just movies in general – grab the popcorn for this hysterical podcast. Each episode welcomes Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas and special guests dissect another film that should never have done so. No need to watch the movies in advance, but it helps.
9 out of 40
Why don’t you want to go out with me?
Let’s face it, we probably all asked ourselves that exact question at some point. But few of us can speak of it as hilarious as Nicole Byer. Listen to her as she recounts the struggle that is modern dating. Byer’s sometimes-steamy comedy isn’t much of a ride-sharing experience, so use headphones or wait until it’s adults-only.
ten out of 40
Look, entertainment is culture and society is politics and everything is intertwined these days. Animators Ira Madison III, Louis Virtel and Aida Osman talk about these entangled sites in this podcast that will keep you informed of the latest trends in an informative and entertaining way.
11 out of 40
If you only listen to one news podcast, do so. Host Michael Barbaro breaks down the biggest news of the day (hence the name) in a format that will make you feel like you know what’s going on there. My father listened to NPR in the morning. Now it’s a Daily convert. So this is it.
12 out of 40
The sinking of the Titanic. Irish potato starvation. The McDonald’s coffee trial. This fun and informative podcast investigates some of the greatest failures of our time; how they happened, what didn’t work and if they could have been avoided. History buffs who want a laugh, this one is for you.
13 out of 40
Phoebe reads a mystery
If you know the seminal podcast of the real crime Criminal, you already know that host Phoebe Judge has one of the most soothing voices in audio. Hear her read a novel by Agatha Christie in this delightfully entertaining novel that partly resembles a podcast, an audio book.
14 out of 40
In the dark
The first season of this captivating podcast on true investigative crimes follows journalist Madeleine Baran as she reports the kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling. In the second season, Baran examines the case of Curtis Flowers, who has been tried six times for the same crime. If you like to dive deep into summary court cases, you’ll love this award-winning Peabody module.
15 out of 40
For those of us who used to collect Snapple caps for the random facts written inside, Decoder ring is right on your street. Each episode explores a subject you may never have thought about too much. Think of Murphy Law, Bart Simpson, the animatronic creatures and the genre that reveal the holidays.
16 out of 40
Dolly Parton’s America
I was not a big fan of Dolly Parton before listening to this podcast, and now I listen to nine to five (sorry, not sorry). Diehard Dolly fans have probably listened to it before, but if you haven’t, this exploration of Dolly’s life and influence will certainly turn you into Dollyhead too.
17 out of 40
Whoever really put gender on the map, this smash hit true crime podcast hit Zeitgeist with its first season, in which journalist Sarah Koenig investigated the case of Adnan Syed who was charged with the murder of his ex-petite friend. If you missed the boat on it, get on it.
18 out of 40
10 things that scare me
As the title suggests, this funny and relatable podcast delves into people’s fears, from the immense to the tiny. We are talking about things like your dog’s death, mortality, deep water or asking too much of the people you love. It will make you feel a little less lonely no matter what keeps you up at night.
19 out of 40
You are wrong
In this education and entertaining podcast, hosts Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall revisit the media sensations you thought you knew. And what they reveal amazes us completely. They cover topics like the OJ Simpson trial, the Challenger disaster and the Tonya Harding drama in a whole new way.
20 out of 40
Whether you’re a new mom, a grandmother, planning to become a mom, or even to have as a mom, this podcast will help you answer some tough questions you may not feel comfortable asking anyone who is an IRL. Famous reproductive psychiatrist Alexandra Sacks has honest and enlightening conversations that make you feel like you’re listening to therapy.
21 out of 40
Off the gram
Join Women’s day Content Director Meaghan Murphy and her three powerful teammates Jamie, Heidi and Christine in a super inspiring podcast that will help you live your best life, channel your inner little girl and navigate the ever-changing landscapes of wellness and social media. Special guests include fashion designers, celebrity trainers, CEOs and other women who can help you live your yay.
22 out of 40
Hypochondriacs or delicate people may want to sit this one. The hosts Justin and his wife, Dr. Sydnee McElroy, spend each episode discussing everything related to health and well-being through the ages. It’s conversational, it’s quirky, and it’s perfect for anyone who has bookmarked WebMD.
23 out of 40
The Murder Squad
True crime lovers and amateur bloodhounds, take your detective caps and your magnifying glasses. This innovative podcast lets you drive a shotgun as retired investigator Paul Holes and investigative reporter Billy Jensen dig into cold cases in real time. Listeners are invited to submit theories and their own research, creating a unique participatory experience.
24 out of 40
This five parts New york times series by Hannah Nicole-Jones delves into the economic, social, health and political impact of being black in America. It examines how slavery has changed the course of history, and it is a must-have for everyone.
25 out of 40
Here to kill
Authors Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan Cotton come true on this podcast that offers a black feminist perspective on pop culture, mental health, politics and much more. They invite celebrities, politicians and activists to join the conversation, with a lot of side jokes to keep things from getting too intense.
26 out of 40
How to fail
You think everyone has everything together, but you? Think again. Journalist Elizabeth Day chats with people who seem to have been successful about when they fell and how they got up. Their simple and refreshing conversations will also inspire you to try again.
27 out of 40
If there is a Orange is the new Black-shaped hole in your heart, try this podcast that takes listeners inside the gates of San Quentin prison. The hosts will give you an overview of what’s going on behind bars – including how they handle romance, cell block cooking, what locking really looks like and how inmates entertain and entertain each other.
28 out of 40
Call your girlfriend
This conversational podcast gives the impression of sitting on one of these disjointed conversations that take place between best friends. Long distance hosts and besties Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow really cover everything from current events to what they read in this podcast that will make you want to call your best friend too.
29 out of 40
True stories, told live without notes, make up this compelling narrative podcast. Some of the guests are fine professionals, but many are just average people with a microphone and a story to tell. Some episodes are funny, others are sincere, but all are of great listening.
30 out of 40
Justice John Hodgman
Sometimes disputes between friends or partners need an impartial moderator, and that’s where judge John Hodgman comes in. Guests bring their little arguments, their long-standing bullocks and their stuck disputes to stardom and to the comedian, who weighs in on what they should do in a podcast perfect for anyone with a weakness for Judge Judy.
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