The Best Podcasts for Every Situation

updated Sep 11, 2019
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Snow is piling up outside your window and you’re stuck at home for the foreseeable future. Sure, you can tackle some chores, but after you’ve organized your kitchen, cooked your heart out, and watched a handful of movies and TV shows, you might be ready for another kind of stimulation.

May we suggest diving into some podcasts? Not only are they free to listen to, but they can also be downloaded or streamed instantly. (Who are we kidding? You know what a podcast is!)

Whether you’re looking for something to enlighten you, amuse you, make you emotional, or just make you think, we’ve got the perfect podcast to suggest. So put on a pot of tea, snuggle under your favorite blanket, and fill up your queue with some of the most innovative podcasts available.

If you’re done cooking for the day …

Just because your fridge and belly are full, doesn’t mean your mind is. Stuff it with knowledge from one of these food-themed podcasts.

  • After parting ways with America’s Test Kitchen, Christopher Kimball started his own media venture, Milk Street Radio. Recent episodes feature Dorie Greenspan remembering her experiences with Julia Child, deep talks with Nigella Lawson, and more.
  • We love the Prince Street podcast for reasons aside from the fact that our office is near the street it’s named after. Howie Kahn, a James Beard Award-winning writer, hosts and brings in high-caliber guests to discuss everything from wine to dive-bar snacks and everything in between.
  • Celebrate impressive women doing impressive things in the food world with each episode of Radio Cherry Bombe.

If you’re addicted to reality TV shows …

Listening to these podcasts will make you feel like you’re surrounded by friends, even if you’re stuck in your house (wearing no makeup and still in your pajamas).

If you want to dive deep into a specific topic …

There’s a crop of podcasts where entrepreneurs, media personalities, and various professionals tell you about their highly specialized world.

  • NPR’s How I Built This gives you a backstage pass to how movers and shakers built their companies from the ground up. All the failures, frustrations, and setbacks from the people behind Zumba, Spanx, and Warby Parker — to name a few — are covered.
  • The wonderful Crimetown show dives into the knotty world of political corruption in Providence, Rhode Island. Listening to the show feels like you’re watching a high-quality HBO drama.
  • If you want something lighter, explore the emotional side of finances with Bad with Money with Gaby Dunn. She’s on a one-woman quest to make money issues less scary and talks with friends and family about how financial literacy (or the lack of it!) has shaped their lives.

If you want to hear some awesome storytelling …

We are living in the golden age of podcasts and shows like Risk, The Moth, or Snap Judgment, which highlight some of the best storytelling available. All three shows feature incredible personal stories featuring compelling guests.

If you want to laugh so hard, you scare your cat …

Snow days can get boring after you’ve had your third mug of hot chocolate. To switch up the energy, chuckle along to these wonderful podcasts.

  • In You’re the Expert, a rotating roster of comedians try to discern a guest’s occupation. The concept might sound dry, but it’s actually illuminating to hear people talk about their unusual day jobs, and the comedians keep it light.
  • 2 Dope Queens is a cult favorite podcast where Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams sit around and dish about, well, everything with their comedian friends.
  • Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! is NPR’s hilarious weekly current events quiz.
  • If you strongly believe that a hot dog is not a sandwich or that people need toaster ovens and toasters, you might want to tune into Judge John Hodgman, in which the comedian listens to real-life disputes and weighs in, courtroom-style.
  • If you like oddball historical stories, The Dollop will be right up your alley. In it, two comedians dive deep into American history and offer their hysterical commentary on some truly strange events.

If you want to hide in a fictional world …

Prepare a kettle of tea and dive into Homecoming, a gritty, groundbreaking series from Gimlet Media featuring the voices of Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, David Cross, Amy Sedaris, and David Schwimmer. It involves a government project focusing on soldiers returning home from war, and the creative storytelling will keep you glued to the show. That’s all we’ll say. Just listen.

If you want to get overly emotional …

Feel like having a good cry? These podcasts will do that — and they might even make you extra appreciative.

  • A.J. Jacob’s Twice Removed is a wonderful podcast that explores family trees. Each episode is capped off with a mysterious guest who’s revealed to be related to the famous subject. It’s quite powerful to hear how one’s relatives have shaped history. It was a major tearjerker for us!
  • Terrible, Thanks for Asking features stories from people who aren’t feeling okay. The stories are sometimes sad, and sometimes filled with pain, but they’re always real. Keep your Kleenex close!

If you want to listen to people making sense of intense events …

Regret weighs heavy on these moving shows.

  • Heavyweight is a fabulous, compelling podcast where people go back to an event that changed them and see if they can make sense of it. The second episode, “Gregor,” where a guy tries to get his CDs back from Moby, is a particular standout.
  • If you want to go back in time, check out You Must Remember This to hear fascinating secret or forgotten early Hollywood-era stories about people like Spencer Tracy, Audrey Hepburn, Joan Crawford, and Charlie Chaplin.

If you want your mind blown …

Turns out, there’s more than one way to look at something.

  • Malcom Gladwell’s marvelous show, Revisionist History, takes a second look at a range of topics from college fundraising to basketball free-throws to women artists.
  • You might also like Undone, which traces how big events that were believed to have been over ended up influencing the world in larger ways. For instance, in the “Disco Demotion Night” episode, we hear about how the effort to burn disco records in the late ’70s actually helped the nascent house music scene rise in its ashes. Disco music didn’t die; it evolved into one of the most popular strains of music of all time.

What podcasts do you like to listen when you’re snowed it? Tell us in the comments!