Team Sassy shares our personal podcast recommendations for the best podcasts that keep us entertained and informed
Podcasts have been around for more than a decade now, but they definitely seem to have come on particularly strong in the last few years, perhaps starting with Serial back in 2014.
On Team Sassy we loooove podcasts whether riding public transport, doing the school drop-off in the car, or even working out at the gym. They can be enlightening, informative, entertaining, laugh-out-loud funny – and just about always FREE! Unlike live radio, you can pause and rewind, plus if you find one you particularly love there may be dozens (or even hundreds!) of episodes to dive into. We love sharing our picks for the best podcasts with each other, so figured it might be worth telling the mamas in our audience about them, too.
From news and politics, to pop culture, parenting, and tech, here are some of the best podcasts worth checking out in 2020!
Where to find podcasts? iPhone/Apple users can hit up the “podcasts” button on your iPhone or iPad. You can also find all the best podcasts on Spotify. Other popular apps for streaming podcasts include Stitcher, Luminary and Overcast. Happy listening, mamas!
Lead image by Juja Han on Unsplash
1. 60 Minutes
I discovered recently that one of my favourite American TV programs is available in podcasts. 60 minutes is one of America’s most successful television program of all time, focused on investigative journalism. The weekly show often breaks stories or deep dives into top current top stories. Each episode is the complete broadcast of the show so you can listen whenever you want. I love listening to it while driving.
2. TED Talks Daily
I am a huge fan of TED Talks. Thanks to their podcast I can now listen to them whenever I want. TED Talks Daily is a collection of talks given at TED and TEDx conferences around the globe. I love how varied their topics are and that they’re quite short but always thought-provoking.
3. The High Low (pictured)
I was introduced to this podcast by a friend of mine a few weeks ago and have been tuning in every week since. The High Low is a weekly pop-culture / news podcast hosted by two very sassy British journalists: Dolly Alderton & Pandora Sykes. Each week they get together and discuss the week’s biggest news stories, trends and what they’ve liked most. What makes this show so special is the chemistry between the two hosts and their witty comments. This one is sure to make you smile if not laugh out loud.
Image: The High Low via Facebook
1. Ctrl Alt Delete, specifically this one featuring Leandra Medine of Man Repeller
A friend randomly sent me a link to this with a note saying “Feel like you’d enjoy this!” and she was right, I did! It’s an easy listen looking into how one of the world’s pioneer fashion bloggers juggles work and mom life with her twins (!!) after turning her humble blog into an internet fashion empire. (Psst! Check out when Syaz herself was featured on Man Repeller for her amazing personal style! –Ed.)
One part of the episode that really stuck out for me was when she talked about going through mom guilt, but acknowledging that the time she takes away from her kids is absolutely necessary for her to continue having a sense of self and purpose outside of motherhood — something all mamas can relate to (and need a reminder of!).
2. One Bad Mother(pictured)
After the isolating first few weeks of new motherhood I searched for mom podcasts to listen to and feel less alone, which led me to One Bad Mother. I’ve been listening to it on all my solo public transport commutes ever since! Their first episode aired in 2013 and it’s still ongoing so I’m about 300 episodes behind, but each episode always leaves me in stitches and never fails to remind me that pretty much every mama out there goes through some version of the exact same everyday pickles with their kids. My favourite parts of the episode are the Genius & Fails, where they share a great personal hack or uber fail moment of the week. Makes me feel like keeping track of my own genius and fail moments so I can look back and pat myself on the back/have a total #smh moment down the road!
Image: One Bad Mother via Facebook
1. Pop Culture Happy Hour
This US-based entertainment podcast from NPR (National Public Radio) covers whatever the hot movie or TV show of the week is (occasionally they’ll do music or theatre during a lull), with a panel review and discussion from super likeable hosts Linda Holmes (bubbly cat lady), Glen Weldon (erudite and hilarious gay man), and sensitive music critic Stephen Thompson, plus a rotating panelist drawn from other NPR podcasts and critics. Those descriptions are obviously gross generalizations, but I do think they speak to the variety of perspectives that sets the show apart from a lot of other podcasts. Discussion is always lively, informed, and intelligent, with a healthy dose of humor. This is my palate cleanser when I get too worked up by Pod Save by America (#3, below).
2. The Watch
Unlike Pop Culture Happy Hour, which makes a very conscious effort to represent a variety of viewpoints and perspectives, The Watch covers similar pop culture topics but features two 40ish white guys from Philadelphia, Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan, who’ve been friends since high school and have each taken circuitous careers through music and TV criticism. Due in part to the popularity of the podcast, Andy Greenwald has even gone on to develop his own TV show, the forthcoming Briarpatch. Their conversations are so easy and comfortable, you just feel like you’re hanging out on a couch flipping through the TV channels while joking around with friends. That said, their tastes and opinions can vary; I always appreciate Andy’s “Daddington” segments (cynical takes on kids’ movies and TV shows), while Chris, who doesn’t have kids, is completely averse to anything animated. If you like the general vibe and are particularly into Harry Potter, Game of Thrones or Star Wars, be sure to check out Binge Mode, which is also part of the same network.
3. Pod Save America (pictured)
I’ve written about this one in other articles, but this political podcast is a must-listen for anyone interested in American politics (particularly from a more liberal perspective). Hosted by four former Obama staffers, two weekly episodes run through the week’s insane current events while incorporating interviews with political power players (including every Democratic presidential candidate except Joe Biden). Their insights and observations are intelligent and spot-on, but there’s just the right level of cynicism and humor to offset the seemingly never-ending deluge of bad news (again, speaking from a liberal POV here!). It’s spun off into lots of other interesting podcasts, too, including Pod Save the People (focusing on activism and social justice), Hysteria (focusing on women’s rights) and Pod Save the World (diplomacy and international relations).
Image: Pod Save America via Facebook
1. The Daily
This is a New York Times news podcast that goes behind the scenes with the biggest news story of the day. It’s like a DVD Bonus Feature or Director’s Cut for journalists to share some additional details that either didn’t make it into the article or adds some more color and insight to a story. It’s so well produced and always interesting.
2. The Ezra Klein Show(pictured)
Ezra Klein is a journalist and political wonk who co-founded Vox News. He interviews all kinds of political and media experts and newsmakers and always asks really insightful and interesting questions and gets into great conversations on a range of subjects. He also had his first child in the past year and has a lot of new interest in discussing parenthood, which has been an added bonus.
3. Real Time with Bill Maher
I was so excited to find out that this HBO show I’ve been watching for years is available as a podcast, including the Overtime segment that goes straight to YouTube. I don’t always agree with Maher, but I appreciate his perspective and enjoy the heated debates and interesting guests he has on.
Image: Ezra Klein via Facebook
My love for podcasts began when I listened to S-Town created by the producers of Serial (mentioned above) and This American Life (see below). S-Town is an investigative journalism podcast which reeled me in and turned me into a podcast junkie. Podcasts are like the different friends in your life – one you work out with, drink coffee with, pour your heart out to over a bottle of wine, chosen family, or the occasional peripheral friend. There is a potentially interesting podcast out there for each and every individual. I listen to them after school drop-offs, before school pick-ups, commuting to meetings, on the plane and even with my family. It’s nurturing and insightful self-care!
- GOOP: The Podcast: As an avid GOOPer, I happily started listening to their podcast when it first aired and Gwyneth Paltrow (GP) sat down with Oprah Winfrey. GP co-hosts this podcast with the lovely Elise Loehnen (chief content officer at GOOP), who has the best laugh and asks all the right questions! Elise conducts most of the interviews by bringing together thought leaders, culture changers, creative, founders and CEOs, scientist, doctors, healers and seekers while they talk about varying topics such as post-partum anxiety, how food affects our mood, what every conflict is actually about, different ways to detox without deprivation, spousal hate, the skin-gut connection, how to deal with assholes, how we relate to money, how to avoid the chemicals that disrupt our hormones, are we bad at listening, is intermittent fasting the key to our health, the orgasm myth, why “doing it all” is a con to name, well, more than few! On a regular basis I will share particular episodes with friends and colleagues because they resonate so much!
- This American Life: My husband introduced me to this podcast which was love at first sound simply because of the voice of host Ira Glass. It’s like audio porn. Ira Glass talks about big themes through the prism of real individual life stories which are so fascinating and appealing to non-Americans such as myself! This American Life mostly “does” journalism (it was a long-running radio program before wisely surfing the podcast wave), but it’s an entertaining kind of journalism that’s built around plot. In other words, stories! Their stories have compelling people at the center of them, funny moments, big feelings, surprising plot twists, and interesting ideas. Like little movies for radio. My kids loved “The Feather Heist” episode.
- Still Processing: This New York Times culture podcast is hosted by Jenna Wortham, who works for the New York Times Magazine, and Wesley Morris, the paper’s critic at large. This is my go-to podcast when I am in the mood for something fun and looking to get my culture fix about movies, TV, art, music and the internet. These two smart and sassy culture writers devour the things that move them to tears, awe and anger – such as Beychella, Michelle Obama’s book, JLo in Hustlers, Watchmen, ditching Kanye, MJ and Marie Kondo to name just a few. Still Processing is where they try to understand the pleasures and pathologies of America in 2019 (and now 2020).
My podcast honorable mentions:
- Caliphate, which follows New York Times reporter takes us as close to Isis as we can safely get, bringing stunning intimacy to everything from the fall of Mosul to the training and disillusionment of a young recruit.
- Esther Perel for deep digging into your soul and reflecting on relationships.
- The Daily with Michael Barbaro (see Marisa’s description above)
- Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell for data driven insights into big cultural trends
- Pineapple Street Media podcasts, especially the podcast about the missing fitness guru Richard Simmons
Image: Still Processing via Facebook