Did you know that podcasts turn 15 this year? It is amazing to think how quickly this relatively new audio technology has revolutionized traditional radio. Unlike traditional radio, podcasts give listeners the freedom to schedule their programming whenever they want. You’re no longer required to tune in at a particular time to catch your favorite program. Nowadays, many traditional radio programs even offer podcasts of their live shows, so if you miss your usual appointment listening, you can still hear your favorite programs at another time.
By logging into iTunes, Stitcher or SoundCloud, you’ll find endless audio series that cover a wide range of topics from politics and investigative journalism to comedy and fashion. You can even “subscribe” to a particular podcast so that new episodes are automatically added to your device as they become available. Planning for a long drive? Download an entire series and hit play as you hit the road.
Whether you’re new to this audio advancement or just looking for your next good listen, you’re sure to find a favorite among this list of top podcasts that might suit you.
Podcast: Luxe Radio Theatre
Episode to Try: The Count Of Monte Cristo
If you have fond memories of gathering in the living room to catch the latest radio drama, then Luxe Radio Theatre is the ideal podcast for you. Started in 1934, this limited anthology series uses a star-filled voice acting cast to adapt Broadway plays and Hollywood films for hour-long radio presentations. Tune in to hear original narration from your old-school favorites like John Wayne and Lucille Ball.
Podcast: This American Life
Episode to Try: Switched at Birth
One of the world’s most popular podcasts, This American Life shares human interest stories with the more than 2.4 million people who tune in regularly. Host Ira Glass and a team of journalists travel across the United States to talk to people about their lives. From the angst of pre-teens and summer camp drama, to the hidden dangers of the ocean and confounding bank heists, you’re bound to find something that captures your interest among the wide range of topics covered.
Finance & Economics Podcasts
Podcast: Freakonomics Radio
Episode to Try: Is America Ready for a “No Lose” Lottery?
What started as a book with 1.5 million copies sold spun into a podcast where the hosts explore the intricacies and little-known stories surrounding economics. Don’t think pop culture, fad diets or school admissions have anything to do with the economy? Tune in and discover the obscure economic implications of almost any subject.
Podcast: Planet Money
Episode to Try: The Giant Pool of Money
Launched after the 2008 financial crises, this award-winning NPR podcast explains the nuances of economics through human interest stories. From the birth of the American minimum wage to the complexities of the Wells Fargo scandal, Planet Money engages listeners with the dramatic history of our economy.
Podcast: Stuff You Missed in History Class
Episode to Try: The Mysterious Disappearance of Theodosia Burr Alston
If you’re the history buff in your family, then you’ll love these stories about social, cultural and political events that aren’t frequently covered in the classroom. Their website makes it easy for you to find a topic that interests you so getting lost in a story about the 16th century or the U.S. Civil War is made easy.
Podcast: You Must Remember This
Episode to Try: Peggy Hopkins Joyce and Charlie Chaplin
Have you found yourself wondering about the secret lives of your favorite Old Hollywood stars? Narrator and historian Karina Longworth dives deep into the scandalous tales of Hollywood’s first century in this well-researched podcast. Even more, every episode is sourced on their website, so you can be certain that you’re getting the true stories about everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Dorothy Dandridge.
Podcast: Good Job, Brain!
Episode to Try: The Golden Touch
Are you known for shouting out the answers at Jeopardy? Then check out any of the 200 episodes of Good Job, Brain. Designed for interactive entertainment, listeners are asked trivia questions from a wide range of topics that aim to keep you sharp and on your toes; it’s the perfect brain exercise for older adults.
Episode to Try: From Tree to Shining Tree
With the tagline “Investigating a strange world,” RadioLab is sure to pique your interest with true tales from around the globe. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich explore the world of science and its effect on society and culture.
Not interested in trivia, storytelling or finance? You can search by keyword or subject and find even more podcasts that are great for listeners of all ages on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app. For those local to Northern Virginia, make sure to check out The Big Broadcast. As WAMU radio’s longest running show, this episodic series features vintage radio shows from the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, hosted by Tony-Award winning playwright, lyricist and director Murray Horwitz.