As of January 2022, there are over 2,000,000 podcasts and over 48 million episodes. With statistics like this, it's nearly impossible to narrow it down to the best of the best. Don't fret. We've got you. We have an obsession with not only devouring podcasts and audiobooks, but then subsequently talking about them, and we've curated this collection just for you. A collection we've affectionately named "Listens We Can't Stop Talking About." Enjoy.
With all that is dark in the world today, we often seek out light, funny and uplifting content to fill our free time. We ignored our hesitation and dove right into this podcast about Jason Rezaian, former Washington Post Tehran Correspondent and his wife who were held hostage at the notorious Evin prison back in 2014. Sealed off from the outside world and accused of being an American spy, this will have you on the edge of your seat. Despite the heavy subject matter, this real-life story weaves a hopeful couple, undying family persistence, nuclear diplomacy and a love for avocados into an intense and emotional year and a half. In this 9-part series, you will be rooting for the entire Rezaian family as they recount the details of 544 Days. And like us, you will be googling Project Avocado and be in disbelief of how it links to Jason Rezaian.
The Hidden Brain podcast studies the unconscious patterns that drive our behavior and this 19-min episode offers survival strategies for a happier, healthier holiday by avoiding the three deadly Thanksgiving pitfalls: overeating, over-shopping and fighting with relatives. Host Shankar Vedantam helps us understand why Uncle Leo can't stop talking about politics at the table and how turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberries can curb that Pre-Black Friday splurge. The best part of Hidden Brain is Stopwatch Science where Shankar and a friend give a 60 second summary of random social science research - like how saying "I can't" vs "I don't" effects will power. Try this tactic when the apple, pumpkin and pecan pies come out. With this, we bid you good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!
This Week's Listen We Can't Stop Talking About is My Aunt is a Nun. Host Megan Bell, makes pancakes, watches Netflix, tweets and sings to birds with her aunt, the nun. Her stories of these shared moments remind us of sublime human kindness. To make sense of the nonsense, she turns to her aunt, and the Sisters in her community. Despite tension around religion, these nun's stories are not about the church or organized faith but with 135 years of collective insight. The veils are off and they explore everything from anxiety to intimacy, prayer to politics and poverty to justice. Their stories teach us how to find wisdom and humor in the past, while reminding us the valuable lesson of living in the present.
Colon, minus sign, parenthesis - not an excerpt from our writing 101 class, but three simple key strokes that would give way to an online revolution. The very first emoji was born on September 19th in '82 when a computer science student was worried his jokes in the university chatroom fell flat. Gimlet's Not Past It, picks a moment from the current week in history and explores how it shapes our world today. The Birth of Emojis is fun and exactly the subject you didn't know you wanted to learn more about until you're ten seconds into the podcast. Like all cool kids, we originally scoffed at the use of emojis and never thought we'd be one for sending them, but now . . . it's all smiley faces, high fives, dancing ladies. And we've quickly learned not to use the cry laughing emoji, or we will age ourselves. It's all about the skull these days, if you find something funny, highlighting how the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee adapts to changing social landscape. As lifelong learners, we love how this podcast dives into the history of and need for these images to compensate in nonverbal, non-face-to-face communication. To think . . . it all started with a man worried his jokes were taken too seriously :-)
From Cocaine Bear to cone boobs, Episode 52 of Smartless is our obvious choice for "This Week's Listen We Can't Stop Talking About." Elizabeth Banks is the guest host and we realize quickly that she's not only hilarious but also wicked smaht. She doesn't skip a beat when Bateman literally asks her "Is college hard?" Proving that actually kids, there is such a thing as a stupid question. It was at Penn where she not only graduated with honors but picked up a love of learning. And it was this moment we realize she's our kindred spirit. Banks is a storyteller, knows how to drop F bombs with class, and is honestly just completely down to earth. The discussion goes in all directions, and SPOILER ALERT, Sean Hayes at one point shocks his co-hosts and comes out as gay and Arnett talks about that one time he was on a dating app. It's basically an hour long conversation with your besties.
October is National Women's Small Business Month which offers the perfect opportunity for us to dedicate this week's podcast recommendation to our fearless leader, Shea Gerhardt. Being a woman entrepreneur poses countless challenges, and in the male dominated, tech industry, it is no small feat. The perseverance of this phenomenal woman is unparalleled. With this in mind, we sought out information on Women Entrepreneurs, and this week's podcast from Planet Money, Two Indicators: Women and Work. Learn the staggering statistics on Women started businesses and the factors that stunt the growth. These jaw dropping statistics offer a glimpse into the real landscape of a woman small business owner. Here are just a few: 80% of CEOs are male (these numbers haven't budged in almost a decade). Women start 40% of companies, yet don't end up in a leadership role due to lack of funding. Women are half as likely to get a small business loan, as opposed to men. The pandemic set women pay equality back by a decade. A DECADE. So yeah, we bow down to Shea and all womxn leaders who continue to shatter these statistics.
You put Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Sean Hayes and George Clooney on a zoom call together and before long, you're asking yourself the age old question . . . have you ever pooped in a litter box? Episode 34 of Smartless is quickly climbing the list of our all time favorite podcasts. Guest George Clooney known for his elaborate pranks, his involvement in human rights issues and spot-on Richard Kind impression, had us laughing from start to finish. At the end of the episode we were left feeling oddly connected to this untouchable star. Maybe it's the way he describes parenting, or his days of being a door-to-door salesman, OR maybe it's his admission to falling asleep with his earbuds in, that have us more smitten with him now than when he was on ER. Either way, he made it to our "This Week's Listen We Can't Stop Talking About."
We are that friend who likes to drop weird and interesting facts into casual conversation. We get our facts from our beloved podcast, Gimlet's Every Little Thing. Host Flora Lichtman answers those questions that we didn't know we needed answers to, like, what is sand made of? Why do we cry? Is your pet a righty or lefty? Is my cat trying to murder me? With winter just around the corner, we loved learning about how squirrels track their nuts. This is seriously strategic, I mean, could you keep track of 10,000 items you buried? We can't even find our keys! See? We're telling you, this is the quality content you didn't know you needed.
Love it or hate it, Reality TV has shaped our culture over the last 4 decades. Yes, that's 40 years. The first reality show, An American Family, hit the PBS airwaves in 1973 and even then it was filled with drama. Host Mariah Smith takes us through the long journey of how the reality tv genre has infiltrated our lives and become the place to see social and political moments play out in real-time. From racial tensions on The Real World New York, to finding a mate in record time with cameras always rolling, and like with every train wreck, we just can't look away. Is it because we want to be like the "characters" or do we loathe them? The answer is personal.
It's no secret that we love all things Malcolm Gladwell and this episode of Revisionist History only strengthens our infatuation. Oh Howard, You Idiot! is the tale of one of the wealthiest orphans in America, a billionaire turned recluse that has a chance encounter with a minor novelist. You've probably heard bits and pieces about Howard Hughes, aviation aficionado and Hollywood playboy but as he aged his hermit-like lifestyle opened the door to the greatest autobiography that you've never read. This episode has twists and turns, and leaves you asking "what is true?"
Kentucky waterfall, the Camero crash helmet, the beaver paddle, the ape drape and the neck warmer. All slang for our favorite love-to-hate hairstyle - The Mullet. Host Willa Padkin sets out to crack the cultural mystery of the origin of this business in front, party in the back situation and you're in for a surprise. It's part hockey lore, Ziggy Stardust fad and iconic rap song that elevated this coif to its current legendary status. And for those in the know . . . it's making a comeback. So, this begs the question, would you rock the Tennessee top hat?
What do 415 coffins, 3 bottles of Joy, 23 teachers, a $25 tip and 12 million Thank You meals all have in common? The pandemic. In this episode of This American Life, guest host Chana Joffe-Walt talks with a varied collection of essential workers and how they managed to feel less alone during the darkest days of COVID. From a school carpenter in New York, to a manager at a McDonalds in Michigan and early childhood educators - the pandemic forced jobs to change, and what none of us noticed was that the workers changed too. These are the stories of moments unseen.