Chapter 3. A Guide to Some of the Best Podcasts

Chapter 3. A Guide to Some of the Best Podcasts

Since the number of podcasts is very large and growing (more than 325,000 podcasts are available in iTunes according to 2016 statistics),1 it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. In this section, I’ll recommend a selection of well-reviewed podcasts in different categories and discuss how to find podcasts by topic.

Podcasts for a General Audience

There are so many excellent podcasts that it’s not easy to create a list of the best general ones. I won’t aim to do that; instead, here’s a list of a few well-known podcasts that get good reviews and are popular.

If you want to recommend a few podcasts for people who are new to podcast listening, you can use this list. The upcoming section (podcasts for teens) may also be of interest to adults.

Freakonomics Radio—WNYC

A show based on the bestselling book Freakonomics by journalist Stephen J. Dubner and economist Steven D. Levitt. Dubner has conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the wrinkles of human nature. He talks with his coauthor Levitt and also with Nobel laureates, social scientists, and entrepreneurs.


Invisibilia, which is Latin for “invisible things,” covers the thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, and feelings that shape human behavior. Cohosted by Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin, and Alix Spiegel, this podcast uses narrative storytelling and scientific research to tell fascinating stories.

Note to Self—WNYC

This podcast is about new technologies and their implications for everyday life. It’s aimed at those who want to “preserve their humanity in the digital age.” 2 It’s hosted by Manoush Zomorodi, who encourages listeners to question everything.

On the Media—WNYC

This is a weekly show that explores and analyzes the process of making news media. It aims to uncover the media-making process and looks at challenges relating to freedom of information and expression in the United States and abroad.


Radiolab calls itself a show about curiosity. It blurs the lines between science, philosophy, and the human experience. It’s a popular radio program produced by WNYC and broadcasted by public radio stations in the United States.

Revisionist History—Panoply

This popular podcast features the author Malcolm Gladwell, author of Tipping Point, Blink, and several other books. Each week it reexamines events, people, or ideas from the past, selecting topics that often have been ignored, disregarded, or misunderstood.

Science Friday—PRI

This podcast covers news about science and technology in fun, interesting ways. Hosted by Ira Flatow, it features experts and people who want to be experts. In addition, the program often includes a segment where listeners call in with interesting questions for those experts.

Sooo Many White Guys—WNYC

This is a podcast by comedian Phoebe Robinson, where she interviews performers, musicians, authors, and artists who are doing outstanding work in various fields. None of them are white men. She turns the tables by including only one episode per season where she interviews a “token white guy.” This is a relatively new podcast, launched in July of 2016, and is already very popular.


StoryCorps journeys across the United States gathering narratives of everyday folk who get the chance to interview each other about their experiences and lives. These interesting interviews aren’t scripted and are shared weekly on StoryCorps.

StarTalk Radio Show with Neil DeGrasse Tyson—Curved Light Productions

This podcast about space is hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Topics include space travel, extraterrestrial life, the future of planet Earth, and more. It’s a lively show, where he is joined weekly by comedians, celebrities, and other special guests.

Studio 360—PRI and WNYC

Studio 360 is a weekly public radio program about arts and culture, hosted by novelist and journalist Kurt Andersen. It covers topics such as creativity, pop culture, and the arts.

TED Radio Hour—NPR

TED Radio Hour is a one-hour show that brings together excerpts and interviews from TED Talks on particular topics. It’s hosted by Guy Raz and coproduced by NPR and TED. TED Talks covers new solutions and new processes to old problems, new inventions, and new means to conceive ideas and create.

This American Life—Chicago Public Media and PRI

This American Life is one of the most popular podcasts in the United States. It’s a recording of the radio show of the same name, sometimes with extra material that the radio didn’t have time to include. There’s a theme to each episode, and most of the stories are journalism with an occasional comedy routine. Topics are wide ranging. To get an idea of the content, take a look at the archive of old episodes:

As you can see, most of these podcasts are produced by well-known media outlets, and often they are recordings of existing radio shows. In future sections, we’ll look at podcasts by small, independent creators—many of which exist only in podcast form.

Podcasts for Higher Education

In this section, I’ll recommend a few podcasts for higher education students, faculty, and administrators. There are many podcasts created by specific universities, professors, students, and higher education professionals, so this is just a small sampling.

For Students

College Info Geek

Study tips and interviews with professionals who have interesting jobs.

The Torch: The Great Courses Podcast

Host Ed Leon interviews expert professors about interesting research from their specialties.

For Faculty

The Student Caring Podcast for Professors

Podcast hosts de Roulet and Pecoraro, authors of the book The Caring Professor: A Guide to Effective, Rewarding, and Rigorous Teaching, discuss how to be an effective professor.

Trends & Issues in Instructional Design, Educational Technology, & Learning Sciences

Professors Abbie Brown and Tim Green are experts in educational technologies. Each week they discuss several trends in instructional design.

General Higher Education News

Higher Ed Live

This podcast is for higher education professionals and covers admissions, advancement, marketing, student affairs, and communications.

Higher Ed

From KUT, the public radio station at University of Texas, Austin, Jennifer Stanton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger explore topics of higher education and lifelong learning.

Re:Learning Podcast by the Chronicle of Higher Education

A podcast from the Chronicle of Higher Education about teachers, ed-tech entrepreneurs, long-time educators, and other people who are framing the future of higher education.

Specific Professions

Law School Toolbox Podcast

This is a show for law students that offers useful recommendations and covers topics about law school, the bar exam, careers in law, and more.

Economic Rockstar

Frank Conway, lecturer in economics, finance, and statistics, produces this weekly podcast where he interviews experts in the field about various aspects of economics and finance.

The Short Coat Podcast: Broadcasts from the Amazing and Intense World of Medical School

From students at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, this podcast is about the demanding environment of medical school.

Finding More Podcasts for Higher Education

To find more podcasts on this topic, try browsing the higher education category of Podcast Chart:, a useful aggregator of podcasts.

Podcasts for Teens

Many podcasts aimed at adults are also enjoyed by teens (and vice versa). So if you are recommending podcasts to teenagers, start with the list of podcasts for a general audience in a previous section of this chapter.

Here’s a sampling of podcasts that are enjoyed by teen audiences. Of course, every teen is different, so this list includes a variety of topics to choose from, such as music, foreign language learning, science fiction, math, history, science, philosophy, and life stories by both famous and ordinary people.

Coffee Break Spanish Step by Step

A series of fun Spanish lessons for beginners, offered in short chunks for learning during short breaks. Listen to teacher Marc teach student Kara in a fun and charming way, with silent moments for you to speak the answers as well. Radio Lingua also offers podcasts for beginners in French and German.

The Documentary—BBC World Service

Listen to some of the best BBC World Service audio documentaries, with titles such as “Graffiti: Paint and Protest in Brazil,” “Women with the Right Stuff” (women astronauts), and “Batman and Ethan,” (a 10-year-old blind boy and gifted musician who is learning echolocation).

EOS 10

A science fiction audio drama about two doctors and their medical team aboard a space aircraft within an intergalactic world. Includes comic elements and excellent voice acting. Listen to the episodes in order with each season, as you would a show on Netflix.

Getting In: A Podcast about the College Admissions Process

This podcast follows a diverse group of high-school seniors from a New York City school as they apply to college. Hosted by a former dean of freshmen at Stanford University.

Good Job, Brain!

This fun weekly podcast is comprised of trivia quizzes and unique facts and news.

The History Chicks

This is a show about female characters in history, both fictional and real. Hosts Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider chat about the challenges, failures and successes, and interesting facts about each person. Includes shows about Helen Keller, Queen Victoria, Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, Joan of Arc, Beatrix Potter, and many more.


An award-winning podcast of true, mysterious stories from history in the style of scary stories told around the campfire. Explores the true origins of myths, such as zombies, werewolves, vampires, and ghosts. It is soon to be made into a TV show.

Math Mutation

Math Mutation explores intriguing, entertaining, or curious aspects of mathematics. Each episode explores an interesting concept of math that doesn’t require looking at equations, such as geometry, infinity, paradoxes, and more.

The Naked Scientists

This podcast describes itself as a show “by a media-savvy group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University [who] strip science down to its bare essentials and promote it to the general public.”3 The hosts interview top scientists, answer science questions, and keep you up to date on the latest science news.

On Being

This award-winning podcast, hosted by Krista Tippett, explores question such as “What does it mean to be human?” and “How do we want to live?” Tippett interviews guests such as the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Thich Nhat Hanh, Yo-Yo Ma, Brian Greene, and Elie Wiesel.

The Podcast History of Our World

An award-winning podcast on world history, covering periods “from the Big Bang to the Modern Age.”4 (Currently, it’s only up to ancient Rome). Done with enthusiasm and humor, it’s never boring. Created by enthusiastic history teacher Rob Monaco.

Radio Diaries Podcast

Radio Diaries is made up of first-person diaries of individual people, from teenagers to people in their eighties, from all walks of life. It weaves together home recordings, archival news audio, and first-person accounts. Several episodes are interviews with teens from around the world, and of course teens may be interested in interviews with people of all ages.

Radio Rookies—WNYC

This podcast about the challenges of teen life is a Peabody Award–winning WNYC journalism initiative, with episodes produced by teens, about teens. This initiative works using a mentorship model, helping teens master interviewing, writing, editing, and voice skills. This podcast ended in February of 2016, and all the past episodes are available and worth listening to. There are rumors it will start up again in the near future. Its how-to toolkit is available online:


This award-winning podcast from the creators of This American Life and hosted by Sarah Koenig is a true story, told in episodes over the course of a season. Season One is about a high-school senior who was murdered in 1999. Her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Annan Syed, was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. To this day, he maintains his innocence. The story is about various discrepancies in the trial and aims to ask, “How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of?” Season Two is the story of US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who was held for five years by the Taliban and then charged with desertion.

Still Buffering

Three real-life young sisters discuss topics of interest to teens yesterday and today. They discuss topics that separate and unite their generations and have a lot of fun doing it. Topics include body image, likes and dislikes about going back to school each year, slumber parties, favorite foods, and the world of high-school theater. It’s lighthearted and funny.

Stuff to Blow Your Mind—How Stuff Works

This podcast explores science, philosophy, and history by looking at neurological quandaries, evolutionary marvels, and cosmic mysteries. Episodes include topics like mosquito-breeding programs, Saturn’s rings and moons, empathy in elephants, and the future of tattoos. It won the 2015 Academy of Podcasts Award for Best Science and Medicine podcast.

Stuff You Should Know—How Stuff Works

This podcast is an award-winning series of shows published by How Stuff Works and hosted by writers Josh Clark and Charles W. “Chuck” Bryant. They aim to educate the public about “common things and how they work.” 5 Some topics include “How Night Terrors Work,” “How Triage Works,” “How Witness Protection Works,” “How Radiation Sickness Works,” and “What’s with This Internet of Things?” Browse its archive of hundreds of episodes for topics you might be interested in:

This I Believe

This podcast is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow. Every week, different people read essays that they have written about their personal philosophies. This is followed by an interview by the host. People interviewed include both everyday citizens and well-known people, such as Gloria Steinem, Yo-Yo Ma, and Muhammad Ali. You can listen to some of the recordings from the early 1950s on this page:, which includes people such as Jackie Robinson, Martha Graham, Ralph J. Bunche, Robert Heinlein, and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Welcome to Night Vale

This podcast is a radio drama about a fictional desert town. It’s done in the style of a local news program. It’s hypnotic and darkly funny, telling the story of a place where every conspiracy theory is real, but it’s not really a big deal. It has received positive reviews from many sources.6

What It Takes

This podcast is about passion, vision, and perseverance from the Academy of Achievement. It includes conversations with famous people in many fields: science, music, politics, sports, literature, and technology. The interviews have been recorded over the past twenty-five years and include interesting life lessons. The hosts have interviewed Elie Wiesel, Carole King, Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, Steve Jobs, Coretta Scott King, and many more well-known people.

Podcasts for Children

Some commentators have written about the lack of podcasts for kids,7 and several groups are beginning to organize and produce more podcasts aimed at them. An example is Kids Listen, a new grassroots organization of advocates for high-quality audio content for children. To learn more, see

In spite of that lack, there are some high-quality podcasts for kids. The list below gives you a sampling, on topics including classic and modern stories, stories written by kids, book reviews, science, technology, comics, music, and world cultures.

500 Words

These fictional stories are written by kids who are finalists in a 500-word story competition. They range from very funny to serious and are read by the judges and celebrities. It’s a BBC podcast, and the kids who enter the competition need to be residents of the United Kingdom and between five and thirteen years old.

Aaron’s World

Listen to the time-traveling adventures of a boy and his computer in the prehistoric world. Start from the beginning of the first season to experience the larger story arc. The first season is about dinosaurs, and the next few seasons cover mammals, ocean creatures, and more. Aaron and his dad started producing the show when he was six and ended when he was ten. It’s well produced with fun sound effects.

Book Club for Kids

This is a podcast where middle-school kids meet to talk about books. Each episode also includes a celebrity reader and an interview with the author. The host is award-winning public radio journalist Kitty Felde.

Brains On!

This is a very popular science podcast for kids, with a loyal audience of six-to-twelve-year-olds. Each episode seeks to answer a question posed at the start by interviewing adult science experts. (How is glass made? How do airplanes fly? Mosquitos: What are they good for?) A different child cohosts each episode with adult hosts from public radio—Sanden Totten, Marc Sanchez, and Molly Bloom.

Ear Snacks

Hosts Andrew and Polly (a married couple with a child) host this fun podcast featuring kids ages two to seven. They have worked with over sixty children and their parents to cover topics like fruit, disguises, rain, and shadows. They talk with each other, play audio clips of kids talking about the topic, talk with adult experts, and they play their original music—indie pop music for kids.8

Kid Friday: You’re a Kid in a Digital World

This popular video podcast can be enjoyed as audio without a problem. It’s hosted by sixteen-year-old Hannah, thirteen-year-old Zoe, and their dad Dave—and sometimes includes Winston, their poodle. They discuss apps, websites, gadgets, and current events.

Kids on Comics

A school-aged boy and his dad get together once a week and talk about comic books. Each episode focuses on one title. The dad asks interesting questions of his son, getting at his reaction to the comic they are discussing.

Podcast Kid

Jenna, age seven, and her dad discuss topics of interest to kids from a kid’s perspective. Topics include friends, changing schools, being bossy, dreams, boredom, mean girls, and more. Jenna has been podcasting with her dad since she was three years old. They have great conversational chemistry with lots of laughs and funny voices.


This unique science podcast for kids ages eight to thirteen is wrapped in a fictional story, so it’s best to start with episode one. The story is about three kids separated from their parents during a zombie apocalypse. Each episode focuses on a different topic, like pathogens, epidemics, digital communication, and our reliance on electricity. Each episode is about thirty minutes long and includes entertaining sound effects and music.

Short & Curly

This is an entertaining and thoughtful podcast for kids and families about ethics, produced by the Australian Broadcasting Company. The hosts, actress/writer Molly Daniels and reporter Carl Smith, post interesting ethical questions, and they ask kids to say what they think. Then they bring in experts on the same topic and ask their opinions. At some point during the episode they tell listeners to pause the podcast and think or discuss certain questions. Some topics include “Should you move to Mars?” “Is it ever OK to lie?” “Should chimps have the same rights as kids?” and “Can you trust a robot?”

The Show about Science

Six-year-old Nate is the host of this science podcast. His questions are answered in interviews with physicists, chemists, and other scientists and researchers. This is an interesting show for all ages—adults, too. It’s great to hear scientists explain things at a level that young kids can understand. Some of the topics covered include invisibility cloaks, vultures, radiation, alligators, bat biology, and recycling. This podcast is part of the Kids Listen organization.9

Story Pirates

This podcast takes stories written by kids and turns them into audio drama performed by first-rate actors and comedians. First the host reads the story exactly as written, then the troupe performs the story, and then the hosts interview the child authors. The actors tell these stories in a funny, creative way, with great sound effects. They also perform these dramas live in schools around the country. See


This podcast is made up of stories for kids beautifully read by professional actors from the United Kingdom. It includes classic fairy tales, myths, adventure, and new original stories for kids. See this list of some of its most popular stories, grouped by topic or theme: It even hosts a writing competition for kids, where winners get their story read on the podcast.10


This science podcast for kids ages eight to twelve is created for family listening. Hosted by science journalist Lindsay Patterson and teacher Marshall Escamilla, it has an interesting manifesto, consisting of two beliefs: (1) “If kids understand how science works, the future will be a better place,” and (2) “Let’s make more podcasts for kids.”11 Some topics include the hunt for black holes, the voyage of the ocean trash, the quest for the edge of the universe, and the cave of the upside-down bat.

World of Wonder

Young hosts Helen and Ethan and their dad Joe interview guests from many different countries. Guests share stories about their own cultures and what we can learn from them. Meet guests from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and more.

Podcasts for Diverse Audiences

According to the ALA Policy Manual’s section on diversity, “Care must be taken to acquire and provide materials that meet the educational, informational, and recreational needs of diverse communities.”12

Specifically, the policy mentions the importance of serving “those who may experience language or literacy-related barriers; economic distress; cultural or social isolation; physical or attitudinal barriers; racism; discrimination on the basis of appearance, ethnicity, immigrant status, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression; or barriers to equal education, employment, and housing.”13

Keeping this in mind, let’s look at some data. Are there podcasts by and for diverse audiences? According to Nielsen data, “Listeners still largely fit the profile of early adopters. As Jesse Holcomb, associate director of research at the Pew Center, explains, ‘They’re more likely to be male, young, have higher incomes, be college graduates, live in an urban area.’”14

As of late 2016, there is some good news. According to Edison Research, a group that has been tracking demographics of podcast listeners for over a decade, “In the early days of the medium, Podcasting was disproportionally a medium for white males, ages 25–44. Much of that ‘skew’ was down to the available content options, but today, the content universe for Podcasts has exploded, and the diversity of programming available rivals any other form of audio.”15

Those statistics are about ethnic diversity only and don’t cover gender, economic class, or other categories of diverse populations. But there is some good news for other categories of diversity. A podcast collective based in Chicago is aiming to create a community of shows by women, people of color, and queer-identified hosts. Its goal is to bring more diversity to podcasting and help underrepresented voices create their own shows.16

In order to assist librarians with recommending podcasts for diverse audiences, I’ve complied lists of podcasts in the following categories:

  • Produced or hosted by women
  • Racial and ethnic diversity (African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans)
  • LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning)
  • Aging and ageism (elders’ and children’s rights)
  • Homelessness, poverty and economic class
  • People who are (or were) incarcerated
  • Adult literacy
  • Neurodiversity and mental health issues
  • Physical disabilities

These lists can serve as a starting point for finding podcasts for diverse audiences on diverse topics.

Produced or Hosted by Women

The Bindercast

This podcast is about women writers and gender non-conforming writers. They tackle questions related to being successful as a writer, such as balancing your art with your day job. It’s a production from a non-profit called Out of the Binders, which is committed to expanding the diversity of voices found in media.

Call Your Girlfriend

Its tagline is “for long-distance besties everywhere.” The two hosts discuss pop culture and politics from a feminist perspective.


In this podcast, you’ll hear interviews with women who have made an impact in business or creative fields. It includes plenty of advice and plenty of humor.

The Guilty Feminist

This podcast, hosted by comedians Sofie Hagen and Deborah Frances-White, is recorded in front of a live audience. In it, they interview and discuss topics with their guests that feminists usually agree on, while also confessing their insecurities and fears.

International Realness

International Realness hosts Ejolee Mitchell, May Steinberg, and Radford Lathan explain international events, global politics, and issues that cross borders. All three hosts have degrees in international relations.


This podcast is made up of interviews with popular authors, artists, astronauts, and more. “Because everybody is a little nerdy about something.” 17 From WBEZ Chicago, Nerdette is cohosted by Greta Johnsen and Tricia Bobeda.

Sandi Klein’s Conversations with Creative Women

Interviews with creative women in a wide variety of professions—like performers, writers, directors, musicians, composers, painters, fashion designers, scientists, educators, investors, and more.

She Does—Conversations with Creative Minds

This podcast is about creative women who work in media. Each episode includes an interview with the creator and then goes deeper into their process and philosophy. It’s hosted and created by Elaine Sheldon and Sarah Ginsburg.

Slate’s Double X Gabfest

This audio programming is from Double X, Slate’s blog founded by women. Each week it discusses sexism in current events and female empowerment.

Stuff Mom Never Told You

Hosted by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin, this audio podcast from How Stuff Works ( covers a wide range of social topics, such as food, film, body image, athletics, mental health, and civil rights.


A podcast about unlearning harmful stereotypes that are often taught about blackness, femininity, sexuality, and religion. It’s hosted by two women from Chicago, Katherine Best and Mesha Arant.

Women of the Hour—Lena Dunham

This is Lena Dunham’s podcast about friendship, love, work, bodies, and more. Episodes are from 2015, when it was released as a miniseries.

Racial and Ethnic Diversity

Code Switch

NPR’s Code Switch podcast is by a team of journalists who look into the themes of race, ethnicity, and culture and explore how people experience those themes in their everyday lives.

The Mash-Up Americans

Hosts Amy S. Choi and Rebecca Lehrer talk culture, identity, and what makes us who we are. Amy, cofounder and editorial director, is a Korean American married to a Colombian Mexican American. Rebecca, cofounder and chief executive, is a Salvadoran Jewish American married to an American American. Together they discuss issues facing “mash-up Americans.” Their slogan is “Get to know yourself, America.” 18

Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race

Three authors, Baratunde Thurston (How to Be Black), Raquel Cepeda (Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina), and Tanner Colby (Some of My Best Friends Are Black), are the hosts of this conversational show about the ways we talk about culture, identity, politics, power, and privilege in America.


PostBourgie is a blog about race, gender, class, politics, and media. This is the podcast version of that blog.

African Americans

Another Round

Hosts Heben Nigatu (editor, writer) and Tracy Clayton (writer, humorist) talk about race, feminism, and pop culture. Here’s a fun episode to begin with—Episode 55: “16 Books We Fell in Love with as Young Black Girls”:

Changing the Face of Power

This podcast is devoted to encouraging and supporting black women in running for elected office. Host Rebecca Thompson interviews an appointed official or candidate in each episode of this weekly podcast.

In Black America

In Black America is a long-running radio program that discusses all aspects of the African American experience. John Hanson speaks with a diverse range of both current and historical people. Guests on the program include artists, civil rights leaders, educators, authors, and athletes.

The Read

Each week, Kid Fury and Crissle host a podcast discussing icons from hip-hop and pop culture.

Snap Judgment

A storytelling show hosted by Glynn Washington. It’s well-produced, with excellent sound design. Listen to this if you love a good story or if you’re a fan of shows like This American Life or The Moth and you’d like to hear a more diverse mix of voices.

Asian Americans

Explain Things to Me

In this podcast, hosts Anna Akana and Brad Gage get qualified experts to explain things to them. They engage in conservations with interesting people, such as an investigative journalist, an online entrepreneur, a film critic, a costume designer, an astrophysicist, and other experts.


The idea for the podcast began with a hashtag conversation between Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed and Zahra Noorbakhsh using #GoodMuslimBadMuslim. According to their webpage, “To the Muslim community, we are ‘bad’ Muslims—we listen to music, we don’t pray regularly, we date or get married to white men (Zahra), identify as punks and radicals (Taz), we perform and share our lives with comedy and writing. . . . To non-Muslims, we are ‘good’—we don’t drink, we don’t do drugs, we are not criminals, we are social justice activists and community leaders. We are successful, published, accomplished.”19 They banter and joke with both sides and work to produce their own narrative, full of satire and humor.

Sound and Fury: The Angry Asian Podcast

This is the official podcast of the Angry Asian Man blog. Host Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man) interviews members of the Asian Pacific American community. Guests have included Samantha Futerman from the documentary Twinsters, actor Randall Park who stars in the TV sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, and writer and comedian Jenny Yang.

What Just Happened?

Host David Chang discusses relevant, recent, and often controversial topics. He researches everything about each topic, and the result is a very informative podcast that leaves listeners better informed.



Alt.Latino is about Latin alternative music and rock in Spanish, with interesting commentary. It’s a great way to discover new music. This is one of several music podcasts from NPR in different genres (rock, pop, jazz, classical, and more). Choose the genres you like from the list on this page:

Latino Rebels

Humor, commentary, and an examination of the US Latino experience are the topics found in this podcast. Some episode titles are “What Does Hispanic Look Like?” and “A Taco Truck on Every Corner.” Latino Rebels also has in informative news website:

Latino USA

Latino USA is produced by Futuro Media, which was founded in 2010 by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa. It focuses on making content about the new American mainstream with the aim of encouraging individuals to navigate the intricacies of a world that is more and more diverse. This podcast features stories that are usually overlooked by primary media outlets.


This podcast is produced by Radio Nacional de España (RNE). Hosted by Álvaro Soto in Spanish, Nómadas (which translates to nomads in English) presents conversations with guests about a different location around the globe every week—including street sounds and insights into the culture, food, music, and history.

Radio Ambulante

This podcast focuses on stories in Spanish from all over Latin America and the United States. Some refer to it as a Spanish version of This American Life. The host and founder is Daniel Alarcón, a Peruvian-born author who grew up in Alabama.

Native Americans

Native America Calling

This is a live program that allows guests and listeners to call in during the episode. Hosted by Tara Gatewood (Isleta), this program engages guests and listeners in captivating conversations from a Native American perspective.

Native Opinion

Hosted by Michael Kickingbear, of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, and David GreyOwl, a member of the Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama, this podcast offers an indigenous perspective on current issues in American history, politics, and culture.

Native Trailblazers

This show features successful indigenous experts in many fields. Native people interviewed include a comic book artist, indie music award winners, hip-hop artists, a film actor, comedians, and more. It’s hosted by St. Regis Mohawk photojournalist and author Vincent Schilling, St. Regis Mohawk photojournalist and author, and Delores Schilling, CEO of Schilling Media.

National Native News

This is a five-minute weekday program devoted to Native news and issues. It gathers news reports from around the United States and is hosted by news anchor Antonia Gonzales (Navajo). It’s from the Native Voice One network: See its other radio shows here:

Red Town Radio

This podcast examines current events as they relate to the treatment of and discrimination against indigenous people.


The BiCast—Podcast for the Bisexual Community

This podcast is from a multi-platform bisexual media group offering news, information, and opinion stories for the bisexual community.

Lesbian Lounge

The Lesbian Lounge is hosted by an American lesbian in London named Denise. It covers international LGBT news, events, and pop culture.

One from the Vaults—Transgender History Podcast

This is a trans history podcast by Morgan M Page ( She is a multiple award-winning performance and video artist, writer, and activist in Canada. She has written for several magazines about trans, sex work, and HIV issues. Her nonfiction also appears in Cleis Press’s Best Sex Writing of the Year.

Outsports—A Voice for LGBT Athletes

Outsports is an LGBT sports publication talking about gay athletes and homophobia.

Queer State of Mind

Queer State of Mind is a podcast from New York City where LGBTQ people of color come together to discuss local issues, news, and entertainment. It’s hosted by Orie Givens with a panel of rotating guest cohosts. It also airs live on Radio Free Brooklyn (

Strange Fruit

This podcast produced by WFPL in Louisville, Kentucky, is hosted by Jaison Gardner, a community activist, and Dr. Kaila Story, University of Louisville professor. On the show, they discuss politics and pop culture from a black gay perspective.

Throwing Shade

This podcast gets rave reviews.20 Hosts Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi cover gay rights, women’s issues, pop culture, and politics with a comic style.

Transwaves—Trans Youth Equality Foundation

This podcast is produced by the Trans Youth Equality Foundation. It features interviews with trans youth, allies, activists, and families in order to convey the perspectives of the trans child movement and expose a wider audience to the movement. The podcast offers varied perspectives from all people of all ages and backgrounds on what it means to be a transgender youth today. It also answers anonymous questions on the air.

We Want the Airwaves

According to her website, “Nia King is a multi­media journalist whose work focuses on political art by women, queer people, and people of color.”21 In her podcast, she discusses tips and advice on how to make a living as an artist while staying true to yourself. She interviews like-minded artists who are doing that successfully. Transcripts are available on Scribd:

Aging and Ageism

Don’t Act Your Age

This is a storytelling show about growing older, designed for “boomers and beyond” and is a good show for all ages.

Elder Justice Podcast Series

This podcast is no longer offering new episodes, but it is worth listening to for past ones. It was produced by the NYC Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC) and covers topics that help people effectively assist victims.

Bloomer Boomer

Bloomer Boomer calls itself the “Huffington Post for Boomers.” Each of its podcasts is thirty minutes or less and focuses on actionable items for listeners. Some topics include entrepreneurship, travel advice, fitness, downsizing, dating, and “un-retirement.”

Sandi Klein’s Conversations with Creative Women

This podcast (mentioned earlier in this chapter) is well-tagged, so you can find all of the episodes on the topic of aging using this link:

Children’s Rights

Ageism usually describes prejudicial attitudes towards older people, but it can also to refer to discrimination against adolescents and children—ignoring their ideas because they are too young or assuming they should behave in certain ways because of their age.22

For that reason, I also include a couple of podcasts about children’s rights.

Oxford Children’s Rights Network Podcasts

The Oxford Children’s Rights Network is a group of students, researchers, and practitioners based in Oxford, England, working on a broad range of issues related to children’s rights. Their podcasts are recordings of seminars on this topic.

UNICEF Podcasts

UNICEF has an interesting podcast series on topics with titles like “Peace-Building through Early Childhood Education,” “Girls Who Code Can Change the World towards Gender Parity in Computing Fields,” and “Mariam Khalique, a Teacher of Malala Yousafzai’s, Is Building Futures under Extreme Circumstances.”

Homelessness, Poverty, and Economic Class


Grapple is a podcast made up of personal narratives by people who live and work in distressed communities, both small towns and large urban areas. This podcast discusses how economically challenged communities have changed over time and the current issues that they are facing.

The New Middle—NPR series

This series explores different aspects of being middle class in America with episode titles like “Modern Television Portrays Complex View of the Middle Class,” “Dispelling the Myth of a Classless Society in ‘White Trash,’” “Middle Class Earners Struggle to Pay Rent in New York City,” and more.

Poverty Research & Policy Podcast

This podcast is from the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin. It includes interviews with researchers and episodes with titles such as “Do the Labels We Use for Public Benefit Programs Matter?” and “The Suburbanization of US Poverty.”

TalkPoverty Radio

Through interviews with journalists, advocates, and people struggling to make ends meet, Talk Poverty Radio discusses what can be done to make our economy work for all economic classes and not just the rich.

People Who Are Incarcerated

ACLU Podcasts on Mass Incarceration[0]=type%3Apodcast&f[1]=field_issues%3A62

The American Civil Liberties Union has podcasts on several topics. The link above will filter the list to just those about mass incarceration. Hear from former prisoners, experts on prison reform, and more.

Earning Freedom—Michael Santos

Former prisoner Michael Santos shares stories of himself and others who have successfully made the transition to life after prison.

Radio Diaries—Prison Diaries

These are the episodes tagged “prison diaries” from the more general podcast Radio Diaries. It’s made up of audio journals by inmates, correctional officers, and a judge who recorded the sounds of typical days behind bars, including roll call, meals, family visits, and shakedowns.

States of Incarceration

This podcast features stories of the incarcerated from seventeen states around the United States. Episodes are made by a team of students who interview witnesses (people who live near prisons, who work in prisons, and formerly incarcerated people) about how the prison boom is affecting their communities. A useful teaching resource page is available on the show’s website for those teaching about mass incarceration:

Unprisoned: Stories from the System

Independent producer Eve Abrams offers this podcast from New Orleans. In these episodes, you hear from people serving time, both inside and outside the criminal justice system. They share stories in order to spark conversation about how mass incarceration can change families and communities, with an emphasis on how children are affected.

Adult Literacy

Voice of Literacy

This podcast consists of interviews with literacy researchers discussing the significance of their research. Teachers, parents, and policymakers are encouraged to listen to the podcast and discuss methods to enhance literacy instruction.

Neurodiversity and Mental Health Issues

The Autism Show

This podcast is made for autism parents and educators. Leading autism advocates, authors, educators, and organizations are interviewed and share resources and advice for the autism community.

The Bipolar Family

Listen to the stories of a family who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Covers topics like suicidal thoughts, manic episodes, and depression.

The Dyslexia Quest

This podcast is hosted by Elisheva Schwartz—a dyslexia researcher. Her aim is to decode the dyslexic mind and help everyone identify and comprehend both the strengths and the difficulties of this processing style. She interviews cognitive scientists, geneticists, and other experts.

Loud Mute Radio

This podcast is hosted by writer/advocate Barb Rentenbach and educational psychologist Lois Prislovsky, PhD. Rentenbach is mute. “She communicates by typing one letter at a time and considers herself a contemplative—she spends most of her time thinking about things that are not present and observing that which is.” 23 She and her cohost cover many interesting and funny topics related to neurodiversity and autism spectrum disorder.

Physical Disabilities

AppleVis Podcast: Empowering Blind and Low-Vision Users of Apple Products

This podcast covers topics of interest to blind and low-vision users of Apple devices. Featured topics include walkthroughs and demonstrations of apps, tips on using iOS and Mac OS, and accessory reviews. It also invites listeners to upload their own audio comments for inclusion in future podcasts:

Blind Hour Podcast

The Blind Hour is hosted by two visually impaired individuals, Max and John. This show is designed to empower and entertain people, both sighted and with impairment.

Blind Living Radio

Host Harley Thomas, along with special guests, talk about life in the blind community. They discuss everything from experiences with having a guide dog to advances in assistive technology.

The Blind Sport Podcast

Host Mike Lloyd is from Auckland, New Zealand, is blind, and enjoys running, cycling, and keeping active. His podcast is for those who are fully blind, individuals with limited vision, and their friends and family. His goal is to assist others in enhancing their sport. Episodes include interviews, tips, and personal opinions.

Changing the World for Deaf People

This podcast is produced by Terptree, a business that works to produce social change in order to teach and inspire deaf and hearing people. Some episodes include “Deaf Jobseeker and Employee Experience Survey,” “Come Fly With Me—Deaf Access at Airports,” and “5 Year Old Learns Sign Language to Communicate with Deaf Mum.” Listen to this podcast to learn more about Deaf culture.

Cool Blind Tech

The slogan of this podcast is “podcasts for the blind, by the blind.” Its mission is to maximize the independence and participation of the blind and low-vision community with technology.

Digital Accessibility Made Simple

This podcast, hosted by Lyndon Dunbar, has a mission “to help bridge the gap between technology and digital accessibility so that persons with disabilities can engage in fulfilling work and lead a life of independence with confidence.”24 Some episodes include “Developing Accessible WordPress Plugins,” “Read Faster with BeeLine Reader,” and “Everything Apple Accessibility.”

Disability Matters

This podcast emphasizes career opportunities and empowerment for people with disabilities. It’s broadcasted live and provides captioning in real time for those who are deaf and hard of hearing. The program focuses on how people with disabilities can find employment and how we all can help to empower people with disabilities.


This podcast is about how people with disabilities are depicted on television. It discusses shows such as The West Wing, Game of Thrones, Bones, and more. Transcripts are available for each episode.

Ouch: Disability Talk

This BBC show includes interviews and conversations with people who have various kinds of disabilities with a humorous flair. They use guest presenters, along with host Kate Monaghan and the Ouch blog team.

Stories from the Brainreels

Cheryl Green from the documentary film Who Am I to Stop It interviews people with brain injuries and other disabilities. This program challenges and tackles stereotypes and highlights the stories and experiences of those with brain injuries and other disabilities. Screen-readable transcripts are available:

Podcasts by Librarians

Many librarians have come up with interesting and creative ideas for podcasts. Here is a sampling of some of their podcasts. They cover a range of topics, such as the future of libraries, technology on a budget, book reviews, historical documents, user experience, coding, and more.25 For a long list of even more podcasts create by libraries, see the Library Success wiki page on podcasting:

Beyond the Stacks: Innovative Careers in Library and Information Science

This podcast explores interesting and different career paths for librarians. Librarians interviewed include a researcher for a newspaper, someone who works at Tumblr researching the history of memes and viral content, someone who works for Creative Commons, and many more people with interesting positions.

Circulating Ideas

Steve Thomas has interviewed over 100 librarians and library supporters, talking with them about the great work that librarians are doing to keep libraries relevant in the twenty-first century.

Cyberpunk Librarian

Daniel Messer, the Cyberpunk Librarian, discusses technology trends in this podcast for librarians who are “high tech and low budget.”

#Dear Book Nerd

In this podcast, Rita Meade, a public librarian in Brooklyn, along with a guest co-host answer advice questions related to books. Questions range from how to increase your reading to how to deal with depression through books.

Documents That Changed the World

University of Washington Information School Professor Joe Janes discusses stories of an assortment of historical documents throughout time. His objective is to tell stories with a background that people don’t usually consider. Some of the documents discussed include the Palm Beach County ‘Butterfly’ Ballot of 2000, a stock market ticker tape from 1929, the FDR Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1939, and a deleted passage from the Declaration of Independence, 1776.


Hosts Michael Schofield and Amanda L. Goodman of the LibUX website interview special guests on this podcast. They discuss design and user experience in libraries and higher education.

Open Paren

This is a podcast focused on libraries, librarians, and coding. It’s designed for both beginning and expert coders. They discuss how the code they write benefits library users.


  1. John Herrman, “Podcasts Surge, but Producers Fear Apple Isn’t Listening,” New York Times, May 7, 2016,
  2. Note to Self show description, WNYC, accessed September 2016,
  3. The Naked Scientists, quoted in Pete Naughton, “The Best Science and Technology Podcasts,” Telegraph, August 11, 2014,
  4. Rob Monaco, The Podcast History of Our World show description, iTunes, accessed September 2016,
  5. About SYSK show description, , How Stuff Works, accessed September 2016,
  6. Graeme Virtue, “Welcome to Night Vale, the Podcast That’s like a Local News Twin Peaks,” The Guardian, March 14, 2014,
  7. Stephanie Hayes, “Where Are All the Kidcasts? Kids Learn from Podcasts, so Why Aren’t Adults Making More for Them?” The Atlantic, March 31, 2016,
  8. Andrew and Polly music page, accessed September 23, 2016,
  9. Kids Listen homepage, accessed September 23, 2016,
  10. Summer 2016 writing competition (“Writing Competition—Wicked Uncle,” Storynory, July 19, 2016,; past winning stories (“Your Stories,” Storynory, accessed September 23, 2016,
  11. “Manifesto,” Tumble, accessed September 23, 2016,!manifesto/lw5q3.
  12. “B.3 Diversity (Old Number 60),” ALA Policy Manual, accessed September 16, 2016,
  13. Ibid.; see also “Outreach to Underserved Populations,” ALA, Advocacy—Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, accessed September 16, 2016,
  14. Charley Locke, “Podcasts’ Biggest Problem Isn’t Discovery, It’s Diversity,” Wired, August 31, 2015,
  15. Tom Webster, “The Increasing Ethnic Diversity of Podcast Listeners,” Blog—Latest News, Edison Research, August 23, 2016,
  16. Ricardo Bilton, “People Want to See Themselves: Postloudness Aims to Build a Podcast Network for Diverse Voices,” Nieman Lab, April 21, 2016,
  17. Nerdette show description, WBEZ, accessed September 2016,
  18. The Mash-Up Americans show description, accessed September 2016,
  19. #GoodMuslimBadMuslim show description, accessed September 2016,
  20. “inthemotheroffing,” “Throwing Shade: A Feminasty Podcast Review,” Shout Out! JMU (blog), April 7, 2016,
  21. Nia King homepage, accessed September 23, 2016,
  22. See Wikipedia, s.v. “Ageism,” last modified September 12, 2016,; Brian Dominick and Sara Zia Ebrahimi, “Young and Oppressed,” National Youth Rights Association, accessed September 15, 2016,
  23. Show description,
  24. Lyndon Dunbar, Digital Accessibility Made Simple Podcast homepage, accessed October 3, 2016,
  25. For a useful list of podcasts to help build library collections for teens, see Anna Dalin, “Podcasts to Help You Build Your Teen Collection,” The Hub, YALSA, August 26, 2015,


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