Best Podcasts: Recommendations From KCUR Staff | KCUR

Best Podcasts: Recommendations From KCUR Staff

Dec 11, 2014

With the hit podcast 'Serial' 2014 saw a resurgence in the listening platform.
Credit Doug / Flickr--CC

The line between radio show and podcast is pretty blurry.

After all, a podcast is just audio that you can stream or download on your own time. (You can subscribe to KCUR podcasts here.)

Many of our own staff at KCUR are also big consumers of podcasts, whether produced by public radio or not.

Here are some picks from our staff and interns:

Maria Carter, news director/newscaster

  • WTF with Marc Maron:  WTF? is a pretty good premise for any podcast. Marc Maron interviews mostly fellow comedians and gets them to reveal a lot about themselves and the nature of comedy.

Jeremy Bernfeld, editor, Harvest Public Media

  • 99% Invisible: Just always flat-out interesting. And it’s helped me think differently about the world I’ve been living in my whole life.
  • Slate’s Hang Up & Listen: The thinking person’s guide to the week in sports.
  • Effectively Wild: A super, super, super nerdy baseball podcast to get my baseball nerd on.

Cody Newill, weekend reporter/newscaster

  • The Judge John Hodgman Podcast: Actor and writer John Hodgman acts as a self admitted "Fake Internet judge" and adjudicates feuds between people who Skype into the show. Really quirky and funny.
  • Stop Podcasting Yourself: A Canadian podcast where comedians Dave Shumka and Graham Clark talk with actors, other comedians and other interesting people. 
  • Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: An NPR and Maximum Fun collaboration podcast that is essentially modeled after Fresh Air, but much more hip and young. They routinely have incredible writers, actors, directors and musicians on the show. 

Briana O'Higgins, digital content editor

  • The New Yorker Fiction Podcast: A good introduction to old and new authors; bite-sized fiction for those people who don’t want to commit to an audio book.
  • Stuff You Should Know: A really casual style, personality-driven and largely informative about subjects I would otherwise know nothing/little about.
  • Death, Sex and Money: Unexpected stories on more difficult topics, great host.

Alex Smith, reporter, Heartland Health Monitor

  • StarTalk: The science podcast hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It's definitely coming from a different place from most NPR-style radio, reminds me of old Car Talk, when you had experts explaining complex things in a way that's funny and personal.

Sylvia Maria Gross, Central Standard senior producer/reporter

  • alt.latino: NPR's Jasmine Garsd and Felix Contreras talk culture, history and contemporary events through Latino and Latin American music. Awesome music and smart conversation.

Patrick Quick, Central Standard intern

  • Comedy Bang Bang: I first learned about this show because it got picked up by the IFC television network, but it was adapted from the original podcast. The TV show and podcast are essentially the same thing. Funny, surreal, sometimes scripted, sometimes improv interviews by comedians. Pretty funny if you're into non-sequitur comedy. 
  • Pod F. Tompkast: The podcast of comedian Paul F. Tompkins. It's basically just Tompkins and his inner circle of comedy friends doing "interviews" which usually consists of silly celebrity impersonations or improv sessions between him and his comedy buddies. A lot of "recurring" characters (many of which are voice by Paul F. Tompkins). It's pretty funny, just a bunch of comedians sitting around doing what they do best....comedy. 

Eliza Spertus, Up To Date intern

  • Pop Culture Happy Hour: I really like hearing all the different NPR personalities that come together to do this show. They are all very insightful and their different opinions and tastes are interesting hear. Plus, they all have a unique take based on their areas of expertise. 
  • The Nerdist: Chris Hardwick, who is a comedian, interviews actors, producers, and other Hollywood personalities in a quirky and unscripted format. Chris has a tendency to swear a lot, which can be a downside, but his interviews are fun because of how much his subject controls where the interview goes. It's an interesting glimpse into the lives and personalities of some fascinating stars. 
  • Hardcore History: These podcasts are really more like short audio books. They generally run about two hours, but they are unbelievably informative. Dan Carlin chooses a particular subject in history and spends the podcast breaking it down, analyzing it, and delving into the nuances in history. The best one of these that I have listened to is called Logical Insanity. In it, he traces the ideology and mindset that led to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 
  • Stuff Mom Never Told You: Last one, I swear! This one is really interesting, a friend introduced it to me because of an episode they did on Cliteracy. But the show is really about highlighting a variety of things that are important to women. They debunk myths and point out interesting societal notions and why they exist. They've tackled issues like cat-calling, the ideas of daddy's girls and momma's boys, Indian princess myths (aka Pocahontas), and way more.