What Podcasts are you listening too? The Golden Age of Podcasting Edition

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Gee, that all just happened, didn't it?

So I'm a little burnt out on ... just ... stuff ... dealing with TTRPGs, and I thought it would be interesting to see what people were listening to in terms of podcasts! That's right ... podcasts. Of course, this being me, I have to put in a little bit of history.

I remember that the first time I started seriously listening to podcasts on a daily basis was the end of the summer of 2009. I had previously been an occasional listener, on my ipod, to podcasts as I downloaded them. But summer of 2009 was when I bought I my first iPhone (3GS!) and had a lengthy commute that allowed me to listen to podcasts regularly. This was also the first explosion of podcasts ... I still remember WTF and Comedy Bang! Bang! launching at the time.

I was a faithful podcast listener, and the next major "podcast" moment I remember was probably 2014, with the launch of Serial (having previously listened to This American Life, which was also on NPR). Suddenly, something that wasn't very mainstream seemed like it was everywhere. And so it begins ... from 2014 until now, the number of podcasts has steadily increased, until it now feels like everyone has their own podcast. Heck, given the podcasts I listen to, it often seems that a lot of the episodes are just people from one podcast being the guest on another podcast, or one of the podcasts I follow taking the week off and "previewing" another podcast I follow.

Which brings me to the purpose of this thread. Much like the Golden Age of Streaming and Television (that we just went through, until the meanies of Wall Street and the hooked horror Zaslav killed that party), this feels like the Golden Age of Podcasting. Major money was spent on podcasts and content from spotify and others. Lots of people listen to them. There is hardly a niche that isn't covered. I realized that my own podcast habits could probably use some broadening, so I thought I'd ask around and see what other people are listening to ... and, of course, share my the ones that I follow. I noticed that some of my old favorites I stopped listening to some time ago, and some remain there from inertia, but, hey, what can you do?

Also? Please feel free to share your favorite RPG podcasts ... personally, I don't listen to any, but other people might find it valuable.

Favored App? Overcast

I listen to a few sports and sports-adjacent podcasts. Most of them are related to my legacy listening to the OG from 15 years ago, but it keeps me current.

The Bill Simmons Podcast
The OG of sports podcasts. He still gets amazing guests from all over the sports and entertainment spectrum, and still has amazingly cringeworthy pop-culture obsessions (such as ... yes, 90210 and Melrose Place).

Hang Up and Listen
I used to listen to more of the Slate podcasts, but time (and rapid turnover of their hosts) has left just this one. It's ... still a decent intellectual sports podcast, but it went downhill rapidly after Mike Pesca went on to other things (and, um, he definitely went on later, but that's a different issue).

The Mismatch
I love Zach Lowe, but I have limited time, and want to keep up with the NBA. This is the perfect podcast to keep up.

The Ringer F1 Show
Just enough F1 without, you know, being too much. Definitely not the podcast if you either want to dive too deep into the technical details of the cars, or if you want to dive too deep into the technical details of the drivers' lives. Just the basics of what is going on.

The Ringer NFL Show
I like football.

The Ryen Rusillo Podcast
Come for the entertaining sport commentary, stay for the Life Advice section, which (if nothing else) never fails to amuse.

99% Invisible
On the one hand, this is just a podcast, hosted by Roman Mars, about design. On the other hand, this is podcast, hosted by Roman Mars, about design.

Against the Rules with Michael Lewis
Every "season" of Against the Rules covers somethings different- from referees to coaches to expertise. And each one is brilliant.

The Allusionist
A podcast that delights in language- sometimes playfully so, and sometimes very seriously.

Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford
True fairy tales for adults; well-told stories of true disasters and fiascoes.

The Dave Chang Show
The most inconsistent show listed here, both from episode to episode and within episodes. At its worst, you have guests that come on that are boring to listen to and you have Dave Chang waxing eloquent about some weird business opportunity. At its best, though, you have insightful discussions about food and restaurants, unvarnished opinions, and some of the best food-related banter you will here.

Dear Hank & John
Do you like Mars? Do you like AFC Wimbeldon? Well ... I have just the podcast for you! Plus, other stuff from the Bros. Green.

Freakonomics Radio
The Economics of Everyday Things

From the co-author of the book Freakonomics is a great podcast discussing economics. If that's a little too much, you can start with the recently-launched Economics of Everyday Things, which provides very short examinations of the economics behind, well, everyday things (the first two episodes were Gas Stations and Girl Scout Cookies).

How Did This Get Made?
Three people .... Paul Scheer, June Raphael, and MAXIMUM DEREK discuss a bad movie. A really bad movie.

Judge John Hodgman
A show entirely about disputes, often petty, small, or nerdy disputes ... brought before John Hodgman for resolution. I knew I found the show for me when I heard the episode that determined whether or not a machine gun is a robot.

Planet Money
The Indicator from Planet Money

The NPR shows ... in podcast. Great for keeping up with the current events in the economy.

Revisionist History
Malcolm Gladwell's podcast. Sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes infuriating.

This American Life
In a certain way, all podcasts aspire to be This American Life.

The Town with Matthew Belloni
Back when I was more involved in the Business, I used to listen to a lot more podcasts, like The Business (with Kim Masters). Now, I find that The Town does a decent job of going hitting the major stories in the entertainment industry in a short period of time, which works for me.

(Inactive Right Now Because No New Episodes)
Hot Money: Who Rules P***? (Not what you think - an examination by reporters from the Financial Times about the rise of a certain industry on the internet)
The Improvement Association

Also, my current TOP 10 list of active podcasts in order:
1. Against the Rules with Michael Lewis
2. This American Life
3. 99% Invisible
4. How Did This Get Made?
5. The Dave Chang Show
6. Judge John Hodgman
7. Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford
8. Dear Hank & John
9. Freakonomics Radio
10. The Bill Simmons Podcast

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I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I have a really hard time with podcasts. Lots of folks work or whatever while listening, but I cant focus on those two things at once. So, I have a hard time fitting in a podcast in my weekly schedule. I am glad to see this thread though as I continually struggle to get into them.

That said, I did listen to the Archive 81 (RIP Netflix series) and had a lot of fun with it. Was like the old timey radio serials with a modern twist. Quite enjoyable.


Well, that was fun
Staff member
My weekly rotation (not counting my own show of course!)

The Empire Film Podcast -- official podcast of the world's best and biggest film magazine
The Pilot TV Podcast -- Empire's TV sister show
The Infinite Monkey Cage -- Comedians and scientists talking science
The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe -- science, skepticism (as in the 'no pseudoscience' meaning, not the 'no moonlanding' meaning)
StarTalk Radio -- Neil deGrasse Tyson's science show
The Weekly Planet -- comic book, sci-fi, etc movies and TV news

I have a bunch of others I listen to if the topic or guest jumps at me, but those ones are all listened to in full each week. With 90 minutes of walking the dog every day, I get through a lot of audio content!
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Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I barely make time for any, but a couple I've enjoyed are:

1. The Adventure Zone, an RPG spinoff of My Brother, My Brother, and Me (which seems itself to be a genuinely amusing and fun podcast, but I've barely listened to any of it). Specifically the first campaign, named The Balance Arc, which started out with the three brothers and their dad fumbling through a highly comedic, stripped down take on D&D 5E with the Lost Mines of Phandelver in one hour installments, then rapidly warped into a really epic and crazy campaign. It gets genuinely moving and emotional as it goes. The DM definitely leans more toward the storytelling side than it being really player-directed, but it's a hell of a story.

2. Witchever Path, a quasi choose-your-own-adventure modern horror fiction audiodrama. Each story is released in maybe 4-8 installments, and after each episode they have the audience vote on 2-3 options for what the main character does next, then they write and record the next episode based on that decision. I like the writing quite a bit, and while the couple making it started out just with themselves, as they've gone on they've increasingly upped their game on audio quality, sound effects, atmospheric music, and an expanded cast of good voice actors. Disclosure: I'm voice acting in the latest series. :)

3. Fear of a Black Dragon. Ostensibly "an old school RPG podcast", this largely focuses on reviews and occasional play sessions of old and OSR gaming products. The two guys hosting, however, are coming at it largely from a more modern perspective, being game designers and writers for The Gauntlet (producers of games like Trophy, and Brindlewood Bay), rather than original grognards stuck in their ways.
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Our Fake History is hands down my favorite podcast. It is about debunking historical myths and Sebastian Major is informed, intelligent and entertaining. It is published in 1-3 episode series that, with rare exceptions, don't rely on previous content. And the library is huge at this point. Go check it out.

Old Gods of Appallachua, a horror anthology podcast. People, there are bad things in the woods, bad things in the mines. But, sometimes, you can rely on one to protect you from the other. How well do you bargain? Set in the early 1900s in eastern Tennessee and Kentucky.


In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg. Three guest experts on a set topic, and Bragg guides them through a 45 minute exploration of the topic, aimed at a general audience. The last four episodes are Superconductivity, Rawls' Theory of Justice, John Donne, and The Great Stink.

There are nearly a thousand episodes in the back catalog, on a huge variety of scientific, cultural, and historical subjects. I've been listening for about 15 years and it has never disappointed.



Only one, at the moment: Jen Page's "I Talk To Ghosts." Every Friday she posts a podcast episode with a few ghost stories and a spirit reading that she does with a listener. It's available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and I don't know how many other options, but I usually watch/listen on Youtube.


Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
With Spotify/Gimlet buying up independent podcasts and then shutting them down when they turn out to not be giant hits (RIP Every Little Thing), I think the Golden Age of Podcasts has probably been over for about five years now, unfortunately.

Still, a lot of great stuff out there. I listen to 20 or more hours of them a week, replacing terrestrial radio with it both in the car and while working.

My list, which includes repeats of @Snarf Zagyg's picks and some others:

  • The 7 (the podcast version of the Washington Post's morning email of the top seven stories of the day)
  • 99% Invisible (a podcast about the 99% invisible world of design and how it shapes our world)
  • The Adventure Zone (the original actual play podcast; I've fallen off from this one a bit, as I don't enjoy the world-building the McElroys prefer, although their interpersonal dynamics make the episodes enjoyable despite that, for the most part)
  • Articles of Interest (a 99% Invisible spin-off about fashion which doesn't sound amazing, but totally is -- the most recent season about preppy clothing was mind-blowing, which I know sounds unlikely, but which is totally true)
  • Bullseye (an NPR entertainment magazine by and for Generation X/Millennials, although I don't know that Jesse, the host, would ever confess to that -- the show was originally called The Sound of Young America, though, which gives it away)
  • The Business (Hollywood news magazine by one the LA NPR stations and hosted by an editor at The Hollywood Reporter)
  • Coverville (all covers and the original versions of songs that became hits as covers, usually themed around an artist's birthday or death)
  • Critical Role (although it's a low priority for me, given how long each episode is)
  • Dead Pilots Society (script reads by professional actors of pilots that got acquired by a studio but never produced)
  • Desert Oracle Radio (spooky, hyper-literate UFO stories and environmentalism from Joshua Tree, like if Art Bell had an MFA)
  • FiveThirtyEight Politics (deeply nerdy polling-driven political talk)
  • Hello from the Magic Tavern (NSFW fantasy world improv)
  • Imaginary Worlds (an entertainment magazine about nerd stuff)
  • KQED's The California Report (10-minute daily news magazine drawn from California NPR stations)
  • The Lazy RPG Podcast (the podcast version of Mike Shea's YouTube channel)
  • The Loh Down on Science (90-second science stuff, as told by the very funny radio commentator and author Sandra Singh Loh)
  • Make Me Smart (a daily Marketplace podcast going into greater depth on newsworthy subjects)
  • Marketplace Morning Report (self-explanatory)
  • Marketplace Tech (Marketplace's daily tech news round-up)
  • Martini Shot (the ruminations of a veteran television showrunner who got his start as a staff writer on Cheers and has kept working since)
  • Nerd Poker (Brian Posehn and his friends -- including comedians and a DM who worked on the Dragon Prince RPG -- play D&D)
  • Not Another D&D Podcast (four College Humor/Dimension20 veterans play D&D, although the OGL fiasco appears to have made them Pathfinder 2 curious)
  • NPR News Now (the top of the hour 5 minute news update, which I have set to appear at the head of my drive-time playlist)
  • The Official Hacks Podcast (the only HBO show podcast I listen to)
  • On the Media (a weekly NPR show on the media industry)
  • Post Reports (a deep dive into Washington Post stories)
  • Science Vs. (in-depth looks at what the science says about various topics, like male contraception, the efficacy of vaccines, hypnosis, whether deodorant is dangerous, etc.)
  • Short Wave (10-minute daily science podcast from NPR)
  • Song of the Day (KEXP)
  • Song of the Day (The Current)
  • StarDate Podcast (a brief daily bit of astronomy news)
  • StarTripper!! (extremely well done science fiction podcast; Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by way of solarpunk)
  • State of Ukraine (NPR's latest story on the war in Ukraine)
  • This Day in Esoteric Political History (a former FiveThirtyEight podcaster and two history professors do deep dives into little-known moments in history)
  • The Thrilling Adventure Hour (the podcast version of a long-running stage show in Los Angeles, where a troupe of actors and B-tier celebrities perform new stories in the style of old-time radio, typically with a genre twist)
  • The Times (the LA Times' daily deep dive into a news story they've reported on)
  • Today's Top Tune (KCRW)
  • Up First (NPR's 10 minute morning news show)
  • Welcome to Night Vale (one of the first big podcast hits, centering on a radio show from a strange paranormal town in the California desert -- probably -- where everything weird can and does happen)
  • What Roman Mars Can Learn About Con Law (the host and creator of 99% Invisible and a law professor use current events to discuss constitutional law)
  • The World (PRI's daily world news show)
Luckily, a lot of these shows are weekly or monthly.
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