One of our team members recently took to Slack and asked for podcast recommendations. As the suggestions came pouring in, we thought the Modern Mrs Darcy community might enjoy some fresh recs too so we’ve compiled a selection of them for you here.
Besides What Should I Read Next (*wink*), I’d love to hear what podcasts you recommend. Please share yours in the comments section!
I first listened to this on a solo road trip last fall and I’ve thought of it as my go-to travel podcast ever since. Each week host Kelsey McKinney (author of God Spare the Girls) shares one juicy morsel of gossip—about regular people you don’t know and will never meet—with a guest, unspooling a listener-sourced (but always anonymized) story in real time to get her guest’s live reaction. A voyeuristic delight.
Shameless Acquisition Target
This is longtime industry insider Laura Mayer’s decidedly meta attempt to understand how value is created in podcasting and entertainment by embarking on a real-time experiment to create and sell her own show. If you want to understand the business of podcasting and its recent boom, this is the show for you: it’s very much focused on the realities of the current podcasting landscape.
I appreciate learning how the things I love get made—novels, tv shows, hosiery, recipes—which makes this a fun podcast to dip into occasionally: I’ve especially enjoyed episodes with the Liberty Puzzles designer, the Normal Gossip producer, and the Abbott Elementary writer.
Michael Hyatt and Megan Hyatt Miller (Founder and CEO of Full Focus, respectively) share insights on personal productivity, team leadership, and business strategy built on decades of combined experience. I’ve gleaned plenty of best practices from these two that I’ve leveraged in multiple roles.
Over Under Achievers
Sports talk—but in, like, a fun way. Knox McCoy, friend of WSIRN, is joined by Jason Waterfalls to talk football coach drama, how to be a decent person at Disney World, fake podcast ads for mundane things, and more, all through the lens of overs/unders.
The Big Boo Cast
Two southern moms chatting about what they watched and ate this week, what their kids are up to, and generally breaking down SEC football when it’s the season to do so. Whenever I listen to Sophie and Melanie, I feel like I’m having coffee with a couple of friends.
Good Job, Brain!
If you love Jeopardy and playing Trivial Pursuit, this is the podcast for you! Each episode has themed trivia questions and interesting facts on various fun topics hosted by a group of wonderful pub quiz friends. It’s delightfully nerdy and educational!
Bad on Paper
Hosts Becca Freeman and Olivia Muenter have fabulous banter about books, movies/TV, creative work life, travel, and products. (Bonus: host Becca Freeman has a series of fictional romcom podcasts titled Showmance, Honeymoon for One, and Vote for Love.)
Pop Culture Happy Hour
This NPR daily entertainment podcast is fabulous. I love to scroll through their feed to see what shows, movies, music, and topics are making them happy! It has some great in-depth special series and I especially enjoy that they have a variety of time lengths on their episodes.
An OLDIE but if you never listened to this magical and heart-touching series from host Starlee Kine, I HIGHLY recommend it. It makes you feel wonder for the world and joy! With only 6 episodes, Mystery Show was gone too soon. “Case #3 Belt Buckle” is my absolute favorite podcast episode ever!
The Stacks Podcast
Traci shares in-depth conversations with readers and authors, occasionally discussing a specific book with them for The Stacks book club. I marvel at Traci’s interview skills. She manages to spark debates, probe hot social topics, and make snacking into an art form in about one hour. Her personal reading style features lots of nonfiction, which I find refreshing and rare in the book podcast world—but there is something for every reader as Traci brings on authors from all genres: poetry, literary fiction, investigative journalism, and more.
From the Front Porch with Annie B. Jones
When I need warm and cozy vibes, I tune in to this podcast. Annie B. Jones, one of my favorite Kathleen-Kelly-like booksellers, shares her monthly reading recaps, upcoming new releases, and literary advice in a way that makes listeners feel like they’ve just entered The Bookshelf to sit in a comfy chair and chat for a while. Annie’s recommendations often top my TBR (or pre-order) list, and you can feel her enthusiasm for books and reading over the airwaves. Her bookstore staffers often join for seasonal preview episodes or best book of the year recaps, contributing to the atmosphere of bookish and nerdy camaraderie. (Brigid also recommends this one!)
The Ezra Klein Show
Although I appreciate Klein’s political curiosity and commentary, I really adore how he brings his unabashed love of books and reading to the show with both authors and literacy experts as special guests. His conversation with Maryanne Wolf, author of Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World, blew my mind. Their thoughts on focus, skimming, empathy, and critical analysis inspired me as a reader, teacher, writer, and mother. All of my 2023 reading intentions will link back to this episode, and I’ve been sharing it with friends every chance I get. (I’d love to hear your thoughts if you listen!)
Literally! with Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe has been an actor for a long time so he “literally” knows everyone. When he is interviewing other celebrities on his show you don’t get the usual rehearsed types of answers; instead, it’s more like two friends catching up and the personal conversations often surprise me. For example, he and Ralph Macchio talking about their auditions for the 1983 movie The Outsiders is a conversation you won’t hear anywhere else.
The Town with Matt Belloni
I’m a huge fan of all things entertainment-related like movies, streaming, books, and music, and I think that’s why I’m so fascinated by the business side of the entertainment industry. Host Matt Belloni is a Hollywood insider who worked at The Hollywood Reporter for 14 years so he has a lot of contacts and an interesting perspective. These episode titles will give you an idea of what the podcast covers: “The Summer Box Office Reckoning”, “Should Disney Sell ESPN”, and “The Streaming Year-End Review”. I could talk about this stuff all day!
Take one musician best known for her bluegrass banjo playing host plus the best bits of any opera: the arias. Opera lovers know that the arias of an opera are the equivalent of the hit single on an album—they’re the heart and soul, the song that’s going to get stuck in your head, and probably the ones you’ve heard on the occasional movie soundtrack. Even if you’re not an opera lover, the way Rhiannon Giddens examines each song through its history, most famous performances, and human nature is riveting. For fans of: This American Life, in that both podcasts let you in on worlds you didn’t even know you were interested in.
If you ever filled out a college application, you were a product of the ripple effects of antisemitism in the Ivy League. Practices that we accept today as part of the process often had their beginnings in discrimination. Gatecrashers asks questions without easy answers, and is highly entertaining while it’s at it. Despite the heavy topic, the hosts inject humor throughout (you’re going to want to know about that “dirty bicker”). For fans of: true crime podcasts, without the gore.
The Daily Poem
Short and sweet. One poem a day, from the classics to modern poetry, with just the smallest amount of exposition to add to your enjoyment. For fans of: audiobooks and the reader that thinks, I really should read more poetry, but doesn’t know where to start.
1 Sealed Letter
Even if you’re not a snail mail user yourself, this gentle podcast is a deep dive into this almost-lost art form. You’ll find yourself thinking: I had no idea there was so much to it. My favorite episode this year explored how to write a condolence letter, practical tips I hope I don’t need anytime soon, but filed away for the inevitable day it’s needed. For old souls and fans of famous letter writer, Rainer Maria Rilke who famously said “Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
Having lived in both small rural towns and big cities across the country, I’ve been enjoying Anne Helen Petersen’s podcast. It’s an insightful, relatable, and entertaining exploration of the realities of living in small towns.
Mountain & Prairie
One of my top podcast recommendations for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and/or reading. Hosted by conservationist Ed Roberson, this podcast features long-form conversations with fascinating people of the American West—athletes, artists, adventurers, entrepreneurs, and more. While the conversations range all over the map, they always wrap up with solid book talk, and I’ve gotten some fantastic reading recommendations from Ed’s conversations with his guests.
Creative Fuel with Anna Brones
I’ve recently discovered this one, and I’m enjoying her conversations with guests about the intersection of creativity and our everyday lives. I especially liked Episode 3: “How do we spend time alone?”
Saeed Jones, Sam Sanders, and Zach Stafford invite listeners into their group chat. They talk about politics and pop culture and check in with each other about how they’re doing. They’re fun, insightful, and thought-provoking, each and every time.
That Aged Well
Long-time friends Paul and Erika revisit “yesterday’s pop culture today.” The delightful, hilarious hosts recap movies and the very occasional TV show from the 80s and 90s and talk about whether or not it aged well. I recommend starting with an episode about a movie you watched back in the day. If you’re like me, you’ll immediately start making your way through the rest of their archives.
Add to Cart with Kulap Vilaycek and SuChin Pak
A show about the things we buy and buy into. Co-hosts Kulap Vilaycek and SuChin Pak (from MTV!), along with occasional guests, talk about what they’re adding or removing from cart. But don’t fear that this will cause you to buy more things! While they do discuss products, they also talk about the habits and mindsets they’re cultivating or leaving behind. It’s a well-rounded, engaging listen that often leaves me laughing and inspired.
The Popcast with Knox and Jamie
I first learned of The Popcast from What Should I Read Next, as both Jamie and Knox were early guests. I don’t know much about pop culture, but I enjoy these two giving me the cliffnotes of what is going on in the world in a hilarious, fast paced, simply delightful way. Special bonus for their Patreon members: They do incredible recaps of The Bachelor (which I’ve never even watched) and The Great British Bake-Off.
Everything Everywhere Daily
With 10-15 minute deep dives into a different topic each day, this show has taught me about the domestication of dogs, punctuation marks, wind power, and so much more. In well researched and accessible bite sized episodes, host Gary Arndt makes me a little smarter as I walk my dog, drive to the store, or have a small amount of time to fill with learning something fun and new. I first heard of the show when Knox McCoy green-lit it on The Popcast, and have been listening ever since.
We Can Do Hard Things
I have been on record in other MMD spaces as having one of the hardest years of my life in 2022. Let’s be real; the past three years have been universally challenging and confirmed what I told my mom at the age of 3: “Life is hard.” Glennon Doyle and her cohosts, Amanda and Abby, do NOT shy away from discussing the hard things. From the small (why do we go trick-or-treating?) to the hard (forgiveness, racism, sex), everything involving being a human in the world is discussed. It’s one of the only podcasts I’ve come across that looks unflinchingly and unapologetically at the truth of the human experience and dares to imagine a better way. Their two-episode per week format varies but can include chats about life, experts and celebrity interviews, and episodes with call-in questions to which they respond. They don’t have “answers,” they have “responses.” That type of honesty keeps me listening week after week.
Decoder Ring says they are “cracking cultural mysteries”—and these are often mysteries I never thought I needed to be cracked! It’s a delightful surprise to realize that cultural fads and events happen for reasons. Willa Paskin (Slate’s TV critic) uncovers the history behind our cultural mysteries and sometimes answers the question of whether a thing we all think we remember happened a certain way actually happened how we remember it.
Wind of Change
Speaking of cultural mysteries I didn’t know I wanted unraveled: in this eight episode podcast, investigative journalist Patrick Radden Keefe digs into one of the biggest conspiracy theories of the Cold War, one that if proven true would affect Billboard charts, global politics, and millions of fans worldwide. The theory is that the CIA wrote the West German band Scorpions’ biggest hit, “Wind of Change,” in an attempt to use propaganda rock (and rockers) to end the Cold War. Starting with rumors whispered by CIA agents, Keefe interviews spooks, promoters, and fans and eventually sits down with Scorpions lead singer and “Wind of Change” song writer Klaus Meine. Both a fascinating cultural history and an inside look at how the U.S. government will use any tool available to them.
What podcasts do you hit “play” on the moment they download? Please share your favorites in the comments section!