Music discovery. Lifestyle inspiration.

With an increasing number of people opting for podcasts to soundtrack their days, we decided to give you an introduction to some of the best back in March. Now we’re back with plenty more auditory stimulation in part two.

In the second installment of our guide to the best podcasts on the internet, we introduce you to even more online shows from a wide range of cultural industries. So whether your interest is in music, comedy, films, interviews or science, let us be your guide to the most interesting and informative shows for every topic. For more, be sure to check out A Beginner’s Guide to the Best Podcasts on the Web – Part I.

 

The Moth (Non-fiction)

In short:

True stories told in front of a live audience.

What’s the deal?

The Moth started out in 1997 as a storytelling organization out of New York. Presenting lectures and readings by important cultural and literary figures, The Moth events became a unique success, so much so that the organization launched a spin off public radio show, and a podcast series created from the event’s audio recordings. To date, over 10,000 stories have been told on The Moth, with subject matter ranging from voodoo to music to infectious disease.

Who’s talking?

Although the organization was created by poet/novelist George Dawes Green, The Moth is hosted by Catherine Burns, Sarah Austin Jenness, Jenifer Hixson, and Meg Bowles. Who’s talking, though, depends on who is telling the story — so far, The Moth has welcomed stories from the likes of Molly Ringwald, Joe Lockhart, Suzanne Vega and Salman Rushdie.

Why should I care?

A fact that the organization has made clear since its inception, the art of storytelling is a true craft. The Moth hosts figures that could often be considered masters of this endeavor, and the addition of a live audience/recording makes each story candid and intimate.

Where should I start?

We loved Sherman OT Powell’s tales of his time spent as a professional pickpocket. The more recent “To Russia With Love” by Elna Baker, a Mormon who left the faith, is great as well.

Download and subscribe via iTunes.

Hardcore History (History)

In short:

Not your average world history lessons.

What’s the deal?

Structured in a “theater of the mind” style, each Hardcore History episode centers loosely around a certain theme or historical event. You’ll learn about everything from World War II to ancient Greek warriors, but with a twist — like a compare-and-contrast style examination of Hitler and Alexander the Great.

Who’s talking?

Dan Carlin, a lay historian and former public radio personality, is the show’s host and creator, having broken into the podcast realm with both Hardcore History and its politically-geared sister show, Common Sense, a few years ago. His podcasting style introduces new ways of teaching and understanding, based around a more conversational, accessible and entertaining method.

Why should I care?

Even if you’re not a history buff, Hardcore History is an engaging means to learning something new. The show has been nominated for several awards and boasts over three million downloads on iTunes.

Where should I start?

World War II enthusiasts will like the episode we outlined above (Episode One), but we also recommend Episode Three, which examines the decline of the League of Nations, and Episodes 27 through 30, entitled “Ghosts of the Ostfront.” Carlin’s Wrath of the Khans is likewise available for free on his website.

Download and subscribe via iTunes.

The Alton Browncast (Food)

In short:

An exploration of all things food and cooking culture, as told by Alton Brown.

What’s the deal?

You probably recognize Alton Brown from The Food Network’s Good Eats or Iron Chef America. Launched in 2013 as part of the Nerdist Network, Brown brings his culinary knowledge to the internet, in a podcast that is part lesson in (of course) good eats and part talk show.

Who’s talking?

Brown is the show’s main host and narrator, offering cooking tips and tricks, as well as discourse on the latest food and restaurant news, but the show also features guests from the gastronomy world like Bobby Flay, Patrick Beldon, Justin Warner and Hugh Acheson.

Why should I care?

Aside from earning his stripes as a TV personality, top chef, and food connaisseur, Brown has been named Cooking Teacher of the Year by Bon Appetit and Best TV Food Personality by the James Beard Foundation. It’s safe to say you’re in good hands.

Where should I start?

We liked the recent “Call-In Special” (Episode 51) and 2013’s “Thanksgiving” series. Episode One’s chat with William Shatner is a classic.

Download and subscribe via iTunes.

Doug Loves Movies (Film)

In short:

A look at films and pop culture through the lens of Doug Benson.

What’s the deal?

Created in 2006, Doug Loves Movies is a talk show, recorded in front of a live audience at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. Given its situation within an improv theatre, you might have guessed that aside from the focus on film, much of the show centers around comedy as well. Recordings are streamed online but also archived via iTunes for download. Topics of discussion include film and pop culture, including a spin on “Name That Tune” that has contests guess movies instead of songs.

Who’s talking?

Stand-up comedian and actor Doug Benson is the show’s host and creator, but Doug Loves Movies also features a wide range of celebrity guests including Aziz Ansari, Joe Rogan, Zach Galifanakis, Aubrey Plaza and Michael Cera.

Why should I care?

Doug Loves Movies has all the clever wit of his stand-up act, amplified by on-point input from his guests, all the while remaining grounded in interesting, entertaining opinion.

Where should I start?

As far as we’re concerned, Amy Poehler can do no wrong; start with her episode. We also love the 12 Guests of Christmas series!

Download and subscribe via iTunes.

The Joe Rogan Experience (Sports)

In short:

Joe Rogan talks pop culture, sports, and everything in between.

What’s the deal?

Created in 2009, The Joe Rogan Experience doesn’t have a strict focus, as outlined above, save for the fact that whatever the topic, it’s discussed through the kind of “observational comedy” lens that Rogan has always favored. Subject matter tends to start with mixed martial art and sports but veers off to include anything from acting and comedy to neuroscience, gerontology, and social activism.

Who’s talking?

You know Joe Rogan. He rose to popularity while hosting the TV show Fear Factor in the early ’00s, but his work as a UFC commentator and stand-up comic is equally acclaimed in the industry, giving him an edge as a podcast host. Rogan likewise features a different guest every episode.

Why should I care?

Arguably the most commercially well-known podcast in our guide, The Joe Rogan Experience is a must-listen for anyone interested in getting into podcasts. It’s a great stepping stone, having been voted Best Comedy Podcast on iTunes in 2012. The show is also available as a videocast!

Where should I start?

We loved the most recent Ari Shaffir episode (#600), as well as episode #583 will fellow podcast host Bill Burr. Episode #63 with Russell Peters is, of course, a great listen.

Download and subscribe via iTunes

What’s Good?! (Hip hop)

In short:

Freddy Lockhart tells you what’s good.

What’s the deal?

Freddy Lockhart is stand-up comedian, so you know that this podcast is gold. Formerly the star of the internet series Mixed Media, Lockhart launched the longform podcast on the Toad Hop Network a few years back as a platform to talk about what’s good. For the most part, What’s Good?! centers around hip hop old and new, but branches out to include pop-culture phenoms like video gaming, television, and ’90s trivia.

Who’s talking?

Freddy shares hosting responsibilities with comedian Candice Thompson, a pairing that guarantees a lively, energetic and always hilarious show. Freddy cut his teeth under Brian Redban’s DeathSquad podcast series, lending him quality hosting skills as he moves each episode along.

Why should I care?

This is a series that is easy-going, lighthearted, and interesting — plus it’s entirely available on iTunes.

Where should I start?

Any of the ’90s trivia episodes are a good place to get familiar.

Download and subscribe via iTunes.

Fresh Air (Interview)

In short:

In conversation with pop culture’s key players.

What’s the deal?

Although Fresh Air is technically classified as your standard talk radio show, there’s something to be said about the insightful and interesting interviews put together by this NPR-broadcast program. Active since the ’90s, Fresh Air is the longest running podcast in our guide, and for good reason. Run out of Philadelphia, the show centers around contemporary art, current culture, film and music, and social issues, Fresh Air has featured conversations with the likes of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, Louis CK, Mark Ronson, and Joel McHale.

Who’s talking?

The show’s longtime host and creator is Terry Gross, an expert at instilling the kind of friendly, informal attitude that Fresh Air has become famous for: a research expert with a keen eye for detail, Gross’ questions are at once thoughtful and provocative. The show also features commentary from industry experts like David Bianculli, Milo Miles and John Powers among others.

Why should I care?

Not only was Fresh Air awarded the prestigious Peabody Award in its earliest days, it has long upheld its critically acclaimed standard thanks to Gross’ continued efforts. She’s widely thought of us as an icon in radio journalism, and for good reason.

Where should I start?

We loved the most recent episode featuring the haunting photography of Sally Mann. The episodes with composer Philip Glass, and jazz historian Samuel Charters are great too.

Download and subscribe via iTunes.

The Cipher (Hip hop)

In short:

An in-depth look at the inner workings of the hip-hop world and its music.

What’s the deal?

While this guide already tips its hat to hip hop with What’s Good?! (above), we couldn’t cap off this list without including The Cipher, another premiere hip-hop podcast. Formerly known as Outside the Lines with Rap Genius and having premiered on the Rap Genius website in 2012, The Cipher is the new, improved version of the program. Featuring in-depth interviews with the genre’s most important and influential figures from musicians and producers to labelheads, poets, and scholars, The Cipher is an investigative look at hip hop music’s storied history.

Who’s talking?

The show is hosted by the ever-charming Shawn Setaro, a writer and the former editor-in-chief of Rap Genius. A musician himself, Setaro’s relationship with hip-hop is profound; he makes effortless use of his vast music knowledge and public speaking skills that have brought him to institutions like Columbia University and The New School.

Why should I care?

There’s nothing quite like learning about the history of music from an expert like Shawn Setaro. The Cipher is a definite upgrade from its former digs at Rap Genius, offering a more streamlined listening experience with just as much entertainment. The inclusion of scholars, poets, novelists, and other thinkers is a brilliant and refreshing addition.

Where should I start?

From Outside The Lines, we loved the Miles Davis episode, and the feature on the Houston Rap Scene. From The Cipher, we’re partial to episode #27 with Combat Jack (host of his own show featured on part one of our guide), and episode #9 with Talib Kweli.

Download and subscribe via iTunes.

Freakonomics Radio (Economics)

In short:

Exploring the hidden side of everything.

What’s the deal?

You might recognize Freakonomics from the non-fiction book of the same name. It had a bit of a moment in the mid 2000s, praised for its accessible writing style and approach to explaining typically hard to grasp topics. The podcast spinoff launched in 2010. Produced by WNYC, it boasts the same approachable style to discussing pop culture, economics, politics, and headline news.

Who’s talking?

Freakonomics Radio is hosted by the book’s co-author, Stephen Dubner, occasionally joined by fellow co-author Steve Levitt. These two are experts at making things simple; think of it as Reddit’s “Explain Like I’m Five” for economics and social issues.

Why should I care?

Freakonomics Radio is the perfect tool for exploring the issues relevant to our current climate. It’s a topical and compelling discussion around far-reaching topics; a hub for learning with properly cited and excellently explained sources and opinions (and over 6 million iTunes downloads a month).

Where should I start?

We enjoyed the “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” game show episode, and the episode on “The Perfect Crime.”

Download and subscribe via iTunes.

Invisibilia (Human behavior)

In short:

A look at the invisible forces that control human behavior.

What’s the deal?

Another NPR broadcast show, Invisibilia studies the science of human behavior and psychology. The name comes from the Latin meaning “all the invisible things,” and looks at the unseen forces that make us do what we do. Although the show is only in its pilot season, it’s already amassing followers for its astute revelations on how the brain works, why we act, and the real-world consequences of those actions.

Who’s talking?

Invisibilia is co-hosted by Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller, two of the executives behind This American Life (featured in part one of our podcasts guide) and Radiolab. Both have unique histories with science; Miller works within NPR’s science department, reporting on human and insect behavior, while Spiegel has over a decade’s worth of experience in psychology.

Why should I care?

This show provides answers to questions you never even knew you had, and accesses the deepest, darkest secrets you’re too afraid to admit. Radio show gold, as far as we’re concerned.

Where should I start?

The show is only in its first season, so there isn’t much to catch up on. Easily start from the beginning, or go with the most recent episode on human-computer interaction for a good listen.

Download and subscribe via iTunes.

Want more podcasts? See part I here.

Written by Emma Robertson for Highnsobiety.com

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