Summer is an ideal time for podcast listening, I think. The weather’s nice, which makes for plenty of opportunities for a long stroll while chugging through your audio playlist. You’ll likely do some traveling, which generally involves hours of dullness as you soar down the highway or through the sky. A favorite show could accompany you as you stretch out on a blanket, sunglasses donned, thinking about how chill life is.
All of these podcast-listening opportunities obviously need podcasts to go along with them. If your regular-rotation shows aren’t quite doing it for you, or you just want some new voices in your earbuds, try one — or all! — of these 11 quality shows.
“On She Goes”
If you already love Aminatou Sow from the popular “Call Your Girlfriend” podcast, add this one to your lineup. “On She Goes” focuses on travel stories and advice for women of color, in order to both empower and serve as a practical resource. Even if travel plans aren’t in your immediate future, the stories Sow highlights will inspire your sense of adventure.
“The Pitch” and “Pitch Makeover”
It’s “Shark Tank”’s world, and we’re just living in it. Fans of the ABC show, or recent readers of Doree Shafrir’s Startup, will dig these two entrepreneur-minded shows. “The Pitch,” from Gimlet, follows a business founder hoping to get funding in each episode. The concept for “Pitch Makeover” is pretty straightforward: It’s like a fashion makeover, but for business pitches. In each episode, the hosts listen to an entrepreneur give their elevator pitch and offer thoughtful critiques on what to highlight and what to skip.
Come to WNYC’s “Nancy” for the thought-provoking and heartfelt stories about the LGBTQ experience, stay for the hosts Kathy Tu and Tobin Low, who provide hilarious and lovable banter at the top of each episode. We recommend you start at the beginning: In Episode 1, Tobin and Kathy get their moms on the phone to discuss coming out, and it’s heartwarming and -breaking in equal measures.
“Very Bad Words”
Chances are you’ve uttered a curse word or two in the last 24 hours, but have you stopped to think about why we use obscenities the way we do? This new linguistics show brings you close-up with people who have thought way more about “shit” and “fuck” and their many uses than you have. There’s only one episode out so far, but it will give you a new appreciation for any lovable foul mouth who crosses your path.
As an avid reader, I am 100 percent the target audience for this kind of podcast, a new addition to the bookish internet. The two hosts discuss ways to read better with each episode. So far, they’ve discussed how to break out of a reading slump and how to cut through the new arrivals to find a book you’ll love. They also share what they’re reading — Borne by Jeff VanderMeer and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders were two titles mentioned — so you’ll get ideas for your next library trip.
It was only a matter of time before the podcast world got a smart, compelling show about none other than marijuana, and “Longform” podcast co-host Aaron Lammer is the one behind it. Lammer chats with filmmakers and musicians alongside scientists and activists about the changing shape of weed in America. It’s a compelling new addition whether you puff or pass.
While we often hear about climate change on a larger scale, what does it mean when it comes down to the individual? Ashley Ahearn ponders that question by going around the U.S. to learn personal stories that come from a changing environment. In the few episodes already released, she covers eco-anxiety, composting one’s body and the ethics of having children in the midst of global warming. A recent review on iTunes called the podcast a blend of “Radiolab” and “Planet Money,” which feels right — an informative show in a sound-rich and powerful audioscape.
This is one podcast that’s undeniably unique in its premise. Earlonne Woods, Antwan Williams and Nigel Poor work to put together a podcast — all from within San Quentin State Prison. Both Woods, a co-host and -producer, and Williams, the sound designer, are serving out yearslong sentences, while Poor is a visual artist who works with incarcerated individuals. The glut of prison-centric shows (“Prison Break,” “Orange Is the New Black”) proves there’s an audience who wants to hear what goes on behind bars, and “Ear Hustle” aims to share real-life stories of what it’s like.
Philosophy is a topic that can feel inaccessible to some. That’s not the case for this podcast, hosted by Vassar philosophy professor Barry Lam, which extrapolates philosophical inquires from real-life situations. In the first season, Lam explores the philosophy of war, religion, parapsychology (think: ESP and clairvoyance) and more, first approaching each big question with a relatable anecdote and going from there.
There’s a whole subgenre of podcasts meant to make you feel just a little bit smarter, or at least have a tidbit or two to share about face mites or computer security at parties. “Part-time Genius” from HowStuffWorks is an enjoyable addition to the list. So far, the hosts have explored questions worthy of Reddit’s ShowerThoughts community with humor, history and insight: How much sleep humans really need, the curious runaway success of Ayn Rand and whether it’s possible to be too clean are just some of the topics covered thus far.