An Update: My Favorite Podcasts

A few days ago, my friend Laura asked me two questions: when do I listen to podcasts, and what podcasts would I recommend to a newbie?

I talk about podcasts…well, all the time. I’m almost embarrassed by how many conversations I start with, “I was listening to this podcast about…” I have been listening to podcasts for years now, and I could not be more grateful for their recent boom. It just means more great things to listen to all the time!

25+ podcastsI'm loving lately

First of all, some disclaimers: There are very few podcasts that I listen to every single week. When it comes to podcasts, I relinquished my fear of missing out a long time ago. I only have 24 hours in a day, most of which are occupied by small children and therefore not conducive to focused listening. My podcast app is set to only keep the one or two most recent episodes of any given show, and I don’t sweat it when I miss something.

When I listen: When I was working full-time at the church, I had my commute and a lot of time spent cleaning/organizing/sorting/stapling/etc. That made for a lot of listening time. Currently, Ian does NOT STOP TALKING when we are driving in the car, so I’m getting through fewer shows these days. I often volunteer to do the dishes after dinner; Evan keeps the boys occupied, and I listen to my shows. I listen in the shower and during nap time. (Laundry, tidying, scrapbooking, and adult coloring keep my hands moving while my ears listen.)

How I listen: Overcast. Overcast has an awesome feature called “Smart Speed.” Through some kind of black magic, it speeds up your shows but doesn’t make the speakers sound like chipmunks. The app tells me that I have saved over 8 hours (!!!) by listening to podcasts using Smart Speed. (Also, Overcast looks prettier than the native iPhone podcast app.)

And now, on to the shows.

For newbies:

  • A few shows are kind of considered the Gold Standard of podcasts. They are: Serial, This American Life, and Radiolab.
    • Some thoughts on Serial: As the name suggests, these need to be listened to in order. Start with Season 1, Episode 1, and go from there. I felt totally “meh” about Season 2, but let’s just say that there is a reason Season 1 gets all the hype.
    • I do not listen to This American Life or Radio Lab every week, but almost every time I do, I think, “Why the heck don’t I listen to this every week???” These podcasts are great ones for Evan and I to listen to together; they have wide appeal.
  • I am subscribed to over 60 podcasts. (Yikes!) Many of those I skip over week-to-week, and just pop in when the topic seems interesting. That’s the beauty of podcasts. Usually, you don’t need to listen every single week to get something great from them.
  • Sampler: Sampler is a podcast…about podcasts. They literally sample podcasts and recommend good stuff to listen to. I haven’t listened to Sampler at all (because clearly, I don’t need help finding podcasts…), but it might be a good way to find something interesting!

What I listen to [practically] every week:

  • Sorta Awesome. This is my favorite podcast, hands down; it’s the only one that I literally do not miss an episode of. Sorta Awesome is strategically and wonderfully balanced between serious and light-hearted. It feels like grabbing coffee with some friends, in the best way.
  • The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Each week, Jamie interviews a woman and they chat about whatever–the big things and little things in life. Again, like having coffee with a friend! These two podcasts make me feel less alone on those days when being a stay-at-home mom is draining me.
  • What Should I Read Next? Each week, Anne Bogel asks as guest to share three books they love, one book they hate, and what they’ve been reading lately. Then, she recommends three new books for them to read. I don’t recommend this if you are easily overwhelmed by how many books you want to read. 😉

When I want to be inspired creatively:

  • Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach. A new one I just started listening to, and I love it so far. Short and sweet ideas, inspiration, and challenges for writers.
  • HopeWriters. A relatively new podcast (less than 10 episodes so far) meant to encourage and troubleshoot the things that make us overwhelmed as writers.
  • Magic Lessons. Currently on hiatus, but an excellent podcast from Liz Gilbert in which she helps people figure out how to live the creative lives they are longing for. (There is some language occasionally in this one, if that would bother you.)

When I want to be inspired in my faith:

  • On Being with Krista Tippett. Krista Tippett is a fantastic interviewer. Her guests talks about faith and spirituality from a variety of perspectives. I always learn something.
  • The RobCast. This is Rob Bell’s podcast. I listen depending on the topic or the guest, but some episodes have truly changed my thinking about things.
  • Sacred Ordinary Days. I love learning more about the liturgical calendar, and how to more intentionally observe my faith in different seasons.

When I want to be inspired in my motherhood:

  • The God-Centered Mom Podcast. Heather is the mom of four boys, and she is honest about the ways she struggles in her motherhood. I have learned SO MUCH from this podcast. I truly believe it’s helped me honor Jesus more in my motherhood, and I recommend it to every mom I know.
  • Coffee + Crumbs Podcast. This is a relatively new show from the girls who run Honest and encouraging conversations about motherhood.

When I want to learn something:

  • Death, Sex, and Money. Anna Sale is the host, and she is a phenomenal interviewer and storyteller. I’ve yet to find a bad episode of this show.
  • Note to Self. An interesting show about how technology interacts with the rest of our lives. (Love the host of this one!)
  • The Writer’s Almanac. Every single day, Garrison Keillor reads a poem. He also shares notable birthdays and events from this day in history. It’s always 5 minutes, start to finish. It’s great while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning.

When I want to be entertained:

  • Around the Table Podcast. Jacey and Maggie do a good job blending the serious and the lighthearted; they call it intention and indulgence. Sometimes I learn something, sometimes I laugh, and I am often challenged to live life with a little more intention. (I really like their “Read, Watch, Listen, Follow” segments. They always have good recommendations!)
  • Ask Me Another. This is a game-show from NPR. Nerdy and delightful. I especially listen to this one when I like the VIP guest.
  • Off Camera with Sam Jones. Sam is another GREAT interviewer. I haven’t listened to too many episode of this, but I’ve enjoyed those I have. I loved the Kristen Bell interview. I’ve heard the Matt Damon interview is excellent, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour. Great discussions of books, television, music, and movies. I listen depending in the topic, but I LOVE Linda Holmes.
  • The Popcast. Knox and Jamie are hilarious. Even if I have no idea what they are talking about (which is more often than I’d like to admit; I don’t watch that much television and I’m terrible at keeping up with movies), the conversation is always entertaining.
  • Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! A quiz show all about what’s in the news. It helps me think about the news without wanting to bury my head in the sand, and I usually get a few laughts as well. This is one that Evan and I like to listen to together.
  • Mystery Show. This show is currently on hiatus, and I wish it would come back already!! I recommend starting with the Britney episode, then Belt Buckle.


  • Modern Love. Famous actors read aloud selections from The New York Times’ Modern Love column. Wonderful, interesting stories about love that almost always touch on themes of redemption and identity.
  • The Simple Show. Tsh interviews various guests about living authentically and holistically according to your life’s purpose. I LOVED the recent episode about Everyday Spiritual Practices.
  • The West Wing Weekly. All fans of The West Wing must listen to this. (Or, if The West Wing isn’t your thing, similar podcasts exist for shows like Gilmore Girls, Lost, Game of Thrones, and probably many more.)

Well, I think that should wear out your earbuds in no time at all. Now I want to know: what are YOU listened to these days? I always love new recommendations!

6 thoughts on “An Update: My Favorite Podcasts

  1. I have to say that YOU got me hooked on podcasts about a year ago when you posted about Mystery Show (and yes, they need to bring it back!!!). Since then I’ve added lots of podcasts to my feed. My main gripe about most podcasts are their length – why can’t more podcasts be 30 minutes or less??? I can commit to 30 minutes. If it’s over 30 minutes I usually find myself delaying listening to it, then I never get to it (this happens with the Carey Nieuwhof podcast a lot – it’s normally over a hour! Why???!!!) A few podcasts under 30 minutes that I rarely miss – One Extraordinary Marriage (great for couples to listen to together!), Grammar Girl, Your Move With Andy Stanley, Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, and the daily Broadway Radio podcast that gives you up-to-date Broadway news! I’ll listen to NPR News a couple times a day – they publish an hourly 5-minute news update. I love the Phil Vischer Podcast (VeggieTales guy talking about Christianity and culture) and make it a priority even though it’s 45+ minutes. Another longer one I like is Ask Science Mike – great for people who love science and wonder how God fits into it.

    I’d love to hear your suggestions for podcasts that are consistently under 30 minutes.

  2. Awesome!!! Thank you for this post! Looking forward to trying some of these (I started to listen to the Coffee and Crumbs about cross-cultural mothering, but I forgot my headphones and my alone time was in public, soo……..haha) 🙂

  3. Oh, yes!!! I don’t mind listening to long ones most of the time, but I agree! I need some more shorter ones. (I think that’s why I gave up on The RELEVANT Podcast. It was just too long for me.) You’ve suggested a bunch here that I have never heard of! I’ll definitely check them out. Some that are less than 30 minutes: The Accidental Creative, Ann Kroeker Writing Coach, Happier with Gretchen Rubin (usually just about 30 min), HopeWriters, Modern Love, and Note to Self!

    I’m happy I converted you to my podcast-listening ways! 🙂 (And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!)

  4. Haha, I love it!! I started listening to a podcast in Starbucks once. My headphones were in my ears…but not plugged into the laptop. ha!

  5. Ok, update 😛 I have really gotten into God-centered Mom podcast (some of the titles drew me in PLUS somehow it seems to stream better for me over here) and then TODAY, I listened to her podcast with Sarah McKenzie of Read Aloud Revival — had you already heard that? I have an awesome example of a reading family over here that had already sparked the desire to be a reading family with Jubilee, but dude, they have me all-kinds-of-inspired to collect some good books. I feel like we’re in a funny stage now, though, where I am kinda over the super kiddie books (she has them all memorized, basically) and need to expand our library to include slightly more advanced books. So I just spent some time on ordering some books from her picture book book list. I know you LOVE reading, too so just wanted to nerd out with you for a second! 😛

  6. Oh, yes!!! I haven’t listened to that episode yet, but I used to listen to Sarah McKenzie’s podcast a lot! All my elementary education background has me OBSESSED with reading books with our boys. Ian’s been memorizing books lately, too. I keep thinking, “Maybe we should be reading The Bible more.” ha! (But seriously.) I’d love to know which books you picked up!!!

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