By Camira Powell

If you’re like me, your headphones are an essential part of your job. Just the thought of going through an entire morning – nay, morning commute – without those white lifesavers snugly embedded in my ear is enough to make me call in sick. Though as productive as I feel listening to the new Taylor Swift jam on repeat, there are times when I want something that’s as entertaining as it is enlightening. And that’s where the handy podcast comes in.

There’s no denying that the podcast has grown in popularity over the years. They’ve gone from small cult-like followings to massive cult-like followings, thanks to the word-of-mouth of passionate fans. Podcasts have garnered widespread respect as an alternative source of entertainment – well, as “alternative” as talk radio can be – among millennials, especially anyone that proudly identifies as a nerd or hipster. Anyone with a microphone, access to the internet and something to say has the makings of a podcast, which creates a wide array of options for listeners who can choose from witty repartee between comics to simple explanations of complex phenomena to friends commenting on the absurdities of life. There are so many options out there that it can be hard to discern between the good, the bad and the wtf. Here are a few that are definitely worth a listen:

The Read

Upon first listen, a few things become clear about the show: Crissle and Kid Fury love Beyonce….and they don’t take anyone’s mess. This is apparent as they riff on the ridiculousness of celebs, give tough love advice to listeners and, of course, read (if you don’t know what that means, allow Dorian Corey to educate you).

Freakonomics

Based on the bestselling book of the same name, this podcast hosted by Stephen Dubner (with frequent visits from his co-author Steve Levitt), breaks down the economics in all the freaky things that make the world go round. Like who knew that saying “I don’t know” is harder than “I love you” or tipping often means servers get paid less?

The Nerdist

The Nerdist is your home for all things nerdy and fun. Run by Chris Hardwick, the site features an abundance of other podcasts that focus on everything from the magic of James Bond to listening to conversations with some of the funniest people you wish you knew.

Welcome to Night Vale

Not your typical news show, this one gives us stories from the fictional town of Night Vale, a city where things too often go bump in the night.

Radio Lab

Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich explore their curiosity as they deep dive into a new question every episode, often finding that the best answers only lead to better questions.

WTF Marc Maron 

Comedian Mark Maron sits down with some of Hollywood’s most notable names in informal conversations where no question is off-limits.

This American Life

A true classic, This American Life is going strong as it nears its 20th year on air. Ira Glass and his intrepid crew gamely takes on the challenge of telling tales from all aspects of life, whether it’s empathizing with prisoners or taking us back in time to the sweet days of summer camp.

99% Invisible

A design and architecture focused podcast created by Roman Mars, every episode takes a close look at all the “invisible” parts that make the world run.

The Savage Lovecast

Dan Savage has been hosting his show for years, tackling the same topics of love, sex and everything in between in his signature crass but caring way.

Pop Culture Happy Hour

If you love books, movies, comic books, television or music (so basically everything good in the world), this podcast is for you. A weekly roundtable hosted by Linda Holmes and other prominent folks from around NPR, it’s one of the most amusing hours you’ll download all week.

The Bugle

If you’re fan of John Oliver from his days on The Daily Show or his new show Last Week Tonight, you’ll be a fan of his podcast co-hosted with Andy Zaltzman. The show gives Oliver and his partner a showcase for their incisive take on today’s current events.

Now get to listening!

All the Podcasts You Should Be Listening To 9 October,2014KQED Pop

  • KSea

    It’s Marc Maron, not “Moron”

  • “Hello Internet” is my favorite new podcast lately.

  • Elizabeth Duran

    Serial, Thrilling Adventure Hour, Super Ego, You Made it Weird, Sodajerker on Songwriting.

Author

KQED Pop

KQED Pop is a daily blog edited by Emmanuel Hapsis that critically examines the social and cultural impact of music, movies, television, advertisements, fashion, the internet and all the other collective experiences that make us laugh, cringe and cry. We focus on local, national and international experiences with a Bay Area lens. We don’t do reviews.

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