In the Age of Information, we’ve reached a point where podcasting has achieved unparalleled levels of popularity. There are tons of ways to tune into countless hours of content from Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher and more. Podcasts revolutionized how we consume all forms of information while also being incredibly entertaining. By 2024, the number of podcast listeners is predicted to reach 164 million.
Whether you’re on your daily commute, at work, or on a run, there are numerous shows out there that’ll help you get your fix. In this article, we’ll explore free podcasts and the most popular podcasts along with the best new podcasts — not to mention the select few that fall into the ‘all of the above’ category.
There are many celebrity personalities, comedians, musicians, scientists and more who’ve started their own shows. And the best part — you almost feel like you’re involved in the conversation. Some of the most successful podcasts come from the likes of Neil Degrasse Tyson, Yvonne Oriji, Eric Weinstein, Dax Shepard and Tim Dillon. Podcasts have become so lucrative that Spotify signed an exclusive $100 million deal with Joe Rogan recently. All his past, present, and future episodes will only be available on Spotify by the end of the year.
Best podcasts by topic
Podcasts cover a wide variety of genres and topics like comedy, cooking, education, health and wellness, history, politics, science, sports and more. Here are a few of the top podcasts you’ll find on the internet.
Best current affairs podcasts
Starting out as a comedy podcast hosted by comedian Joe Rogan, The Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) has become the largest podcast in the world. It follows current events and pop culture. JRE is a grab-bag for any kind of topic. The podcasts include a wide range of guests such as Brian Greene, Nick Bostrom and Neil Degrasse Tyson; athletes like Tony Hawk, Mike Tyson and Zach Bitter; and musicians like Killer Mike, David Lee Roth and The Black Keys.
Why you should listen: Not only is JRE one of the biggest podcasts in the world, but it’s also become a platform for all sorts of ideas and forms of discourse. With an average of four episodes a week that run anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours, there are thousands of hours of content to enjoy — and best of all, it’s free. Many have compared the JRE podcast to The Dick Cavett Show, Howard Stern and other long-form talk shows.
Useful Idiots is Rolling Stone’s most popular podcast. It’s hosted by journalists Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper. The show is released once a week and covers current events while dissecting what’s going on in politics. The show produces content with a video feed, giving it a production value comparable to other news and daytime talk shows.
Why you should listen: Matt Taibbi is an award-winning journalist who’s been hailed by some as the next Hunter S. Thompson. The podcast is free, and you can find it on most major music and podcast apps. It offers an unbiased discussion of current events in the United States.
Best sports podcasts
ESPN’s 30 for 30 is produced by the creators of the sports conglomerate’s wildly popular docu-series of the same name. The podcast provides a behind the scenes look at some of the top athletes and teams in the world.
Why you should listen: If you’re a die-hard sports fan, you’ll appreciate how 30 for 30 covers its sports-centric stories. The podcast explores the human side of some of the biggest moments in sports history.
The Bill Simmons Podcast is the most downloaded sports podcast of all time, which says a lot given the number of sports-themed podcasts out there. Bill brings on a wide range of guests from athletes to celebrities and covers several popular athletic leagues, including the MLB, NBA and NFL. NCAA athletics are also regularly discussed.
Why you should listen: Bill Simmon’s time at ESPN and HBO has served him well. Since Simmons and his podcast have street cred, he’s able to cycle lots of high-profile guests through the studio, giving him multiple perspectives as he covers various players and leagues.
Best Black-hosted podcasts
The Michael Yo Show is hosted by two-time Emmy nominee and television personality Michael Yo who shares anecdotes of his life as a husband and father. He also interviews guests like Sam Morril, Jim Jefferies, Jess Ambrose, Mindy Zemrak, Dr. Viviana Coles and more.
Why you should listen: The Michael Yo Show provides light-hearted commentary and lots of star power, courtesy of his time covering celebrity news on CBS’ The Talk, Extra, E! News, The Insider and The Wendy Williams Show. If you’re looking for a podcast to listen to with the family, or something easy-going and fun-loving, this is the podcast for you.
The Brilliant Idiots podcast, hosted by Charlamagne Tha God and Andrew Shulz, centers on weekly commentary. It runs every Thursday afternoon. This isn’t Charlamagne Tha God’s first rodeo — he’s a nationally recognized radio host (known for The Breakfast Club), personality and author. His co-host Andrew Shulz has appeared on Ted Talks, and together, the two have excellent chemistry.
Why you should listen: The Brilliant Idiots covers all sorts of topics, including pop culture, civil rights, life advice and more. Each show is presented in a fun and easy-to-digest way, which is great for casual listeners.
Best health and wellness podcasts
FoundMyFitness is a podcast hosted and operated by Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. Join Patrick as she breaks down nutritional fads and gives great diet and exercise advice.
Why you should listen: Whether you’re someone who is trying to get ripped or just looking for some general health and wellness advice, there’s much to learn with FoundMyFitness. There are many great Health & Wellness podcasts on the net, but this one brings you the latest health news and information from an actual licensed physician.
Ben Greenfield Fitness is a podcast that presents all sorts of great health and wellness advice. Greenfield has appeared on numerous reputable platforms, including CBS, The Huffington Post, NBC and WebMD. He’s an inspiring voice in the world of fitness and biomechanics who examines diet and exercise with an innovative approach that’s earned him a place in the top 100 most influential health and fitness experts.
Why you should listen: From biohacking your mouth with biological dentistry to tons of ways to burn fat, improve thinking, and enhance your lifespan, every episode will leave you with great information to consider on your journey through life.
Best educational podcasts
Hardcore History is a history podcast hosted by Dan Carlin. He’ll tell you right off the bat that he’s not a historian, but rather a fan of history, and trust us, it shows. Dan covers some of the most impactful events in history, like World War I and the fall of the Roman Empire. There are also supplemental episodes where Dan interviews influential historians, like Sir Max Hastings.
Why you should listen: With mammoth-sized episodes that are often hours long, you’ll get more insight from one show than all the history lessons you’ve ever had put together. And with the podcast’s great sound and production quality, you’ll feel immersed in events, giving you much-needed context to better understand the past.
The Portal is hosted by mathematician Eric Weinstein. Not only is Weinstein an intellectual in his own rite, but he was also the Managing Director of Thiel Capital. The podcast provides a unique perspective on subjects like science, business and art.
Why you should listen: Shows regularly feature top-tier guests like New York Times bestselling author Sam Harris, presidential candidate Andrew Yang and great thinkers of our time, like Sir Roger Penrose.
As you can tell by our list alone, there are tons of great podcasts to listen to on various platforms, including Spotify, Stitcher, YouTube and nearly every other platform where you can get music. If you’re a superfan of celebrities like Anna Faris, Ricky Gervais and Ariana Grande, podcasts are a great way to gain insight into their personal philosophies.
Meanwhile, if you’re a major sports fan, a history nerd or science fanatic, there’s a podcast out there for you. Other notable mentions include This American Life, The Daily, Serial, Planet Money, The Tim Dillon Show, My Favorite Murder and WTF with Marc Maron.
If the podcast or topic you’re interested in isn’t on our list, don’t fret! There are tons of podcasting platforms out there and thousands of podcasts. By navigating to Apple Podcasts, Spotify Podcasts, Stitcher or any major podcasting app, you’ll find plenty of podcast recommendations for whatever interests you most.