Facts to Fiction: The Best Podcasts For Any Listener

Favorite podcasts header brain with lightbulb and science objects

Is there any better way to pass time on the drive to work than with a great podcast? Sure, a little drive time karaoke jam session is fun, but a majority of the time I just want to sit back and listen.

From educational to historical to works of fiction, there are thousands of choices out there. How do you decide? It’s a tough prospect.

To help with your podcast picks, I’ve listed a few of my favorite recommendations below. Check them out and let me know what you think.

Top Podcast Picks

TED Radio Hour Podcast Logo

TED Radio Hour

By far my favorite, this is the podcast that drew me into podcasts in the first place. Each week is a compilation of TED Talks mixed with interviews and insight. Enlightening, inspirational, and informational.

Average runtime: 55 minutes

Hidden Brain Podcast Logo

Hidden Brain

Hidden Brain is like a weekly psychology lesson. Not the boring Psychology 101 lessons. Each episode digs into everyday social situations and scenarios and explains why people think and do the things they do.

Average runtime: 30 minutes

No Such Thing As A Fish Podcast Logo

No Such Thing As A Fish

This is the most recent addition to my weekly must-listen list. Hilariously informative is the best way to describe it. Each week four staffers for the UK’s highly-successful quiz show QI sit around mics spewing a stream of facts mixed with laugh out loud commentary. Like really. I laugh out loud while sitting in traffic an almost embarrassing amount.

Average runtime: 40 minutes

Search Engine Nerds Podcast Logo

Search Engine Nerds

I have to have something related to digital marketing and SEO, right? Though I often like “disconnect” when not at work, I still enjoy keeping up on the latest SEO and paid search trends. I tend to listen to this quality podcast from Search Engine Journal on my way to work to get me in the right mindset for the day.

Average runtime: 30 minutes

Flash Forward

Another of my must-listen podcasts, Flash Forward focuses each week on a new, futuristic scenario. From planet hopping travel agencies to human rights laws for pets, the scenarios range from likely to pretty far-fetched. Peppered with insights and interviews, it’s a fun, educational listen. A must for anyone who enjoys the TV show Black Mirror.

Average runtime: 35 minutes

Brain Stuff Podcast Logo

Brain Stuff

Sometimes you don’t have time to listen to an hour long podcast and would prefer your listening in small tidbits. Each episode is a roughly 5-minute answer to a common question. Why is the sky blue? How do phone lines work? Get the quick, informative answers here.

Average runtime: 5 minutes

Ask Me Another Podcast Logo

Ask Me Another

This weekly game show is equal parts humor and education. Similar to No Such Thing As A Fish, but more timely to current events and with contestants playing for prizes. I usually get a couple good laughs in with each episode. Also see Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me below.

Average runtime: 55 minutes

Revisionist History Podcast Logo

Revisionist History

I love Malcolm Gladwell’s writing, so of course, I’d love his podcast. A staff writer for The New Yorker, with Revisionist History Gladwell takes a deeper look into people, ideas, or events in history and makes listeners question their long held beliefs.

Average runtime: 35 minutes

StoryCorps Podcast Logo

StoryCorps

A longtime staple from NPR, StoryCorps is storytelling at its finest. Essentially each episode is a collection of stories from people in all walks of life in their own words. Incredible insight, hard lessons, and wisdom beyond measure. It proves you don’t have to be famous to have a story to tell.

Average runtime: 15 minutes

This I Believe Podcast Logo

This I Believe

Another longtime staple from NPR. I was introduced to This I Believe was back in a college journalism writing class. Each week is a short essay someone sent into the broadcast focusing on a firmly held belief. Another amazing dose of wisdom and insight to apply to your life and expand your thinking.

Average runtime: 5 minutes

Radio Atlantic Podcast Logo

Radio Atlantic

Fairly new to the podcast scene, this podcast from The Atlantic began just a couple months ago. Each episode is a look at current events with commentary from journalists and respected thinkers. It’s like an in-depth and insightful look at the big news of the week.

Average runtime: 45 minutes

Podcast Honorable Mentions

I get it. There’s so much great content out there, how do you have time to listen to all of it? It’s hard. So very hard. So below are a few podcasts I keep tabs on and usually end up binge listening to while traveling or, you know, waiting at the DMV or something.

The Black Tapes Podcast Logo

The Black Tapes

A fictional story about unsolved phenomena involving cults, hauntings, and mysterious meetings.

Average runtime: 35 minutes

Welcome To Night Vale Podcast Logo

Welcome to Night Vale

A weekly radio show set in the fictional desert town of Night Vale where angels and dragons are the norm.

Average runtime: 25 minutes

Serial Podcast Logo

Serial

The podcast you’ve likely already heard of. Each season focuses on a case with debatable facts and outcomes that will leave you with more questions than answers.

Average runtime: 50 minutes

36 Questions Podcast Logo

36 Questions

A musical podcast consisting of just three acts (episodes). It’s like a musical about a relationship and a podcast combined.

Average runtime: 45 minutes

Wait Wait Don't Tell Me Podcast Logo

Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me

Similar to Ask Me Another (see above) with a slightly different format, but just as informative and funny.

Average runtime: 50 minutes

Limetown Podcast Logo

Limetown

I’d be remised if I didn’t mention Limetown in this post. Along with Ted Radio Hour and Serial, Limetown is one of the podcasts that got me addicted to listening.

It’s a fictional podcast centered on a journalist investigating a once-bustling town that met an unfortunate end when all the residents mysteriously disappeared. Dubious science experiments, a major cover up, and a mind control all play a part in the addicting story that kept me hanging on the edge of my seat.

However, there’s never been a second season. Season one ended on a cliff hanger and I’ve been left wanting more ever since. Right now, there’s no word on a second season, BUT I did some digging and there is some hopeful news.

The producers at Two-Up (the same group behind the new 36 Questions podcast mentioned above) posted an update saying they are working on a book deal and possible TV pilot. Fingers crossed. But for now, do yourself a favor and try the first season of Limetown. It might just change how you feel about fictional audio stories.

Average runtime: 35 minutes

What Did I Miss?

Like I mentioned, there are literally thousands of great podcasts out there. But there’s only so much time in the day. You want to make sure you’re spending those precious minutes listening to great content. So what do you listen to? What are your must-listen podcasts? What did I miss? Let me know below.