My Favorite Narrative Podcasts

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Podcasts are one of my most consumed forms of media, followed closely by serialized TV dramas. In 2020, according to my screen-time and time tracker, I spent on average 2 hours per day listening to podcasts. While that may not be very much on a daily level, there are absolutely some days where I binge hours and hours of podcasts, and some days where I don’t listen to any podcasts at all.

So, because I have nothing better to do with my time currently, and I am all caught up on my current podcast queue, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite podcast series and a few of my favorite episodes. In this post, I want to share my favorite story-style and narrative based podcasts.

99% Invisible

If you like design, architecture, UX, and stories about the human elements of design choices, then 99% Invisible is the perfect podcast for you. Roman Mars’s voice is soothing, and the guests and reporters featured on the podcast all bring a unique perspective on the smallest details of the design choices that impact our lives every day.

Reply All

Reply All is a strange podcast about a mix of subjects, including explaining niche and obscure tweets in their segment “Yes, Yes, No”, deep dives into hacking groups and bizarre technical issues in their segment “Super Tech Support” (my favorite segment), and reporting on human stories that center on the digital world and the internet. Reply All is one of the podcasts that I frequently re-listen to because the quality is amazing, and the stories are engaging in a way that many other podcasts fail to capture for me. If you like tech stories, I cannot recommend this podcast enough.

Twenty Thousand Hertz

If you are an audiophile and you enjoy the subtle details and nuances of what makes our soundscapes the way they are, 20K Hertz is the podcast for you. Topics range from deep dives into the sounds recorded on the Voyager probe to the use of LRAD in crowd control and policing, to the subtle nuances of the dies irae in pop culture and music today. It’s a great podcast for people into audio engineering, music, and the world of sound.

The Anthropocene Reviewed

Author John Green reviews varying facets of the human-centered world with topics like the popular board game Monopoly to the Plague and the QWERTY Keyboard to the concept of Love at First Sight. The topics seem genuinely random, but the point of the show isn’t the item or idea John is reviewing on a five star scale, the point is the stories and observations listed in the reviews. There is something so soothing and calming about John’s perspective of the world, knowing that he chooses his words carefully and puts such thought into the writing that when all else feels overwhelming, this podcast can bring a semblance of peace. I highly recommend this podcast to listen to before bed.

Radiolab

From WNYC Studios, which also produces the Anthropocene Reviewed and Death, Sex, & Money, Radiolab is a longform story-driven podcast experience. The reporting and storytelling in this show is of the highest caliber, and never fails to capture my attention. The topics and stories told range so widely that there is genuinely no concrete way of categorizing it other than calling it a masterclass in investigative journalism and storytelling. It is one of my go-to podcasts for re-listening and binging, especially during long drives or work-heavy days.

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