So, you’re looking for the best new podcast?
One to tingle the senses, fire up the brain, or tug at the heartstrings.
Well, you’re certainly not lacking for options. Do you know how many podcasts there are today?
Over 1 million, across multiple platforms like Spotify, iTunes and Soundcloud, to name a few, and they are all vying for your attention.
Not only that, the number is growing exponentially due many people looking for something new to entertain them during the lockdowns of 2021.
With so much potential out there, you may be asking yourself — What podcast should I listen to?
While I can’t tell you what your next favourite podcast will be, I can certainly narrow things down by giving you my list of podcast recommendations.
Try them out, as you’ll never know what hidden gems you may discover unless you give it a shot.
Perhaps what could have easily slipped through the net will become an essential monthly or weekly podcast on your playlist.
Whatever the best way to listen to podcasts for you is, please enjoy my compilation of established and new podcasts that will lead you to some glorious audio experiences in 2021 and beyond.
And if you don’t have time to commit to a full podcast, try our article on the best TED talks.
Your New Top Podcasts for 2021
In this article:
- Your New Top Podcasts for 2021
- 11. VOX Today Explained – Best News Podcast
- 10. Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked – Best Supernatural Podcast
- 9. The Anthill: The Recovery – Best Podcast Series
- 8. The Town That Didn’t Stare – Best Investigative Journalism Podcast
- 7. Beautiful Anonymous – Best Interview Podcast
- 6. Drunk Women Solving Crime – Best True Crime Podcast
- 5. Conspiracy Theories – Best Conspiracy Theory Podcast
- 4. SmartLess With Jason Batemen, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnet – Best Celebrity Podcast
- 3. The Mortified Podcast – Best Embarrassing Stories Podcast
- 2. LGBTQ&A – Best Queer Podcast
- 1. BBC Earth Podcast – Best BBC Podcast
- Did you find your best podcast?
- Common questions about podcasts
11. VOX Today Explained – Best News Podcast
“News comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it.” – VOX
VOX recently brought it’s ‘explained’ series to the podcast scene. Giving you the inside scoop on stories in the down-to-earth VOX style.
Delivering the news for a modern generation, VOX always finds an interesting angle to bring you stories from around the world. Sean Rameswaram hosts the show with some of the top reporters from the VOX network and from further afield.
If you like a more investigative type of news, delivered with character and sprinkled with a dusting of humor, then VOX could be your next Mon-Fri news podcast.
Recommended Episode: Netflix has no chill
Netflix is now a household name. And it’s popularity has soared even higher due to lockdown, so much so they had to reduce video quality during lockdown in order to not break the internet. VOX tells the story of how this DVD rental company, competing with behemoth Blockbuster, became the number one streaming service in the world.
Honorable Mention: The Gist
Another of the best daily news podcasts. The Gist with host Mike Pesca who interviews experts from a wide range of backgrounds. Listen to them discuss, well, anything. Whatever it is, you’ll be talking about it with your friends and family tonight. A high energy, engaging podcast to satisfy your day-to-day news needs.
10. Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked – Best Supernatural Podcast
“I can’t explain everything I’ve seen… I keep wondering, what am I missing? That’s really what this show is all about.” – Glynn Washington
After growing up in a family he believed to be haunted by ghosts, Glynn Washington has travelled the world in search of the mystic, the strange, and the divine.
In this really good podcast, Glynn introduces us to some of the strangest supernatural encounter stories he’s come across. Each episode starts with a spine-tingling short story from Glynn’s own experience to get us spooked up. He then hands the proverbial mic to someone with their own terrifying tale to tell. With a flair for the dramatic and an eerie soundscape, these tales of the supernatural will make you want to keep the lights on.
Recommended Episode: The Hagstrom
Heralded as the meanest ghost on Spooked. The Hagstrom is a story of a family’s battle with a menacing ghost, and the meanspirited spectre’s fight back. Told first-hand by Curtis Myer, who was a boy when he first experienced the chill of Mrs. Hagtrom’s boney hands push him down the stairs. Prepare for a gripping, haunting story that is sure to shake any skeptic.
For the extra brave, try listening with headphones on — and the lights off.
Honorable Mention: Lore
One of the most popular podcasts of all time, that happens to deal with the supernatural and the unnerving side of history, is Lore. The award-winning podcast invites you into the dark world of folklore. True-life tales that are more frightening than fiction — you’ll want to listen with a friend.
9. The Anthill: The Recovery – Best Podcast Series
“This is not a series about Coronavirus – it’s a series about rebuilding.” – The Anthill
The world is facing a global pandemic, and we are all hoping for a swift bounce back to normality. However, history tells us that this journey may not be an easy one. Luckily, the past also gives us lessons on what we can do better today.
This 6-episode series takes an analytical look at 6 global catastrophes. Its focus is on the process of humanity picking itself up and dusting itself off after being knocked down by war, disease and economic crises.
Beyond this 6-part series, The Anthill is one of the best podcasts out right now. They take current topics and give us an in-depth, academic-backed account of what we can learn from the current situation. A spin on what the news will tell you. So, if scaremongering of the future is not your thing, and you’d rather have a historically and scientifically backed take on current events, head on over to The Anthill.
Recommended Episode: The Black Death
Experts chime in on the decades-long recovery process of the black plague, the effects on the economy and quality of life, and how European countries dealt with the aftermath and recurrence of the disease. The world was shaken by unprecedented climate change and overpopulation during the height of the black death. While the comparisons to our current situation are not heavily touched on, it is interesting to see how our species, nearly half millennia ago, dealt with such a tumultuous time.
Honorable Mention: The Habitat
This 7-part series follows 6 real people living on a fake planet. On a remote mountain in Hawaii, 6 volunteers are living for a year in a dome built to be a replica of Mars. This documentary podcast shows how a group of people could survive in such conditions and what it would be like to experience life on Mars.
8. The Town That Didn’t Stare – Best Investigative Journalism Podcast
“A podcast documentary about Britain’s Twin Peaks: East Grinstead, the home of alternative religions and spirituality in the UK.” – Nick Hilton
Nick Holton takes a deep dive into the obscure and surprising history of the sleepy little town of East Grinstead — A.K.A. The Town That Didn’t Stare — in this interesting podcast.
Told poetically, with charm and an appropriate sense of mystery, Nick takes us on an investigative voyage of Scientology, ancient and mystic powers of the land, rhinoceroses, and what exactly a ‘guinea pig club’ is.
This Podcast shows us what wondrous stories unfold in places we may never have heard of. We can discover fascinating things by looking a little more carefully at our surroundings.
Enchanting stories, insightful interviews and immersive audio make this an extraordinary account of an outer-outer London town that doesn’t often receive the spotlight.
Recommended Episode: The Land of the South Saxxons
This episode and introduction to this 6-part account sets us up for the adventure. Nick retells the history of the Sussex area before honing in on East Grinstead itself. He surprises us with tales of wild animals, dangerous swamps and conquest. A great start that not only leaves you wanting to know more about East Grinstead, but also sparks a curiosity of what stories have taken place right under your own feet.
Honorable Mention: Beyond Today
Beyond Today by BBC Radio 4 takes one big news story from the day and asks one big question. “Will coronavirus take away our jobs?” “Why would you transition twice?” Or “Why can’t we sleep?” One of the best radio podcasts, Beyond Today also delivers a deep investigation podcast on the most current affairs.
7. Beautiful Anonymous – Best Interview Podcast
“From shocking confessions and family secrets to philosophical discussions and shameless self-promotion, anything can and will happen!” – Chris Gethard
You never know what your day will hold. The randomness of life is what makes it so beautiful. That is why Beautiful Anonymous stands out. Comedian Chris Gethard invites his listeners to call him anonymously. The only rule is that Chris can’t hang up first. His callers then have one hour to talk about whatever they wish.
The emotional openness of his callers are inspiring and comforting — a reminder that we’re all shrouded in our dramas, and that current events affect us all in different yet similar ways. Chris’ sympathetic, insightful, often funny and human responses encourage the callers to open up in a very intimate way. He is a great example of an active listener.
Chris doesn’t hold back his emotions and opinions, making for a very personal podcast. With no clear direction, each episode can take you on a journey anywhere from the coronavirus in England, to giving up weed, to high-schoolers being sued by teachers. If you love the randomness and beauty of everyday conversation, this could be the podcast you need in your life.
Recommended Episode: A-sexual Ex-conservative Lunch-lady
The title alone tells you the depth and breadth of these human stories. This particular one, about how a miscarriage changed the life of a former lunch lady in unexpected ways, is humorous, inspiring, eye-opening, relatable and controversial — all at the same time.
Honorable Mention: Walking the Dog with Emily Dean
Conducting interviews with well-known figures in the entertainment industry while dog walking invites a chilled and relaxed kind of conversation. A mood that sitting in a studio couldn’t capture. This makes for some very human, very funny, and very weird dialogue (often involving dogs) in this feel-good podcast.
6. Drunk Women Solving Crime – Best True Crime Podcast
“Drunk Women Solving Crime is a true-crime podcast with a twist…of lime.” – The Drunk Women
Not only one of the best comedy podcasts but one of the best new true crime podcasts for you.
Charming, smart, and hilariously merry hosts Catie Wilson, Hannah George and Taylor Green crack open the chardonnay, don their detective hats, and tackle true crime stories from the news, their listeners and their own lives. The perfect podcast for the true crime genre fan to put their feet up and listen to with their favourite cocktail.
Laugh along with some truly surprising stories and try to crack a few cases yourself.
Recommended Episode: Jo Caulfield and The Self Anointed Saint
Starting with her own brand of justice, Jo tells a hilarious story of how she may have gotten Danny DiVito arrested. We then dive into the world of self-appointed sainthood and psychopathy. A fun episode to get involved with these Drunk Women who like solving crimes.
Honorable Mention: Someone Knows Something
A more serious tone and one of the best true crime podcasts on Spotify, Someone Knows Something host David Rigden works on cold cases with the families of the victims. You’ll feel like part of the investigation in this gripping and emotional podcast.
5. Conspiracy Theories – Best Conspiracy Theory Podcast
“The truth is rarely the best story. And when it’s not the only story, the truth deserves another look.” – Molly Brandenburg and Carter Roy
Think of a conspiracy theory. I’m pretty sure these guys have covered it, and if they haven’t, they probably will.
Self-professed non-conspiracy theorists Carter Roy and Molly Brandenburg are open-minded and curious people who strive to answer the questions surrounding conspiracy theories. Often the official version is the truth, but sometimes it’s not.
The pair tell an in-depth account of chosen theories over two episodes. The first episode details the official history, told dramatically and immersively. The episode ends with questions, to make you ponder the recorded events. This initial part alone would make for one of the best history podcasts.
The second episode delves into these questions and analyses theories surrounding the event to discover the true story. Some plausible, others outlandish, but all are on the table.
One of the best conspiracy podcasts out right now. Conspiracy theory will grip your attention and spark your curiosity.
Recommended Episode: The Titanic Pt 1 & 2
The first part of this conspiracy theory is a chilling account of the famous cruiseliner’s tragic fate. One as absorbing as any blockbuster movie.
The second part cracks open the theories behind the infamous disaster. It searches for truth in the fantastic and grounded theories equally. What they discover will leave you wondering what else you’ve been missing from famous historical events.
Honorable Mention: Those Conspiracy Guys
Nothing is off-limits to Those Conspiracy Guys. They scour the internet for answers to unanswered questions and shed light on all kinds of conspiracy theories. These ‘humble’ Irish people bring a funny and friendly discussion on some heavy topics, making this must-listen podcast accessible for newbies and conspiracy enthusiasts alike.
4. SmartLess With Jason Batemen, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnet – Best Celebrity Podcast
“What ensues is a genuinely improvised and authentic conversation filled with laughter and newfound knowledge to feed the SmartLess mind.” – Smartless
This podcast is like the ideal partner — smart, funny and charming. A new podcast in every sense of the phrase, with only two episodes at the time of writing, this podcast has huge potential.
Jason, Sean and Will present a delightful celebrity podcast as they learn through the experiences of their guests. One of them brings a mystery celebrity to the mic and, through witty banter and intriguing questions, they’ve produced one of the top podcasts to keep an eye on.
Recommended Episode: “Neil DeGrasse Tyson”
Sean introduces the renowned astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson on to the show. The 4 discuss the concept of infinity, the current state of the coronavirus, the potential of parallel universes, and aliens. A conversation that will make you feel brainier by the end of it.
The most recent episode so far, if this is a taste of what’s to come there are sure to be some amazing episodes down the line.
Honorable Mention:Under the Skin
Russel Brand’s wonderful podcast where he discusses everything from politics, to pop culture, to spirituality. Russel’s openness to new ideas and outlooks allows the listener to grow alongside him with every episode of this critically acclaimed podcast.
3. The Mortified Podcast – Best Embarrassing Stories Podcast
“Adults share the embarrassing things they created as kids—diaries, letters, lyrics & beyond—in front of total strangers.” – Mortified
Mortified is a comedy podcast about owning your embarrassing past. In one of the best story podcasts, adults reveal the cringe-worthy things they created in the past.
Poems, lyrics, letters and diaries. The past is open for all to see as brave men and women expose their secret pasts to a group of strangers in a stand-up comedy set-up.
Join the audience as they laugh, applaud, and hold their heads in their hands while you embrace the embarrassing stories that we all have tucked away in our pasts.
Recommended Episode: Dude Poets Society
Grown men reading poetry they wrote to their teenage crushes is a heartwarming and humbling experience. Revealing their ‘sappier’ side, these men embrace their inner romantic and laugh at their adolescent attempts to woo their loves-gone-by. You’ll be in awe at the creativity behind their rhymes and relate with their cringes as you recall your own cringy past. A great entry point into this binge-worthy podcast.
Honorable Mention: Risk!
A great podcast for taking a walk on the wild side. Risk! takes an uncensored look at the stories of our past only a few would dare to share. And they do, to hilarious results in this most entertaining podcast
2. LGBTQ&A – Best Queer Podcast
“Weekly interviews with the most interesting LGBTQ+ people in the world.” – Jeffery Masters
Jeffery Masters hosts a very cool podcast where he interviews a huge range of LGBTQ+ influencers. He draws out the stories that haven’t been told.
The world is a more open and accepting place, but it’s not quite all the way there yet. By telling the parts of history that have been ignored or swept under the rug, Jeffery and his guests are bringing LGBTQ+ into view and opening up the discussion.
Jeffery asks just the right questions to invoke the most insight from his guests. You will gain a perspective of the world that isn’t seen as often as it should be.
Recommended Episode: Rufus Wainwright: Unfollow the Rules
Rufus recounts his experience being an openly gay musician in the industry. He tells us of the reaction and the influence of his career, his life now and what the future holds.
Honorable Mention: Queer America
Queer America talks about LGBTQ+ history designed for teachers and students who want to incorporate the subject into their curriculum. But it’s an awesome podcast for anyone who wants to learn the history of what we should have learned in school.
1. BBC Earth Podcast – Best BBC Podcast
“A blend of nature, science and human experience, with world-class storytelling and immersive soundscapes.” – BBC
Each episode in this 3 series podcast is a collection of stories from a vast array of environments.
Fantastic true-life tales told to a backdrop of immersive sounds broken up by Host Emily Knight’s amazing narration. Emily gives you the backstory behind these extraordinary examples of our natural planet while the story tellers lead you on adventures around the globe. From the deepest caves, to the driest deserts, to the far reaches of space. This Podcast will show you a world you didn’t know existed.
Recommended Episode: Music that makes camels cry
Husky Dog racing in the icy tundra, studying sea pangolins on the deep ocean floor, and music that makes camels cry in the desolate desert — This episode transports you to the wilderness through the words of those who have experienced it first hand.
Honorable Mention: This Game Changed My Life
Aoife Wilson and Julia Hardy host this amazing BBC podcast documentary that looks at how video games have changed people’s lives. From cursed games to video games that have helped sufferers of psychosis. This Game Changed My Life brings to light the positive, and often weird, impact of video games on our lives
Did you find your best podcast?
I hope you did.
And I hope these best new podcasts have quelled your hunger for some variation in your podcast playlist.
If you have come across some other podcasts that you feel should be heard by anyone else reading this, please drop them in the comments and share the knowledge.
Common questions about podcasts
Q: What are the best podcast episodes of all time?
A: The answer to this question is subjective, of course. And official metrics are not publicly available. However, there are a few podcast episodes that are mentioned over and over again. Try these out:
The Joe Rogan Experience #1169: Elon Musk – This iconic interview has been viewed on YouTube over 15 million times. It’s the one where Elon smokes weed.
Harmontown #71: Push the Button, Pull the Chain – Everything you’d expect from the creator of TV shows Rick & Morty and Community.
This American Life#704: Our Pulitzer Winning Episode (The Out Crowd): This episode won the first-ever Pulitzer prize awarded to a radio show.
Q: What are some popular podcasts?
A: Because people listen to podcasts on many platforms, it’s difficult to see clearly which ones are the most popular. But by looking at various sources, we can give you a selection of some of the more popular podcasts.
Uhh Yeah Dude – Popular comedy podcast
ID10T – Popular ‘nerd culture’ podcast
Stuff You Should Know – Popular ‘how stuff works’ podcast
The Tech Guy – Popular tech podcast
Q: What are some good podcast topics?
A: This will all depend on what you find interesting, but the most frequent topics found in podcasts are politics, news, true-crime, and interviews.
Q: What are the best free podcasts?
A: Most podcasts are free to an extent and the latest episodes can be found, without restriction, on many different platforms. Some of the more prolific and long-running podcasts will charge you for access to their archived episodes or for extra content. But there are very few podcasts that will put a new episode behind a paywall.