- Heather McDorman & Jodi Blake
Looking for New Podcasts?
These Programs May Pique Your Interest
Both of us, like many people, are tuning into podcasts more and more. Whether we are working out at the gym, driving longer distances, or wanting something to listen to as we work on a project at home, a good podcast episode is often the perfect accompaniment.
Ying Lin, author of 10 Powerful Podcast Statistics You Need to Know in 2023, shares these numbers about podcast popularity:
62 percent of U.S. consumers listened to podcasts in 2022, from an annual survey from Statista.com
Smartphones are the most popular device for podcast listening among weekly listeners in the U.S., from an Edison Research 2022 study
Learning new things was the primary reason for 74 percent of U.S. monthly podcast listeners to tune in, from a 2019 Statista survey. Other reasons for frequent listening include entertainment, staying up to date, relaxation, and inspiration.
So, we know we’re in good company! But that also means we are frequently looking for new podcasts to add to their listening lists. Recently we asked some friends for their recommendations, and we were thrilled with the wonderful variety of topics that they shared with us – and now we’re sharing with you.
The Splendid Table
Reviewer: Andrea Hanstein is the director of communications and strategic partnerships for the CCC California Virtual Campus | Online Education Initiative. She resides in Sacramento, Calif.
The Splendid Table is a weekly podcast, produced by American Public Media, that focuses on food, culture, and sustainability. It is based on cookbook author Lynn Rossetto Kasper’s book of the same name and debuted as a radio call-in show in 1995. Lynn hosted the show until 2017 when food journalist Francis Lam took over. Each episode focuses on a particular theme (e.g., winter vegetables, spring baking, Hawaiian cuisine) and features interviews with chefs, questions from listeners, and cooking demos.
I started listening to The Splendid Table in 2015 on the recommendation of a friend. At the time, I was commuting 60+ miles round-trip to my job in the San Francisco Bay Area and blew through podcasts. I enjoy cooking and am a self-declared foodie, so I was pretty sure I would enjoy The Splendid Table but didn’t expect how attached I would become. Unlike other cooking podcasts, The Splendid Table doesn’t just share recipes, they explore the link between food and culture, health (both physical and mental), and personal expression. Thanks to the show, I have made new recipes, bought different cookbooks, and tried out interesting restaurants! And it doesn’t hurt that I love the sound of host Francis Lam’s voice, which can make or break any podcast!
Positive University by Jon Gordon
Reviewer: Becca Lee Munson is the senior director of sales for Scholastic Book Fairs. She lives in Dardenne Prairie, Mo.
Jon Gordon is a world-renowned author and speaker, focusing on leadership and sales. I’ve read several of his books, so his podcast was a natural win for me. Each week he has a guest who channels positivity and brilliance and relates to everyone no matter where you are in life. According to the podcast webpage, you can expect to encounter “positive inspiration, encouragement and lessons to help you overcome your challenges and make a greater impact.”
My motto has always been, if you find yourself feeling like the smartest person in the room, it’s time to find another room. I love learning, especially learning from others’ life experiences. Through this podcast I have “met” so many people – and learned through their life experiences – that I never would’ve known about. I lead a sales team of 200 and am always trying to learn meaningful and impactful things to share with them, to be better salespeople, of course, but more importantly to enrich their whole person. Every single episode has priceless truths that are so impactful for a positive mindset. Take a listen. It’ll change your life for the better. I promise.
Reviewer: Harry Sneed is an author and resides in St. Charles, Mo.
Cults is a Parcast Spotify Original that delves into the deceitful and manipulative world of cults. Of course, they probe into the backgrounds of famous cults like Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, where the phrase “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” originated when its megalomaniacal leader brainwashed over 900 of his followers into a mass suicide murder when they drank a fruit drink laced with cyanide. Other episodes highlight other well-known suicide and murderous cults like Heaven’s Gate and Charles Manson. But with over 100 episodes, Cults also seeks out the more obscure and less known cults.
I stumbled onto Cults while looking for listening options while I was at work. I find it extremely intriguing how easily people are deceived and brainwashed. Many of these cults were the offspring of the hippy and free love moment while others date back for decades and perpetuated generation after generation the same lies and devious practices. Word of warning: unlike most podcasts that can be enjoyed on a regular daily basis, Cults is one of those podcasts that needs to be audibly consumed with frequent breaks. It’s heavy. I mean, like, Stephen King on steroids heavy.
Pop Culture Happy Hour
Reviewer: Heather McDorman is the co-author of Friendsville Square and a retired community college marketing professional. She lives in Wentzville, Mo.
Five days a week, Pop Culture Happy Hour serves up recommendations and commentary on the buzziest movies, TV, music, books, videogames and more. Hosts include arts journalists Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, Stephen Thompson, and Aisha Harris plus a rotating cast of guest pop culture aficionados. The Happy Hour team leaves room at the table for exploring a range of reactions and opinions on every bit of the pop universe. From lowbrow to highbrow to the stuff in between, they take it all with a shot of cheer.
It may come as no surprise that as a lover of trivia and all things movies and television, I soak in quite a bit of pop culture. This podcast fills the bill perfectly for me. The hosts focus on current pop culture – so if I miss learning about some interesting actor, show, or movie, they've got it covered. This show is perfect for a walk outdoors or a gym session as it keeps a smile on your face while keeping you engaged in the subject matter. If you need a podcast palette cleanser from true crime and self-help shows, consider adding Pop Culture Happy Hour to your library.
No Stupid Questions
Reviewer: Dana Christensen is a certified piano technician (https://www.pianosbydana.com/). She lives in Bend, Ore.
No Stupid Questions is a weekly show that is part of the Freakonomics Radio Network and has been around since April 2020. Freakonomics co-author and journalist Stephen J. Dubner is one of the hosts along with research psychologist and author of Grit, Angela Duckworth. Through humor and debate, they answer questions posed by listeners on topics like the purpose of profanity to how the mind works in episodes like "Why is it so Hard to Resist Temptation" and "Why is it so Hard to be Alone with our Thoughts?".
What I love about this podcast is the chemistry and obvious mutual respect Angela and Stephen have for each other, which is why I think that this show works so well. They both seem to delight in prodding the other to reveal their true feelings, like in the episode "Can you Work on an Airplane" when Stephen teases Angela about her reasons why she hates to chat with anyone on airplanes. Angela and Stephen's smooth intellectual banter makes for great food for the brain, as they often approach the topics from surprising and comical angles. I'm always thinking I can determine how the conversation is going to go, and then BAM, it takes a right hand turn I didn't see coming, which is what keeps me coming back for more!
Reviewer: Rachael Blake is a special education teacher. She lives in Ballwin, Mo.
As noted on their Apple Podcasts Preview page: “If you can never get enough true crime...Congratulations, you’ve found your people.” This podcast, hosted by Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat, started in December 2017 and has been bringing weekly episodes (released on Mondays) about current and older crime stories from murders, missing persons, mysterious deaths to captured killers and serial killers. Thanks to its listeners, the podcast and its media company Audiochuck supports several organizations that help victims and law enforcement as well as joining their listeners to contribute their time, money and resources to directly support advocacy for victims and their families.
I really like how the hosts tell these stories: Ashley narrates the story while Brit asks questions about details. They tell new and old stories about crimes and how to stay safe. For example, they suggest keeping an In Case I Go Missing file (such as account passwords and bank account information) and putting it in a safe place and sharing that location with trusted people in your life. They also work with Crime Stoppers USA, a national organization that works across a network of local programs to prevent and solve crimes and let us know where to share information about each episode’s case. I can’t listen every week, but I binge the episodes I’ve missed when I travel by air or drive longer distances.
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History
Reviewer: Kelly Hayden is an FDIC Examiner. He lives in St. Louis, Mo.
This podcast is an in-depth dive into specific eras in history rivaling/besting the quality of college history courses. Unique perspectives are given, often from first-hand accounts, and in situations where there are differing descriptions of the same event, multiple perspectives are included from primary sources. It is extremely detailed. For context, approximately 25 hours over six releases were utilized to cover WWI, and they were released over the course of two years. This level of detail is common for the primary series.
This podcast uses a very engaged approach. While it covers the macro level, it also dives into the decision-making calculus of key historical figures and then also the individuals (commoners) impacted by those decisions. It really pulls the listener right into those situations for better or worse. And it is hardcore. There are brutal descriptions of some events. No account is too much. I highly recommend it to those with a strong stomach and love of history.
Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong
Reviewer: Jodi Blake is the co-author of Friendsville Square and a retired instructional designer. She lives in Ballwin, Mo.
The Sold a Story is a documentary podcast produced by American Public Media. In this six-episode limited series podcast, host Emily Hanford, an investigative journalist, shares her work uncovering how teachers have been misguided for more than a generation about how to teach children to read using methods that were disproven by cognitive scientists decades ago. In fact, these methods can make it more difficult for children to learn how to read. Emily walks through the evidence and the gigantic challenge of convincing teachers and school districts that these methods are not working, especially when they are promoted by celebrated authors in the education field and a powerful publishing house.
I stumbled upon this podcast when I needed something new to listen to on car trips back and forth to see my mom. I enjoy investigative journalism, and I was instantly intrigued about the topic. It made me wonder how my own kids were taught to read about 15-20 years ago. (Fortunately, both like to read, and I know they had some phonetics instruction.) I found it fascinating to hear the experiences of adults who still struggle to read after following the
STL Bucket List Show
Reviewer: Jay Scherder is the communications senior manager for the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis. He lives in St. Charles, Mo.
The STL Bucket List Show is co-hosted by couple Lucas and Marissa Farrell, the founders of the popular Instagram account of the same name. Lucas and Marissa discuss all things St. Louis with some of the city’s most influential people. This weekly show highlights guest speakers with a passion for serving the community through talents, businesses, entrepreneurship, and influence. A new episode is available every Wednesday for real conversations with compelling minds in and around St. Louis.
The people behind STL Bucket List love St. Louis, and they will make you love St. Louis too. There is so much to do and so many people who make our city great, and STL Bucket List gives you a guided tour through it all. You'll never say "I don't know what to do this weekend" again.
Which of the recommended podcasts above piqued your interest? What other podcasts would you recommend and why? Let us and other readers know in the Comments section below.