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Podcasts have really stepped into their own as a medium in the years since the term was first coined in 2004. Now, there are nearly a million podcasts with tens of millions of episodes to listen to, making it really difficult to separate the best podcasts from the enormous catalogue.

Read also: 10 best podcast apps for Android!

To help, we’ve made a list of the best podcasts in 2020, covering tech, culture, sports, true crime, and more. Scroll down to check out the full list, or click one of the following links to jump to the section about your favorite category.

Best podcasts: Categories


Best Arts podcasts


99% Invisible

99 percent invisible podcast

Topic: Design, Architecture

Frequency: Weekly

Length: ~30-40 minutes

99% Invisible, or 99pi, is one of the biggest and best podcasts around. Host and producer Roman Mars exposes some unseen or underappreciated element of the built world, ranging from homeless-proof park benches to the design aesthetic of the Las Vegas strip. Each episode is a gem, and with more than 350 episodes released as of writing there’s plenty of topics to choose from. It’s one of a number of great podcasts under the Radiotopia network.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Twenty Thousand Hertz

Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast

Topic: Sound

Frequency: Bi-weekly

Length: 25-30 minutes

There are plenty of great podcasts about music, but this one takes a step back and focuses on sound itself. Topics range from ASMR to phone sounds to the unmistakable background music of Seinfeld, and as you might expect from a podcast about sound, it’s impeccably produced and written. Do yourself a favor and listen to this unique (and oddly meta) podcast today.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Gastropod

gastropod podcast

Topic: Food, History

Frequency: Bi-weekly

Length: 30-45 minutes

The last entry in our best arts podcasts is about something we all enjoy: food. But how much do you really know about the things you stuff in your mouth three times a day? Gastropod dives deep into the history and science of sourdough, Jell-O, and everything in between.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Best Fiction and Leisure podcasts


The Adventure Zone

The Adventure Zone Amnesty podcast

Topic: Fiction, D&D, Comedy

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 60+ minutes

This podcast started life as a My Brother, My Brother and Me spin-off episode, where the McElroy brothers and their dad play a game of Dungeons and Dragons for fun. The Adventure Zone quickly transformed into a thrilling fantasy opus full of memorable characters and unforgettable moments, spawning a huge cult following along the way. There are no shortage of tabletop RPG podcasts, but TAZ’s winning combo of dramatic flair and irreverent humor maintained across its two full arcs (so far) transform it into a surprisingly moving podcast you should grab immediately… with arms outstretched.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale

Topic: Variety, fiction, poetry

Frequency: Twice monthly

Length: 30 minutes

Welcome to Night Vale is an unusual podcast, and doesn’t fit neatly into any specific category. Each episode is a radio broadcast in the fictional town of Night Vale, where unusual occurrences are the norm. Fans of radio theater will love it, and the team behind the show frequently tour with live shows around the US and Canada.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Homecoming

homecoming podcast

Topic: Fiction, Drama

Frequency: Finished

Length: 30 minutes

There aren’t many podcasts that survive the jump to another medium, but Homecoming was very successfully adapted to an Amazon Prime Original series. The podcast, which tells a thrilling story through conversations and recorded therapy sessions, features a star-studded cast featuring Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, and more.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Best Comedy podcasts


My Dad Wrote a Porno

My dad wrote a

Topic: Comedy, (un)Erotica

Frequency: Weekly (seasonal)

Length: 30 minutes

Don’t worry about the title, because this is easily one of the best comedy podcasts you can listen to. Host Jamie Morton reads chapters from his father’s series of self-published (and extremely unerotic) erotic novels. His co-hosts’ infectious laughter and merciless criticism of every plot hole and questionable reference to the female anatomy will have you in stitches. Although the content can’t exactly be described as sexy, the topic matter is very much not safe for work.

Listen on Pocket CastsSpotify, or Apple Podcasts


My Brother, My Brother and Me

my brother my brother and me podcast

Topic: Comedy, Advice

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 60 minutes

This is the second podcast hosted by the McElroy family to make our list of the best podcasts, but this is the one that started it all. My Brother, My Brother, and Me (o MBMBaM) is a comedy and advice show where the three McElroy brothers answer (mostly) ridiculous questions from Yahoo answers. This typically leads to a lengthy and hilarious discussions that showcase their comedic synergy and timing built up over more than a decade of podcasting together.

Listen on Pocket CastsSpotify, or Apple Podcasts


Best Friends

best friends podcast

Topic: Comedy, Advice

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 60 minutes

In the same vein as the podcast above, Best Friends features two besties that tackle all kinds of friendship-related issues. Comedians Nicole Byer (of Netflix’s Nailed It!) and Sasheer Zamata (formerly of SNL) answer hard-hitting questions like what to do about eye crusties and whether or not they should get matching caskets. The chemistry between the two is unbeatable, and listening will leave you in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Listen on Pocket CastsSpotify, or Apple Podcasts.


Best History podcasts


You Must Remember This

You Must Remember This podcast

Topic: Hollywood history

Frequency: Weekly (seasonal)

Length: 40-60 minutes

You Must Remember This kicks off our picks for the best history podcasts, but you won’t find tellings of politicians, wars, and other typical history class fare. Hosted by Karina Longworth, it uncovers the juiciest stories from the early years of Hollywood. If you’ve ever been curious about the lives of Hollywood stars before the age of social media, this is the best way to get a peek behind the silver screen.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Revisionist History

Revisionist History podcast

Topic: History

Frequency: Weekly (Seasonal)

Length: 40-50 minutes

Revisionist History is a podcast from the mind of The New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell. Like his books, the show picks apart a specific topic and provides an alternate explanation of the themes or motives behind it. In this case, the topics are all misunderstood moments or elements from history, including the Founding Fathers of the US being criminal smugglers, the ambiguity of the semicolon in the Second Amendment, and the decline of the McDonalds french fry.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Throughline

throughline podcast

Topic: News, History

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 30-60 minutes

Throughline is one of the best in a long list of NPR podcasts, with the goal of going back in time to provide historical context to modern issues. If you’ve ever wondered why Americans are fascinated by conspiracy theories or how Vladimir Putin rose to power from relative obscurity, subscribe to Throughline today.

Listen on Pocket CastsSpotify, or Apple Podcasts


A History of the World in 100 Objects

history of the world in 100 objects

Topic: History

Frequency: Finished

Length: 15 minutes

 

Perhaps one of the most iconic radio programs of the past few decades, A History of the World in 100 Objects is required listening for any history fanatic. This BBC Radio 4 podcast is nearly a decade old at this point, but it still holds up incredibly well. There are (surprise) 100 episodes running 15 minutes each, but if you’re clamoring for more you should also check out 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy, which is currently in its second season.

Listen on Pocket CastsSpotify, or Apple Podcasts


Best Sports podcasts


The Lowe Post

The Lowe Post podcast

Topic: Sports (NBA)

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 30-90 minutes

ESPN‘s Zach Lowe, the phenom of NBA analysis and all-around good guy, has grown his podcast into arguably the NBA’s premier source of insight from reporters, players, coaches, and insiders. NBA beginners won’t find themselves lost, while those that get swept up in trade season hype will also find a lot to enjoy.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


That Peter Crouch Podcast

That peter crouch podcast

Topic: Sports (soccer)

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 45 minutes

Switching from basketball to soccer/football, our next entry has legendary footballer Peter Crouch shooting the breeze with Tom Fordyce and Chris Stark. It’s by far the best podcast for football fans, covering not only the latest news and events but also what’s going on in the lives and heads of football’s’ biggest stars.

Listen on Pocket CastsSpotify, or Apple Podcasts


30 for 30 podcast

30 for 30 podcast

Topic: Sports, History

Frequency: Irregular

Length: 30-60 minutes

From the makers of the acclaimed 30 for 30 documentary series from ESPN, the 30 for 30 Podcast dives into some of the most interesting and controversial stories in recent sports history. Even if you’re not much of a sports fan you’ll still find a lot to enjoy, from the rise and fall of America’s Womens soccer leagues to the shocking 1990 scandal that led to Chile’s temporary ban from the World Cup.

Listen on Pocket CastsSpotify, or Apple Podcasts


Best True Crime podcasts


Serial

serial podcast

Topic: True Crime

Frequency: Seasonal

Length: 45-60 minutes

No list of the best podcasts is complete without the breakout 2014 series that introduced the medium to the masses. The first season of Serial is centered around the mysterious murder of a high school student in 1999, and the unique storytelling and popularity inspired a host of Serial-like podcasts in the following years. If you somehow haven’t listened to it yet, there’s no time like the present to find out what the fuss is all about.

Listen on Pocket CastsSpotify, or Apple Podcasts


Criminal

Criminal

Topic: True crime

Frequency: Bi-weekly

Length: 20-40 minutes

Criminal is another fantastic show on the phenomenal Radiotopia network, and easily the best produced of countless true crime podcasts out there. Host Phoebe Judge has one of the smoothest voices in the podcasting world, and runs us through the events of the crime without shying away from the gruesome details. Everything from the writing to the sound design is impeccable, making it well worth a listen.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Crimetown

Crimetown podcast

Topic: True crime, documentary

Frequency: Weekly (seasonal)

Length: 30-45 minutes

Crimetown is a different kind of true crime podcast. The first season is all about organized crime in Providence, Rhode Island, and the second is about police  corruption in 1970s Detroit, Michigan. What earns it a spot on our list of the best podcasts around are its phenomenal production values. If you’ve seen the incredible documentary series The Jinx from the same producers, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Listen on Pocket CastsSpotify, or Apple Podcasts


Best Science and Trivia podcasts


Radiolab


Radiolab podcast

Topic: Science, philosophy

Frequency: Bi-weekly

Length: 30-60 minutes

Radiolab has been around for nearly two decades, and if you haven’t already listened you’re in for a treat. Host Jad Abumrad and a myriad of producers dive into a specific topic in detail, using unique sound design and story-telling techniques. These quirks might put off some listeners, but it’s one of the best informative podcasts around.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


No Such Thing as a Fish

No such thing as a fish podcast

Topic: Variety

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 40 minutes

If you’re a fan of the comedy quiz show QI, then No Such Thing as a Fish is the perfect podcast for you. It features the writers of the show discussing the random bits of knowledge they encounter while doing research for the show. Like the show it’s technically educational, but it’s also hugely entertaining.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Wait wait dont tell me podcast

Topic: News, Comedy, Game show

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 60 minutes

NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is a weekly trivia and comedy show that’s recorded in front of a live audience. The panel changes from week to week, but it’s always packed with comedians and humorists who are more than ready to turn the week’s driest news story into a hilarious joke. It’s the perfect way to keep up with the news without having to actually watch the news.

Listen on Pocket CastsSpotify, or Apple Podcasts


Best Society and Culture podcasts


Ear Hustle

Ear Hustle Podcast

Topic: Prison life

Frequency: Bi-weekly

Length: 30-40 minutes

Originally recorded from behind the walls of San Quentin State Prison, Ear Hustle gives inmates a path to tell stories about life on the inside — and the struggle to reintegrate into society afterwards. From behind the mic, prisoners drop their guard and give a true, human look into the reality of incarceration in the United States.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


This American Life

This American Life

Topic: Variety

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 60 minutes

This American Life is yet another iconic podcast that deserves a spot on any best list. Ira Glass’ hour-long radio-program-turned-podcast has been running for nearly 25 years, and to this day provides a template that countless new shows emulate. Each episode is centered around a theme, which is explored in a number of segments or “acts.” These can range from field journalism to fictional stories to high profile interviews, but they are always produced to an incredibly high standard.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Lore

Lore podcast

Topic: Folklore, mystery, supernatural

Frequency: Twice monthly

Length: 30-40 minutes

Are you afraid of the dark? If not, you will be after listening to a few episodes of Lore. Aaron Mahnke twists dark folklore and supernatural stories from around the world into compelling stories, made even creepier by an eerie soundtrack recorded specifically for the show. To top things off, the narratives are largely based on true stories.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Reply All

Reply all podcast

Topic: Varies

Frequency: Bi-weekly

Length: 30-60 minutes

Gimlet Media’s star podcast Reply All is nominally about internet culture, but in reality it’s a bi-weekly exploration of modern life. Topics range from the mundane to the profane, with everything in between. Episode formats also change from week to week, with some deep dives into specific topics and other more conversational episodes between hosts, contributors, and Gimlet founder Alex Blumberg.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


Best Technology podcasts


Recode Decode

Recode Decode Podcast

Topic: Tech, Politics

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 60-80 minutes

Recode Decode is an interview podcast from Vox, where long-time tech journalist Kara Swisher interviews the whos-who of Silicon Valley. In their candid conversations, tech execs, politicians, and celebrities reveal their big ideas and how they’ll shape the future of the world we live in.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


TED Radio Hour

ted radio hour podcast

Topic: Varies

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 60 minutes

TED Talks have provided scientists and experts a platform to spread their research and insights for decades, and the TED Radio Hour podcast is the best way to sort through the extensive library. Each episode is centered around a theme, pulling clips from the archive and interviewing speakers for updates and new developments to their ideas.

Listen on Pocket CastsSpotify, or Apple Podcasts


This Week in Tech

This week in tech podcast

Topic: Tech, News

Frequency: Weekly

Length: 2-3 hours

The final entry in our list is one of the oldest podcasts around, starting way back in 2005. This Week in Tech (or TWiT) is hosted by former Tech TV pundit Leo Laporte, and in the past 15 years it’s grown into a full network with more than 15 shows covering a variety of tech topics. Still, the flagship show TWiT is one of the best podcasts to learn the latest tech news from journalists and experts in the field. There are both audio and video versions available, but the audio version is linked below.

Listen on Pocket Casts, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts


That’s it for our list of the best podcasts in 2020! Check out more great podcast lists below, and let us know what you’re listening to in the comments!

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