Happy International Podcast Day!
Podcasts go back as far as 2004, but have been sweeping the world for the past few years.
We listen to them while we workout, while we work, while we travel, and while we cook, clean, and shower.
They cover every topic from the very serious to the humorous to the mundane, and there are more than 500,000 active podcasts on Apple Podcasts alone.
But with sooo much content to choose from, where do you begin?
Tbh, podcast preferences are as unique and personalized as our own personalities. But some are better than others.
Today we’re sharing a roundup of podcast recommendations from the Grotto community. Want to add to our list? Join the conversation on social @GrottoNetwork!
From Dan Masterton
Hidden Brain: The social science podcast from NPR is wonderfully accessible while still delivering substantial scientific insight. Each half-hour-ish episode typically tackles a social topic more in-depth by synthesizing findings from recent studies with long-form interviews with scientists who conducted them. They also often include first-hand anecdotes from people affected by the topics personally. And host Shankar Vedantam has one of the most pleasant voices in radio.
TED Radio Hour: Yes, that TED. Personally, I’ve often found TED talks, when shared as links in emails or showed as tedious items as staff meetings, to be a bit tired. But this podcast repackages them into a tastier format. Host Guy Raz interviews TED speakers, and they edit the interview to include highlights from their TED talks. Each episode grabs a handful of speakers with a common thread between their topics and delivers the listener a nicely curated listen.
From Caitlan Rangel
Criminal: This is true-crime podcast that tells a different story in each episode about people “who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.” The topics cover a range of crimes, from a student who printed counterfeit money in his room to how to fake your own death.
Jesuitical: A weekly podcast from offering a smart, Catholic take on faith, culture, and the world — often over drinks. Each episode touches on some element of the Catholic faith and brings an interview with a guest who offers a unique perspective on world events and culture. (The name comes from the Jesuit religious order that was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola.)
Upside Down Podcast: This show dives into the intersection of spirituality and culture, tackling topics often off-limits in Christian circles. Some of their most popular episodes discussed downward mobility, gentrification, and a special interview with civil rights leader John Perkins.
From Josh Flynt
The Solid Verbal: As we dive into college football season, there’s no better podcast duo to get you ready for Saturdays than Ty Hildenbrandt and Dan Rubenstein. From the ACC to the Pac-12 and everything in between, Dan and Ty do their homework, but they’re college football superfans who know how to keep things fun. Throughout the season, they record weekly preview and recap episodes taking you through all the important games, and even some of the lesser known rivalries.
The School of Greatness: The lifestyle/productivity/wellness genre is overcrowded and can be overwhelming at times, but this podcast hosted by Lewis Howes is one I have enjoyed for a few years. The episodes feature inspiring conversations with entrepreneurs, athletes, entertainers, authors, and more, talking about subjects like their morning routines, overcoming adversity, and their personal definition of greatness.
From Anna O’Neil
The Catholic Feminist: Host Claire Swinarski interviews a lot of interesting people on difficult topics like contraception, social justice, and vocation. And she’s very upbeat and positive, rather than being bitter and angry: “I want to wrestle hard truths with women who are seeking the true, good, and beautiful. I want to sit in the discomfort of tough questions and wrestle with wisdom. I want to scream to the sky that there is room for you, and me, and all of us, here.”
From John Tuttle
The Prancing Pony: This podcast offers a charming discourse on a vast array of all things Tolkien, hobbits, and Middle-earth. It’s a great listen for any fans of Lord of the Rings.
The Catholic Talk Show: This is a podcast hosted by three guys who each had varied and interesting life journeys — one played for the Dodgers, another played in a rock band, and one played college basketball. All three men faced pivotal moments in their lives and now get together to provide interesting discussion on a host of topics ranging from movies and superheroes to aliens and archaeology. It’s boisterous, funny, and far from shallow.
From Molly Cruitt
The Dream: If I told you I had a product that could change your life — and not only your life, but the lives of your friends and family members — plus empower you to be financially successful… I’d be lying. And that’s the big secret the multilevel marketing initiatives don’t want you to know. In this podcast, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning writer Jane Marie investigates the pyramid scheme nature of multilevel marketing companies, speaking to experts, historians, and people from her hometown who are all-in. It’s an incredible look at an industry that’s primarily impacted women in evangelical and small-town communities.
St. Dymphna’s Playbook: A relatively new venture by Twitter hero and marriage and family therapist Tommy Tighe, St. Dymphna’s Playbook (SDP for those who are cool) fills a crucial gap in the podcast space: the intersection of mental health and faith. Each week, Tommy takes questions from listeners and introduces us to a saint whose life was touched by mental illness. It’s a fantastic, smart look at mental health from someone who knows what he’s talking about.
This Land: This podcast is about a lot of things: native rights, land ownership, the Supreme Court — and murder. In its first full season, member of the Cherokee Nation Rebecca Nagle lays out the story of Carpenter v. Murphy, a case that was meant to be decided this summer but will be re-argued next session. The case will decide the future of the Cherokee Nation and whether more than half the land in Oklahoma belongs to native tribes. It all comes down to how the Supreme Court argues a murder case and interprets a promise made in the 1800s that the land would be Cherokee land as long as the grass grows and the water runs. The podcast is an intimate look at Cherokee life, history, and what it means to “own” land.
The Good Place — The Podcast: If you’re not watching The Good Place, you’re missing out (and don’t just take our word for it — my friend is a philosophy professor and uses it to teach her freshmen). And if you’re not listening to The Good Place — The Podcast, you’re missing a deeper-dive discussion of some of the greatest parts of the show. While the show is in season, Mark Evan Jackson (he plays Sean) discusses each new episode with members of the cast and crew. He also shares conversations with the philosophers that act as advisors on the show. It allows for an exploration of some of the philosophical questions behind the show, such as What is good? What makes a life well-lived? It’s a fascinating discussion that also gives you fun little tidbits and facts from the show.
From Mike Tenney
Sleeping at Last: This is a podcast for music lovers and creatives who want to dig into the song-writing process. Chicago-based musician Ryan O’Neal breaks down his creative process. His latest series focuses on a nine-song set that interprets a tool to describe personality archetypes.
Classical Stuff You Should Know: This is all the “Western Civ” stuff you wish you’d learned in literature and philosophy class discussed by three affable and knowledgeable classics teachers.
Soccer For Americans: Two comedians breakdown World Cup and Champions League soccer with MLS and other soccer news from around the world. (BTW: they curse a lot.)
Deliver Us: This is an investigative podcast that examines the sexual abuse scandal and cover-up in the Catholic Church. It’s tough to listen to but very well done and should be required listening for all Catholics.
Story and Star Wars: A deep analysis of the storycraft of each of the big screen Star Wars movies.
From Mary Claire Lagroue
Ask Father Josh: This is a podcast where the host — who just happens to be a priest named Josh, if you can believe it — helps listeners navigate the tricky times in life when our Catholic faith doesn’t give us an easy “fill-in-the blank” answer. Each episode, he addresses three to four listener questions that cover everything from Catholic teaching to moral dilemmas to relationship advice. Father Josh is a relatable voice who shares what he’s learned during his time as a priest, pastor, and friend.
From Matt Paolelli
Heavyweight: This American Life alumnus and phenomenal writer Jonathan Goldstein hosts this podcast about ordinary people revisiting a difficult or unresolved moment in their lives and trying to find closure — usually by confronting someone else who was involved and always with Goldstein’s endearing, insightful, and hilarious commentary.
Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend: All those years of late night TV hosting have paid off, as Conan is a phenomenal interviewer who has a lot of fun with his celebrity guests while also unpacking deeper truths through their experiences.
Three Dogs North: Three recently ordained priests started this podcast while in formation together at Mundelein Seminary. It has since evolved into an engaging way for them to keep in touch after ordination. They swap stories, joys, and challenges of their priestly ministry, providing a unique glimpse into their vocations.
The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe: Mike Rowe offers bite-sized stories with twist endings that seem innocuous but end up being about something famous. Never more than 10 minutes long, they are perfect for a short car trip.
Editor’s note — from Josh Noem
The Show: Edmund Mitchell hosts this podcast featuring thought-provoking (and playfully irreverent) conversations about navigating real life. It’s an approachable and relatable exploration of spirit, science, and art by a cast that knows how to have fun. Edmund lets his “smart and witty” guests show their true colors while addressing topics we all deal with IRL.
Revisionist History: This is a podcast from sociologist (and genius) Malcolm Gladwell, who likes to examine things that have been overlooked or misunderstood. Every episode, as he describes, “re-examines something from the past — an event, a person, an idea, even a song — and asks whether we got it right the first time.” Gladwell has a quirky yet soothing voice, and even better, a quirky mind that explores things from new angles.