Your podcast starter pack: 13 essential shows for new listeners ready to jump into the pod-o-sphere

round up May 12, 2022

If you’re brand new to podcasts, let us be the first to welcome you to one of the most wonderful worlds in the eyes of Podsauce, naturally. It’s never too late to jump on the podcast bandwagon and start your listening journey with our freshly-curated podcast starter pack!

So, if you’re ready to dive right in, this gateway guide spans several genres and includes classics you ought to hear! Some of these shows we honestly wish we could unhear – or have a memory lapse of their stories – just to experience them again for the first time. There is an investigative podcast, 2 true crime series, educational shows, and a fictional drama by the creators of Law & Order.

For more celeb-based shows and interviews, check out “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard” and “SmartLess.” To hear true stories shared by real people, tune into “The Moth” and “This American Life.” Take your picks from this podcast starter pack, and happy listening!

Unhappy Hour with Matt Bellassi

Unhappy Hour with Matt Bellassi

Listen to ‘Unhappy Hour with Matt Bellassi’

If misery loves company, then Matt Bellassai, a self-identifying “professional whiner and award-winning drunk,” is the king of the party. Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios presents “Unhappy Hour with Matt Bellassai,” a comedic series hosted by Matt and his cohort, Pineapple’s Bari Finkel. The hosts are getting into culture, politics, and personal updates with guests on episodes. If you have anything you’d like to share with the podcast, leave a voicemail on their rant hotline: (601) 600-RANT (7268).

Crime Junkie

Crime Junkie

Listen to ‘Crime Junkie’

Audiochuck’s “Crime Junkie” is hosted by podcast host extraordinaire Ashley Flowers. This true crime series continues to reign supreme on the podcast charts every week. Hear about mysterious deaths, murders, infamous criminals, missing persons, and more in over 200 episodes. Flowers additionally hosts “Supernatural,” “International Infamy” and “Full Body Chills“- just to name a few.

NPR Up First

Up First

Listen to ‘Up First’

Start your day with news briefings from NPR in less than 15 minutes on weekdays. Episodes are posted at 6AM ET on weekdays. Hosts Leila Fadel, Steve Inskeep, Rachel Martin, and A Martinez will report and analyze the biggest stories of the day. On Saturdays at 8AM ET, Ayesha Rascoe and Scott Simon host. Check out longer episodes delving into the headlines on Sundays with Rachel Martin at 8AM ET.

Serial podcast art

Serial

Listen to ‘Serial’

Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder created “Serial” in 2013 and investigated compelling, true stories each season. Setting the blueprint for many podcasts that followed, “Serial” draws in listeners from the get-go, and you don’t know where the story is heading until you’ve rounded its twists and turns.

Season 1 explored high school senior Hae Min Lee’s disappearance in 1999, and her body was found. Her boyfriend was named as a suspect and charged with murder, and “Serial” further examined the case.

Season 2 shared Bowe Bergdahl’s story, an American Army soldier who left his outpost in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. Season 3 covered 9 common cases in Cleveland. “This American Life” host Emmanuel Dzotsi co-reported with Sarah to challenge the criminal justice system and revealed biases lurking behind case rulings.

SmartLess podcast art

SmartLess

Listen to ‘SmartLess’

Get ready to roll on the floor laughing with Wondery’s “SmartLess,” a hilarious comedy interview series hosted by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett. The trio surprise one another each episode with an impressive guest.

One out of the three hosts hand-pick the guest and knows who’s going to be on in advance while the others are left in the dark until the interview. It’s awesome to hear them chatting like old friends or making new ones when meeting on the podcast. Tune in for interviews with folks like Ryan Reynolds, David Spade, Halle Berry, and more A-listers.

This American Life image

This American Life

Listen to ‘This American Life’

Ira Glass shares true stories on “This American Life” and follows a theme each week. Tune in for top-tier journalism, moving tales, LOL-worthy sagas, and more as you’ll be pleased with the timeless topics covered since the show began on the radio in the ’90s.

The Moth podcast art

The Moth

Listen to ‘The Moth’

For over 25 years, “The Moth” has treated listeners and storytellers to true tales all about the human experience. The podcast has been around since 2008, but the show started as a program in the late 1990s. Guests from all walks of life share their stories on stage at live StorySLAM events, where audience members can throw their hats in the ring for a chance to tell their story on stage without any notes. The stories are recorded and then selected for themed episodes on “The Moth” podcast.

Morbid: A True Crime Podcast

Morbid: A True Crime Podcast

Listen to ‘Morbid: A True Crime Podcast’

Morbid: A True Crime Podcast” is a funny true crime podcast. And if you find yourself wondering how these two contrasting genres blend together so nicely, this series delivers by bringing light to heavy topics.

The series is filled with banter from the hosts, an autopsy technician Alaina and hairstylist Ash. They were raised like sisters even though they’re aunt and niece. Hear about a slew of crimes, spooky history, mysteries, and other “lighthearted nightmares” on weekly episodes with over 300 episodes to choose from.

The Breakfast Club podcast art

The Breakfast Club

Listen to ‘The Breakfast Club’

Charlamagne tha God, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy dish out “the world’s most dangerous morning show” in podcast form. The trio originally started hosting on New York’s radio station WWPR-FM Power 105.1, and they’re still going strong with daily episodes, sharing news, laughs, and cultural commentary.

They’re joined by guests like Rev. Al Sharpton, Marlon Wayans, Mary J. Blige, and even Joe Biden stopped by before he was elected President. Any topic is fair game in the over 1,700 episodes available to stream since 2017.

Freakonomics Radio podcast art

Freakonomics Radio

Listen to ‘Freakonomics Radio’

“Freakonomics Radio” is a long-running educational listen, created by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, co-authors of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. Much like the book, this podcast shares info on a vast array of topics, answers burning questions you possibly didn’t know you had, and interviews folks like entrepreneurs, intellects, Nobel laureates, provocateurs, intellectuals, and other bright minds from different backgrounds.

Conversations run the gamut from science to economics, work to art and more. Check out over 500 episodes, lasting under an hour on average.

The Daily podcast art

The Daily

Listen to ‘The Daily’

Stay informed with “The Daily,” unpacking major news on weekdays, one episode at a time. Episodes clock in around 20 minutes on average. It’s journalism at its finest, hosted by Michael Barbaro and presented by The New York Times.

Dark Woods podcast art

Dark Woods

Listen to ‘Dark Woods’

Dark Woods” is a fictional drama for fans of Law & Order. Presented by the popular TV show’s producer and creator, Dick Wolf, this story starts when a body is found in the California redwoods. Two former spouses, a game warden (voiced by Corey Stoll) and a city councilwoman (played by Monica Raymund), must put their differences aside to solve the case. This series is an Endeavor Content production.

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Listen to ‘Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard’

If you’ve talked to any podcast devotee, it’s possible they’ve mentioned “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard” as one of their faves. This Spotify series shares candid conversations with Dax and guests like Ed Sheeran and Kim Kardashian. As an “Armchair Expert” and actor with a degree in anthropology, Dax continues to learn life’s truths and “celebrates the messiness of being human.” Episodes often include his wife, Kristen Bell, and family friend Monica Padman.

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