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The podcast industry is an increasingly crowded space: According to a Pew Research Center report released last month, 21 percent of American adults listen to podcasts in 2016, versus 12 percent back in 2013. While podcast fans are still a minority, people who do listen tend to do it regularly, with a rotation of different topics.
I asked eight STYLECASTER editors which podcasts they love and listen to most, and our answers included shows hosted by beauty geeks, history freaks, sex gurus, and more—and I’m betting you’ll want to download lots of them after reading these reviews.
“I can say with no trace of sarcasm that podcasts give me life. I listen to dozens and find not only that my commute’s more pleasant, but my general mood improves. My all-time favorites include Theater People, The Sporkful, Mystery Show, 99% Invisible, Reply All, and anything true crime related, but I’ve really been into Alec Baldwin‘s ‘Here’s the Thing,’ during which the actor has intimate conversations with artists, policy makers and performers. Baldwin isn’t as smug as you’d think over a mic, and he’s a surprisingly strong interviewer that’s genuinely curious and well-versed in everything from theater to politics. A few notable guests, for me, were musical theater goddess Patti LuPone, disgraced politician Anthony Weiner, ‘Making a Murderer’ lawyer Dean Strang, and actresses Molly Ringwald and Sarah Jessica Parker.” —Perrie Samotin, Editorial Director
“Other than the usual suspects—This American Life, Modern Love, and other popular go-tos—I love Hey, Cool Job! By Mary H. K. Choi. She’s an amazing writer and somehow, an equally magnetic host and producer. There have been about nine episodes so far, and with each one, she loosely interviews—though it feels much more like a conversation between friends—a cannabis grower, a GQ editor, and a porn star, among others.” –Lauren Caruso, Beauty Director
“While I subscribe to a handful of podcasts that slowly pile up in my queue, Fat Mascara is the only one I listen to the second a new episode hits my feed. Each week, I look forward to what co-hosts Jessica Matlin and Jennifer Goldstein—beauty editors at Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, respectively—have to say about the latest happenings in the beauty industry, and which mega-talent their deep rolodexes will score for their next interview: Past guests have included Beyoncé’s makeup artist Sir John, celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann, and model Veronica Webb. I always end up learning about a new product or hack I need to try, and the duo’s easy-going rapport makes the 30-minute segments fly by.” –Cristina Velocci, Managing Editor
“I have a lot of podcasts that I love and listen to on the reg—Longform, Love + Radio, Invisibilia, Another Round—but right now I’m going to have to go with Reply All, a weekly show about the internet produced by the ever-reliable Gimlet crew, because they’re in the midst of a fascinating, multi-part episode called ‘On the Inside’ about a man inside a maximum-security prison. At first, the story was just that he was running a blog from the inside without ever having seen the internet, but every week it’s getting deeper, darker, and twistier. Highly recommend.” –Hilary George-Parkin, Fashion Editor
“When it comes to podcasts, I definitely discriminate. If something isn’t holding my attention, or the host’s voice starts to get grating, I move on immediately. But the one cast I listen to almost every episode of is the Savage Lovecast, hosted by Dan Savage. It probably doesn’t hurt that Savage has a warmth and charisma that makes his listeners want to be his friend. But mostly, I love how he digs into compelling current social issues, from gun control to women’s rights and gender and sexuality discrimination. Oh, and he gives on-point, tough-love advice to people who call in with some pretty crazy sex and relationship conundrums.” –Hannah Hickok, Lifestyle Editor
“I don’t listen to a ton of podcasts, but Stuff You Missed in History Class draws me in every time. It’s hosted by two HowStuffWorks editors—Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson—and considering how tedious history can be when done wrong, this podcast is really engaging and conversational.” –Rachel Krause, Beauty Editor
“I love Tara Block’s meditation podcasts—she has the most calming voice ever, and every week or so she releases a new meditation, as well as a new talk on topics such as mindfulness, being present, and tapping into your inner truth. Bonus tip: When I can’t sleep, I listen to her meditations—they almost always do the trick.” –Bibi Dietz, News Editor
“My friends in Australia would probably laugh at me for this one, but Conversations With Richard Fidler is my favorite. It’s a popular radio show on ABC where I lived in Australia, and in the last year I discovered I could listen to it in the U.S., too. Unlike cult hits like This American Life, ‘Conversations’ isn’t over-produced; it’s just an hour-long conversation between Fidler—who is an expert interviewer—and someone who has led a fascinating life, from a former refugee, to a journalist, activist, or billionaire business mogul.” –Jasmine Garnsworthy, Editor