If you are new to the world of podcasts, or an old hat, welcome to your ultimate guide of the best and the brightest.
Just like a curated radio show, podcasts bring stories, investigations, conversations and interesting information right to you, in an intimate, immediate way. Whether you want to listen to shows about celebrities, sport, the news, history, crime (oh, there’s a lot of crime) or cooking, there is something for everyone in this audible world. Some episodes are as long as a film, and stand on their own, while others are part of a series, or just 15 minutes long.
So, if you feel like you’ve clocked Netflix, Neon, Disney+ and all the other streaming services, here are some gems for your ears, rather than your eyes.
5 Live Science
I walk to work, it’s about 20 minutes each way. At the moment I choose to walk sans earpods and just enjoy the noises of the city, but when I do listen, nerd alert, I normally go to 5 Live Science from BBC Radio. Great weekly catch up on, you guessed it, science. I enjoyed 13 Minutes to the Moon which is about the Apollo 11 mission and the second, dare I say better, series is about Apollo 13, the incredible story of trying to save a severely damaged spacecraft and get it safely home. Spoiler alert: they make it! After listening to that I had to re-watch the 1995 movie. – Jeremy Corbett, 7 Days, The Project
My Favorite Murder
An oldie but a goodie. Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark have been sharing their favourite murders with us since 2016. Each episode Kilgariff and Hardstark each present a murder and the details and mystery surrounding it – there’s plenty of well-known ones such as the Cecil Hotel (which recently had a Netflix documentary released about it) and the Black Dahlia murder – but there are also plenty of unknown hometown murders, sometimes with a personal aspect thrown in there. Minisodes are additional to the podcast and dive into fan submitted hometown murders. If you’ve got a penchant(?) for the macabre this is definitely for you! – Katie Shepherd, Your Weekend print producer
* Script Apart: A podcast that lifts the lid on Hollywood’s screenwriting process
* Growing Old Disgracefully: Miriam Margolyes proves to be the perfect podcast host
* Michael Caine’s Heist podcast will blow your bloody socks off
* Crime Junkie, Obsessed with Disappeared: No mystery why these podcasts are a hit
* Book yourself some time in with these literary podcasts
I’m Not A Monster
This terrifically produced podcast centres around an American mother who finds herself living in the centre of Isis’s former self-declared Caliphate, Raqqa in Syria. It’s messy, complicated and tense, but I found it captivating. – Nyree McFarlane, Your Weekend editor
The Doctor’s Farmacy
My favourite podcast is The Doctor’s Farmacy with Mark Hyman M.D. This podcast has hundreds of fascinating chats about a wide variety of holistic health, nutrition, exercise and wellness topics. It’s intelligent scientific information in an easy-to-understand format. – Art Green, Celebrity Treasure Island contestant
If you like clever conversations with interesting people, then brace yourself. Daily magazine-style radio show-come-podcast Fresh Air has been running since 1975 (yes, really), and much of it is archived for us to listen to. Host Terry Gross has been at the helm since pretty much day one, and it’s not hard to see why she is considered one of the best in the biz. With a warm, but oh-so-smart interview style, and never being afraid to ask the tough – or most basic – questions, Gross gets the very best out of her guests, who range from popstars and A-list actors, to politicians, academics and athletes. – Bridget Jones, Your Weekend assistant editor
I’m relatively new to podcasting, but now that I’ve started I can’t stop! I tend to go more towards the lighter ones as my day to day is consumed with hard news, so it’s a bit of a balance to that. Smartless is an absolute ripper. It’s hosted by three famous mates; Jason Bateman (among other things.. Ozark), Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) & Will Arnett (Arrested Development) have a long term friendship having worked and laughed together for years. Each week one of them surprises the other two with somebody (usually) super famous and typically, as the name suggests, “smarter” than the hosts. It sparks the most hilarious unprompted banter, and genuine authentic conversation. Think George Clooney, Sean Penn, Le Bron James, Tina Fey, Louis Theroux. No episode is a dud and has me grinning from ear to ear as I pound around the neighbourhood. – Carly Flynn, host of Weekend Life on Magic Talk, and Newshub Late on Three
Watch What Crappens
OK, I’m outing myself as very basic here, but a fact’s a fact. This podcast is basically two lovely, hilarious men reenacting scene-by-scene every episode from the Real Housewives franchise. I love them, they’re like my friends, they make me laugh. It’s a nice recommendation, but if you like Housewives, you’ll love it. – NM
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
Another widely-known, but goodie to add to your listening list. Actors Dax Shepard and Monica Padman interview anyone and everyone from Jane Goodall to Michael Pollan and even Shepard’s wife Kristen Bell makes an appearance or two. Shepard asks really great questions to get thought-provoking informative answers from his guests, and Padman always “fact checks” him. New Zealand’s own David Farrier even appears in the Armchaired & Dangerous series of the podcast, where Farrier shares a new conspiracy theory with Padman and Shepard each month. His recent QAnon episode is a great listen about a conspiracy group that is frighteningly gaining a lot more traction lately. New episodes weekly, only on Spotify. – KS
What’s Wrong With You? is a Stuff podcast about disability and navigating a world that’s not designed for you, hosted by Olivia Shivas and Rebecca Dubber.
What’s Wrong With You?
Smidge of bias here, but I’m confident that the best new podcast to come out of Aotearoa recently is this one: What’s Wrong with You. It was made for, ahem, Stuff, by a team led by digital producer Olivia Shivas, and it’s a moving, surprising, informative, shocking – and frequently laugh-out-loud funny – show about disability. It’s already winning fans amongst people with disabilities, not least because just about everyone involved in making it are themselves disabled. But non-disabled people have also found it a really powerful and engaging listen, and an insight into a world they couldn’t have imagined. We’re halfway through the weekly rollout of a seven-episode season, so I suggest you start with a multi-ep binge to catch up, then go subscribe to get the latest episodes as they land. – Adam Dudding, Stuff’s podcast director
Billed as telling you all the things you always thought you knew (but didn’t) and things you never thought you wanted to know (but do) – this podcast truly delivers. Host and co-author of the book of the same name, Stephen J Dubner, dives into anything and everything with various guests. I frequently get sent episode recommendations with an “I am shook” message accompanying them from my sister, and honestly, she’s right. Anything from the intriguing How Much Does Your Name Matter to How to Change Your Mind. This podcast explores the hidden side of everyday and not so everyday things. There’s even the odd one that seems rather covid appropriate – Reason to Be Cheerful has recently been rebroadcast – and I’m sure we could all use the odd bit of cheer in our lives presently. – KS
Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster