2020 has been a hell of a year. Everyone knows this. So, many of us are spending more time at home and are looking for anything that will help us get through and escape the real world for a bit. So, I have to imagine that podcasts have taken another big jump this year in popularity.
I wanted to make a list of some of the best podcasts I’ve listened to this year, if for no other reason than to give people some ideas of stuff to check out. There are some amazing listens out there in sports, politics, and interviews that have helped me get through the year. And now I’m sharing them with you. Enjoy!
Best New Pod – Dear Ashley
The newest podcast on my list. Seriously, There’s been one episode as I write this. But that speaks to its greatness! Ashley Braband, previously of ESPN’s “Sports? with Katie Nolan”, and her husband Steve are the perfect pair. I won’t get into the raw feelings on ESPN’s decision to let her go, but suffice it to say they made a huge mistake. Ashley is a star, and while I had heard Steve in the background of Sports?, I couldn’t have expected how incredible he would be as Ashley’s co-host. Guess there’s a reason they’re married, huh?
Pod That Keeps Getting Better -The Marinade w/ Jason Earle
Until this last week, this was my pick for my favorite new podcast. Granted, Jason started it back in 2017, but it was new to me. One of my favorite people on Twitter and a brilliant musician, Trapper Haskins, was a guest on Jason’s podcast in August. I saw he had promoted the episode on Twitter and loved the episode. But it wasn’t just because Trapper was the guest. Jason is so passionate about music and has opened my ears to so many new artists I was previously unaware of. I mostly stopped listening to country music years ago, but The Marinade has reignited that passion in me. Jason cares about substantive music, as do I, and every episode, I learn more about not just his guests, but Jason himself.
Best Short Pod – The New Yorker: Politics & More
Politics has become a headline topic recently, and for good reasons. It’s not enough to vote every four years. Citizens should be informed and paying attention throughout the year. That said, consuming too much can be overwhelming and lead to burnout. The New Yorker’s weekly podcast takes a big talking point from the week and talks about it in a short ~30-minute podcast. I listen to other political podcasts, but this one will give you the most bang for your buck.
Best Network of Pods – The MTR Network
Started as the Insanity Check roughly ten years ago, Kriss has been a consistent voice in my podcasts since the beginning. It’s easily the podcast I’ve consistently listened to for the longest. It started as a weekly podcast talking about the insanity of the world we live in and has turned into my one-stop-shop for all things comics, television, and movies. Kriss runs the show, but DPalm is my favorite, and his podcast, Unanimous Decision, is my go-to sports podcast because it is so grounded about the world of sports. Seriously, if you care about movies, comic books, or television, The MTR Network’s reviews will open your eyes to everything you missed along the way.
Most Relaxing Pod – Office Ladies
Look, if there’s a The Office related “thing,” I’m in. To have two of the women responsible for creating the show itself review each episode is next level. Jenna Fischer (Pam) and Angela Kinsey (Angela) breakdown every episode of the series (they’re currently in the fourth season) and give behind-the-scenes info on the show. It’s the podcast I jump to when I want to decompress and relax…
Funniest Pod – Armchair Expert
And when I need a laugh, I jump to the Armchair Expert! Dax Shepard and his co-host Monica Padman play off each other so well, and the show is just a joy to listen to. They’ve interviewed people from all across the spectrum, including actors, singers, politicians, CEOs, athletes, and even astronauts! They speak on some more crucial and serious topics, like race in America, and do it with expert precision. If you’re at all interested in podcasts, this is the one I’d recommend because there’s something for everyone.
Best Duo – CBS Eye on College Basketball
There are so many great duos on my list. And they are all perfectly matched together, but Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander are my favorite. I don’t follow sports nearly as much as I used to, but even if I become disinterested in college basketball altogether, I will listen to this podcast. The guys bounce off each other so well, and their disputes with each other will always make you laugh. It’s also given me one of my favorite listening moments when Norlander forgot RJ Barrett existed. IYKYK.
Best Women’s Basketball Pod – Her Hoops Stats
If you’re looking for anything WNBA or women’s college basketball-related, Her Hoops is your spot. Gabe Ibrahim and Christy Winters-Scott specifically do a weekly episode called Courtside, and it will keep you up-to-date on all things going on in the women’s game. Her Hoops is also a great website with any stats you may want for the women’s game as well.
Best Interviewer – WTF w/ Marc Maron
One of the OG’s of the podcasting game, Marc Maron, has repeatedly proven why his show has thrived for almost twelve years now. He’s simply one of the best interviewers. Most likely, you’ve heard of Maron and probably at least checked him out. I’ve heard some guests in several other interviews, and they never get as in-depth as they do with Maron. He is unabashed about his flaws, and that allows him to be unafraid at asking tough questions to his guests, who find themselves opening up to Marc organically.
Best Pod – The Black Guy Who Tips
The best podcast that I’ve listened to for a long time now. Rod and Karen are the husband and wife duo who bring some of everything to your podcasting feed. Want politics? They’ll give you their perspective as a black man and woman in America. Want sports or nerd shit? They do their weekly sports and nerd podcasts behind their premium paywall. But even if you can’t chip in on their premium content, they’re still posting five days a week on their free feed, exclusively on Spotify. They are, without a doubt, the GOATs in the podcasting game and life.