’Tis the Season
Gimlet’s Top Picks for Non-Gimlet Podcasts
The holidays are here, and what better time to talk to your family about podcasts? A bunch of our shows are taking a little break , so we asked some familiar voices to recommend their favorite non-Gimlet picks to tide you over! Here’s what they said:
Rachel Ward, Surprisingly Awesome
On the Media — I am a big nerd. I never promised anyone that I wasn’t. So I love media analysis, but I also love not listening to the news all week, and then just getting it in one big dose, with a reflective tone, from OTM. If you like ignoring the news for most of the week, you might like OTM, too.
Tara Brach — lolololoololoo sometimes life is an infinite abyss! And when I’m feeling that way I queue up some Tara Brach and she makes me feel better. She’s basically a self-help guru but she’s got a Buddhist flavor and listening to one of her lectures or guided meditations has helped me climb out of a slump more than once.
Let’s Drink About It — Disclosure: I have been a guest on this show and the drink they made me was too lemony for my taste. But I still really like the podcast. The hosts have a guest on who talks about their week, and they make a drink to respond to it. They have a very serious commitment to their booze craft, and they’re very funny. Also worth following their Instagram for recipes. You might be saying, “This sounds like that thing that the Dinner Party Download does.” No tea no shade, but this is better.
HOMOGROUND — A music podcast about, by, and for queer musicians. So gay. So good. Really great for discovering new stuff or being reminded of old stuff you forgot about.
Terrible, Thanks for Asking — SHOUTOUT TO ALL THE WIDOWS IN THE HOUSE. This show is new and it’s GREAT. It’s about how you answer that super earnest but uncomfortable question — “How ARE you?” — and about how grief and sadness are funny a lot of the time. Plus they gave me a pin at Third Coast and it’s so cuuuuuuuuuute and I get a ton of compliments on it.
Lisa Chow, StartUp
Longform — As someone still learning how to do long-form journalism, I love listening to other journalists talk about the challenges, the craft. It feels like a deep dive into someone’s best work — the story behind the story.
Death, Sex, & Money — Anna is such a great interviewer. I also love that the show regularly finds guests who have such different surprising stories to share.
AJ Jacobs, Twice Removed
Waking Up — I’ve been listening to Waking Up with Sam Harris. I’m actually less interested in his controversial takes on religion and Islam. I’m more intrigued by his discussions with philosophers on free will, Artificial Intelligence, morality, and the Multiverse. It’s like listening to the smartest stoner dorm room conversation ever.
Eli Horowitz, Homecoming
Mike & Tom Eat Snacks — They pick snacks, they eat snacks, they rate snacks. Plus funny accents, occasionally.
The Lowe Post, Zach Lowe’s NBA Podcast — The NBA has somehow become a magnet for smart writers, and Lowe is the best of the best.
Jonathan Goldstein, Heavyweight
Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s — I like Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s but I think Reply All quoted me on this in a newsletter. I love its brevity, driest of dry earnest sarcasm, its mockery of intrepid journalism, and the universe it creates with such economy.
Alan Watts Podcast — I like the Alan Watts Podcast because it doesn’t get any heavier philosophically and Watts has such a beautiful voice and laugh. Though it’s from recordings made in the 60’s, it feels so timely. Watts popularized Zen in the West and it has a way of making the everyday distractions and worry get very small in the face of the sublime, the timeless, the eternal. He makes the deep cerebral something you can feel.
Alex Goldman, Reply All
The Bone Zone — Hosted by comedians Randy Liedtke and Brendon Walsh. Almost every episode I will have a moment where I say, “Why am I listening to this?” and shortly afterward I will be cry-laughing on public transit. The hosts are deeply immature but willing to follow every stupid joke to its logical conclusion. Examples of the jokes on this podcast: calling a mattress store and pretending that the mattress store called them and woke them from a deep sleep; calling Hugo Boss and bossing them around; calling vegan restaurants and asking if they will serve them beef as an exception. It is deeply funny and deeply stupid.
Chapo Trap House — Five very funny, avowed leftists — who are as conversant in the subtleties of fractious Middle Eastern Politics as they are in petty Twitter squabbles — mercilessly mock both liberals and conservatives and sometimes conduct devastatingly sharp interviews.
Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s — A podcast where Brian Thompson asks “Whatever happened to the pizza at McDonald’s?”
Making Oprah — A surprisingly thorough, well produced podcast from WBEZ about a celebrity I had no idea I should be so interested in. Full of interesting backstory of pre-celebrity Oprah, and the growing pains her show had as it became a full blown phenomenon. Also, Donahue is way cooler about the whole thing than I would have guessed.
Wendy Zukerman, Science Vs.
The Real Thing — A beautiful new(ish) Australian podcast. Each episode tells a heartwarming, heart-wrenching, or just plain ridiculous tale of an Aussie. Some stories are funny, some are tragic, but they are always told in a beautiful way.
Alex Blumberg, Gimlet CEO
Love and Radio — I’m part way through the new season of Love and Radio and loving it. They’re so good at crafting stories that unfold over time and take incredible twists and turns.
Making Oprah — Thoroughly engaging. A super fun exploration of how the Oprah Winfrey Show got started and why it was so successful. The host, Jenn White, is fantastic.
Another Round — Always great — like hanging out with a crowd of super smart, super funny people you want to be friends with.
More Perfect — Also, I devoured More Perfect — constitutional history made fascinating.
Zac Stuart-Pontier, Crimetown
Making Oprah — Loved Making Oprah… Such a fascinating behind the scenes look at someone I knew nothing about.
LifeAfter — I’ve also been enjoying LifeAfter. Great sci-fi drama about artificial intelligence and social media.” (Editor’s note: Fellow Crimetown host Marc Smerling seconded the LifeAfter recommendation.)
This is a great list, representing some of what we think is the best of what not-Gimlet has to offer. Take a listen! We hope you find something new to love, and have a lovely holiday. We’ll chat with you in the new year!