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22 fun, smart and interesting podcasts worth checking out

As you face seclusion in your home for the next few weeks, finding enough activities to keep yourself and family busy can be quite a challenge. Thankfully, the internet is jam-packed with a world of ideas.

You can get busy with a well-deserved Netflix binge, play board games like Monopoly and Scrabble, or attempt a complicated puzzle. Tap or click to test your skills at the impossible ten penny puzzle.

While these activities will help pass the time, you can only play so many games and stare at your TV for so long before you feel like a zombie. But what else is there? Podcasts. With thousands to choose from covering a variety of topics, there’s something for everyone.

What is a podcast?

Podcasts are similar to talk radio, with a few notable differences. While radio shows tend to focus on a broader audience with a wide range of topics with mass appeal, podcasts work within niche topics like true crime and food.

Also, unlike radio shows you can tune-in to at any time, podcasts are on-demand content. You can download and start an episode whenever you want.

Once a traditional radio show has aired, it is no longer accessible to the audience. In contrast, podcasts are presented as episodes and are available to download even years after their original air dates.

Although Apple has a built-in podcast app aptly named Podcasts, Android doesn’t. Luckily, there are several podcast apps — often referred to as “podcatchers” — you can download.

Popular podcatchers

  • Stitcher – Android, iOS Free to download. $4.99 per month or $35 annually to go ad-free and access premium content.
  • Spotify – Android, iOS Free to download. $9.99 per month to go ad-free and get unlimited skips.
  • Pocket Casts – Android, iOS Free to download. 99 cents per month or $9.99 per year for an ad-free experience and customization options.
  • Pandora – Android, iOS Free to download. $4.99 per month for offline listening. $9.99 per month for unlimited offline listening and the ability to make and share playlists.
  • Overcast – iOS Free to download. $10 per year without ads.
  • Google Podcasts – Android Free to download and use.

The easiest way to listen to your podcast on a PC or Mac is to visit the podcast site and select an episode. And if you find a podcast you really enjoy, just tap the download icon or button so you can listen anywhere.

Once you choose which app to use, it’s time to find the right podcast for your tastes. To search for a podcast, open your player and enter a genre or title in the search bar. Don’t forget, you can ask your phone’s smart assistant or do a quick Google search for podcast suggestions.

If you’re still not sure what to listen to, consider the following podcasts and genres.

Kim’s podcasts

Komando On Demand – Ever wonder how technology has transformed your life? Kim dives into the ever-changing tech world, talking with industry experts and business leaders. Run time: 25-40 minutes.

Consumer Tech Update – Get your dose of tech news and info in this bite-sized daily update. Kim keeps you in the loop with actionable steps and her trusted option on all things digital. Run time: 1 minute.

True crime

Serial – From the creators of “This American Life” radio program, comes Serial. This award-winning investigative journalism podcast tells a true story over the course of a season. Run time: 60 minutes.

The Murder Squad – A retired cold-case detective (Paul Holes) and an investigative journalist (Billy Jensen) dive into unsolved murders, missing persons and unidentified remains cases each week. In addition to old-fashion detective work, this podcast relies on tips and theories from its listeners. Run time: 30-90 minutes.

Things to ponder

99% Invisible – Curiosity abounds. Host Roman Mars shares what is behind the architecture and design that shapes our world, especially things we don’t think about. Think fortune cookies or inflatable men in used car lots. Run time: 15-60 minutes.

The Moth – True stories, told live without notes. Storytellers share their interesting experiences. Run time: 15-60 minutes.

Radiolab – This award-winning syndicated radio program/podcast focuses on scientific and philosophical topics such as time and morality. Run time: 15-60+ minutes.

The weird and obscure

Decoder Ring – Brought to you by Slate magazine, host Willa Paskin chooses a cultural object, habit or norm, then questions and examines its history. Paskin also tries to determine its meaning and why it matters. Run time: 30-40 minutes.

The Odd and Offbeat – Comedian Matt Baker and magician Louie Foxx take on the world’s most unusual and bizarre news stories. Run time: 30 minutes.

News and work-related

NPR’s Up First – Hosts share the three most important news stories to start every weekday at 6 a.m. ET. Episodes on Saturdays as well at 8 a.m. ET. Run time: 10 minutes.

The Daily – Hosted by Michael Barbaro, this New York Times podcast highlights a top story five days a week, Monday through Friday. Run time: 20-30 minutes.

Safe For Work – This Wondery podcast will help give you some perspective about finding balance and happiness in your career when you head back to the office. It tackles the funny, ridiculous and challenging parts of work life. Run time: 30-60 minutes.

Just for laughs

No Such Thing as a Fish – This hilarious weekly podcast revolves around humorous trivia and facts. As the hosts discuss the topic in front of a live audience, they throw in a few games here and there for extra entertainment. Run time: 50 minutes.

My Brother, My Brother, and Me – Every Monday, you can listen live to free advice from the three McElroy brothers. Filled with humor, sarcasm and adult-themed jokes, this podcast has made listeners laugh for over a decade. Run time: 30-60 minutes.

Relaxation, mindfulness, mental health

Meditation Minis – Soothe away your stress, calm your anxiety, overcome negative thinking and more with short, guided meditations from award-winning hypnotherapist Chel Hamilton. Run time: 5-15 minutes.

The Happiness Lab – Using the latest research and inspiring stories, Dr. Laurie Santos will help you change the way you think about happiness. Hint: It’s not about a better job or more money. Run time: 30-60 minutes.

Food-related

The Menu – Welcome to the world of food, drinks and entertainment. Monocle 24: The Menu introduces you to creative chefs, bakers who work behind the scenes and ingredients that will be coming to a table near you. Run time: 5-60 minutes.

Radio Cherry Bombe – Each week, host Kerry Diamond talks with women in the food industry, including chefs, bakers, stylists, cookbook authors and others who help make everything culinary happen. Run time: 20-60 minutes.

For the kids

But Why?: A Podcast for Curious Kids – This podcast is created for kids and narrated by kids. Listeners submit questions and the show answers them. Topics vary, but good for kids of all ages. Run time: 15-30 minutes.

Noodle Loaf – The brainchild of a music education specialist, Noodle Loaf is an interactive podcast that includes sing-alongs with listeners and the host’s goofball children. Perfect for kids 3 to 9 years old. Run time: 10 minutes.

Story Pirates – World-class actors, improvisers, comedians and musicians take stories written by children and adapt them into sketch comedy and musical theater, for listeners of all ages. Run time: 10-50 minutes.

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel – This award-winning scripted podcast is a serial mystery for children, performed by kids. Share this with kids ages 8-12. Run time: 10-40 minutes.

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Little Stories for Tiny People – This podcast features original stories and poems for the little ones. Perfect for bedtime or anytime for kids up to 7 years old. Run time: 8-50 minutes.

Hopefully these podcasts are enough to whet your appetite and get you started down an enjoyable and educational journey. The best part? You can listen to most of them with the whole family. Have fun, stay home and stay safe!

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