There are more than 48 million podcast episodes out there, which means that if you're new to the podcasting world, it might be hard to understand where to start your journey. That's why we've picked the absolute best podcast episodes that have already won the hearts of thousands of listeners. So if you were wondering which are those couple of podcast episodes that are worth spending your evening with, here you go:
25 Best Podcast Episodes to Check Out
1) Avante-Garde All the Time -"The Sound of Silence"
"Hear melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.
"This is a quote from John Keats with which Craig Dworkin starts his paper titled "Unheard Music," where he takes us through a tour of experimental sound works, all of which are singular samples of conceptual art. But what the host and poet Kenneth Goldsmith does, is he takes the paper and tests whether it will hold up if materialized in audio format. As Goldsmith mentions: "The funny thing about Craig's paper is that it shouldn't hold up because it's all about the conceptual music, where the idea of it might be more interesting than the actual listening to it." The truth is, though, that this odd episode of Avante Garde All the Time podcast is actually a curious pastime and a true gem for all the experimental art-lovers. You get to hear the old tapes of all those bizarre sound works, which take you into the mystical world of the avant-garde.
So if you're curious to hear how Marilyn Monroe's speech would sound if the actual speech were removed or want to listen to a couple of seconds of pure silence from Alphone Allais' "Marche funèbre pour les funérailles d'un grand homme sourd" (1897), this episode is just for you. Don't make the volume too high, though; there are a bunch of unexpected, high-pitched sounds that can seem unexpected. And if you love it, don't forget to check out also other episodes of the podcast, where Goldsmith goes through the selections from UbuWeb of sound poetry, outsider art, experimental film, and, as he calls it, "all things avant-garde."
2) Radiolab - "Colors"
What are colors, and where do they come from? This podcast episode answers all your questions about colors and, as they put it, "tears the rainbow to pieces." It can also be a perfect pastime for your kids as it's entertaining and educating at the same time.
3) WTF – "President Barack Obama"
Imagine hosting the President of the United States in your garage! Well, that's exactly what Marc Maron did in his legendary WTF podcast episode "President Barack Obama."
"I can't really understand how this is happening," tells Marc Maron to his podcast audiences at the beginning of the episode.
Then, you get to hear Marc Maron's random thoughts and excitement for four straight minutes. But no one blames him; everyone would be frightened and extremely excited if the President of the United States was to personally visit their garage for a casual chat!
Marc tells his podcast listeners upfront that the main aim of the episode is just to connect with the President as a person. And that's exactly what happens.
So if you want to listen to a commercial-free, 1-hour long discussion with Barack Obama about college, fitting in, race relations and more serious topics like gun violence, fatherhood, or changing the status quo, this podcast episode is the perfect place to go.
4) The Joe Rogan Experience- Elon Musk
The Joe Rogan Experience is among the most popular shows in the podcast industry. If you want to know why everyone's talking about it, turn on the Elon Musk episode, and you'll get it!
5) Radiolab – "Space"
All of us have had our "space moments" when we would gaze at the starry sky and wonder what mysteries are hidden in this inexplicable and immeasurable thing we call the universe. No one can give definite answers, and that's the beauty of it.
However, it still does not stop us from asking questions and seeking explanations. That's why Radiolab's "Space" podcast is so enchanting. With archive clips from Carl Sagan telling "The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be," to Neil Degrasse Tyson reminding "We are a speck on a speck on a speck on a speck," this podcast episode feels oddly inspiring.
You'll get to hear Ann Druyan's (the widow of Carl Sagan) story about the Voyager expedition and Tyson's explanations of the Copernican Principle and just how insignificant we all are.
So be ready to get into an existential crisis.
6) Reply All- "The Takeover"
Those of us who have worked at the office know how absurd and funny the corporate culture can get sometimes. The passive-aggressive notes on the fridge, or the very planned and organized "fun time," makes it all seem a little too ridiculous at times, especially for those who have never been familiar with the "office life" before. It seems especially funny for teenagers, and that is what the Reply All's episode "The Takeover" is all about. It tells the story of Thomas Oscar, an Australian teenager who decided to make fun of all the meaningless corporate routines and opened the "most boring Facebook group possible," where the members pretended to be the workers of a non-existent office.
After a long and tiring working day, it's definitely a fun and good episode to listen to.
7) Mystery Show – "Case #2 Britney"
Another great product of Gimlet Media is the Mystery Show, where Starlee Kine solves different mysteries in every episode. Just like Reply All, this podcast is easy and joyful listening for those who want some curious stories to cling to for an hour. This time, the episode is about Andrea, a writer whom no one reads, and Andrea herself knows it. And then, all of a sudden, she notices that her second book, which she assumed that no one actually even heard about, is held by Britney Spears herself in one of the press photos. If it sounds interesting to you, follow Starlee Kine in her journey of uncovering the mystery. For other episodes, you can find Mystery Show and subscribe to it on whichever famous podcast directory you use, or you can listen to the episodes directly from their website.
8) Resistance - "F Your Water Fountain"
"F Your Water Fountain" is included in Spotify's list of best podcast episodes of 2021. In fact, it's opening the list and is considered the best episode of the year. Not surprisingly, it's also brought to us from the Gimlet Media, more specifically from the Resistance podcast. It talks about the iconic image of a Black teenager drinking from the "whites-only" water fountain. This podcast episode celebrates the daring people who "go up against the odds and look damn good doing it."
9) 1619 - "The Birth of American Music"
This episode is an absolute gem. Your ears get blessed with plenty of good music right from the beginning, and while you're indulging in it for a couple of minutes, Wesley Morris explains why almost everything you hear is, in its essence, black music. The episode tells us how, for centuries, black music has been the symbol and biggest expression of artistic freedom and how America ended up stealing it and claiming it its own. 1619 has always been one of our favorite podcasts as it tells the true story of how slavery transformed America and how, even today, we can see its impact, though sometimes it is hard to notice with a naked eye.
10) Serial – "The Alibi"
Serial is among the best podcast episodes for those who love the investigative genre. It explores the case of a Baltimore murder that dates back to 1999 when a popular high-school girl Hae Min Lee suddenly disappears. They find her body murdered six weeks later, and the main suspect is her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who immediately gets arrested.
However, Syed claims to be innocent— the only problem is that he can't prove it cause he simply does not remember what happened that January afternoon.
The host, Sarah Koenig, tries to solve all the mysteries and find out whether Syed was actually innocent and spent half of his life in prison for no reason.
11) You Must Remember This – "Charles Manson's Hollywood"
While we're on it, here is another podcast that explores murders, only this time it's not about an ordinary Baltimore high-school case, but it's actually a series of most famous homicides that dealt with Hollywood celebrities. A single podcast episode couldn't cover it all, so the You Must Remember This podcast launched an entire series dedicated to the murders committed by Charles Manson's followers in the summer of 1969. All of these crime stories seem to be out of the Hollywood movie scenes, and today they represent the symbolic "end of the sixties." It's an iconic story about a sociopath's dreams of fortune and fame, leading to dreadful events.
12) S-Town – "Chapter II"
For investigative podcasting fans, S-Town is one of the best podcast shows to follow. We're not going to disclose the podcast content, as you deserve to enjoy it without spoilers, but we'll give you a short synopsis.
Brought from Serial and This American Life, S-Town is a story about one man named John who despised his hometown Alabama and decided to do something about it. He contacted Brian, the podcast creator, and asked him to investigate the story of a son of a really wealthy family who constantly bragged that he got away from a murder. It ended up being a story full of hidden treasure, mysteries, and some nasty freud. Although all episodes are interesting, for us, the best and most intriguing podcast episode of the show is "Chapter II."
13) Phoebe Reads A Mystery- "The Haunted Hotel: the First Part"
If you have a hard time reaching your reading goal, we have an excellent hack for you. Phoebe Reads A Mystery is like an audiobook: in every episode, the host and podcast creator Phoebe Judge reads a chapter from a mystery or thriller novel. So if you don't have time to read it yourself, lay down and listen to Phoebe reading it instead. Our favorite podcast episode from this show is "The Haunted Hotel," but it really depends on your literary taste, so be free to start with your own favorite novel.
14) Wolf 359- "Episode 61: Brave New World"
Have you ever wondered how it feels like to float alone in space? If the idea of aliens, space stations, and cosmic adventures excites you, you'll love this show.
"Wolf 359" delves deep into the psychological impacts of isolation by exploring the emotions of the story's characters who were sent to outer space for scientific research. At first, the podcast might feel pretty lightweight as its main focus is on Doug, who tries to shake off the boredom of his days during the research. However, as the plot develops, the show surprises the audience with its sudden twists and profound character dramas.
In the end, along with all the exciting celestial settings and odd occurrences, the podcast topic turns out to be a reflection of the basic human feeling of loneliness, severe mental illnesses, and abuse.
"Brave New World" is the final episode of the podcast series and is absolutely loved and cherished by the Wolf 359 podcast listeners. But before you get there, you still have 60 beautiful podcast episodes to enjoy.
15) Criminal- "Wolf 10"
It seems like wolves and podcasts go well together, only this time we're talking about real wolves. If you love crime podcasts, you'll love Criminal. There's a reason that New York Magazine called it "one of the most expansive, compassionate portraits of the lives of real people caught up in crime" and included it in their list of 100 podcast recommendations. We suggest you start your Criminal experience with episode 137, probably one of the best podcast episodes ever made. It's about a wolf of an endangered species that suddenly cannot be found in Yellowstone Park. The government starts an extensive search as the animal is a vital part of the park's ecosystem, and there were only a few ones left of his species. The rest, we won't tell, so tune into this true-crime animal story to hear what happened next.
16) Getting Emotional - "Vemödalen- with Rankin"
Have you ever felt something that you couldn't really explain with words? Well, that's probably because English actually did not have a word for that feeling. That's why in the Getting Emotional podcast, Bex Lindsey finds a word from a foreign language to help us finally give a name to our most ambiguous feelings and understand them better. Start with her podcast episode on Vemödalen — even if you don't know what it means, most likely you've felt it.
17) The Art of... -"The Art of Persona"
The Art of… podcast is the product of Tate, a family of 4 art galleries in London, Cornwall, and Liverpool. It is a perfect source of inspiration for those who feel stuck and want to revive their creativity. "The Art of Persona" episode tries to comprehend the role of persona in our lives and how it reflects our art. Creating and experimenting with our persona can help us understand the world and ourselves better. But the question is: how do we know when the performance starts and when it ends?
18) 99% Invisible – "Milk Carton Kids"
Waking up in the morning and suddenly finding out that your kid is missing is probably one of the worst nightmares any parent can think of. Unfortunately, that's what happened on a Sunday morning in 1982, when the newsletter boy Johnny Gosch left the house and didn't come back. In fact, it turned out that his red wagon was abandoned on the sidewalk, full of newspapers. Johnny Gosch became the first child to be printed on the milk cartons, which was a campaign aimed to raise awareness of the missing kids and make the neighborhood involved in the case. In this podcast episode, the 99% Invisible tells us the dreadful story of the milk carton kids, most of whom haven't been found until this very day.
19) The Moth - "Food, Glorious Food"
The Moth podcast is all about the art and craft of storytelling. The "Food, Glorious Food" episode tells four different stories about food, but in the end, the central theme is how we express love and gratitude through it. One story is about a woman who used food to find the love of her life; the other one comes from an immigrant from Bangladesh who tried pizza in America for the first time. Then there's a girl with anemia and a former Vogue editor, both of whom tell their unique experiences with food.
20) The Splendid Table - " Episode 700: Eating Canadian"
Now that we got you hungry, here's another delicious episode, this time from the food podcast The Splendid Table. "Eating Canadian" is one of their best episodes. You get to listen to Matty Matheson and Suresh Doss live from the Hot Docs Podcast and talk about how Toronto and Canadian people eat.
21) Hardcore History – "Prophets of Doom"
Although each episode might be hours long, Hardcore History still remains one of the most listened-to podcasts of all time. There's something about Dan Carlin's way of telling a story that completely carries you away and makes it hard to think of anything else. Hardcore History is about studying history from a new perspective. As the podcast description tells us, it's an "unorthodox way of thinking" applied to the past. It tackles questions like "Was Alexander the Great as bad as Hitler?" or "Will our current civilization fall just like those ancient civilizations of the past?" In short, every single podcast episode of this show of it is a true treasure for history geeks. Although there are a bunch of free episodes you can enjoy, our favorite episode is the "Prophets of Doom," where Dan Carlin tells the story of the murderous preachers and prophets who took over the German city Munster after Martin Luther introduced the Protestant Reformation.
Keep in mind that the episode is four hours long!
22) Getting Doug with High – "Jack Black"
After listening to a history episode for four hours, you might as well take a little break with Doug Benson while he interviews famous celebrities and smokes marijuana with them. This one is a video podcast because you don't want to miss any of the fun. So if you ever wondered what Jack Black looks like when he's high, this is your chance.
23) TED Radio Hour- Seven Deadly Sins
We're all sinful, and that's what makes us human. In this episode, TED speakers discuss the seven deadly sins, our guilty behaviors or pleasures, and how we learn to confront and avoid them.
24) Get Sleepy- "Across the Solar System"
Having a hard time falling asleep? If so, Get Sleepy is the perfect podcast to listen to. It is a meditative and profoundly soothing show which feels like hearing a bedtime story for adults. As they put it, their stories "help calm the mind and relax the body."
So next time you find yourself suffering from insomnia, tune into their Across the Solar System episode where Thomas Jones takes you on a relaxing voyage through our solar system and makes you fall asleep under the starry skies.
25) Welcome to Night Vale – "Pilot"
"A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while everyone pretends to sleep."
These are the opening lines of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, which are so strangely haunting that they instantly get you all hooked. The calm and steady voice of the narrator invites you to the strange worlds, full of intrigues and deceptions. This is a place where every conspiracy theory is true. And as the podcast episodes explore the eerie stories of the small desert town, the real world slowly fades away, and you let yourself get lost in the tales of Night Vale.
If this type of escape was what you were looking for in the fiction podcast series, then Night Vale is certainly worth giving a shot. It's been there for as long as the podcast world has existed and is probably one of the first fiction podcasts ever made. If you're new to it, the show's over 100 episodes might seem too intimidating, but don't let them scare you. You can start from the very first one, the "Pilot" episode, which in our opinion is one of the best episodes of the show.
But keep in mind that you don't have to keep the chronology when listening to the show. As mentioned by the hosts, time is weird in the show, so your listening experience can be too.
You know, people say that nowadays, everyone with a mic and computer starts a podcast. Well, we take it a step further— you don't even need a mic to start one. If you felt inspired by all of these great episodes and wanted to start podcasting yourself, it's really easy with Podcastle. You'll figure out how to make a podcast in no time! It takes only a couple of clicks to record HD sound audio content, so all you need is an idea and commitment.
Don't forget to mention which episode you liked the most in the comments section, and if there's any good episode we've missed, let us know!