Summer’s finally here, and with it brings ample opportunities to sit back, relax and listen to podcasts. Whether you’re on a road trip, hanging out at the beach, hiking or just sipping a cold drink on the back porch, a podcast can be the perfect warm-weather companion. Compared even to last year, there are tons more podcasts than ever before, and their quality improves every day. Faced with the sheer volume of subjects and choices, what should you download to accompany your summer adventures?
Don’t despair! We have rounded up our favorite new(er) listens, from political offerings to true crime to gossip — something for every activity and every mood. Ready to pick a few listens?
Dear Sugar Radio
Cheryl Strayed might be best known for her memoir Wild and its popular movie adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon. But before she hit the silver screen, Strayed was a beloved anonymous advice columnist on The Rumpus who simply went by Sugar. Sugar stopped answering letters in written form several years ago, but now she’s back with co-host (and fellow writer) Steven Almond for the podcast version of the column —and it’s just as wonderful. Strayed often offers empathetic, poetic advice that can be applied to any number of problems, and it’s a great choice if you listen to Savage Lovecast but are looking for even more from the advice genre.
My Favorite Murder
We know you need your true crime fix for the summer. First up for that genre is My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. It’s an hour-ish-long podcast in which the two women trade true stories of murder and intrigue. Of course, it’s more complicated than that. Both women are Los Angeles-based comedians (Kilgariff was part of Mr. Show, while Hardstark is from the Cooking Channel’s Tripping Out With Ali and Georgia). The result is the very weird combo of true crime and comedy filled with tangents, storytelling, laughing and fan participation. You have to listen to an episode to really understand.
Next up is a storytelling podcast from one of the biggest public radio stations in the country, WNYC. Funny and fun hosts Kathy Tu and Tobin Low are best friends who also happen to be both Asian and gay. The pair, who deeply makes you want to be their other best friend, launches into personal LGBTQ stories each week that will make you laugh and cry in turn. The podcast, which the pair jokingly calls Gay-diolab, is great for anyone, not just queer folk, who has ever felt emotions, been in love or felt just a little different.
Terrible, Thanks for Asking
This American Public Media podcast might not sound like a fun summer listen at first. It’s about grief and the grieving process as told by host Nora McInerny. McInerny lost her husband and father to cancer within weeks of each other in 2014. She also miscarried a badly wanted baby within that timeframe. Today, she is in love again and has a new baby, but still struggles with her losses and moving on. The podcast, which tells the very different stories of others grieving, is strangely truthful, candid, uplifting and even funny.
As many online reviews warn, this is laugh-out-loud funny. Here’s the premise: Jamie Morton has a dad who wrote a pornographic novel called Belinda Blinked under the pen name Rocky Flintstone. Instead of burying that information deep in his subconscious, he decided to start a podcast with two friends, James Cooper and Radio 1 DJ Alice Levine, who read the book out loud and discuss it in depth. Season 3 kicked off in May — and there is plenty of time to catch up.
Released by podcast company Gimlet late last year, Crimetown is a long, deep look into the world of crime in one specific city during one specific time period. The first season, which recently wrapped, focuses on Providence, Rhode Island, in the 1970s and 1980s. The series, which was created by the same team responsible for The Jinx, is an absolutely amazingly researched journey into new England mob life. We don’t know the term for podcasts that are “page-turners,” but Crimetown is one.
Pod Save America
It might be hard to relax this summer if you have the deep, dark weight of the Trump Administration on your shoulders (and if you like the Trump Administration, party on, we guess). The best therapy for feeling helpless or uninformed when it comes to politics may be Pod Save America. Put out by the openly left-leaning Crooked Media, it features hosts Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor. Each week they cover the latest news, talk to guests and talk us off a ledge. We wish there were more women involved on the show, honestly, but the coverage is so great that we are willing to forgive it, at least for another season or two.
Do you need something weird to listen to? How about a creepy mystery about a strange game that sounds like a documentary but is really (probably? We think?) fiction? Enter Rabbits, a new podcast by Public Radio Alliance. The premise is that host Carly Parker’s best friend has gone missing only months after she started a new alternate reality game called Rabbits. Parker investigates and the story unfolds — and yes, you end up pretty far down a rabbit hole.
2 Dope Queens
Also from WNYC public radio, we have comedians Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams just “talking about a bunch of shit” (their words, not ours). We just absolutely love both of these women, as well as all of their guests, plus the entire feel of the show. Dive into subjects like Carrie Borwnstein’s first date and Robinson’s fanny pack. It’s the perfect light summer listen.
No Such Thing as a Fish
This podcast has been around since 2014, but it is just perfect for summer listening, especially if you want to keep sharp before school starts again in the fall. The show features the researchers of the U.K. quiz show Quite Interesting, who share four of their favorite facts from the week. From there, there’s a wild ride of jokes and tangents (more than one panelist is a comedian) and a lovely mix of learning and laughing. The episodes also run just between 30 to 40 minutes long, allowing you to breeze through one while driving, cooking a meal or going on a quick jog.