Podcast Picks

Looking for some fresh food-for-thought while you’re out walking the dog/prepping dinner/driving to work? In this media age, there is certainly no lack of options for intriguing newscasts, music albums, radio stations, and particularly podcasts to plug into—more often than not, the overwhelming choices are exactly the problem! So we took some time to filter through and round up a list of good listening that touches on topics ranging from sustainability to current events to more random bits of curiosity. Each selection elicited an aha, hmm, or just plain wow from us; we hope they help you find some new inspiration or broaden your perspective, too. All of the following are available for free. Enjoy!

99% Invisible

An intriguing show about the impressive thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. Host Roman Mars explores the answers to questions you may never have thought to ask: How did inflatable men come to be regular fixtures at used car lots? What is the origin of the fortune cookie? Why did Sigmund Freud opt for a couch over an armchair?

bluSkye

Once a week, host Zach Winter provides a 2-minute digest of the 10 most “important, interesting or infuriating” news stories of the moment, with links to the full stories on the website. Once a month (or so), he conducts an hour-long interview with passionate people looking to create a different kind of future.

Infinite Earth Radio

A podcast produced by the sustainability advocates at the Infinite Earth Institute, hosted by Mike Hancox and Vernice Miller-Travis. Each week they interview visionary leaders, dedicated government officials, savvy businesses and forward-thinking individuals who are working to build smarter, more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous communities through social and economic inclusion that values the contribution of all citizens and seeks meaningful lives for everyone. An inspiration!

Living on Earth

A lively and engaging weekly news and information program from Public Radio International about the world’s changing environment, ecology and human health. Though summing up many of the world’s most dire issues, Host Steve Curwood does a balanced job of covering the hope-inducing stories of action and change and those illustrating the astounding resilience and magic of the natural world.

Lunar Datebook

The only locally-produced podcast to make the list, Jennifer Ellsworth refers to her podcast as “Maine Stories and Moon Musings.” Produced on each new moon and full moon, Ellsworth reflects on astrology and the meaning of the lunar sign of the moment; narrates charming tales, fiction and non, contributed by listeners or of her own devising; and ponders life in Maine as well as sharing goings-on in her central/midcoast region.

New Yorker Radio Hour

All the intriguing subject matter of the New Yorker magazine, brought to you by host (and magazine editor) David Remnick in audio format. Each episode features a mix of interviews, profiles and storytelling, inspired by the magazine and shaped by its writers, artists and editors. Ranging in tone from humorous to more somber, this is more than a radio version of the magazine—reflecting the rich possibilities of audio storytelling and conversation.

On Being

Host Krista Tippet leads a series of conversations with philosophers, spiritual leaders, community organizers and any variety of
other thinkers, dreamers and doers, centered around one of the animating questions of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? Pursuing “wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge . . . nuance and poetry as much as fact,” these conversations lend new perspective to age-old ponderings.

PRI’s The World

Host Marco Werman presents and adeptly analyzes current events, arts and culture from a diversity of global perspectives. Through interviews, storytelling, reporting and music, he catches you up on the news you likely wouldn’t hear on the ordinary newscast while also delving more deeply into the day’s headlines.

Planet Money

The subtitle of this show is “The economy, explained”—explained in such a way that the economy, and the current events relating to it, becomes graspable and even fun to think about. The hosts (a well-informed and dynamic team of NPR reporters), effectively illustrate that economic forces are essentially living, breathing entities that affect almost every aspect of our lives, every day.

Radiolab

A show about curiosity, enlivened by sound effects and intriguing background music while hosts Jad Abumrod and Robert Krulwich explore questions and relate stories that blur the lines between science, philosophy, and human experience—all with a good dose of humor.

The Splendid Table

Beginning with The Splendid Table cookbook in 1994, evolving into a call-in radio show on Minnesota Public Radio and now a popular national radio show and podcast, The Splendid Table covers topics related to food and food culture. It has lasting appeal not only because of the delicious recipes and fascinating interviews that host Lynne Rossetto Kasper presents, but also because it has been at the forefront of food issues and policies since its inception.

Sustainable World Radio

A permaculture and ecology show featuring interviews, news and commentary about organic gardening, sustainability, natural building, regenerative farming and more. Through interviews of experts from around the globe—including teachers, designers, environmentalists and earth activists who learn from and work with nature—Sustainable World shares the stories of those who are optimistically tackling the world’s biggest environmental challenges while following the permaculture ethic of “earth care, people care and fair share.”

Terrestrial

Exploring “the choices we make in a world we have changed,” host Ashley Ahearn travels the country—from ranches in Oregon to churches in Colorado—to bring listeners stories about people making personal choices in the face of environmental change.

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