‘Mystery Show’ and other podcasts we’re currently obsessed with

Podcasts have been a godsend for me since transitioning from a run-around, constant-motion, go-go-go lifestyle of a graduate student to a more sedentary (at least from 9 to 5!), desk-bound employee of a finance institution.  Each morning, I pop in my earbuds and find a new podcast episode as I’m triaging my inbox, sometimes binge-listening throughout the day, sometimes letting myself sit with a particular episode a bit longer. Podcasts make me think and feel and laugh, they get my brain going, and they give me something to talk about if I ever find myself in a lulled conversation.

Serial pretty much changed the podcast game last fall, and This American Life is a podcast beast with an insane backlist that could keep you listening for, well, ever. But below is a list of some perhaps lesser-known podcasts that you might enjoy.

Mystery Show

Listen now if you’re ready for host Starlee Kine to Nancy Drew her way to your heart. Starlee solves mysteries with gusto, and genuine interest for all the people she encounters along the way—across the country and over time. These are not the kinds of mysteries that can be solved with a mere Google search, Starlee makes sure of it. Check out Belt Buckle to discover the story behind a waist ornament like no other, and Source Code if you’ve been up at night wondering exactly how tall is Jake Gyllenhaal? (Hint: Mr. Gyllenhaal himself makes an appearance, and it’s so swoon-worthy you might want to listen toit more than once.)


From medical anomalies, to social epidemics, to your deepest secret thoughts (or should I say, electro-chemical reactions), Radiolab covers it all. Even if you’re not that into science, you’ll find yourself unable to stop talking about these episodes and spotting hints of the things you learn in your everyday life. Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich (and guests) are the professors you wish you’d had. Black Box is a great place to start, but I shouldn’t give you a summary, as the episode itself is about things that can’t be known!

Reply All

If you’re here, reading this, you’re probably a fan of the Internet, right? Reply All takes a critical look at what the Internet offers, the good and the bad. From hackers, to online dating, to politicians on social media, PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman go there. Try out The Fever first, then proceed with extra caution when online dating.

How to Be Amazing

Michael Ian Black interviews guests he finds particularly…wait for it…amazing at what they do. It’s funny, inspiring, and fascinating to listen to the comedian and actor, Black, engage in open, honest conversations with people you’d rarely hear from directly (usually you’d get to know them through their books, or their movies, or their music). If you’re looking for a boost or motivation to dedicate yourself more fully to your passions, take notes. I suggest beginning with author Elizabeth Gilbert’s episode, or if you’re feeling a little more explicit, Amy Schumer’s.

99% Invisible

Design, architecture, and the things often go unnoticed but always serve a purpose, even if we are unaware. Roman Mars’ podcast will make you look closer and consider how things came to be as they are (the sneaky psychology behind shopping malls and what billiard balls are made of, for example). Start with The Nutshell Studies for the creepiest dollhouses you’ve ever seen. Or rather, heard about.

Ask Me Another

Recorded in Brooklyn, this game-show podcast is a go-to afternoon pick-me-up. Like Jeopardy, but funnier. Host Ophira Eisenberg brings contestants up from the audience for word games, music-oriented challenges and trivia that runs the gamut from history and literature to the poppiest of pop-culture. What’s more, there are often famous guests! Check out Ingrid Michaelson as a guest on the episode Quiz Me the Way I Am, and for fun this clip of Sir Patrick Stewart reciting Taylor Swift’s Blank Space (full episode airing late August).

Happy listening!

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[Photo courtesy Mystery Show/Gimlet Media]