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What to Read: A new wave of podcasting
As we celebrate podcasting on Substack, we’re taking a look at the different examples of writers in this new category.
From interviews and talk shows to drawing workshops, readings, and personal audio essays, the breadth of podcasts on Substack is pushing the medium to new ground. This roundup covers reader and staff recommendations, as well as the most popular shows in the category.
This list isn’t exhaustive—it’s just the start of this exciting storytelling format on Substack. Please let us know about more examples of great podcasts you’re listening to in the comments.
I Think We’re Alone Now by Tegan and Sara, in which the indie-pop twins connect candidly with each other and their subscribers using voice notes, essays, video conversations, and unreleased music, is a favorite of many.
Notable names from podcasters new to the platform:
Feminine Chaos, by Kat Rosenfield and Phoebe Maltz Bovy, is a new podcast featuring candid conversations and guest speakers on culture and politics.
The Origins Podcast by Lawrence Krauss sees the Critical Mass writer discoursing on a broad range of ideas around science, culture, and the wonders of the universe.
Crypto Island by PJ Vogt is, quite simply, a podcast that investigates and explores the world of crypto.
American Prestige has Derek Davison and Daniel Bessner analyzing U.S. foreign policy from the point of view of the rest of the world, with interviews, mailbags, and discussion threads thrown in.
Colin Meloy’s Machine Shop is where the singer and songwriter for the band The Decemberists disassembles his old songs to find out what makes them tick.
The Worst Idea of All Time: New Zealand comedians Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery share what they are watching for the entertainment-loving galaxy (and the universe thanks them for it).
The Fifth Column, by Kmele Foster, Michael Moynihan, and Matt Welch, is relaunching on Substack! The first installment is coming soon.
Hidden gems and unique podcasts that are worth a listen:
Alphabet Soup: “One of my favorite authors, Etgar Keret, had Molly Ringwald (yes, that Molly!) read his short story aloud and used that as the audio for his post, which I loved,” says Substack’s Bailey.
DrawTogether: Starting during the first major lockdown of the pandemic, the New York Times illustrator Wendy MacNaughton invites children to a drawing session via her podcast, where listeners (kids and adults alike) can slow down and reconnect with themselves and each other, “channeling a more creative and playful side,” says Substack’s Katie.
Maybe Baby: Paid subscribers to Haley Nahman’s Sunday newsletter receive voice notes, interviews, commentary, and her hallmark advice.
Burnt Toast: Virginia Sole-Smith shares an “audio newsletter” once a week to complement her weekly essay on parenting through diet culture and fatphobia, along with monthly Q&A episodes for paid subscribers.
The Russians by Yasha Levine: Co-hosted with Evgenia Kovda, Russian journalists discuss global politics and America, and “has been my go-to listening for news commentary in the last month,” says Substack’s Hannah.
Dead Cat by Eric Newcomer: Eric’s podcast is all about Silicon Valley, with guests from inside and outside the tech industry, as well as live episodes.
From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy: Alicia thinks of this weekly podcast, related to her food newsletter, as “a curated conversation series.” (She wrote about her belief in unscripted, unedited interviews here.)
Rich Text: BFFs Emma Gray and Claire Fallon share their snarky take on reality TV, rom-coms, and internet culture.
Dinner: A Love Story: Serving ad hoc episodes to paid subscribers, cookbook author Jenny Rosenstrach invites esteemed food-loving guests and also offers her own cookbook and recipe recommendations.
MartyrMade: Darryl Cooper jumps headfirst into fever dreams of human history, aiming to bring you ideas and people you won’t have heard of elsewhere.
Fatal Conceits by Bonner Private Research: In this podcast “about mobs, markets, and manias,” host Joel Bowman sits down with a member of Bill Bonner’s research team to discuss the pressing issues of the day.
Top publications in the podcasts category:
Blocked and Reported: Journalists Jesse Singal and Katie Herzog challenge and unpick online controversies with weekly free episodes, paid early access, and extra episodes and commentary.
Volts: David Roberts interviews leaders on climate change and where it intersects with the technology, politics, and policy of decarbonization.
Bring It In by TrueHoop covers the NBA, featuring guests such as Brad Stevens and Shea Serrano.
Booksmart Studios: Three new podcasts launched last year, with hosts exploring conventional wisdom in different ways—Lexicon Valley dissects the language we use, Bully Pulpit speaks to politics, society, and culture through interviews and commentary, and Banished examines “cancel culture” through a historical lens and what it might mean for freedom of expression.
Robert Reich: The writer, professor, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor shares his insider perspective on politics, power, and the news of the day with audio notes, essays, and Office Hours.
The Ankler Hot Seat goes behind the entertainment curtain with industry guests.
The Pomp Podcast: Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano talks to investor industry insiders from business, finance, and Bitcoin.
The Glenn Show: Weekly conversations on race and inequality in America, with economics professor Glenn Loury and biweekly appearances by linguist John McWhorter.
Bankless: The crypto finance guides blend money and tech insights to help listeners level up their open-finance game.
Dishcast: Andrew Sullivan’s “unafraid conversations on anything” are with interviewees including academics, journalists, activists, and more on current politics and other topics.
Sinocism Podcast: Bill Bishop talks to experts from around the world to help us all get smarter about China.
HoS Pod from House of Strauss by Ethan Strauss shares information and opinions on the sports industry, narrated articles and interviews.
We know there are many, many more examples of great podcasting on Substack, some of which were featured in our Shoutout Thread. What other podcasts on Substack should readers and listeners be sure to check out? Leave a comment below.