Best podcasts: Our picks for your aural pleasure


2017 was the year of the podcast.

Yes, the ironically old-fashioned audio genre has been around for years, and the game-changing series Serial that got millions into it burst onto the scene a little earlier, but this was the year everyone came to the party.

If you didn't hop onto a long-haul flight with your iPhone loaded up with podcasts, you weren't doing it right.

And if you happened to be involved in the media, entertainment and news industries and you weren't podcasting yourself, were you even doing your job properly?

Since this year has produced so many brilliant podcasts, has compiled a list of our favourites for your holiday listening pleasure, and there's something in there for everyone.


In a year that Donald Trump dominated headlines across print, TV, radio and online news, the podcasting world was also predictably politics-obsessed.

Among our favourite podcasts for the year were a few US picks which followed the circus that is the nation's political climate.

Pod Save America is produced by four former aides to former president Barack Obama, who are joined by journalists, politicians, comedians and activists for a weekly chat about politics and the press during the Trump presidency.

While not exclusively politics focused, The New York Times' The Daily was another favourite among our news journos and editors who recommended the 20-minute news wrap each weekday.

Closer to home, politics editor Malcolm Farr's own political podcast Two Grumpy Hacks rated a mention (from the host himself), along with Richard Fidler's Conversations.

Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb's insanely popular Chat 10 Looks 3 - an always side-splitting sparring match showing off the cheeky side of the two Aussie journalism queens - was another favourite, particularly for its reading, viewing and listening recommendations.

Which brings us to another recommendation, The High Low, a really entertaining and informative news and pop culture podcast from two female British journalists exploring the most interesting topics of the week from the sublime to the trashy. This one also offers great reading, listening and watching recommendations.

On the lighter side, popular culture gets the comedic treatment with Have You Been Paying Attention and RuPaul: What's the Tee.

It was also a big year for crime podcasts produced both in Australia and abroad.

The Australian's Bowraville, which looked at the 25-year-old unsolved murders of three children in five months, all living on the same street of the NSW rural town.

Criminal, a "true crime podcast that understands crime" was also a hot pick, as was Undisclosed, a series that investigated wrongful convictions and the US criminal justice system.



Beauty and health have been fixtures of magazine pages since forever and now the podcast world is catching on too.

Glowing Up is a personal favourite. It's hosted by LA-based funny girls Caroline Goldfarb and Esther Povitsky who aren't at all experts, but rather on a journey to explore the complicated world of beauty products, skincare, health foods and all things girlie and glowy. It's hilarious.

Also hosted by a duo of lady BFFs is NPR's 2 Dope Queens, hosted by Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, who, as the show's description says, are funny.

The Brooklyn comediennes are joined by other hilarious industry folk "for stories about sex, romance, race, hair journeys, living in New York and Billy Joel".



The BBC's 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy looks at 50 inventions, ideas and innovations which have helped create the economic world. If you thought you'd never purposely sit down to learn about the history of the plough, start this series and get back to me.

For anyone considering starting a side-hustle or just interested in success, NPR's How I Built This tells fascinating stories of how businesses and ideas from Spanx to Compaq computers started, struggled and grew. Every Guy Raz-hosted episode is a masterclass in interview-based storytelling.

Serial's S-Town, hosted by Brian Reed, was another favourite of our finance team. The mysterious story of a crime in a small American town turned into a compelling exploration of its fascinating subject, John B McLemore.



The Moth broadcasts true stories told by everyday people - some moving, some hilarious, some shocking, but always entertaining.

Also in the entertainment category is actor-turned-podcaster Alec Baldwin's Here's The Thing, where the super-smooth host brings listeners into the lives of artists, policymakers, and performers.



Australia's #1 sports podcast, The Howie Games, is hosted by broadcaster Mark Howard and claims to "lift the lid on the real stories behind the headlines" when it comes to the biggest names in the world of sport.

Our sports reporters also loved the NBA's The Starters podcast, which breaks down the league's biggest games and off-court antics.

And one for UFC fans, and anyone who doesn't mind a laugh, is The Joe Rogan Experience.

The comedian and UFC identity hosts guests including comedians, actors, musicians, athletes and porn stars. According to its website, it's previously been voted comedy podcast of the year.

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