It’s a golden age for podcasting, with a plethora of top-quality, ear-catching broadcasts now available on demand from a host of sources and suppliers. Whether you’re a science fan or science fiction enthusiast, or need to feed another interest, there surely is a podcast (or two) out there to suit.
And you’ve got a wide choice of ways to find podcasts, too—some of which you might not have considered before. If you’ve already gone through all the episodes of PopSci’s The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week and Techathlon, don’t let your podcast well run dry and make sure you’ve always got something compelling coming up next in the queue.
Ask Spotify for help
Spotify is getting serious about podcasting, and that extends to recommendations, too. Next time you open up the Spotify app on your laptop or your phone, look on your home screen for the Daily Podcasts playlist that the streaming service has created for you.
Just like the music recommendation playlists put together by Spotify’s algorithms, this one is built using data from what you’ve listened to in the past. In theory, the more podcasts you listen to, the better Daily Podcasts’ algorithms should get at recommending titles you’re going to like.
Note that the playlist only appears if you’ve listened to at least four podcasts in the last 90 days, and it may recommend episodes from shows you’ve already listened to, as well as completely new ones. The feature is available on both free and premium tiers.
Ask Apple Podcasts for advice
Now that Podcasts has become a separate app from iTunes on macOS Catalina, make the most of its new independence by delving into its recommendation pages. Even if you don’t use Apple’s app to listen to your podcasts, it can still offer up some useful suggestions.
The Browse section on the left is the perfect place to start—you’ll see some noteworthy podcasts recommended by Apple staff, and then scroll down to find even more podcasts organized by categories such as daily news, sports, comedy, and more. You may not even realize what sort of podcast you’re looking for until a particular category name catches your eye.
You can’t always rely on other people’s taste, but try the Top Charts section anyway to see what other listeners have liked. If there’s hype about a particular podcast, you’ll surely never miss it if you check this section regularly. Unfortunately, it’ll be harder to do if you’re on the go—unlike the Browse section of the app, Top Charts isn’t available in the Podcasts apps on iOS and iPadOS.
Ask your podcast app to choose
Obviously, we can’t cover every single podcast app out there (there are a lot), but whichever one you use, it most likely has some form of discovery option included—make sure you have a dig through the menus and options to see what recommendations are available.
We will highlight one, though—the popular Pocket Casts for Android and iOS. Tap the Discover tab at the bottom and you’ll see Featured podcasts at the top, which are staff picks from Pocket Casts. Further down, you’ll see what’s proving a hit with other listeners, and you’ll be able to go deeper into specific subcategories you might be interested in, like history or music. There’s also the classic search box at the top, too, which you can use to look for particular topics of interest.
To start listening to a podcast, just tap on it and choose an episode to download. As with most podcast apps, sign up to get future episodes automatically by tapping Subscribe.
Ask your friends (or strangers)
Don’t let algorithms and rankings take over your life completely—bring some old-school recommendations back into the mix by asking everyone you know about which podcasts you need to be listening to.
Every social interaction is an opportunity—an awkward dinner party, a catch-up with an old friend, sitting in the work cafeteria at lunchtime, standing at the bus stop and noticing someone is listening to something (just be respectful of personal space). If you ask your friends and relatives with a taste most like yours for recommendations, you’re likely to get some high-quality matches back.
When you’ve exhausted everyone you know well, you can always throw out a request for advice on Twitter or Facebook—you’ll find that people are often super-excited to pass on a podcast recommendation or two, even to complete strangers.
Other discovery options
A good old-fashioned search online can turn up some good podcasts too. We recommend running a search in Listen Notes, which will look through podcast titles, episode titles, and episode notes for matches to your queries (whether you’re looking for particular people or specific topics).
Newsletters are booming in popularity right now—Podcast Delivery is really worth a click, and The Listener will suggest three to five podcasts for you every single day (if you can handle that many). If you do a little rummaging around, you’ll discover quite a few newsletters like this, so you should be able to find one or two that fit well with the sort of podcasts you’re interested in.
People are always posting lists of the best podcasts, and these can be turned up via web searches as well. Try looking for the “best podcasts” in a particular category that you enjoy, or “podcasts like” something you’ve been into in the past. You should find enough quality results to keep your podcast player busy for a while.