We get it: You don't have time to read. You're bored in the car, at the gym, cleaning your place. The solution to all of these problems? Podcasts. If you aren't already listening to them, your life is about to change. Here's how to listen to podcasts.
Before we begin, can we make a quick plug for our own podcast? TheWrap's "Shoot This Now" features Matt Donnelly and Tim Molloy talking about stories we want made into movies. We've talked about stories from many of the podcast on this list, including "Atlanta Murder" and "Mic Dicta." Here it is on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Atlanta Monster: Dialing back in time 40 years, this true crime series looks at the Atlanta Child Murders, in which more than 25 African American children and young adults were murdered or disappeared. With questions still lingering even decades later, host Payne Lindsey tries to uncover the answers and provide the closure to the families of victims who still wonder what happened, and why.
Mic Dicta: A phalanx of lawyers crack jokes that are actually funny about legal issues that actually matter, like immigration policy and how not to sue an improv troupe. You know: Issues that affect us all.
A Very Fatal Murder: The Onion pod-casts a very skeptical eye on shows like "Serial" and, we guess, "Atlanta Monster," with a dead-on parody of the let's-solve-a-murder genre. It's filled with in-jokes about not just true crime, but podcasting itself. As an added bonus, there are no ads. No real ones, anyway.
With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus: The two things we've laughed hardest at in the past few months are Lauren Lapkus as a gossiping Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and one of her guests, Joe Wengert, hosting a bizarre episode called "California Supreme Win-Show." Each week Lapkus, a star of Pete Holmes' "Crashing," welcomes a different guest, and together they create a new fake podcast more entertaining than most real podcasts. It's on a brief hiatus, which gives you time to catch up.
The only podcast approved by San Quentin prison takes you behind bars to hear from California prisoners who explain prison food, love and sex while doing time, and how cellies share their tight living space. The Radiotopia production is brought to you by Bay Area artist Nigel Poor, who asks all the right questions, and inmate Earlonne Woods, who has all the answers. Season 2, which just premiered, includes the moving story of an inmate who hugs his mother for the first time in over a decade.
You Must Remember This: Our all-time favorite podcast. If you're interested in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming Manson film, listen to host Karina Longworth's exquisite history of the Manson murders -- including the fascinating figures most people have forgotten. The Hollywood history podcast is on hiatus, but the archived episodes still make the past feel shockingly modern.
Snap Judgment: Another radio show turned podcast, “Snap Judgment” focuses on storytelling like “This American Life” or sometimes “Radiolab,” but with a different focus. The tagline “storytelling with a beat” gets close to what makes “Snap” so cool — it chooses stories that feel like they often come from off the beaten path, for a slightly edgier feel.
The Nod: Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings' podcast is on fire right now. The pair (often hilariously) explore undercovered aspects of African-American life, like the time Luther Vandross very unsubtly shaded En Vogue. The "Chitlins at Bergdorf's" episode is a straight-up masterpiece.
Hot Mic: Podcasting's Mount Rushmore will include "This American Life" host Ira Glass, "Fresh Air" interviewer Terry Gross, and "Savage Love" iconoclast Dan Savage. His second podcast, "Hot Mic" features uninhibited, hilarious stories involving sex, including straight comedian Barry Rothbart's tale of working at a gay nudist camp - nude.
Lovett or Leave It: Former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett recorded his first show the night Donald Trump failed to repeal Obamacare, and if you wanted to hear the sound of liberal glee, this was it. "Lovett or Leave It" is a spinoff from "Pod Save America," part of Crooked Media, a political podcasting business started up by a coterie of former Obama Administration that has quickly come to rule the podcasting world. Lovett is the funniest of the erudite "Pod Save America" crew, providing comic relief from whatever dire news they're discussing on any given week. The pop-culture references make the serious policy talk feel fun.
Sit and Spin Room: If "Lovett or Leave It" makes you want to do something, this podcast will give you good, grassroots ideas for what to do. We started listening to this because one of the hosts, the mysterious LOLGOP, is an old friend. But that simple thrill was quickly replaced by a deep respect for the funny, common-sense approach the podcast takes -- and the way the hosts actually listen to their often very wonky guests. Our friend is damn good at this.
Radiolab: “Radiolab” is a mix between “This American Life” and “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” Hosts Jad and Robert dig into scientific concepts by relating them through interesting stories, and it's great about keeping complex ideas palatable even for people who aren't technically minded.
Reply All: It's basically "This Internet Life" -- goofier and more relaxed than Ira Glass' gold standard for audio stories, but often every bit as informative and emotional.
The Moth: Storytelling gathering “The Moth” turns some of its best presentations into a weekly radio show and podcast. The theater brings regular people onto its stage to tell their stories, making its podcast a compilation of interesting, off-beat, intense and often funny stories that could cover just about anything.
Tobolowsky Files: Stephen Tobolowsky, a character actor you’ve seen probably hundreds of times in everything from “Groundhog Day” to “Deadwood,” tells stories from his life. Running the gamut from looks at the drug-addled 1980s to his childhood spent in the Dangerous Animals Club, Tobolowsky’s stories are always artfully told, fascinating, and full of heart.
Heaven's Gate: "Snap Judgment" host Glynn Washington leads this 10-part series on the apocalypse cult Heaven's Gate, the 39 members of which committed suicide together in 1997. Twenty years later, the podcast digs into the personalities at the heart of the cult and the experiences of the people who survived. Washington also brings some of his own experience to the podcast -- he grew up in an apocalyptic Christian church.
Love + Radio
Radiotopia's podcast pops up monthly to mostly tell nonfiction stories through deep, fascinating interviews. The "Living Room" episode starts out being about neighbors having sex, then turns into something else entirely. It made the hosts of our "Shoot This Now" podcast cry.