Podcast recommendations

Back in February I wrote a list of TV series recommendations, so here’s a similar concept listing podcasts. None are tech-focused (for that: check out TWIML and Radical AI podcasts). Some of these may already be super-popular, but I wanted to recommend them anyway.

As the Ice Cream Churns


Creators: Ice cream chain founders Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna

Concept: Ample Hills was a wildly popular ice cream chain in New York City. It started in 2010, expanded, made some celebrity connections and business moves, and was forced into bankruptcy in the winter of 2019–2020. The founders are uniquely forthright about their business story, the highs, and the lows. I’ve honestly never heard anyone dissect their own failure so publicly. Recently they’re talking about their new ice cream shop, The Social.

Prep work: Probably more effective if you’ve been to Ample Hills? I would recommend reading the Marker article which came out in February (between episodes 9 and 10). I read it before listening to any episode.

Listen-ability: All audio, clear speaking; I even recommended this to a friend who listens to podcasts to improve English language listening skills.

The Black List


Creators: Creators of screenwriting exchange ‘The Black List’

Concept: Interviews with creators, and read-throughs of screenplays which are highly reviewed, but haven’t been picked up and produced.

Prep work: None

Listen-ability: Takes a special type of listening to envision a movie from its screenplay.

The Checkout Radio


Creators: Food industry professionals Errol Schweizer and Evan Driscoll

Concept: Interviews with progressives and activists within the food industry

Prep work: None (though I have book recommendations)

Listen-ability: Easy to listen to

The Deal


Creators: Middlebury College

Concept: A series focused on the Iran nuclear deal and its dismantlement by the Trump administration. If you are deeper into arms control there is a podcast for that, too: armscontrolwonk.com/archive/author/podcast/

Prep work: Relatively little, but you would benefit if you’ve been following news about the Iranian nuclear program at all.

Listen-ability: Easy to listen to, visuals explained.

Emily D. Baker


Creators: former deputy district attorney, Emily D. Baker

Concept: Did something happen in court with Britney Spears, a YouTuber, professional sports, or another high-profile case? Within 24 hours (sometimes sooner) you’ll get the legal rundown.

Prep work: As a YouTube channel, there’s sort of a lingo and community building, which seems foreign to stumble on within a 1-hour livestream about court documents, but it works.

Listen-ability: All video. Documents are generally read for you.

Empty Inside


Creators: Former child actor Jennette McCurdy

Concept: Jennette has a deep dive, soul-baring discussion with someone about a general topic (‘mental health’, ‘authenticity’) or sometimes an experience specific to Jennette and her guest (‘child acting’, ‘dead moms’). There’s been an added curiosity around the podcast because Jennette has quit acting and decided not to return for the ‘iCarly’ reboot.

Prep work: None

Listen-ability: All audio. If you don’t know or recognize Jennette McCurdy then your mileage may vary.

Endless Honeymoon Podcast


Creators: Married comedians Moshe Kasher and Natasha Leggero

Concept: The shows alternate between live ‘advice calls’ with a celebrity guest, and ‘secret dumps’ which are all voicemail confessions. Early on there was a theme of the hosts ‘talking about their last fight’ or exchanging advice with celebrity couples, but it’s settled into a more routine pattern.
Two things which are particularly frustrating: when they land a higher-profile celebrity who doesn’t know the show (Fran Lebowitz was maybe the worst!) and gender identity advice (they are more at-home talking about Burning Man and battling addiction than about non-binary people).

Prep work: There’s a pre-covid ‘Honeymoon Standup Special’ on Netflix, this isn’t essential but would tell you early on whether you’ll like the podcast.

Listen-ability: Content is NSFW. The series has had a YouTube channel for a long while. Recently they added video for advice callers, which gives me some anxiety about them being identified, and means there are a few jokes about the caller’s appearance or surroundings.

How Did This Get Made?


Creators: Actor/comedians Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas

Concept: The trio (and sometimes a guest) have watched a ‘bad movie’. They riff on it, they review any weird acting choices or plot holes, they recommend how the movie could be better… overall the elite bad movie crew. It’s unclear what movies qualify, as they include and love big action movies (such as the Fast & Furious series) and also dredge up obscure movies which you’d only find on Amazon or YouTube.

Prep work: Watching or have watched the movies? For the more obscure ones I think you can just enjoy the hosts’ summary and the included clips.

Listen-ability: Plays clips from the movies, live shows have some visual gags which they acknowledge and joke a bit about for the podcast audience. No video option as far as I know.

Screens of the Stone Age


Creators: Palaeoanthropological Society of Canada

Concept: Anthropologists review movies about ancient people, starting with ‘Encino Man’ type movies of Neanderthals in the present day. This is a new podcast so hopefully will get to ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ and ‘Quest for Fire’ set during ancient times.

Prep work: Watching or have watched the movies? Maybe not needed.

Listen-ability: Easy to listen to, no visual



Creators: Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin

Concept: Teaching everything they know about writing and the movie business. Craig wrote HBO’s Chernobyl series which we all watched in 2019.

Prep work: None

Listen-ability: Easy to listen to, no visual, long-running series

Slow Burn


Creators: Slate Magazine

Concept: A deep dive into a historical event. Recently we got: the Nixon impeachment, the Clinton impeachment, David Duke’s political races in Louisiana, the run-up to the Iraq War.

Prep work: Helps you fill in the blanks of your historical knowledge

Listen-ability: designed as a podcast / radio show