There’s no denying that we’re in a bit of a podcast boom at the moment. In the years after the mega-hit Serial, we’ve seen more true crime podcasts being produced than we can name. There are those artsy-audiophile and fiction-based podcasts that continue pushing conventional norms. Not to mention plenty of self-help and career advice ones.
There are podcasts inspired by traditional love, relationship, and advice columns. The biggest newspapers and publications are churning out dueling daily news shows. Local public radio stations are also using podcasts for hyper-local reporting and investigative work. Creators from historically marginalized groups are also finding new audiences via their podcasts. And, let’s not forget that celebs are getting in on the action too.
But, with so much good stuff being produced, how do you figure out what podcasts to queue up? Do you start with the biggies? Do you look at the charts? Or do you go off of a friend’s good recommendation? We’re arguing for the latter.
Which is why, luckily for you, we’ve rounded up the best podcast episodes of 2018, according to some staff at Girlboss. Consider it our list of recs from one friend to another. Because, when you’re introducing someone to a new podcast, don’t you want to point them to the very best stuff, right away? Here are the episode we were so, so happy to have listened to in 2018.
Our favorite podcast episodes of 2018
“Women and Pay Transparency” on Stuff Mom Never Told You
We talk a lot about the gender pay gap at at Girlboss. While it’s a complicated issue with no simple solution, one small step we can take to solve it is pay transparency. In this episode of Stuff Mom Never Told You, the two charming hosts dive into why we (women) are so weird about money.
“When the Market Is Our Only Language” on On Being
It’s safe to say Americans love a good rags-to-riches story. We love hearing about how someone pulled themselves up “by their bootstraps” and became a success. And, by “success,” we mean wealthy. In this episode of On Being, guest Anand Giridharadas takes a look at the concept of wealth in America and how it shapes our relationships to each other.
“Brené Brown On How To Be Your Most Brave & Courageous Self” on The Marie Forleo Podcast
If you’re looking for a dose of self-help with a whole lot of inspiration, look no further than this episode of The Marie Forleo Podcast, with guest Brené Brown, author and expert on vulnerability and shame. In this episode, she discusses topics like comparison, courage, vulnerability and her new book “Dare to Lead.”
“Demystifying Magic and Intuition with Tatianna Tarot” on Black Girl In Om
Whether you’re new to Tarot readings or a reader yourself, you’ll learn lots about the history of Tarot reading in this episode of Black Girl In Om. Founder Lauren Ash and art director Deun Ivory discuss the ancient practice with Tatianna Tarot, an intuitive tarot therapist and spiritual wellness practitioner. Listen for a deep-dive into the ways tarot can help individuals reach their full potential.
Delicious Company with Samin Nosrat on Call Your Girlfriend
Picking a single episode of Call Your Girlfriend is a difficult task. But our staff thoroughly enjoyed this episode with guest Samin Nosrat, chef and author of Salt Acid Fat Heat. She discusses her work on the TV (by the same name), how male chefs capitalize on their grandmother’s recipes and kitchen know-how while giving some shout outs to other food experts we can (and should) follow.
Chidera Eggerue on Ctrl Alt Delete
Chidera Eggerue, a.k.a., “The Slumflower,” is millennial trailblazer and body-positive activist from the United Kingdom who is on a quest to make everyone more comfortable with their bodies. On this episode of Ctrl Alt Delete, she joins host Emma Gannon to talk about “cancel culture,” internet trolls and her debut book What A Time to Be Alone.
“Coming Out” on It’s Been A Minute, with Sam Sanders
On the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, the crew at It’s Been A Minute, with Sam Sanders, takes a look at the history of coming out in the United States and how cultural perceptions have changed. (For instance, experts break down how celebrities have helped shift public perception to the point that those who do “come out” no longer face the same backlash and blacklisting they once did. The episode also includes listener stories of coming out and, importantly, why we still need the day.
“Five Women” on This American Life
By now, we’re well-accustomed to listening to deeply-reported, narrative audio journalism from the folks atThis American Life. But this episode from March, “Five Women,” approaches the #MeToo movement with a different kind of story. Rather than focusing on one encounter between a harasser and victim, the episode tells the stories of five women who worked for the same man and how their lives changed after their encounters with him.
New Belgium Brewing Company on How I Built This with Guy Raz
Fans of How I Built This with Guy Raz have plenty of choices to choose from when it comes to inspiring tales from one-of-a-kind entrepreneurs. This episode on the New Belgium Brewing Company stands out because not only was it recorded live, but it’s a frank conversation with Kim Jordan, one of the few women-founders in a male-dominated industry. Listen for the story of how she saw her husband brewing beer in the basement and how she sensed a business opportunity when friends responded well.
Amy Schumer on Armchair Expert
While Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard doesn’t bill itself as a comedy podcast per se, it is a hilarious podcast to listen to. Especially this episode with Amy Schumer (who is,indeed, a comedian). Schumer sits down with the resident “Armchair Expert” (a.k.a, Shepard) for an honest but laughter-inducing chat about body confidence, meeting her husband and more.
“When a Couch Is More Than a Couch” on Modern Love
Reading the “Modern Love” column in The New York Timesisn’t a pre-requisite for enjoying the Modern Love podcast from WBUR. That’s because part of what makes each episode (a reading of one of the reader essays) is the voice and talent who breathe new life into the written tales of love. In this episode, Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet gives us all the feels with gives a moving reading of “When a Couch Is More Than A Couch.” Trust us when we say bring out the tissues.
“Sex Hurts” on Bodies
The first episode of Bodies, a podcast that’s an “intimate, feminist exploration into the forces of history, society and identity that shape women’s health,” gets personal. Episode one dives into host and producer a medical problem Allison Behringer couldn’t easily find the answers to: sex was suddenly painful. But why? Listen to hear Behringer document her journey.
Elizabeth Gilbert on Good Life Project
On this episode of Good Life Project, listeners get a chance to hear from guest Elizabeth Gilbert, the popular author of Eat, Pray, Love and, more recently, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Listen for some creative inspo, wise words, and a reminder about the power of curiosity.
Episode 1 on Believed from Michigan Radio
In January, you might have caught the news of Larry Nassar, the former USA gymnastics team doctor who was convicted of being a serial child molester who preyed on young gymnasts. But his trial and eventual conviction are only part of the story. In the Believed podcast, from NPR and Michigan Radio, hosts and reporters Lindsey Smith and Kate Wells dive into the bigger questions surrounding the case. How did this happen for so long and what does it take for women to be believed? Episode sets the stage for a deep, comprehensive look at the case.
Trump Stories: Obstruction, from Embedded
Embedded regularly manages to produce good, audio stories that are deep-dives into major news stories. In February, Embedded continued with its mini-series of “Trump Stories” in the podcast. “Obstruction,” recaps all we knew (til the episode’s release) of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump. Listen for a comprehensive breakdown of why the link between Trump and Russia is and isn’t so nebulous.