The Top 10 Political Podcasts
January 31, 2019 | Jon Street
At times, talking about politics in 2019 is a lot like pulling the pin from a grenade, throwing it and stepping back to see what happens. It’s…unpredictable. When it comes to politics, everyone has a strong opinion and our view is always right. As Groucho Marx once said, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” Humorous, yet true.
The truth is, no matter who is in office or who is being elected, somebody somewhere will be unhappy because everyone thinks they know the real solution to the problem. And with strong opinions on opposing sides, who do you believe? Sometimes it’s enough to make your head spin. And sometimes it makes you want to run into a cave and never leave. That being said, there’s something to be said about staying on top of current events and the breaking headlines of world news and knowing what’s happening on this spinning globe of ours.
As trends and statistics would show, there are few better ways of accomplishing this than by plugging in to podcasts. Podcasts are growing in popularity and becoming a go-to source for everything from religion, health and fitness, marketing and self-improvement. As of late, podcasting trends have also overwhelmingly included politics. The great thing about podcasting is it’s easy to consume and highly accessible for the podcaster, so it’s a win-win for everyone. With that in mind, here is a list of 10 of today’s top political podcasts for your listening pleasure.
Let’s kick things off with one of the most beloved and popularized political podcasts to date. For all the news junkies out there (you know who you are), it’s time to tune in. One podcast that has consistently topped the charts of News & Politics throughout 2018 is The Daily. Poignantly titled, this podcast is another in the podcast family from news gurus The New York Times and offers daily insights and soundbites into the daily comings and goings of major news events. Just like this podcast, we’ll get straight to the point. “This is what the news should sound like. The biggest stories of our time, told by the best journalists in the world. Hosted by Michael Barbaro. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, ready by 6 a.m.” Being a daily show which covers a broad variety of topics, every day offers a bit of a new spin on current breaking news headlines, usually with a political focus. This will no doubt become a favorite source for your news download!
Another politically-minded podcast that has created waves (and a sea of avid fans) is the hit Pod Save America. In this podcast, “Four former aides to President Obama — Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor — are joined by journalists, politicians, comedians, and activists for a freewheeling conversation about politics, the press and the challenges posed by the Trump presidency.” Though the podcast was inaugurated in January 2017 it gained considerable traction in 2018 as it regularly appeared as a leader in the Apple News & Politics genre. Created in partnership with Crooked Media, the podcast offers favored episodes like Crime after crime, Pollercoaster and many more. Be on the lookout as the PSA team aims to continue providing listeners, “A political podcast for people not yet ready to give up or go insane” throughout 2019.
It’s no doubt that most of the popularized political podcasts trend to a more liberal left. So what do you do if you’re a card-carrying conservative looking for some informative content for your day? If that’s you, then look no further than The Ben Shapiro Show. Here’s the deal. “Tired of the lies? Tired of the spin? Are you ready to hear the hard-hitting truth in comprehensive, conservative, principled fashion? The Ben Shapiro Show brings you all the news you need to know in the most fast-moving daily program in America. Ben brutally breaks down the culture and never gives an inch! Monday thru Friday.” Like many others in the News & Politics genre, Ben’s show is a daily podcast that provides the listener loads of engaging content which reviews the hot topics through a conservative lens. Produced in combination with The Daily Wire, the podcast is available on all the major listening directories.
If you’re looking for another top-listened political podcast than be sure to check out Political Gabfest, a podcast created in partnership with Slate. What’s so great about it? Political Gabfest is, “A favorite of Stephen Colbert, which should be a good enough endorsement for this podcast! Each week the Slate Gabfest Team of Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson and David Plotz focus their attention on the week’s high profile political developments with their trademark banter, incisive analysis of the important issues of the day, plus a nugget of fun water cooler conversation. Enjoy this entertaining and hugely informative podcast on demand.” Let’s face it, there’s enough depressing stuff happening in our world so why consume it In the prototypical dry and lifeless way? If you’re looking for a refreshing and engaging way to get your daily dose of top happenings, then this is the podcast for you!
If you’re looking for something with a little more name recognition and that may be a little more main-streamed, then consider the NPR Politics Podcast, another chart-topping entry from the NPR (National Public Radio) podcast network. In many ways, it seems like everything NPR touches is gold, and this podcast is no exception. “The NPR Politics Podcast is where NPR’s political reporters talk to you like they talk to each other. With weekly roundups and quick takes on the news of the day, you don’t have to keep up with politics to know what’s happening. You just have to keep up with us.” The podcast offers regular content, sometimes multiple-times weekly and is focused on providing ongoing, worthwhile headlines to help you stay on top of the political comings and goings in our modern day.
Many podcast listeners won’t just trust anyone or dedicate their time listening to the rantings and ravings of the average Joe (or Jane). Understandable. If you’re looking for a podcast from a household name in the news and politics space, then tune into The Rachel Maddow Show, a podcast produced in partnership with media and news mogul MSNBC. Not familiar with Rachel? “Rachel Maddow is host of the Emmy Award-winning “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC. “The Rachel Maddow Show” features Maddow’s take on the biggest stories of the day, political and otherwise, including lively debate with guests from all sides of the issues, in-depth analysis and stories no other shows in cable news will cover.” As for the podcast, the idea is simple. “Take MSNBC’s popular Rachel Maddow Show with you on the go. Listen to full episodes of the television show on demand daily. The MSNBC podcast takes an intelligent and thought-provoking look at politics, pop culture, and top news. Hosted by political commentator Rachel Maddow.” The podcast is a top-listened and liked podcast for obvious reasons. If you’re on the hunt for a popular hit, then don’t let this one pass you by!
Truth be told, it seems like lots of the heavy-hitters in the political journalism space have seen better days, like a while ago. Thankfully, podcasting offers some fresh, young blood into the space, which is the case with the hit Lovett or Leave It, a podcast that is part of the growing Crooked Media network (which offers the Pod Save family of podcasts among others). What’s to love? “Jon Lovett, former Obama speechwriter and co-host of Pod Save America, is joined by comedians, actors, journalists, and many, many renowned Friends of the Pod for a roundup of the week’s top news. Rants! Games! Bad impressions! Nuanced discussion! Recorded in front of a live audience.” If you’re not familiar with Jon, “Jon Lovett is a straight shooter widely respected on all sides. He earned this reputation (which is seriously fantastic, ask people) as a speechwriter for Hillary Clinton and as a presidential speechwriter in the Obama White House.” As mentioned, the live recording of this podcast gives a fresh flavor and feel and the end result is superior.
If we’re honest, sometimes all we’re looking for is an explanation about what in the world is going on around the world. If that’s you, then check out the podcast known as Today, Explained, which is “Vox’s daily explainer podcast — bringing you the biggest news every day with guests, context, radio drama, and more. You can listen to it and more Vox podcasts, here.” If you’re unfamiliar with Vox, then it’s time to do some digging. “Vox explains the news. We live in a world of too much information and too little context. Too much noise and too little insight. And so Vox’s journalists candidly shepherd audiences through politics and policy, business and pop culture, food, science, and everything else that matters. You can find our work wherever you live on the internet — Facebook, YouTube, email, Apple Podcasts, Instagram, and more.” So what about this podcast? Well, “News comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Monday to Friday. All killer, no filler. Hosted by Sean Rameswaram. Featuring the finest explainers from Vox and more. Produced by Vox and Stitcher, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.” Be sure to add this to the top of the list!
Ok, now here’s one for you. If you’re looking for a podcast that covers both Society & Culture as well as History then you’ll want to be sure to add Slow Burn to your shortlist. Here’s the scoop. “Even recent history is rich with surprising subplots, strange details, and forgotten characters. On Slow Burn, Leon Neyfakh excavates the strange subplots and forgotten characters of recent political history—and finds surprising parallels to the present. Season 1 captured what it was like to live through Watergate; Season 2 does the same with the saga of Bill Clinton’s impeachment.” Released in partnership with Slate, this show took the podcast world by storm and gained a long list of avid listeners along the way. Season 2 of the podcast featured a combination of 8 standard episodes, special features and Slow Burn Live content.
Life in 2018 often has some measure of keeping a watchful eye on global events, especially around things like terrorism and other things that can impact our livelihood. It’s hard to turn on the news without at least some mention of these things. As such the idea of terrorism has naturally spilled over into the podcasting world as listeners are offered bite-size pieces into this reality through unique insider-perspectives. One such podcast that touched on this topic is the 2018 hit Caliphate. As if the name wasn’t enough to clue you in, the theme revolves around terrorism. So what’s it all about? “In the war on terror, who is it that we’re really fighting? “Caliphate” follows Rukmini Callimachi, who covers terrorism for The New York Times, on her quest to understand ISIS. This series includes disturbing language and scenes of graphic violence.” Part of The New York Times family of podcasts, this series has become a chart-topper as it digs deep into some often under-publicized ideas like ISIS Recruitment and who ISIS is appealing their theology to, what happens to a new recruit at The Arrival of their training camps and much more. In Caliphate, host Rukmini Callimachi offers listeners an inside look at what ISIS is really all about as she speaks with a former ISIS member, uncovering the jaw-dropping details of the network. And checking in at only 12 episodes the podcast is easily bingeable through your favorite podcast directory.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it’s a good place to start. Like everything else in life, you gotta find what works for you and stick with it. So, try on a few of these podcasts and see what you like! For more options, here are a few honorable mentions that are also worth the listen but just didn’t make the cut. It’s ok, life happens.
Have some additions to our list or got some feedback you’d like for us to hear? If you want to talk to our team to pick our brains on this idea, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to check out our site, drop us an email or set up a call with a team member.
As the Operations Manager at Resonate Recordings, Jon leads the production team and ensures that all our podcasters have everything needed to release consistent high-quality episodes. Jon and his family are from West Palm Beach, Florida and now live in Simpsonville, KY.