Happy International Women’s Day 2018! I want to share some of my favorite lady-led podcasts and give a shout-out to the women behind them – there are TONS. These women inspire me!
I listen to everything on this list. I haven’t done reviews of all of them, but where I have, I’ll link to them. This list isn’t meant to be all-inclusive – I listen to so many more shows than this, but these are the ones that came to mind. I’m sure I forgot some terrific shows. I’m happy to approve your comment if you leave one below with some additions to the list.
Let’s jump in!
If You Want To … Maximize Professional Success, Listen to These Podcasts:
- Women at Work – Sarah Green Carmichael, Amy Bernstein, and Nicole Torres: Spectacular short-run spinoff (crossing my fingers for more in the future!) from the Harvard Business Review’s HBR IdeaCast, of which Green Carmichael is the host. This show provides in-depth analysis, expert perspective, research, and solutions for improving equality in the workplace.
- Inflection Point with Lauren Schiller – Lauren Schiller: One of the best shows I listen to, Inflection Point is about women who rise up and not only challenge, but change the status quo. I always feel so empowered after hearing from Schiller’s guests, and Schiller’s pretty damn empowering herself. Updated review in 2016 and interview with Schiller in 2017.
- Female Trouble – Quinn Kelley: A podcast shining a spotlight on amazing women around Baltimore and their paths to success.
- The Broad Experience – Ashley Milne-Tyte: A wide range of topics facing women in the workplace, often discussed by those who’ve personally forged through issues and come out relatively unscathed.
- Hashtags and Stilettos – Sakita Holley: Practical tips for succeeding in a corporate or non-profit role, and as an entrepreneur.
If You Want To … Join the Resistance (AKA Fight For Your Rights!):
- Call Your Girlfriend – Aminatou Sow, Ann Friedman, and Gina Delvac: Torch-bearers for feminism. YOU MUST LISTEN. Regularly refer to the Cheeto in Chief. They have been killing it in the last couple of years.
- Unladylike – Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin: More unapologetic feminists! The former hosts of Stuff Your Mom Never Told You (which has new hosts now) have their own brand and it is basically “bad-ass bitches who don’t take no for an answer, but are still charming and funny.” In their new show, they’re smashing the patriarchy left and right.
- The Enthusiasm Enthusiast – Katie Ward: Ward interviews feminists who she’s excited about, and gets them fired up about their passion for feminism.
- Ladies, We Need to Talk – Yumi Stynes: There are lots of topics women should be talking about that we are too embarrassed to discuss even with our closest friends. The mental load, not enjoying sex, not being sure about motherhood … that kind of stuff. Stynes talks about all of it which has prompted me personally to be more honest and open about some of these topics. Reviewed in 2017.
- The Conversation – Kim Chakanetsa: Two women who don’t know each other but have something in common meet and have a discussion facilitated by Chakanetsa. It’s inspiring to hear strangers support each other.
If You Want to … Open Up Your World:
- Alter Ego – Athena Rosette: Do you have an alter ego? Maybe you don’t know yet. Hear stories of people exploring duality in their identity. Reviewed in 2017.
- The Gaytheist Manifesto – Callie Wright: Along with non-binary co-host Ari Stillman, Wright explores LGBT issues through an atheist lens.
- How to Be a Girl – Marlo Mack: A single mom opens up about life with a trans daughter. Heartbreaking at times, hopeful most of the time, and poignant always. Reviewed in 2016.
- The Nod – Brittany Luse: Along with co-host Eric Eddings, Luse shares stories and perspective about Black life and culture. Sometimes they delve into history, other episodes are just about awesome Black people.
- The Mash-Up Americans – Rebecca Lehrer and Amy S. Choi: People who are “mash-ups” of multiple cultures and backgrounds share how their mashiness has impacted their lives.
- Poly Wanna Podcast – Britt Vasicek: All about the polyamorous lifestyle.
- Soul Music – Maggie Ayre: An amazing storytelling show featuring personal narratives about how one piece of music impacted multiple lives.
If You Want to …. Laugh Your Ass Off:
- 2 Dope Queens – Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams: These two comedians host a live show in New York with up and coming comedians.
- Between Us Girls – Michel Roy, Sharonda Foster, and Danielle Jones: Three friends in Houston irreverantly talk about life’s f**ckeries, including relationships, culture, and the news.
- The Brain Candy Podcast – Sarah Rice Patterson and Susie Meister Butler: These MTV alums are so much more than reality TV show stars, they’re strong, progressive, smart women with a great friendship that is very fun to listen to. Reviewed in 2017.
- The Guilty Feminist – Deborah Frances-White: Frances-White and rotating guest co-hosts start off each episode with “I’m a feminist, but …” which always makes me start laughing.
- Sooo Many White Guys – Phoebe Robinson: Robinson interviews mostly not white guys and I love her style. Every episode is packed with laughs.
If You Want to … Rediscover History:
- The Kitchen Sisters Present – Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva: Sound-rich, meticulously crafted stories about history, both long-distant and recent, often involving food. These ladies are bad-ass podcasters.
- The Dirty Bits – Tawny Platis: Platis explores the “sexy, scandalous, and salacious” side of people we normally hear a much different side of in history books and pop culture.
- Constitutional – Lillian Cunningham: A podcast about the U.S. Constitution, how it was (probably) meant to be applied, and who and what was driving the creation of each piece of it.
- Stuff You Missed in History Class – Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson: A long-running show about big and small events in history and about people who should have gotten more than a tiny paragraph in the textbook.
If You Want to … Get Creeped Out by (the Guilty Pleasure of) True Crime:
- In Sight – Ali McLennan and Charlie Worroll: There’s something a little different about this show that I really love. The hosts are never exploitative as they research and report on cases of missing persons, wrongful convictions, and unsolved crimes.
- In the Dark – Madeleine Baran: My pick for best podcast of 2016 – can’t wait for it to come back this spring! Baran (who I got to interview like a giant fangirl) goes way beyond telling the story of the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling in Minnesota in 1989 by investigating the shoddy police work that allowed his killer to get away for decades. Reviewed in 2016.
- Wine and Crime – Amanda, Kenyon, and Lucy: Minnesotan friends discuss murders over wine.
- Missing and Murdered – Connie Walker: CBC has been investigating the disappearance and deaths of over 300 indigenous women. Missing and Murdered details the cases of two of these women (to date): Alberta Williams and Cleo Semanganis Nicotine.
- TwistedPhilly – Deana Marie: A show about the “mischief and mayhem” around Philadelphia. Sometimes the episodes are about true crime, but there’s also a healthy dose of Philly stuff that Deana is just passionate about, like the zoo and Boathouse Row.
- Serial – Sarah Koenig: Duh.
If You Want to … Be Smarter:
- Embedded – Kelly McEvers: Each season/mini-season has been vastly different, but one thing is certain, McEvers is one bad-ass reporter brave enough to wade into some very soupy water.
- The Uncertain Hour – Krissy Clark: Each season of The Uncertain Hour is about a public policy issue that seems a little dry on the surface, but Clark makes it fascinating. The current season is about government regulations. Reviewed in 2016.
- The Allusionist – Helen Zaltzman: I’ve written a glowing review of the show here; it continues to be one of my favorites year after year. Zaltzman explores etymology in the most fun way: with puns, visits to crossword competitions, and exploration of romance novels.
- The Lonely Palette – Tamar Avishai: Avishai takes a piece of art and gives it context, which in effect is art history, but it doesn’t feel like “boring history” when listening.
- The Podcast Brunch Club Podcast – Adela Mizrachi and Sara DaSilva: Yes, this is the podcast I am the co-host of! Tiny bit of self-promotion. But we are two amazing women super passionate about podcasts, and we can help you find all kinds of new shows to listen to, thus making you smarter!
- Fresh Air – Terry Gross: I feel smarter when I listen to Terry Gross, she’s just so good at interviewing.
- ArtCurious Podcast – Jennifer Dasal: ArtCurious made me actually care about art – I think that says a lot about the thought put into the show design and what content is covered. Reviewed in 2017.
- Ologies – Alie Ward: Learn about any kind of -ology, from mythology to glycobiology, with a very fun host, Alie Ward.
- Science Vs. – Wendy Zukerman and Kaitlyn Sawrey: What does science say about commonly held and sometimes controversial beliefs? Find out from the fun and punny Zukerman. Updated review in 2016.
If You Want to … Hear a Great Story, Either Fact or Fiction:
- Nocturne – Vanessa Lowe: One of the first podcasts I listened to once I got beyond the flashy lights and sparkle of This American Life and Planet Money; I discovered a different kind of sparkle emanating from the deliberately-paced Nocturne, a show simply about what happens to people at night.
- Criminal – Phoebe Judge, Lauren Spohrer, and Nadia Wilson: A crown jewel of storytelling podcasts, Criminal almost never releases a show that is less than perfect. Most who listen regularly have listened to every episode and each has their favorite story about someone who committed a crime, was a victim of a crime, or had something else peripherally to do with a crime. Reviewed in 2015.
- Rumble Strip – Erica Heilman: Heilman meets people in Vermont with interesting stories to tell and crafts sound-rich episodes around the subjects. Heilman’s empathy and desire to share stories of those who are struggling is one of the things that has kept me listening for years.
- Death, Sex & Money – Anna Sale: A classic. Sale is a humble interviewer not afraid to ask the tough questions of her guests, who are on the show to talk about death, sex, or money. Reviewed in 2015.
- Sleepover – Sook-Yin Lee, Veronica Simmonds, Michelle Macklem, Alanna Stuart: Three strangers stay overnight in a hotel room and help each other solve one problem in each of their lives. Reviewed in 2016.
- Hope Chest – Stacia Brown: There aren’t many episodes of Stacia Brown’s personal project, but I love her viewpoint and beautiful writing, which is showcased in the podcast.
- The Heart – Kaitlyn Prest, Mitra Kaboli, Phoebe Wang: A phenomenal, sex-positive, thoughtful, risky show about intimacy. Updated review in 2017.
- Terrible, Thanks for Asking – Nora McInerny: It’s okay to cry listening to this show, which is about … that it’s okay and normal to cry, that things don’t always go the way we’ve planned, and sometimes life goes completely haywire at unexpected times.
- This is Love – Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer: Exhilarating limited spinoff from the producers of Criminal about the things and people we love so deeply.
- The Longest Shortest Time – Andrea Silenzi (and former host Hilary Frank is now Executive Producer): I’m still on board with LST after the host change because I really like Silenzi. The show is about parenting, but it’s not exclusively for parents as an audience. I reviewed the show back in 2015.
- Regrets of the Dying – Georgina Scull: Reflections from people near death, or from family members who have lost a loved one. Reviewed in 2017.
- Alone: A Love Story – Michelle Parise: A woman shares her journey through heartbreak and acceptance of being alone.
- The Stoop Storytelling Podcast – Jessica Henkin and Laura Wexler: A long-running live show much like The Moth but with a Baltimore flavor.
- 600 Second Saga – Mariah Avix: Brief sci-fi and fantasy fiction episodes to help you escape reality.
If You Want to … Transport Yourself to Another Part of the World:
- Baltimore: The Rise of Charm City – Stacia Brown and Ali Post: Travel around Baltimore and hear the history of the places, people, and events that shaped the city, from the voices of people who lived it.
- Brave Little State – Angela Evancie: The topics on this show about all things Vermont are determined by the listeners, who submit their votes for what to research.
- She’s in Russia – Olivia Capozzalo and Smith Freeman: Two friends, one in Brooklyn, one in Moscow – discuss life in Russia – from music to politics to propaganda.
- It’s Not a Race – Beverly Wang: Australian host Wang and an ever-rotating panel of guests discuss culture, race, and differences in tough conversations that need to be had.
- The Promise – Meribah Knight: A terrific show about public housing changes in Nashville and the people both in public housing and around it who are affected by the changes.
- Ramblings – Clare Balding: Balding literally walks throughout Great Britain exploring the countryside – I find this show really peaceful.
- Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase – Betty: A long-running, lightly produced podcast from an anonymous flight attendant about the funny and touching things she has seen on her jaunts around the world. Reviewed in 2016.
- Migration Trail – Alison Killing: A real-time simulation of what it would be like to leave your home and migrate to another country as a refugee. The website that goes along with this project is a novel concept, with maps, text messages, and phone calls to complement the podcast.
Thank you to all of these amazing women for making these shows and sharing their talent and passion! Thanks also to all of the producers and editors behind these shows for putting these women out front and center. I’d love more suggestions – leave me a comment below. Happy listening!