The Best Podcasts of 2019 – Q+M

The Best Podcasts of 2019


I love routine. I operate on a to-the-minute, self-imposed schedule that acts as a sort of security blanket. I cling to it, pine for, and get jittery without it. Over the holidays, I’m a mess. Christmas and New Year’s wreak havoc on my routine and I’ve had January 6 circled on my calendar as my day to finally get back in rhythm. 

One big part of my routine is the order in which I blast my podcasts. Each one has a specific slot in the batting order and rarely does one leap-frog another in the queue. Like most people, these favorites have replaced television shows as my favorite forms of entertainment, and while I’m troubled when faced with committing fifty-four minutes to a Netflix show, I’ve got no problem spending several hours per day going full-pod while I work. No one asked, but I’m sharing that list. 

Start Here. ABC News. I ride my bike to work almost every day, and Brad Melke is the smooth-talking voice of my commute. Start Here twenty-minute podcast that recaps the previous day’s news and gives you a heads up on what’s happening next. Each story is quick and concise, calling in expert reporting from ABC News’ deep stable of journalists. 

The Daily. New York Times. Michael Barbaro talks weird. When I sent this podcast to my brother, he loved it, but had the same question I did; why does Barbaro half-whisper through all of his interviews? Barbaro grows on you, and the pace, topics, and tone of The Daily are one of the best deeper-dives into contemporary news out there. It’s another twenty minutes that absolutely fly by. 

Today, Explained. Vox. Like The Daily but want to laugh? Aside from the hokey-but-still-creative ads throughout Today, Explained (I still don’t own a Quip toothbrush), the show balances chasing current political news with stories from around the globe. From music to design to tech, Sean Rameswaram and the team offer up an interesting mix of topics with a more playful tone. 

The Indicator by Planet Money. NPR. Planet Money’s bite-sized brother, The Indicator is a ten-minute take on economics, and it’s convenient that the show is as generous with that label as possible. They’ve tackled everything from BitCoin to WeWork to dairy farms to truckers in 2019, and the show only seems to be getting better each week. This is one of the few podcasts that offer relief from constant Trump-talk, and by this point in the morning, I need it. 

Planet Money. NPR. Obviously. After an aperitif, it’s nice to suckling on something more substantial. Planet Money is as wide-reaching as Today, Explained, but with deeper, more argumentative stories that present both sides of an issue, often with interviews from politicians, economists, and real-life workers from industries affected by climate change, automation, and whatever Elon Musk is smoking. 

The Journal. New York Times. This one has quickly turned into my favorite podcast of the year, and it’s why I save it for the start of my second cup of coffee. Another twenty-minute stab at brilliance, The Journal looks at stories, trends, and news from the most important and insightful perspective, money. Following the cash and watching the numbers, Kate Linebauch and Ryan Knutson examine issues you might think you know with a totally new eye. 

Land of Giants. Recode by Vox. When I hit the end of this series, I went back to episode one of Land of Giants the next day and listened to the whole thing again. An incredibly interesting look at the rise and continued rise and future of Amazon. The only next step is to add a new season and focus on either a trainwreck like Uber or WeWork, or a success story like Google and maybe Facebook? Come on, Recode. Make it happen. 

Let us know your favorite podcasts in the comments and let us know what we should be listening to in 2020!