My Favorite Podcasts of 2016

Posted by Zach Magnuson in Reviews / December 12, 2016

This isn’t a necessarily a “best-of” list. It’s a list of the podcasts that I have enjoyed the most over the past 12 months. It’s very personal and subjective so don’t get too worked up if your favorite show isn’t here. Although, I would love to hear about your favorite podcasts of 2016 over on twitter!

Hardcore History

hh-coverAs I said in my review, Hardcore History is my favorite podcast. Hands down.

This year Dan finish his three-part Kings of Kings series on the rise of the Persian Empire and their conflicts with Greece. I also caught up on the backlog of all the older episodes. That’s like 50+ hours of historical nerdery in 2016. And it was wonderful.

If you like history or long-form storytelling of any kind, I would definitely recommend giving Hardcore History a try. There are about a dozen episodes available for free in iTunes. Which, in Dan Carlin time, is about 40 hours.

Ask Science Mike

Ask Science Mike Cover ArtIt’s hard to believe that Ask Science Mike is nearly two years old already. It has been a joy to listen to each episode and watch how the podcast has developed over time. This started out as a show where Mike answered interesting, but fairly straightforward questions about science. The show has undergone a transition that’s been accelerated by the release of Mike’s book, Finding God in the Waves.

Now Ask Science Mike has become a place where listeners bring up some of the toughest issues facing our society today. Many questions also revolve around finding ways to reconcile science with traditional faith teachings. Other questions deal with morality, politics and unanswerable philosophical questions.

Ask Science Mike can be heavy, deep or even funny. It’s also challenging, genuine and thought-provoking. Maybe the answers aren’t as conclusive as the used to be, but they are more meaningful and valuable than ever.

Lore

Lore Cover ArtI can’t imagine many folks reading this haven’t hear of LoreIt’s been really wonderful to see this show take off and it’s continued growth over the past year is impressive. If you read my review of Lore earlier this year, you know that it has everything you could want from a narrative podcast.

True historical stories, fantastic writing and great narration all come together to in Lore. Every Monday I lament leaving the weekind behind and waking up at 6am and drive to work. But every other week, I’m greeted by a new episode Lore and it almost makes up for it. Almost.

Serial

serial-cvrI know, I know. Season one was better; I’m not going to argue with you there. But it’s like when your favorite band released their 2nd album and it just didn’t live up to your expectations. It was still a great album, you just held it to an impossible standard so you couldn’t appreciate it. If you didn’t make it all the way through, give season 2 another change.

The second season of Serial covers the story of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. who left his post in 2009 and was held prisoner by the Taliban for five years. The scale of this season is much grander than Adnan Syed’s story. The entire military operation in the area was disrupted and Bergdahl eventually became national headline news.

It’s not a simple story to sift through, but Sarah Koenig handles it wonderfully, as you would expect. Interviews with fellow soldiers, close friends, high-ranking government officials and Bergdahl himself push the narrative forward. Koenig helps us make sense of it all, as much as that is even possible.

Serial helped lead a bit of a podcast resurgence in 2014. Excellent production quality, gripping story and Sarah’s skillful narration all returned in season 2. I cannot wait for season 3.

Conclusion

It’s been a great year for podcasting with over ten billion iTunes downloads. That’s a ton of podcasts! I would love to hear about the shows that you’ve enjoyed listening to the most over the past year. Let me know on twitter if there is a podcast that you think could make my list in 2017.

Author: Zach Magnuson

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