Whether it’s on the bus, at the gym, or while doing chores, you probably have headphones in for at least some part of the day. If your go-to playlist just isn’t doing it for you anymore, I urge you to give podcasts a try. Yes, that little purple app logo you never tap on is good for something!
Many of the best podcasts out there are produced and hosted by women. Listening to a show with a witty female host or two makes it feel like you have a couple of new best friends right in your earbuds. Whether you already listen to podcasts or are looking for a place to start, here are some female-led podcasts you can add to your listening rotation.
You Must Remember This
Hosted by Karina Longworth, You Must Remember This is the perfect podcast if you’re into classic Hollywood glamour. The podcast covers the often-forgotten stories of the 20th century’s greatest celebrities.
You Must Remember This is grouped into multi-episode themes based on different Hollywood legends. There’s the intriguing “Dead Blondes,” a series about famous blonde actress who met tragic ends, such as Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. If you loved the first season of Feud on TV, be sure to check out “Six Degrees of Joan Crawford.”
The podcast is highly informative but Longworth’s delivery is so concise and quietly funny that you’ll be as entertained as you are educated. Clips from interviews or newscasts are spliced together with her commentary to really make you feel like you’re in the middle of the narrative. From Hepburn to Streisand to Garland, You Must Remember This covers all of your Old Hollywood favorites.
Recommended episode: 79 – She: Richard Nixon + Helen Gaghan Douglas (The Blacklist Episode #9) — Helen Gaghan Douglas is one of the coolest women you’ve never heard about. She was an opera star turned congresswoman who went head-to-head in a campaign against Richard Nixon. How’s that for girl power?
The Mash-Up Americans
The Mash-Up Americans represents a picture of modern America. Hosts Amy S. Choi and Rebecca Lehrer are self-proclaimed “hyphen-Americans.” Choi is a Korean-American (married to a Colombian-Mexican-American), and Lehrer is a Salvadoran-Jewish-American. Together, through their podcast, they explore everything from holidays to wellness to parenting. (Choi refers to her “Korombexican-American” kids as “The Future of America.”)
Choi and Lehrer usually have guests on the show, typically other “Mash-Ups,” like Project Runway’s Nina Garcia and Eddie Huang, author of Fresh Off the Boat.
The two bright women hosting The Mash-Up Americans are what really sell it, though. Whether you’re “hyphen-American” yourself or you just love food, culture and female friendship, this podcast is definitely worth a listen.
Recommended episode: 51 – What’s for San Giving? — A more recent episode, this endeavor by Choi and Lehrer, plus their guests, describes what a “Mash-up” Thanksgiving feels like. Hearing different cultural interpretations of Thanksgiving dinner is intriguing, and all the talk about food might leave your mouth watering.
We went ALL in on Internet challenges this week and why people do dumb (and sometimes horrible) things for views. Please RT! https://t.co/Akvvl9q8gi
— Still Buffering (@Stillbuff) January 23, 2018
This one is especially great if you have a sister. Sydnee McElroy, Teylor Smirl and Rileigh Smirl are actual sisters who, on Still Buffering, talk about what it’s like to be a teenager. McElroy and Teylor are both in their thirties while Rileigh is a teen herself.
Each episode of Still Buffering focuses on a certain topic, whether it be skincare, prom, or something more serious like bullying. The sisters then weigh in from their perspective as teenagers both in the past and present. It’s fun to hear about how times have changed since the two older sisters were Rileigh’s age, and their confusion over what’s cool with teens and young adults these days can be hilarious. It’s sisterly bonding meets pop culture meets real-world issues.
The anecdotes are humorous and the conversations between the sisters are heartwarming. They touch on things that are silly, embarrassing and serious — basically, all the aspects that make up the life of a teenager.
Recommended episode: How to Sweet Sixteen — For Rileigh’s 16th birthday, the sisters talked about everything Sweet Sixteen. The stories of the older sisters’ 16th birthday parties plus their celebration of their youngest sister make this episode particularly funny and warm.
Out of Line with Caroline Lee
Caroline Lee is a Los Angeles-based photographer with a killer Instagram feed. Since October of last year, though, she’s also been a podcaster. Out of Line focuses on sitting down with internet personalities to talk about something in their everyday “offline” lives. (See how clever the title is now?)
Lee’s zest for life shines through in her conversations with her various guests, who include Jihan Zencirli, a designer known for her colorful balloon installations, and makeup artist Nikita Dragun. Each episode is a podcast earworm that manages to provide a unique, intimate look into the lives of people with thousands of Twitter followers.
If you’re always scrolling through your social media feed, Out of Line is a bright, intriguing way to remind yourself that the users behind those aesthetically pleasing accounts are real people, too.
Recommended episode: 11 – Michael Gungor on origins and fat bias — Michael Gungor is a musician and fellow podcaster. Gungor and Lee are close friends, which makes their conversation about body positivity and Gungor’s life in Wisconsin all the more candid and endearing.
Stuff Mom Never Told You
SMNTY is the feminist podcast you need in your life. Co-hosts Emilie Aries and Bridget Todd explain and offer potential solutions to problems faced by modern women. Their dialogue is smart and relatable.
SMNTY lives up to its name: It asks questions women would have never thought to ask their moms in adolescence — and questions moms of daughters never thought they would have to answer. The podcast covers sexual assault, female struggles in the workplace, and pockets on women’s clothing, just to name a few topics. The hosts don’t just discuss the matter at hand; they also tell you what you can do about it. At least one episode of SMNTY will have you nodding in agreement.
Aries and Todd are brave, bold ladies who do their research and aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions. In today’s complex world, one of the best places to learn about issues related to womanhood is from other women. Laugh along and learn a lot with SMNTY.
Recommended episode: Can I be a feminist and still enjoy trashy reality TV shows? — Any woman who’s a self-proclaimed feminist and fan of The Bachelor has probably asked herself this question. Aries and Todd help listeners understand why the potential answer is so important.
Alice Isn’t Dead
In honor of @podcon I have written a brand new Alice Isn't Dead live script that takes place in Seattle. See it in person, or via remote attendance anywhere in the world. https://t.co/HCCSwvIgcr pic.twitter.com/AwIAD72AaJ
— Joseph Fink 🐞 (@PlanetofFinks) November 28, 2017
For someone looking for a more fictional take on podcasts, this might be the show for you. In Alice Isn’t Dead, Jasika Nicole voices the unnamed main character, a trucker on a journey across America searching for her wife Alice. It’s mysterious and intriguing, and it’ll have you hitting “next episode” as soon as the previous one ends.
Fans of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale will love Alice Isn’t Dead a little more because it’s from the same creators. The show’s beautiful writing combined with its supernatural elements make it a podcast you don’t want to miss. The next season will be the final one for the show, so be sure to binge on the first two now, so you can listen along as the podcast reaches its conclusion.
Recommended episode: Part 1, Chapter 1: Omelet — Since this podcast has a storyline, the best place to start is from the beginning. From there, you can dive into the tale of the search for Alice.
What do you think?
Are there other great podcasts you love that are led by cool women? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!