Ah, the digital age—when you can consume almost every type of medium imaginable from almost anywhere in the world. An upside of all this information has been the rise of the podcast; the ability to consume stories, hosted discussions and tutorials on every topic under the sun.
Since the podcast landscape is a vast one, we narrowed down some of the best that this year had to offer, to suit whatever it is you might be feeling, or want to be feeling.
In 2017, countless women and men raised their voices to speak out about their experiences with sexual abuse and harassment, prompting Time to name “The Silence Breakers” as 2017’s Person of the Year. The #MeToo movement brought attention to the fact that many people—including more than a few formerly beloved celebrities—are unfortunately capable of sexual harassment. With that in mind, it’s now more important than ever to choose our role models carefully—to seek out kind and talented professionals who not only inspire us to work harder but to be better and more compassionate people. If you have trouble finding those role models, we suggest you listen to Throwing Shade. Every week, Bryan Safi and Erin Gibson discuss one issue that affects women and one issue that affects the LGBTQ+ community. In between, they talk about grocery shopping and singing to their pets. Most weeks, Bryan and Erin bring on a guest (e.g. RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Trixie Mattel, stand-up comic Nikki Glaser) to discuss everything from music and books to sexism and coming out. Every single one of their guests (even the straight male ones) has something important to say about how to fight the patriarchy and have fun while doing it, meaning that Bryan and Erin will surely introduce us to our next female and/or queer obsession next year. We can’t wait to find out who it is. Favourite 2017 Episode: LGBT Pride Month, Theresa May, Tony Awards, Guest Dave Holmes – Sara Cristiano
When fitness guru Richard Simmons went missing in 2014, his absence went largely unnoticed by most of the world. But for the dozens of close friends who continued to attend his weekly classes and receive counseling from Simmons over the phone, his sudden departure was both startling and concerning. What followed was Simmons’ longtime friend and journalist Dan Taberski diving deep into the world of a private man who was also a public figure. Did Simmons deserve to retire after decades of helping people without informing any of his friends, or was it selfish move that caused unnecessary concern for those in his life? Was he being held against his will? Were there bigger issues at stake than simply someone who was just tired? With Taberski’s almost-all-access pass to those in Simmons life, these questions and more were asked, with Taberski revealing the layered past of a public person many didn’t know. Sure, Simmons was the guy with the larger-than-life personality and the tiny shorts jumping around on infomercials. But he was also a multi-multimillionaire who spent his time counseling people for free. There are many levels to Simmons and while we may not get all the answers we want by the end of the podcast, we get to know more about the demons and the selflessness of the the man who’s been sweating to the oldies for decades. – Allison Bowsher
2017 was undoubtedly a rough year, and whether we know it or not, all of that bad news didn’t do much to improve our outlooks or senses of security. And, that’s OK—life gets hard and we adapt—but we need to remember to take care of ourselves and try to find light during dark times like these. One way to improve your sense of self is to put in work on your downtime—spend less time with soapy TV shows, your phone and other unimportant things, and learn to calm your mind and find stillness. There are plenty of podcasts that help us learn about our busy, sometimes uneasy minds (honourable mentions include The One You Feed and The Anxiety Coaches Podcast), but, from an educational standpoint, On Being with Krista Tippett is a top-notch resource for thoughtful discussions about meaning in life, mindfulness, philosophy and faith. You’re guaranteed to walk away with answers to questions about “being” or, maybe even more valuable, cultivate new questions to explore moving forward. – Jess Huddleston
A psychology podcast might not seem like the most obvious source of inspiration, but it’s amazing how much you can learn about yourself by listening to other peoples’ stories. NPR’s Shankar Vedantam hosts the podcast, which reports on human behaviour and social sciences. Exploring topics like relationships, sleep and nostalgia, each episode teaches listeners a little more about what makes us tick. Inviting guests and experts to the show who shed light on human nature, Hidden Brain allows us to take an introspective look at our own lives, highlighting both what makes us unique and the areas of our behaviour we can improve upon. – Celina Torrijos