How to find a great podcast

    Need help sorting through the noise? Listen up

    By Karen Unland, ’94 BA, on December 12, 2018

    Woman on train listening to podcastsPhoto Getty Images

    The world of podcasts offers more than half a million shows to choose from, with more popping up every day. You can just default to the famous ones, like Serial or The Daily. But if you stop there, you’ll miss out on a whole lot more podcasts that are precisely up your alley. So how do you find them? Here are some tips:

    Start with the familiar

    Subscribe to radio shows you already love. Many CBC and NPR shows are available in podcast form, so you can listen whenever you want to. Such outlets also make shows that are only available as podcasts.

    Look for recommendations

    Apple Podcasts and many other “podcatchers” (the apps that deliver podcasts to your phone) include recommendations based on other shows you have chosen. Check out the “You Might Also Like” section.

    Listen for recommendations

    Podcasters tend to be podcast-crazy and collaborative. Listen for their recommendations.

    Find a network

    Podcasts of a feather often flock together to cross-promote and attract advertisers. The podcasts in a network will often share a sensibility, if not a common subject. This means you’re likely to find other shows that appeal to you within, say, Radiotopia, Gimlet Media, Maximum Fun, Slate Podcasts or the Alberta Podcast Network.

    Consult the experts

    A cottage industry has formed around helping listeners know what’s worth checking out. Consider Wil Williams Reviews, Hot Pod and Podnews. Other sources include CBC’s Podcast Playlist or Caitlin Thompson’s A Pod of One’s Own column in The Globe and Mail.

    Ask a friend

    Podcast listeners will happily evangelize so they can convert you into someone with whom to dissect the latest episode. If you don’t have a pod-person in your circle, find a new friend at a Podcast Brunch Club, which you can join in person or online. There are also Meetup groups for both podcasters and “curious listeners.” If all else fails, email me! I’m at

    Karen Unland is president of the Alberta Podcast Network. She listens to between 20 and 30 hours of podcasts per week. If you want to get her attention, it helps to make sure her earbuds are out.