Across the Cove: The Top Podcasts for our Curious Minds

It’s inescapable. Someone on your social media feeds is looking for a recommendation. Everyone has an opinion or a favorite to share. No, we’re not referring to the latest fad diet, but rather podcasts. Podcasts continue to pop-up regularly and there are a ton to choose from. One recent survey estimates that there are around 700,000 podcasts in circulation with about 30 million individual episodes floating out there.

Despite the overwhelming options, there is something refreshing about stumbling upon a new podcast. Each listen opens a door to new ideas, jokes, and new ways of seeing the world. As you might guess, the Hencove Crew has many strong opinions about podcasts. Here’s our list of current favorites from compelling one-on-one interviews to factual reasoning for why we do what we do. We’re not saying you should listen to them right this minute, but we certainly wouldn’t hold it against you if you did…

Tom: Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend

Conan O’Brien is the longest-serving late-night talk-show host in the business. Despite his longevity and our shared love of the same pizza and sandwich places, I never considered myself a fan. His “weirdness” is something that I hadn’t connected to; however, that same “weirdness” translates perfectly well to his podcast: Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.

The hook: O’Brien, a noted self-deprecator, is worried that he has no real friends beyond the team on his payroll, so he begins a quest to find out if he can actually be friends with his famous guests. It’s a nice framework for a gag, and O’Brien is a great fit for the medium. In each episode he deftly puts the guests at ease and every conversation delves into their personalities, story, and brain. If you’re looking for an episode to start with, I would recommend his conversation with fellow late-show host Stephen Colbert or the biographer Robert Caro – O’Brien’s dream guest.

Olivia: Freakonomics

I read Freakonomics and the SuperFreakonomics summary for fun one summer in high school and was instantly hooked. So, when I discovered the podcasts later, the continuation of the Freakonomics franchise was an obvious choice. I love numbers, facts, and how they explain why we as people are so weird.

My favorite episodes answer a lot of important questions like – what is Spotify doing to music listening culture? How do you calculate government payouts to crisis victims like in 9/11 and who does it? How important is taking care of and maintaining things? And my personal favorite: Should America Be Run By Trader Joes? Spoiler alert: America should absolutely be run by Trader Joe’s. Or at least like it.

Kerrianne: The Morning Toast

If you’re someone who enjoys staying up to date with the latest celebrity gossip, reality TV show drama and gain insight into the entertainment industry, this podcast is for you. This type of podcast is not for everyone, but for me, it’s a way to escape the everyday news cycle - at least for an hour a day. This “millennial morning show,” as it’s affectionately referred to, is hosted by two sisters who offer their honest opinions, bring on celebrity guests and interact with listeners so it feels like you have a window into Hollywood.

The Morning Toast has become much more than just a podcast. Its popularity has transformed into a social community on Facebook. “Toasters,” have a place to meet others alike and continue the conversation outside of the podcast. This Facebook community, built off of the podcast, is a way for users to discuss controversial topics, and interestingly enough form friendships outside the group. If you’re looking for a podcast that’s just as much fun as it is informative, you’ve come to the right place.

Fiona: Ear Hustle

I was originally introduced to Ear Hustle by Hencove’s own Olivia Armstrong. It’s a podcast that looks at what life is like in prison, from having pets to getting along with your cellmate. It tackles assumptions people on the outside might have about prison as well as lesser known aspects of prison life. Much of it is recorded within San Quentin State Prison in California, so you hear directly from the residents there. The two hosts, Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods, make a great pair, exploring serious issues, but also highlighting moments of humor and joy. Above all, it’s honest and a reminder that we’re all human. 

They’ve just started the fourth season, but I highly recommend starting with the first.

Andy: WDW Radio

Is it possible to create a meaningful weekly news and information podcast about theme parks – especially ones that almost everybody already knows plenty about? Lou Mongello says yes. Several years ago, he packed up his family, left his job as an attorney in New Jersey, and moved to Orlando, Florida, where he became one of the pre-eminent experts on all things Walt Disney and the world he created in central Florida. WDW Radio is a well-structured but still lively conversation that looks at a specific topic related to the greater Disney empire each week, although the parks (particularly the Florida parks) are usually the focus. With episodes like “Top Ten Things to Do in Walt Disney World When It’s Cold Outside” and “10 Secrets You Never Knew About Disneyland,” interviews with experts and fellow fanatics, and reviews of new experiences in the Disney universe, the podcast is a great fit for anyone who loves all things Disney, but also for anyone who vaguely remembers going to EPCOT as a kid and is thinking about making a return trip. It’s also a dose of sheer enjoyment and positivity in a world of increasingly bad news, which is a refreshing change of pace.  

Stay entertained, learn a few new things, and keep your brain sharp with podcasts. In a world where everything seems to be getting faster and faster, podcasts move with you and are an excellent solution while on the go. Whether you’re preparing for a long flight or tying up your laces for a run there are plenty of options to give a try. We hope our suggestions pique your interest and serve as an introduction to the infinite podcast universe!