We love written and visual storytelling, but there’s something all together more intimate about listening. In the lilt of a voice or a trill of unexpected laughter, and in the ambient sounds of soft rain or footsteps on a dirt trail—the simple act of listening draws us ultra close to a speaker and their story.
Although we lean towards the outdoors in a lot of our media, we’re inspired by lots of other stories that are squarely outside that realm, too, like creative entrepreneurship, emotion, relationships, and culture.
Sorted into four categories, here are some of our personal favorites:
Out There is a podcast that “explores big questions through intimate stories in the outdoors.” Willow Belden shares stories of transformative outdoor experiences. (Also, hear Gale interview Willow in She Explores Episode 39).
Willow knows how to tell stories with heart without getting in the way. The outdoors has a way of prompting contemplation about our interior worlds, and Out There helps us work through them, too. As much as I admire Willow’s professional experience in radio and the way it shines through Out There, I really respect her devotion to going deeper. Fractured Self is an episode about a woman reconciling her identity as a mother with her identity as a whitewater kayaker. – Gale Straub (GS)
Produced by NHPR, Outside/In is “a show about the natural world and how we use it” as told in reporting and long-form narrative storytelling.
Listen to Episode 33, “Gnar Pow”
Outside/In is fantastically reported, a little bit nerdy, and often funny. “Gnar Pow” is an oldie but a goodie. Host Sam Evans-Brown takes two producers on the podcast skiing for the first time to prove it doesn’t always have to be super fancy. It’s a lighthearted episode, a nod to the fact that the show doesn’t always take itself seriously. But other environmental episodes like the four part series, Powerline, on Quebec’s hydropower history, pack a punch. The balance keeps me listening. – GS
Debbie Arcangeles interviews people who ditched the norm to become location independent. The Offbeat Life covers topics like finding purpose and freelancing.
Listen to Episode 63: How to Become a Freelance Travel Journalist with Gabi Logan
I love Debbie’s warm interview style and the people she selects to bring onto her show. Everything is not only accessible, regardless of where you currently find yourself in your life or career, but it’s extremely practical. I often walk away from listening to an episode of The Offbeat Life feeling a little more motivated and prepared in both my travels and my self-directed career. – Laura Hughes (LH)
“Ideas forged from adventure,” Safety Third takes listeners on a wild traverse of ideas that define the outdoor community. Episodes include guests like Kareema Batts, filmmaker Hannah Maia, and Len Necefer of Natives Outdoors.
Listen to Episode Conquer Your Big Wave
Safety Third doesn’t skim the surface on tough topics, whether it’s sexism in the surf industry (see above episode), alcoholism in the outdoor community, grief, or miscarriage. I wouldn’t expect anything else from Duct Tape Then Beer, the production company behind Dirtbag Diaries. – GS
Hosted by Grace Bonney (Founder and Editor-inChief of Design*Sponge), the Good Company podcast hosts intimate conversations on the intersection of design and business.
Listen to Episode 3: Loveis Wise Talks About Setting Intentions and Resisting Competition
Good Company is a relatively new show, but Grace Bonney is a creative (and business) powerhouse who brings humility and heart to each interview. She’s not afraid to dig into the nitty gritty of how challenging it can be for people, who are first and foremost artists, to run the business side of a creative hustle. This episode with Loveis Wise touches on self-care and how lonely it can be to work from home—which I think all three of us around here relate to! – Hailey Hirst (HH)
How to Create is devoted to the creative process, as told in interviews and mini-sodes with creative professionals.
Listen to Episode 13: Creating Courageously with Kate Swoboda
How To Create never fails to make me feel less alone as a creative! This show dives into many different aspects of the creative process through the eyes of artists, teachers, entrepreneurs, and so much more. I love tuning in to hear not only how everyone’s processes and perspectives are so different, but also where there’s commonality. – LH
Produced by APM Podcasts, Terrible, Thanks for Asking is “a funny/sad/uncomfortable podcast about talking honestly about our pain, our awkwardness, and our humanness.”
Listen to Episode 30 – Route 91
I love this show. Admittedly, it is heavy stuff, but they’re true stories that help us understand ourselves, our friends, and our family better. Route 91 is no exception. In this episode, 25-year-old Kelly recounts the evening she went to a country concert in Las Vegas and it turned into a deadly mass shooting. It’s difficult to listen to, but it was even more difficult to live through. I appreciate that TTFA doesn’t sweep life’s hard stuff under the rug. – GS
Hosted by relationship therapist, Esther Perel, Where Should We Begin broadcasts anonymous unscripted sessions. “It’s a space for people to be heard and understood. It’s also a place for us to listen and feel empowered in our own relationships.”
Listen to Season 2 Episode 8: I Don’t Want to Be Your Caregiver, I Want to Be Your Wife
After Dear Sugars wrapped up, this became my go-to Emotion/Advice podcast. Even though not every episode is relevant to my life, listening to Esther Perel offer empathetic advice and perspective is soothing and often relatable. This episode covers the specific issues inside a marriage with a progressive diagnosis, but speaks to emotional work and communicating what you think can go unsaid, but shouldn’t. – HH
Because humor is an emotion, too. Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams host a live comedy show in Brooklyn with other comedians and share “stories about sex, romance, race, hair journeys… plus a bunch of other s**t.”
Listen to Episode 49: Karaoke with Michelle Obama
I adore 2 Dope Queens because there’s rarely a set formula and it always makes me laugh. Phoebe and Jessica are friends and comedians with a passion for elevating less-heard-from comedians. They recently sat down with Michelle Obama for their final episode, but it’s an archive worth working through. Before long, you’ll feel like their friends, too. – GS
Nicole Antoinette hosts “refreshingly honest conversations about the wonderful mess of being human.” (Plus Laura is interviewed in Season 18!)
Listen to Episode: Jenny Bruso on Being an Unlikely Hiker
Nicole is a passionate voice when it comes to spearheading honest dialogue. I am amazed by the way she “goes there” with her questions, own personal sharing, and her sense of humor and joy around it all—even when stories get tough. Tune in to get a different perspective on someone you’ve heard from before, or to be inspired by the realness of her interviewee’s stories. – LH
An essential podcast from NPR and WHYY, Terry Gross interviews “today’s biggest luminaries.” Driven by compelling questions, Fresh Air covers a wide array of culture and news.
Listen to Episode: Bradley Cooper On ‘A Star is Born’ / Samin Notrat On ‘Salt Fat Acid Heat’
Is it weird that Terry Gross’s voice feels kind of like going home to me? Fresh Air has been a staple radio show, now podcast, in my life for a long time—from the static-muffled radio in my dad’s garage to recent episode binges on solo road trips since I moved to Canada. I admire the way Terry Gross approaches each interview, and the way her thoughtful questions lead to surprising depths. This episode on ‘A Star is Born’ and ‘Salt Fat Acid Heat’ is a testament to how Terry’s curiosity sometimes leads her interviewee way into the weeds—in such a good way. -HH
Hosted by two New York Times culture writers, Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, each episode of Still Processing offers a chance to “understand the pleasures and pathologies of America.”
Listen to Episode: We Watch Whiteness
Wesley and Jenna have an incredible rapport, which makes them a delight to listen to—even through real, tough conversations with questions that often have no right answers. They somehow blend their specific backgrounds on society, pop culture, and technology seamlessly with diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Still Processing lens is one I strive to look at the world through more often, which is why I’m so thankful for the voices of Wesley and Jenna. – LH
Produced by Gimlet Media, Science VS “takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.”
Listen to Episode Plastics: The Final Straw?
Gale probably can attest to this, but I talk about Wendy Zuckerman, the host of Science VS, constantly when I think about ways to make our own audio content more bold and entertaining. Wendy and the Science VS team tackle everyday myths, trends, and issues: from the mild (like whether vitamin supplements really work) to those of the highest magnitude (like the episode we’re recommending on plastic waste) using science, measured logic, and a good dose of humor. You don’t have to be a scientist to like Science VS! – LH