Best Podcasts of 2013

The following are the podcasts I’ve enjoyed listening to the most consistently since this time last year. This list is also in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take out all the fun:

Buddhist Geeks – A short podcast, averaging only about 20 minutes: “after a few years, and well over a million downloads of the show, it became clear that Buddhist Geeks was something closer to a movement or community, rather than just a podcast.” In the last two years, the Buddhist Geeks have expanded beyond the world of “digital Dharma” into an annual conference and online sangha.

Filmspotting SVU (“Streaming Video Unit”): a new podcast, birthed from the mothership of Filmspotting “Original Recipe.” Motivation to ditch cable and make full use of all Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al have to offer: “a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Alison Willmore and Matt Singer focusing on the world of online movies.”

Freakonomics – I appreciate the unusual, left-brained, rational perspective of economics meets culture.

NPR: All Songs Considered – An incredible source of new music I might otherwise never hear.

NPR: Religion – A few years ago my car radio was almost always tuned to NPR. More recently I have taken to listening selectively to my favorite NPR segments. Since I’m a huge religion nerd, I love being able to listen to the religion-themed excerpts of “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” and other NPR programs without having to listen to each of those hour-long shows each day.

Real Time with Bill Maher – Maher is tendentious on the topics of Western medicine and religion, but he has original opinions on almost every other subject. An entertaining way of keeping up with politics.

Slate’s Culture Gabfest – Be a fly-on-the-wall each week for a wide-ranging conversation on the latest current events:

Listen to Slate’s critics Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner, plus their guests, discuss what’s happening in movies, books, TV, and more.

And in addition to the above “usual suspects,” my new favorite podcast this year is Slate’s Political Gabfest:

Every week our intrepid heroes gather in a spacious, high-tech recording studio, and despite the gorgeous view of our nation’s capital city, focus their attention on three of the week’s high profile political developments with a trademarked banter that makes it look easy (but it isn’t). Exhausted from incisive analysis of the important issues of our day, they lighten up at the end by suggesting some nuggets of topical knowledge that will impress your friends at weekend cocktail parties. 

Previous Lists

Best Podcasts of 2012

Top 10 Best Podcasts of 2011

Other “Best of 2013″ Lists 

Top 10 Best Books Read in 2013

Top 10 Best Albums Listened to in 2013

Best “Netflix Instant” Streamed in 2013

Best Netflix DVDs Watched in 2013

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg is a trained spiritual director, a D.Min. graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, Maryland. Follow him on Facebook ( and Twitter (@carlgregg)

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