TED Radio Hour - This podcasts features excerpts from TED Talks on timely, culturally relevant, big-picture topics, like compassion, living with less and making work meaningful.
Flash Forward - This podcasts delves into the what-ifs we could one day face as a society, some realistic, some not. It explores lofty hypotheticals like a future in which animal products are banned; a future in which all drugs are legal; and a future in which you know when you're going to die. Topics tends toward the depressing, but it's still fascinating stuff to ponder.
Gateway Episode: The Day The Internet Broke (a.k.a. a future without the internet)
Love is Like a Plant - This podcast serves up 15-minute, often funny conversations between the two hosts on how to be a better partner in your romantic relationship.
Gateway Episode: Fight Fair: What You Should Know about Fighting With Your S.O.
RuPaul: What's the Tee? with Michelle Visage - This podcast is hilarious and heart-warming. Ru and Michelle interview everyone from Lisa Kudrow to Aubrey Plaza and no topics are off-limits. Lots of real talk in here. And yes, Ru is exactly the kind of smart, funny, genuine person you'd always suspected he'd be outside our favorite drag show.
Gateway Episode: Episode 82: Anna Faris
Her Money with Jean Chatzky - This podcasts delves into personal finance with a women-centric spin. Nearly all of the guests are women and all of the advice is broken down into a way that resonates with the average woman's life, from retirement planning to spending on wants vs. needs.
Gateway Episode: Episode 33: When Is a Sale Not Really a Sale?
Note to Self - This podcast is self-described as "the tech show about being human," and that pretty much sums it up. The host talks about everything from maintaining your privacy online to the legal risk of texting while driving.
Gateway Episode: Messages From the Beyond (about an app that lets you send messages to your loved ones after you've died)
Joblogues - This podcast is a conversation between two smart, funny women all about getting ahead in the workplace, whether it's nailing your next interview or revamping your digital presence. They have a great rapport, often touching on current events and bringing in interesting guests.
Gateway Episode: Episode 23: Working While Woke
Planet Money - This podcast breaks down complicated financial topics into bite-sized, easy-to-understand stories, usually in 20 minutes or less. They make dry topics like taxes, banking and Wall Street a heck of a lot more interesting and hyper-relevant to everyday life.
Gateway Episode: Jubilee! (about what happened when everyone in Iceland's debts were suddenly forgiven, and whether it could work in the U.S.)
Modern Love - This one's for the softies. It's The New York Time's love-stories podcast in which celebrities read a nonfiction love story published in — you guessed it — the NYT. If you're a romantic at heart like me, you really can't go wrong with any of these episodes.
Gateway Episode: To Fall in Love, Do This | Modern Love 30
The Art of Manliness - This podcast is basically my way of spying on conversations between smart, successful men. Not that I NEED to glean such knowledge being a smarty-pants myself, but hey, it can't hurt. Topics are almost always relevant for women too, like how the internet is making us dumber, the joy of missing out, and how to get a promotion at work. And when the topics ARE more man-centric, they're still an interesting peek into the psyche of that mysterious other gender.
Gateway Episode: Building Your Band of Brothers (a.k.a. the sorry state of straight male friendships)
Dear Sugar - Sometimes it's nice to hear about problems worse than your own. This podcast features hosts Sheryl Strayed and Steve Almond giving relationship advice to people who wrote in with questions about things like closeted atheism, porn addiction and whether men and women can be "just friends."
Gateway Episode: Powerful Women and the Men Who Love Them
Call Your Girlfriend - This is one of those podcasts where the more you listen and get to know the hosts, the more addicted you become. It's a weekly conversation between two media-savvy, funny women about culture, politics, feminism and, always, periods.
Gateway Episode: The latest one, since this podcast generally deals with current events
A Few Things with Claire and Erica - I like this podcast because the hosts seem like friends I'd have in real life. Each episode is a conversation between the two of them regarding the latest life-improving apps, items, tips and tricks they're loving at the moment, and interviews with creative people who make interesting things.
Gateway Episode: Episode 71: Self-Care and a Crash Course in Romance Novels
Image above by Ruth Shivley