Find your next favorite podcast

Woman outdoors wearing headphones
So many podcasts there, so little time … Rawpixel via the deposit photos

It is a golden age for podcasting, with a plethora of high-quality catchy shows now available on demand from a multitude of sources and suppliers. Whether you are a science fan or science fiction enthusiast, or need to fuel another interest, there is surely a podcast (or two) for you.

And you also have a wide choice of ways to find podcasts, some of which you might not have considered before. If you've already gone through all of the episodes of PopSciThis is the strangest thing I have learned this week and Techathlon, don't let your podcast run smoothly and make sure you always have something compelling to come up in the queue waiting.

Ask Spotify for help

Screenshot of Spotify app
The more podcasts you listen to, the more Spotify will understand what you like.David Nield

Spotify takes podcasting seriously, and that also extends to recommendations. The next time you open the Spotify app on your laptop or phone, search your home screen for the playlist of daily podcasts that the streaming service has created for you.

Just like the playlists of musical recommendations gathered by Spotify's algorithms, this one is built from data from what you have listened to in the past. Theoretically, the more podcasts you listen to, the more the best algorithms in daily podcasts should recommend titles you will like.

Note that the playlist only appears if you've listened to at least four podcasts in the past 90 days, and it can recommend episodes of shows you've already listened to, as well as brand new ones. The functionality is available on free and premium levels.

Seek advice from Apple podcasts

MacOs podcast screenshot
Apple now has an application exclusively dedicated to podcasts.David Nield

Now that Podcasts has become a separate application from iTunes on macOS Catalina, take advantage of its new independence by delving into its recommendation pages. Even if you don't use the Apple app to listen to your podcasts, it can still offer helpful suggestions.

the leaf The left section is the perfect place to start: you'll see some remarkable podcasts recommended by Apple staff, then scroll down to find even more podcasts organized by categories such as daily news, sports, comedy, etc. You may not even be aware of the type of podcast you are looking for until a particular category name has caught your eye.

You can't always rely on the taste of others, but try it The hit parade section anyway to see what the other listeners liked. If there is hype about a particular podcast, you will certainly never miss it if you check this section regularly. Unfortunately, it will be more difficult to do if you are traveling, unlike the leaf application section, The hit parade is not available in Podcasts apps on iOS and iPadOS.

Ask your podcast app to choose

Pocket Cast screenshot
Staff choices are always a sure way to find great podcasts.David Nield

Obviously we can't cover all of the podcast apps (there are many), but whichever one you use, it most likely contains some form of discovery option – be sure to poke around in the menus and options to see what recommendations are available.

We will highlight one, however: the popular Pocket Casts for Android and iOS. Press the Discover tab at the bottom and you will see Featured podcasts at the top, which are selections from Pocket Casts staff. Below, you will see what is successful with other listeners and you can explore specific sub-categories that might interest you, such as history or music. There is also the classic search box at the top, which you can use to search for topics of particular interest.

To start listening to a podcast, just tap it and choose an episode to download. As with most podcast apps, sign up to get future episodes automatically by tapping Subscribe.

Ask your friends (or strangers)

a group of friends drinking orange juice and coffee or tea in a store while talking about things, maybe podcasts
Podcast discussions are part of a balanced breakfast.AlexLipa via Depositphotos

Don't let algorithms and rankings take over your life completely – bring old-school recommendations into the mix by asking everyone you know about the podcasts you need to listen to.

Every social interaction is an opportunity – an embarrassing dinner, catching up with an old friend, sitting in the work cafeteria at lunchtime, standing at the bus stop and noticing that someone listen to something (just be respectful of personal space). If you ask your friends and relatives with a taste closer to yours for recommendations, you will probably get high quality matches.

When you've exhausted everyone you know, you can always start asking for advice on Twitter or Facebook – you'll find that people are often very excited to pass on a couple of podcast recommendations, even to complete strangers.

Other discovery options

Screen capture of listening notes
The listening notes will help you find what really interests you.David Nield

Good old-fashioned online research can also generate good podcasts. We recommend that you search Listen Notes, which will examine podcast titles, episode titles, and episode notes to find matches with your queries (whether you are looking for specific people or specific topics).

Newsletters are in full swing right now – podcast delivery is definitely worth a click, and The Listener will offer you three to five podcasts each day (if you can manage that many). If you delve a little, you will discover a lot of newsletters like this, so you should be able to find one or two that correspond well to the type of podcasts you are interested in.

People always post lists of the best podcasts, and these can also be viewed via web searches. Try to search for "best podcasts" in a particular category that you like, or "podcasts like" something you've been in the past. You should find enough quality results to keep your podcast player busy for a while.