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The 20 Most Popular Podcasts in the World in 2019

TED Radio Hour

Once, the radio and television were the most popular forms of entertainment. Now the Internet has opened doors to many other fantastic ways that people can enjoy their leisure time, including blogs, streaming services, vlogs, and podcasts. The latter are digital audio or video files that are available to download. When people subscribe to a podcast, they will automatically receive the latest installment. Like all forms of entertainment, some podcasts are more popular than others. While some are in a niche that will attract interest from only a small number of subscribers, others are popular enough to achieve thousands, and sometimes millions, of subscribers. Here are the 20 most popular podcasts of 2019 so far.

20. The Joe Rogan Expereince

As the name suggests, The Joe Rogan Experience is hosted by Joe Rogan, the comedian, actor, television artist, sports commentator, and martial artist. This is a long-standing podcast as it was launched in December 2009 by Rogan and comedian Brian Redban. The topics discussed are diverse and include sports, science, and current affairs. No matter what the topic, there is always an element of comedy added to the conversation.

19. Dr. Death

This is a relatively new podcast as it didn’t launch until September 2018. However, it has already had eight million downloads so far and consistently ranks in the top 20 of the podcasts available on Apple iTunes, says Podcast Insights. It is created by Wondery and is a disturbing true-crime story about Dr. Christopher Duntsch and how he got away with severe medical malpractice for years. It is hosted by Laura Beil, a medical reporter.

18. Dirty John

This investigative journalism podcast was only launched in 2019, but it had received more than 10 million downloads in under six weeks, which is a phenomenal achievement. It is an investigative journalism podcast that is hosted by Christopher Goffard from the Los Angeles Times. Dirty John is about an interior designer called Debra Newell who is the victim of the story. After meeting a man called John on the Internet, who turns out to be a conman, she marries him and puts her family in jeopardy. It has got listeners sitting on the edge of their seats.

17. The Shrink Next Door

An interesting podcast, The Shrink Next Door is a podcast by Wondery. It premiered on May 2019 and consists of seven episodes. This has already become a huge hit as the story has captivated listeners. For the first three weeks, it was at the top of Apple’s podcast charts. It was written and is hosted by Joe Necora. The story is about a psychiatrist called Isaac Herschkopf who abuses his patients to exploit them for personal gain.

16. How I Built This

An NPR production, How I Built This is all about entrepreneurs, designers, innovators, and idealists. It covers the stories behind their creations and the movements they built. This podcast was launched in 2016 and it is hosted by Guy Raz, who interviews the entrepreneurs and innovators. It is a weekly podcast with each episode lasting for 30 minutes. The show has featured many high-profile guests.

15. Freakonomics

Freakonomics is both a podcast and a radio show. It was inspired by the 2005 book of the same name by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt. While the former is the host of the show, the latter is a frequent guest on the podcast. It was first launched in 2010 and has been released as a weekly podcast since then. It is aired on Wednesday nights at 11 pm. The production of the podcast switched from WNYC to Stitcher Radio in 2018. This podcast covers interesting socioeconomic issues for a general audience. Since it was launched, this podcast has ranked consistently in the top 20 podcasts on iTunes.

14. TED Talks Daily

Podranker describes Ted Talks Daily as a refreshing podcast for everyone that is the perfect distraction when you have a few minutes to spare. Each episode is no more than 18 minutes long and covers stimulating, fun, and powerful ideas. It has proved a big hit with podcast fans as it is on-demand on Stitcher and it has around one million subscribers on Player FM. TED offers an unusual way for you to listen to only the topics that interest you. If you send them an email telling them what topics you are interested in, you will receive the podcasts that cover your favorite topics directly into your inbox.

13. Hidden Brain

This is a social sciences podcast that is published by NPR and hosted by Shankar Vedantam. The podcast looks at the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior and how our relationships work. It was first aired in September 2015, although Vedantam has worked for NPR since 2011. Vedantam occasionally writes a column of the same name for ‘Slate’. This podcast will appeal to those who have an interest in psychology.

12. Call Her Daddy

Chartable describes how this podcast features vlogger Alexandra Cooper and her best friend Sofia Franklyn. The two women are in their 20s, and they talk openly about their lives in New York City. Some of the topics covered include their relationships, the New York social scene, and their most embarrassing moments. This is a no-holds-barred type of podcast that is not for the faint-hearted or the prudish. This is a fun lifestyle podcast rather than educational listening, so it is best suited to those who want to listen to something light-hearted.

11. Fresh Air

Hosted by Terry Gross, Fresh Air has almost five million listeners and it has won a Peabody Award. In 2016, it was the most downloaded podcast on iTunes in 2016. This widely syndicated show features people from all backgrounds and trades. The conversation goes a little deeper than other podcasts, which is what keeps it interesting. It was originally only a radio show and Gross hosted the show since it began back in 1975. At that time, Fresh Air was only aired in Philadelphia.

10. Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Produced by WBEZ and NPR, this is an hour-long weekly news-based panel show that was created by Doug Berman. Contestants and panelists are quizzed humorously about various aspects of the news that week. Each week, the podcast has an average of six million listeners via the podcast and on air. Some of the segments include Bluff the Listener, Listener Limerick Challenge, Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank, and Who’s Bill This Time? The podcast is hosted by Peter Sagal.

9. TED Radio Hour

A co-production between TED and National Public Radio, this is an hour-long podcast and radio show. When the podcast and radio show was launched in April 2012, it was hosted by Alison Stewart. Since its second season, Guy Raz has hosted the podcast. Each episode explores a different theme and features a talk followed by an interview, along with reporting and other segments that keep the podcast varied.

8. Planet Money

Although some people find the subjects of money and business difficult to understand, they are important topics to understand a little more about. This podcast explains economics in a creative and relatable way by using entertaining stories. The hosts use language that you can understand rather than complicated subject-specific terminology. Planet Money is easy to follow and raises awareness of some big financial scams that are affecting people today. There are two episodes of this podcast released per week.

7. Pardon My Take

Created by Barstool Sports, this is a comedic sports podcast that has three episodes each week. It was launched in February 2016 and debuted in the top spot on the iTunes charts in the United States. Pardon My Take is hosted by PFT Commenter and Dan Katz, who is known as Big Cat. On average, this podcast receives 1.5 million listeners per episode. It has remained in the top 20 Apple iTunes top podcast list since its launch, and it has 45,000 ratings that give it an average rating of five stars. It is one of the top sports-themed podcasts in the world.

6. RadioLab

Published by WNYC, this is also a nationally syndicated radio program that the podcast community absolutely loves. It is hosted by self-confessed nerds Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad who look at scientific and philosophical concepts in a creative way. It has received great critical acclaim, including two Peabody Awards and a National Academies Communication Award. You don’t need a great understanding of science topics to listen to and enjoy this podcast as it is easy to understand and presented in an entertaining way.

5. The Ben Shapiro Show

Conservative political broadcaster Ben Shapiro hosts this daily political podcast that is produced by The Daily Wire. Not only is this podcast popular worldwide, but it was also the second most popular radio show in the United States in March 2019. This podcast was syndicated to radio in April 2018, and two hours of live radio show were added to the podcast-to-radio program. It is now aired on more than 200 stations. This podcast won the Best News Podcast at the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards in January 2019.

4. Up First

UP First is a daily news podcast by NPR. At 6 am each day, a new episode of the podcast is released. It gives a brief overview of each news story, rather than the deep explanation offered by many other news podcasts. It was launched in April 2017 and is hosted by Rachel Martin, David Greene, and Steve Inskeep. The hosts discuss news items with experts in various subjects. It is a spin-off of the NPR show Morning Edition, which runs for several hours each morning on weekdays. Up First was created to give a brief overview of the topics being covered in Morning Edition for those who could not listen to the radio for hours each day.

3. Serial

According to Podranker, Serial has remained one of the top podcasts since it was launched in 2015. In fact, iTunes listed as the number one podcast before it was even launched. It won a Peabody Award in 2015 and season one and two of the series have now been downloaded more than 340 million times. The podcast tells long-form non-fiction stories, and it is hosted by Sarah Koenig, who also co-created the series with Julie Snyder. Season one covered the murder of a student, while season two covered the story of an Army soldier who was held by the Taliban and then charged with desertion. Season three is covering cases from the Cleveland area. This podcast is funded by the radio show ‘This American Life’.

2. Stuff You Should Know

Podtrac says that Stuff You Should Know is another of the top-ranking podcasts, and this podcast is published by iHeartRadio. Often abbreviated to SYSK, this podcast is consistently ranked in the top 10 podcasts in the world and receives millions of downloads each month. A wide variety of topics are discussed in an educational manner and both comedy and popular culture are used to make this an entertaining podcast to which listeners can relate. The podcast is hosted by Josh Clark and Charles W. ‘Chuck Bryant’.

1. The Daily

Launched in 2017, The Daily is the Podcast of The New York Times. It was a surprise hit and now receives around 1.1 million downloads for each of the daily episodes. This means that it consistently ranks highly in lists of the most popular podcasts. The content of the podcasts includes interviews with journalists from the newspaper who give a summary of the stories they have had published. Its success has been attributed to the conversational and intimate tone of the podcast.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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