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Best Podcasts to Pass the Time

A list of the best podcasts in various categories including comedy, history and many more.

Discover your new favorite podcast by reading through our picks for the best podcasts on a variety of topics.

When it comes to bite-sized entertainment that you can take with you anywhere, Podcasts are all the rage. Want to cuddle up on the couch and have a good laugh? How about catching up on the latest news and commentary while you're hard at work? Need something to pass the time on a long road trip? Just download your favorite podcast to your media player of choice and you're good to go.

But with thousands of podcasts to choose from (and more coming every day), if you're new to the podcasting universe, you might be wondering where to start. That's why we've put together a list of some of the most popular podcasts in various categories that you can sink your teeth into right away.

Best History Podcasts

If you're a history buff, there's a lot of great podcasts to choose from. Some of the best history podcasts take fascinating subjects and build elaborate stories around them with extensive detail taken from archives and museums.

To start with, check out Dan Carlin's Hard-Core History podcast. While Carlin tends to take some time to get around to the main points, the research is great and the topics are very well treated. And be sure not to miss the Prophets of Doom episode - the story of the unprecedentedly violent Munsterites.

Also check out Stuff You Missed in History Class, a series with a real diversity of material and interesting presentations. Or take a listen to The History Chicks, a women-centered approach to talking about history. If you're looking for a local-themed history podcast, try Ben Franklin’s World, the Bowery Boys (about New York City history), or The History of Pirates.

Best Comedy Podcasts

Some of the best comedy podcasts happen when established comedians take their professional credentials into the podcast format. Check out WTF with Mark Maron or Bill Burr’s Monday Morning podcasts for a start. Or look for a limited set produced by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant with their tag-along Karl Pilkington, made a few years ago.

Other winning comedy podcasts include “Lizard People,” which centers on conspiracy theories, and “My Brother, My Brother, and Me,” a presentation of (you guessed it) three brothers whose hilariously told exploits are a delight.

Best Science Podcasts

Some of the most popular science podcasts are coming directly from established TV and radio sources. There’s NPR’s RadioLab, Star Talk podcasts with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Professor Blastoff, hosted by a group of comedians also on the roster of television comedy show “Comedy Bang Bang.” Or check out TedTalks, a podcast version of these brainy lectures, or listen to folks like Bill Nye the Science Guy on Nerdist.

Best News Podcasts

When general news is what you want, you can tune in to a lot of top-rated podcasts from recognized organizations. There's the popular Serial podcast, as hosted by This American Life. There’s the Politically Reactive podcasts of W. Kamau Bell, whose tv show also debuted on CNN this year. Such notables as Bill Maher and Ezra Klein have their own podcasts about news and current events, as do MSNBC presenters Rachel Maddow and partners Joe Scarborough and Mika Brezinski.

Best Business Podcasts

Looking for a leg up in the business world? Check out Entrepreneur on Fire, where John Lee Dumas analyzes the business world as it is today, assisted by a variety of experts.

Another top business podcast is MarketingSmarts, hosted by MarketingProfs, which gives each lecture a 30-minute window. For a short-form podcast packed with tips and useful information, this one's a hit. Other choices include The $100 MBA, The Entrepreneur's Radio Show, and Duct Tape Marketing. For startup and small business topics, check out the Solopreneur podcast.

Best Tech Podcasts

If you're obsessed with new technologies, check out Wired's own series of podcasts, or listen to Nora Young, who talks about how technology has affected modern society. Tech news venues like Engadget also produce their own podcasts, and specialized categories like TEDTalks in Tech are also available. For more obscure tech, check out Note to Self, billed as the “tech show about being human” which breaks things down and keeps tech entertaining by making it more relatable to non-techies. For automotive buffs, there's Car Tech, a CNET offering focused on new auto technology. And if you're pressed for time and looking for bite-sized news on the latest digital trends, take a listen to the Digiots podcast.

Best Sports Podcasts

For sports fans, check out commentator duos like Mike and Mike from ESPN, Speak for Yourself with Cowherd and Whitlock, or Jalen and Jacoby from Detroit. Alternately, you can get sport-specific with choices like UFC Unfiltered, NFL.com podcasts for America football, or Eye on College Basketball with Matt Norlander.

Best Music Podcasts

A review of the best music podcasts has to start with NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts. The same public radio provider also brings us All Songs Considered, where Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton present gems from both new and more established artists. Rolling Stone offers its own music podcasts, as well as a variety of other choices, like Ken Laster’s In the Groove; Jazz and Beyond, WBEZ Chicago's Sound Opinions, and KEXP Song of the Day.

No matter what your interests are, there's sure to be a podcast to keep you entertained. So check out any or all of these great options for enriching your listening experience with quality podcasts that will keep you up on what's happening around the world right now, or educate you about the history of this swiftly spinning planet.

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