Best Podcasts of 2022: Smart, Entertaining, and Introspective

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There are a lot of podcasts out there. Self-help streams. Sports talk. Financial freedom chatter. The list goes on and on. The thing is—as any podcast connoisseur knows—there’s a difference between a one-episode wonder and a reliable series you can return to time and time again. That’s why we whittled the podcast-scape down to 10 home runs. Covering everything from, yes, sports talk to self-improvement, these are our favorite podcasts of 2022 to add to your list.

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Cue Up the Best Podcasts of 2022

1. Hidden Brain

According to this wildly stimulating podcast from Shankar Vedantam, “Hidden Brain explores the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior and questions that lie at the heart of our complex and changing world.” Whether you’re tuning in to an episode about the psychology of self-doubt, working from home, why it’s so hard to apologize, rewriting your life’s narrative, or many more fascinating episodes, you’ll come away with a fresh perspective on life.

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2. Travel That Matters

This thought-provoking podcast is a must for travel enthusiasts. Within, you’ll be inspired by host Bruce Wallin’s insightful conversations with people from all reaches of the travel industry, from “Accomplishment Travel with the Highly Accomplished Travel Journalist Jackie Caradonio” to “Extreme Superyacht Adventures with EYOS Expeditions CEO Ben Lyons.” As the podcast’s title implies, the focus here is on meaningful travel, and industry insider Wallin does an excellent job of bringing the magic of travel to our earbuds and heartstrings—even if we’re still largely grounded.

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3. The Ezra Klein Show

Billed as a podcast of “Real conversations. Ideas that matter. So many book recommendations,” it’s hard to make it through a few minutes of this smart show from host Ezra Klein (formerly based at Vox, it’s now at The New York Times) without developing a bit of a brain crush on the host. Expect long, thoughtful conversations with everyone from politicians, historians, and economists to wildlife researchers and novelists. Our recent fave is a toss-up between “The Case Against Loving Your Job” and “A Crypto Optimist Meets a Crypto Skeptic.”

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4. Planet Money

This ambitious podcast sets out to explain the economy in simple, easy-to-digest terms. As one fan and Men’s Journal contributor Brittany Anas puts it, “It’s like someone explains economics to you at a bar.” With a rotating cast of NPR hosts, this practical podcasts offer lessons in everything from “The time the US paid off all its debt” to “Nurses and the never-ending shifts,” each self-contained lessons in the economy with timely hooks.

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5. The Writer’s Mind with Tyler Mowery

Ready to learn about philosophy? The craft of writing? How to become a better thinker? This incisive podcast offers something for everyone, even if you don’t consider yourself a writer. Its last episode wrapped in October 2021, but poring over past episodes is well worth it.

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6. Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend

If you’re looking for some comic relief, check out this podcast from Team Coco & Earwolf. In each episode, O’ Brien conducts an interview with someone he hopes to become friends. In true O’Brien fashion, it’s a motley bunch comprising defense attorneys, dental hygienists, celebrities, architects, exterminators, writers, and countless others.

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7. Barstool Bench Mob

This Barstool Sports podcast is a winner for college basketball fans. Every episode features hot takes, insightful commentary, and more, and there’s no shortage of laughs to go around, either. In these turbulent times, a little dribbling distraction is exactly what we need. If you like this podcast, and are into football, try “Pardon My Take,” also from Barstool Sports.

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8. The Stronger By Science Podcast

You’re in good hands with Greg Nuckols and Eric Trexler steering the ship on this enlightening podcast that discusses fitness training, nutrition, and more. Start your 2022 on a high(er) note with their recent “Goal Setting and Behavior Change” episode, before diving into the archives for hits like “Testosterone Boosters, Sticking Points, and Bar Velocity Technology,” “BMI, Plant-Based Protein, Stretching, and Mouthguards,” and “Caffeine Genes, Brown Adipose Tissue, Concurrent Training, and Hangovers.”

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9. Good Beer Hunting Podcast

Once you’ve had enough fitness advice, check out this stellar podcast that covers all things craft beer. In recent months, we’ve enjoyed learning about Charleston’s beer history and future, and how Wallenpaupack Brewing Company built its business in the Poconos. It pairs well with one of these excellent beers in hand.

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10. The Adventure Podcast: Terra Incognita

You’ll get your outdoor adventure fix with this superbly produced podcast that captures hour-ish-long conversations with various acclaimed adventurers. One week, you might get a polar photographer or ultra-endurance cyclist. Another, a fly-fisherman on a mission to expose the corrupt business of salmon farming…or a woman who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail despite muscular-skeletal issues. You’ll get seriously motivated to change the world for the better.

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