We made it to the end of 2020! And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that it’s been a crazy year! But amidst all the chaos and confusion this year lavishly dished up, we had the opportunity to discover some truly incredible podcasts. So for our last post of 2020, it is only fitting to share a shortlist of the Top 20 podcasts we had the pleasure of enjoying this year. We had the privilege of discovering some amazing shows this year, but these are the ones that kept us coming back for more long after the research for a particular post was over. This list is in no particular order and there are a variety of topics and genres covered, so there will certainly be something for everyone.
So, without further ado, may we present We Edit Podcasts 20 Top Podcasts of 2020…
1. Living Fully Alive
This podcast was first featured on our list of Podcasts for Strong Women, and it really resonated with so many. Every episode of Living Fully Alive presents us with mindset shifting ideas, inspiring conversations with inspirational guests and thought-provoking interviews with experts tackling a variety of topics, from success to femininity, body confidence to dealing with our emotions – something that was super important in 2020! Mary Hyatt really inspires her listeners to step out of the shadows, shake off insecurities and begin to take charge of our lives and start living fully alive and wholly awake. Something I’m sure we all want to carry with us into the next year.
2. Julie’s Library
Julie Andrews played such a pivotal role in so many of our childhoods that the launch of her podcast, Julie’s Library, which she hosts along with her daughter, children’s author, and educator, Emma Walton Hamilton, was practically perfect in every way. Yes, it’s a children’s podcast but there is such an immediate connection with her voice, that parents will love this one too! And on top of that, every story comes to life with sound, music, and activities, creating a fully immersive, imaginative reading experience. If you want to foster a lifelong love of reading and imaginative thinking in young minds, or if you’re just looking for a little nostalgia, I highly recommend this podcast.
3. Finding Fred
This podcast was a lovely find! Especially after watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring another national treasure, Tom Hanks. Hosted by bestselling author and cultural critic Carvell Wallace, Finding Fred is a 10-part series about the life, thinking, and work of Fred Rogers, and asks what the cardigan-wearing host of a decades-old children’s show can tell us about how to get by in today’s chaotic world. Fred Rogers was not a simple man. He was radical, he was spiritual, and he was revolutionary. This podcast is so carefully and thoughtfully put together! It’s open and honest, and really brings home the power of empathy. So even if you’ve never heard of Mister Rogers, and don’t know why he wants you to be his neighbor, this podcast is a wonderful listen!
2020 also brought us RomComPods. This is an episodic fiction podcast with a new installment coming out once a week. This first season followed jilted Claire as her long-term relationship unravels…days before her wedding! Unable to cancel her honeymoon Lovers Tour to Italy, Claire is forced to go alone and is lumped with a whole group of happy couples. Season 2 followed Lucy and Lincoln in a Vote for Love. This podcast is full of all the Rom-Com tropes we love, quirky characters, and it is an excellent audio production. There are one or two “steamy” scenes, as well as a couple of “adult focused” ads, so perhaps not suitable for younger listeners, but overall, RomComPods is a light-hearted listen, and if you love Rom Coms, you will certainly fall for this podcast!
5. Great Big Story
I loved Great Big Story and it was probably the podcast I’ve recommended the most this year. It’s a wonderful podcast about the delightful, the surprising, and the untold true stories all around us. Every episode was a delightful, almost magical listen and these stories about fascinating people and places that will feed your curiosity, inspire your imagination and ignite your sense of wonder. I particularly loved “Mrs. Comet and the Man on the Moon” (A little bittersweet, but still a beautiful story) as well as “The Chalk Apocalypse.” Besides the intriguing title, it just made me grin from ear to ear as I listened. But whatever episodes you pick, you will always be entertained and enthralled by a great big story!
6. Hunting Warhead
This was certainly a scary but totally gripping, eye-opening podcast! Covering an extremely sensitive, difficult topic, Hunting Warhead addresses the serious questions of how do you take down a criminal network that’s hidden in the shadows? How do you rescue child abuse victims who could be anywhere in the world? Host Daemon Fairless follows the journalists and police on a global mission to expose the darkest corners of the internet. And as Daemon Fairless tracks down the investigators, survivors, and criminals themselves, what he uncovers will shock you! It’s a really gut-wrenching, difficult listen, but it is incredibly important for all of those reasons. It’s the kind of story that stays with you, breaks your heart, but also makes you so aware of all those heroes doing so much to protect our children from the devastating evil in the world.
7. She Podcasts
One of our favorite “podcasts about podcasting” we tuned into this year was She Podcasts, hosted by podcasting powerhouses, Elsie Escobar and Jessica Kupferman. They are insightful, full of personality, and a whole lot of fun – not to mention, packed with all the information, tips, and tricks you could possibly need for starting and maintaining a successful podcast. While I am not a podcaster myself, I love learning more about the industry from these ladies, and I love that they cover every aspect of podcasting from every angle, never shying away from telling you like it is, and they never sugarcoat the challenges or the pitfalls you will likely face in running your show. They are authentic and real – and true industry pros. And they have created a fantastic community which supports female podcasters and those in other aspects of the industry. You’re guaranteed to gain so much wisdom and knowledge from every episode!
8. Happy Place
Happy Place was the happiness tonic we turned to when we needed our spirits lifted amidst the chaos and confusion. Hosted by Fearne Cotton, this show delves into understanding happiness through conversations about life, love, and loss, and everything in-between with some truly amazing people, and you’ll discover what happiness really means. Whenever you’re feeling a little down and need a little inspiration and some positivity, then this is the podcast to turn to if you want to find your Happy Place again. You’ll always glean buckets of wisdom, and you’ll come away with more hope and happiness as you listen to Fearn and the courageous individuals she gets to share the mic with.
9. Someone Else’s Movie
As an avid movie watcher, I rather enjoy “movie review” style podcasts, and listened to a number of them for a few different posts this year. One I really enjoyed is Someone Else’s Movie, which offers a fun take on the genre. In each episode, a movie is analyzed by someone NOT in the movie. Host Norm Wilner is joined by actors, directors, screenwriters, critics, and industry observers as they discuss a film that he or she admires, but had no hand in making. Part of the appeal of this show is that they cover the big blockbusters as well as bringing attention to some great indie and art nouveau offerings. It’s a podcast for film lovers, carefully created by those who love the craft and get as much enjoyment from being in and working on movies as much as they enjoy watching them.
10. Cantina Cast
Fellow nerds will understand the fun that was had researching Star Wars podcasts for our post in honor of this year’s cancelled Star Wars Celebration. One of my favorites was The Cantina Cast. Hosted by Albert and Jonesy, this podcast dishes out Star Wars knowledge and quick-witted humor as they cover the Sequels, Prequels, and the Originals, as well as the Star Wars novels, comics, and video games. I love the depth they go in their discussions and analyses, and the high-school English teacher in me loved all the unpacking of metaphors and symbolism in the comparisons between Star Wars canon and history, mythology, or even other works of entertainment and literature.
11. Amazing Kids Podcast
The Amazing Kids Podcast is created, hosted and edited by Lila, an amazing kid in her own right! Lila has created a wonderful platform to showcase some of the world’s amazing kids (and sometimes adults) and amazing kids’ products and services. Each week, Lila brings her listeners an interview with someone who is doing or has done something truly amazing. This is such a fun, inspiring show, and you’ll get to meet some remarkable people! There are interviews with young America’s Got Talent performers, 13-year old business owners, as well as some incredible kids making a difference in the world around them. It’s a great podcast to listen to with your kids, and you will all be totally inspired after the first episode.
Related read: Top Podcasts for Kids by Kids
12. Clear Your Clutter Inside and Out
Clear Your Clutter Inside and Out was something many of us did this year! Julie Coraccio uses her platform to discuss clutter in every way, shape, and form, covering not only our physical clutter, but also the less-discussed types, like mental, emotional, and even spiritual clutter, which can so often be catalysts of our anxiety, something I’m sure we all felt at some point or another this year! As Julie puts it, clutter can prevent you from creating the life you choose, desire and deserve. But by attending to the clutter in our lives, and then being equipped to deal with it, we become empowered to live our lives as freely as possible, by learning to address and let go of all that causes anxiety to rise up. This podcast offers insightful and thought-provoking topics, and is one I will continue to listen to in the new year.
13. Bed of Lies
What happens when you discover that the person you loved most in the world has been lying to you? That they have been lying right from the very beginning? And what if this lie has got to do with something much bigger? Something so big, in fact, it would become one of biggest scandals in recent British history. This is the premise of Bed of Lies and it follows Cara McGoogan as she uncovers the mysteries surrounding a group of women who all seemed to have had the perfect relationship, until one day, their partner just vanishes. What begins as love stories quickly becomes a tale that is so engrossing, shocking and so brilliantly told, that you’ll be desperate to find out what on earth is going on! All I currently want to know is, what is the deal with that van!?
14. An Unexpected Podcast: Talkin’ Tolkien
On An Unexpected Podcast: Talkin’ Tolkien, we join Ezra and Lane for some marvelous adventures in Middle-earth. And for all who love the works of JRR Tolkien, this podcast is a gem. Ezra and Lane are expert guides, and as you wander through the text (remember, not all who wander are lost!) your thoughts and imagination will sprout wings to also wander far and wide. All are welcome to join on the journey, whether young or old, new to the books or a long-time fan ‒ all you have to do is speak “Friend” and ENTER! You’ll be entertained and enthralled, and you’ll come away feeling moved and uplifted after each and every episode. And if one of your resolutions is making your way through the works of Tolkien, for the first time or the fifteenth, this podcast will make the journey all the more enjoyable.
15. This Is Love
We thoroughly enjoyed listening to This Is Love this year. This podcast comes to us from the makers of the award-winning podcast Criminal, but this show investigates life’s most persistent mystery – love in all it’s vast and varied shapes and forms. There are stories of sacrifice, obsession, and the ways in which we bet everything on each other. There are incredible stories of daring feats, of heroic animals, and stories of encounters with majestic creatures. Phoebe Judge expertly narrates and guides the stories, and the honest, no-frills style of storytelling will leave you feeling uplifted and encouraged. This Is Love is simply a joy to listen to and is a definite “go-to” whenever I need a reminder of all the good and all the hope still out there in this crazy world.
16. Decoder Ring
If you love insightful conversations about cultural phenomenons, philosophical debates, or, dare-I-say-it, political shenanigans, with your BFF, then you’ll love Decoder Ring! (I know I do!) In each episode, host Willa Paskin explores the ins and outs of some of our society’s most bizarre habits, discovers why we collectively obsess over famous people or infamous objects, or peels back the layers of absurd habits. If you never-ending thirst for random knowledge and unusual facts, then Decoder Ring will quickly become your favorite listen. You’ll learn so much about the world around you as you discover amazing stories you had no idea existed!
17. Imagined Life
Imagined Life by Wondery was another favorite podcast we found in 2020. We love the clever concept, and the writing and storytelling are just so good! In each episode, you hear a story about some famous person or another, but you never know who it really is until the very end. Through some immersive writing and lovely narration, you’re whisked away to another time, where you experience what this person’s life was like. There are clues along the way as to who the subject is, but you’re often hearing a part of their story which you’ve never heard before, making the guessing all the more fun! It’s a lovely podcast which really demonstrates the scope of audio storytelling. It’s immersive, often quite emotional, and a definite favorite on the playlist.
18. The Calm Kids Podcast
The Calm Kids Podcast is a lovely podcast brought to us by sisters, Lucie and Charlotte who use their platform to share stories to help other kids struggling to fall asleep. This special podcast features unique stories invented and read by both Lucie and Charlotte, who present their stories in such a calm, but confident manner. Between them, the two sisters have bucket-loads of creativity and the episodes include everything from light-hearted tales to easy-to-follow relaxation techniques, and they are also wonderful story-tellers, delivering their unique escapades with an incredible level of professionalism. It’s a really useful podcast to have ready whenever your kiddos (or even yourself!) need a little help falling asleep, or just need something peaceful to help ease anxiety.
19. Kind World
Kind World is all about how a single act of kindness can change someone’s life. This podcast shared the stories of kind people doing so much good in the world. The stories are uplifting, inspiring, and just the kind boost we so often need. The incredible, ordinary people featured in these episodes will, without a doubt, help restore your faith in humanity, and are proof that some good news can do the world of good. This show was just what we needed during the early months of the pandemic, but unfortunately, due to the pandemic, WBUR laid off a large number of staff members, and Kind World was sadly one of the casualties. But having run for seven years, there is still an incredible amount of wonderful kind stories for us to enjoy.
20. Phoebe Reads a Mystery
Phoebe Judge’s voice is well-renowned throughout the podcasting world. Phoebe first became known to us through her work on Criminal, the staple for many true-crime fans, and since then her voice has gathered a devoted following of its own! It’s calming, intriguing, and has a cadence to it that keeps you hanging on to every word. In Phoebe Reads a Mystery you get just what the name suggests. The soothing voice of Phoebe Judge simply reads a mystery. Be it from Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or from many other beloved mystery writers. Old-time mysteries are always entertaining, and mixed with Phoebe’s voice, this podcast keeps you engaged with the story, desperate to find out “whodunit!”, but you’re also super relaxed. Phoebe Reads a Mystery was a real audio treat amidst the crazy that was 2020!
And that’s it, folks! Our top podcasts from the year 2020! This year certainly was not the one we expected or hoped for. It was crazy, unpredictable, and downright terrifying at times. But in the midst of all the chaos, these podcasts offered a safe place to escape to for a little while. Whether they whisked us away with skillful storytelling, calmed us down when we were feeling anxious, or gave us a bit of a motivational boost when we needed it most, podcasts certainly had our backs this year! And as we move into a new year, we’re looking forward to once again playing our part in this special industry as it continues to grow from strength to strength!