Laura Leigh Abby

Host Jerico Mandybur explores what it means to believe—in religion, spirituality, astrology, and the occult. Each episode features an interview with an expert; Whether it’s a member of the Satanic church, a psychic medium, or a witch, these experts lead conversations that are fascinating and educational, and who doesn’t love a little woo woo in their lives?

I love stories of American life: Weird laws and where they came from, the history of our national parks, and events that have influenced our culture in various ways. Host Julia Longoria interviews journalists and experts on these topics and so many more, painting a clear picture of the flaws in our justice system, the impact racism has on the entertainment industry, and the re-emergence of the abortion underground, among other things.  

TTFA was the first podcast I ever became truly obsessed with. I would binge multiple episodes before forcing myself to take a break because the topics are—as the name suggests—mostly terrible. Host Nora McInerny is something of an expert in loss. Within a few months of each other she suffered a miscarriage, lost her husband to a brain tumor, and then her father died shortly after. On TTFA Nora helps regular people share their stories, many of which do not have happy endings. So why do I listen? Well, sometimes a good cry is cathartic. But there is also strength in these stories, resilience, and so many lessons on life and love.

Created and hosted by award-winning journalist Farai Chideya, Our Body Politic illuminates life in America for women of color. With compelling interviews and fascinating insights, every single episode is teeming with necessary, relevant and thought-provoking content for listeners of every gender and race. This podcast has introduced me to conscious parenting coach and racial justice warrior Yolanda Williams, and journalist and podcaster Tonya Mosley, among others.

I had to include my own podcast, Seventeen: Conversations with My Teenage Self, where I take a trip back in time to the early aughts. We’re talking raunchy teen rom-coms, low-rise jeans, trucker hats and pop culture that was just dripping with misogyny. There’s lots of cringe as I recall awkward teen hook-ups, talk to my mom about sex, and reconnect with an old friend to admit some oh-so-serious feelings. I address problematic sexual encounters, and explore how a generation of would-be feminists were influenced by the mixed signals of pop culture. Seventeen is a deep-dive into the life of the average American teenage girl back in the early 2000s. Hormones were raging. And I was journaling. 

I love the experts and guests that host Sarah Marshall chats with on You’re Wrong About, a podcast where each episode “reconsiders a person or event that’s been miscast in the public imagination.” The conversations are often hilarious and always enlightening, and nothing makes me happier than entertainment that teaches me something. I love the episodes where they debunk scientific myths like “CSI junk science,” and other true-crime topics, and a recent episode about email and how it took over the world got me all kinds of nostalgic for that AOL dial-up from my own childhood.  

Hosted by Boston Globe advice columnist Meredith Goldstein, each season of Love Letters explores a particular theme, but I am always a sucker for a happy ending … or perhaps we should call them happy beginnings. When I need an emotional palate cleanser, I reach for the stories where love prevails, love conquers all, and every other romantic cliché I am in desperate need of comes true.

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