Maddie Sofia (host) and Emily Kwong (reporter) are the voices of NPR’s daily science podcast, Short Wave. Each weekday, they bring listeners new discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines — all in about 10 minutes. The show is driven by curiosity about the world and making science more inclusive for all.
Whether it’s about science or history, race or culture, Maddie and Emily love podcasts that feature good stories and good storytellers. So here are some shows Maddie and Emily recommend that have plenty of both.
NPR’s Code Switch is an unflinching look at how race and identity shape the world around us. First and foremost, the storytelling on this show is exceptional. Hosts Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby seamlessly weave data and narrative together to provide a nuanced picture of each issue they explore. It’s a show that will change the way you move through the world.
Recommended episode: Claude Neal: A Strange And Bitter Crop
WNYC’s Nancy is one of those podcasts that really feels like you are hanging out with your friends. And those friends are considerably more charming than you. Hosts Tobin Low and Kathy Tu tell stories of the queer experience in truly genuine and generous ways. There’s no doubt that this show has changed queer lives around the world — it will be dearly missed.
Recommended episode: Taiwan!
The Story Collider features stories about science from a live stage. Listening to scientists connect with an audience is a transformative experience. Some of these stories will punch you in the gut, only to turn around and give you a little kiss on the forehead.
Recommended episode: Acceptance: Stories about belonging
The Scene On Radio podcast from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University will absolutely teach you something you don’t know. Host and producer John Biewen joins up with professor Chenjerai Kumanyika and public radio powerhouse Celeste Headlee to explore the history and meaning of whiteness and patriarchy. Each episode comes with a list of resources, which is fantastic for relearning U.S. history.
Recommended episode: Skulls and Skin
Alie Ward’s Ologies is a delightful interview-style podcast. She speaks to a slew of different “ologists” about their science, life, and motivations. It’s often both hilarious and profound — not an easy balance to strike.
Recommended episode: Futurology (THE FUTURE) with Rose Eveleth
NPR’s Throughline is singular among history podcasts, both for the stories it chooses and how they are told. Hosts Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei unpack the historical nuances that have left an indelible impact on our world today — from the rise of the U.S.-Iran conflict to the origins of zombies. Each episode is scored and carefully researched. The messy facts of what actually happened may truly surprise you.
Recommended episode: Everybody Knows Somebody
We can’t praise The Atlantic’s Floodlines podcast enough. Hosted by Vann R. Newkirk II and produced by Katherine Well, Floodlines focuses on Hurricane Katrina and the federal government’s disastrous response. Listening to this eight-part series is like immersing yourself in a scored Atlantic piece, with reporting that is incredibly rich in narrative and people and place. This podcast really sets the high bar for climate disaster reporting.
Recommended episode: Antediluvian
Focused on one of New Hampshire's most infamous cold cases, New Hampshire Public Radio’s Bear Brook stands apart for its science reporting too. Host and reporter Jason Moon and producer Taylor Quimby take their investigation into the ethics of using genetic genealogy for forensics. The reporting is delivered with fastidious thoughtfulness for victims and their families as it works towards resolution. The podcast played a role in providing a crucial tip to law enforcement.
Recommended episode: Hide and Seek
Energy policy may seem ho-hum, but not in the hands of Alaska Energy Desk’s Midnight Oil podcast. Alaska is both economically dependent on fossil fuels and situated on the front lines of global warming. Polar bears are wandering into villages. The edges of coastal villages are collapsing into the sea. Midnight Oil’s reporters weave together immersive storytelling and powerful analysis across two seasons — one dedicated to oil development and another to climate change.
Recommended episode: Ep 1: The Village
Listening to this podcast is like attending a dinner party. Infectious! Delicious! Plus, you’ll feel less alone. Home Cooking, co-hosted by podcaster Hrishikesh Hirway and chef Samin Nosrat, is a delightful companion to cooking at home and discovering new things through food. Cooking is the easiest way to carry out a science experiment, after all. Plus, like Short Wave, Hrishikesh and Samin love puns...
Recommended episode: Guess What? Chicken Butt is Delicious (With Yo-Yo Ma)