It seems like we always start any podcast story with the same general idea: It’s impossible to fully keep up with the massive amount of quality podcasts that spring up on a regular basis. For every well-established favorite that’s still producing some of the best stories in the world on a regular basis, there are a handful of upstart projects worthy of time and consideration.
So, making a list of the 50 best episodes of the year is, as always, a futile task. As we’ve documented throughout the year, there are hours upon hours of innovative, entertaining programming being offered up every day. Even in monthly installments, highlighting the gems of the podcast world is tricky.
Back in June, when we selected the top 50 at the halfway point of the year, that list could easily have sustained through the final six months of 2017. Pick any of those at random and it’s hard to come up with a reason why they couldn’t also be included here. (Note: There’s some overlap between the June list and this one, but in each case, we tried to give extra context for each episode and its place in the show.)
The gallery attached above has our final picks for 2017, but they easily could have also included the stellar work being done every weekday by The Daily and The Gist, the continual presidential insights of Whistlestop, the ongoing dispatches from the parenting world found in The Longest Shortest Time, the soul-stirring stories of Death, Sex, & Money, the singular cryptozoology talk on The Cryptid Factor, the magical conversational alchemy of Beautiful/Anonymous, the incomparable joke deconstruction of Good One, the incomparable musical deconstruction of Song Exploder, the simple enduring stories of marriage from The Loving Project, the vital uncovered tales of Embedded, the documentary-adjacent curiosities of The Document, and the window into the past that is Bronzeville.
2017 was a year that all but demanded that each of these series, whether on our list or not, hone in on the elements that make them unique; the elements that amplify a specific perspective to the world. There will always be more voices to hear, more jokes to make, more ways to design a well-crafted tale for an eager audience. There’s a wealth of experiences ready for eager ears.
Here’s to a 2018 filled with even more thrilling stories to discover.