Skip To Content

    30-Ish Podcasts To Listen To When You're Pressed For Time

    For your quick audio fix.

    Short on time? Here are 30-plus podcasts that average 30 minutes or less per episode, making them perfect for a quick commute or swift shower.

    1. 10 Things That Scare Me

    WNYC Studios

    Self-billed as “a tiny podcast about big fears,” 10 Things That Scare Me airs three times a week showcasing one person per episode sharing what frightens them the most. It gives you ample opportunity to take a closer look at fear as a motivating factor in the lives of others and your own.

    Must-listen episode: “Rob Lewis”

    2. 99% Invisible


    Push past the obvious with 99% Invisible, which explores “the process and power of design and architecture.” Tackling everything from the world’s largest ball of twine to the common library practice known as “weeding” to the ball of blue yarn that would change an entire hospital, the podcast airs weekly.

    Must-listen episode: “Invisible Women”

    3. After The Fact

    The Pew Charitable Trusts

    Brought to you by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which is an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization, After The Fact delivers “data analysis on the issues that matter to you.” Past issues include an investigation on the golden age of retirement and a deep-dive into the future of fish and chips, among other fascinating topics.

    Must-listen episode: “Less Incarceration, Less Crime”

    4. Alice Isn’t Dead

    Night Vale Presents

    This scripted sci-fi show from the folks that brought us Welcome To Night Vale follows a truck driver “searching for the wife she had long assumed was dead.” As addicting as it is intriguing, Alice Isn’t Dead takes you along for the ride to investigate “a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman.”

    Must-listen episode: “Part 1, Chapter 1: Omelet”

    5. Criminal


    Criminal is pre-Serial true crime that shares “stories of people who've done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.” The episodes that focus on that gray, somewhere-in-the-middle crime are the best, offering room for further investigation and introspection à la what would you do if it were you?

    Must-listen episode: “Cold Case”

    6. Committed


    A relationship podcast that’s modern and refreshing, Committed chats with couples “who’ve soldiered through unimaginable circumstances, and after the longest of days, still want to wake up next to one another in the morning.” The in-depth look at for better or for worse is sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, and always honest.

    Must-listen episode:
    “You’re Different From Me”

    7. Curious City


    Curious City is the Chicago-centric podcast that lets you “ask questions… and discover answers about Chicago, the region, and its people.” The questions range from the silly—Have we hit peak mattress?—to the serious—How Is Chicago Doing On Its Ambitious 2020 Climate Goals?—and shine a light on the many mysteries of the midwestern metropolis.

    Must-listen episode: “Rats! The Science And Stories Behind Chicago’s Most Unwanted Pests”

    8. Desert Oracle Radio

    Desert Oracle

    Can’t make it to California? No worries, Dessert Oracle Radio, the pocket-sized field guide published in Joshua Tree, is here to tell you all about the mysterious lights, missing tourists, lost mines, venomous creatures, weird history, and weirder people,” you’re missing out on. It’s like a road trip for your ears.

    Must-listen episode: “Praying To The Aliens”

    9. Everything Is Alive


    Everything Is Alive is a collection of improvised interviews with what we’ve wrongly assumed are inanimate objects. A pillow? A grain of sand? A painting? They’re all alive and they all have a life story that they want to share. Furthermore, as the podcast asserts, “everything [they] say is true.”

    Must-listen episode: “Emmy, Pregnancy Test”

    10. Fairy Tales For Unwanted Children

    Periodically Productions

    If you prefer the Brothers Grimm to Walt Disney, this one is for you. Featuring short and not so sweet “original fairy tales that turn toward the dark and unsettling,” the podcast is a masterclass in providing swift scares, which are delivered with a complementary soundtrack.

    Must-listen episode: “Prince”

    11. First Day Back

    EW Scripps and Stitcher

    Don’t call it a comeback. Or do? First Day Back is a documentary series about celebrating people who are “facing and trying to overcome life’s most challenging moments” and “attempting their own personal comeback.” It’s an uplifting reminder that it’s never too late for your triumphant return.

    Must-listen episode: “Lovebirds”

    12. Lindsay

    Alex Kittle / Via

    The wildly inventive Lindsay purports to be “the never-before-heard story of the making of [1998’s] The Parent Trap. It's the story of how two twins became one.” The twins in question are Lindsay and Sydney Lohan and the story of the sinister happenings surrounding the film is reported by Marzipan, an on-set security guard.

    Must-listen episode: “One Goddamn Name”

    13. Leave A Message After The Tone


    “Inspired by the intimate nature of voicemails and the everyday moods they capture,” Leave A Message After The Tone weaves various listener voicemails together to make a collective story. From friendship breakups to the specifics of sauces, the podcast is a nostalgia-tinged (When’s the last time you left a voicemail?) treasure.

    Must-listen episode: “Train Of Fools”

    14. Making Gay History

    Making Gay History

    Making Gay History unearths rare archival interviews to bring you “intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history.” Learning about previously hidden history from the advocates, activists, and allies who lived it isn’t just educational, it’s extremely powerful.

    Must-listen episode: “Ellen DeGeneres”

    15. A Mile In My Shoes

    Empathy Museum

    Exactly what it sounds like, A Mile In My Shoes, “invites you to walk a mile in the shoes of a stranger and listen to their story.” Originally an exhibit at the traveling Empathy Museum, the podcast continues to help more and more of us “look at the world through other people's eyes.”

    Must-listen episode: “Sian Phillips”

    16. The Memory Palace


    The Memory Palace takes a look back by sharing “short, surprising stories of the past, [that are] sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hysterical, often a little bit of both.” With a focus on the maze that is one’s own memory, the podcast is a refreshing take on finding out the greater truth by trusting yourself.

    Must-listen episode: “(Lost Pigeons)”

    17. Nancy


    “Because everyone’s a little bit gay” is the motto behind Nancy, a podcast that provides “provocative stories and frank conversations about the LGBTQ experience today.” It’s an authentic and absorbing look at the human condition that will leave you feeling more connected to the world around you.

    Must-listen episode: “Like Two Ken Dolls Being Smashed Together”

    18. The Organist

    KCRW and McSweeney's

    Presented as a cultural magazine, The Organist is a carefully curated collection of reported stories, interviews, comic radio drama, reviews, and more that takes “a weird, thoughtful and pleasurable journey into literature, music, art, philosophy, the internet, language, and history.”

    Must-listen episode: “A 700-Foot Mountain Of Whipped Cream”

    19. Over My Dead Body


    Over My Dead Body delivers fascinating stories about people pushed beyond their limits. From real-life characters The Prodfather—a Brooklyn rabbi with a seedy past —to Joe Exotic—a big cat devotee—each episode is a completely engrossing look into the lives of spellbinding strangers.

    Must-listen episode: “Joe Exotic: The Tiger King”

    20. Radio Rookies

    WNYC Studios

    Made for teens by teens, Radio Rookies is the result of New York City teenagers getting the “tools and the training to share their own stories through the medium of audio.” The episodes are as varied as the children making them, taking listeners “inside their lives and their communities.”

    Must-listen episode: “American Heaven”

    21. Rumble Strip

    Rumble Strip

    Raw in all the right ways, Rumble Strip “gives you extraordinary stories about ordinary life” by taking you into people’s homes to “find out what they know, what they hate, who they love, what they’re afraid of, and what makes them more like you than you’d realize.”

    Must-listen episode: “Waitress”

    22. Second Wave

    KUOW and PRX

    Second Wave investigates how the Vietnam War is still affecting the Vietnamese community by uncovering “some of the untold stories of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who settled in the U.S. in its wake.” Full of honest and informed conversations, it’s

    Must-listen episode: “Pho”

    23. The Slowdown

    Minnesota Public Radio

    If you’ve ever wanted a personal poet laureate, this daily poetry podcast is for you. Especially short, The Slowdown introduces a new poem, explains why it was selected, and then shares the poem. It’s a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of life that “delivers a different way to see the world.”

    Must-listen episode: “Staying Alive”

    24. Song Exploder


    Song Exploder goes behind the song by inviting a musician to take apart their art, “piece by piece [to] tell the story of how [it] was made.” From industry mainstays like Fleetwood Mac to more recent successes like Lorde, the podcast connects the listener to the song in a most intimate way.

    Must-listen episode: “St. Vincent - New York”

    25. Tell Them I Am


    Focusing on “the small moments that define who we are and who we are not,” Tell Them I Am shares universal stories from the perspective of Muslim guests. Through candid and touching interviews that become beautifully crafted episodes, the podcast invites you to take in another person’s point of view.

    Must-listen episode: “Deana”

    26. This Is Branchburg

    Abso Lutely Productions

    This absurdly funny and fictionalized version of Branchburg, New Jersey “has many stories to tell, whether you’d like to hear them or not.” Fortunately, from stories about the principal’s motorcade to stories about ladies' night, they are heavy on the sort of small-town lore that will leave you in stitches.

    Must-listen episode: “Everybody Wants To See My Teeth”

    27. Tropical Moon

    Tropical Moon

    Tropical Moon is trippy. Self-billed as “surreal” and “hard to explain,” its wandering narrative, which under normal circumstances could be unsettling, is delivered so calmly that it has an almost ASMR quality to it. Give it a listen the next time you want to escape to an oddly familiar yet otherworldly space.

    Must-listen episode: “Pride Of Thailand / Colour X”

    28. Why Oh Why


    A podcast about “where love, dating, and sex meets technology,” Why Oh Why is very of the now as it gathers and shares stories about “relationships often blurring the lines between memoir, documentary, and fiction” through interviews with everyday people grappling with life’s biggest mystery—love.

    Must-listen episode: “How Will I Know”

    29. A Woman’s Smile

    Forever Dog Productions

    Delivered in sketch-like segments, A Woman’s Smile is satire at its best, silly, but with a sting. It’s fresh and fun and covers “everything, but especially the gentle and kind nature of a woman’s smile.” It’s absurd in the best way.

    Must-listen episode: “A Woman’s Smile Is Stylish”

    30. Daily news podcasts

    Need a quick debrief on world events? You’re in luck. There’s no shortage of daily news podcasts right now. From the more straitlaced The Daily and Up First to the hipper Today, Explained, they all allow you to multitask while staying in the know.