Top 20 Podcasts of 2017
Podtrac's ranking of top podcasts for 2017 is based on average U.S. downloads per episode across all listening devices for episodes posted in 2017. Visit our Top 10 New Podcasts of 2017 ranking.
S-Town is a new podcast from Serial and This American Life, hosted by Brian Reed, about a man named John who despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks Brian to investigate the son of a wealthy family who's allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But when someone else ends up dead, the search for the truth leads to a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man's life.
Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial unfolds one story - a true story - over the course of a whole season. The show follows the plot and characters wherever they lead, through many surprising twists and turns. Sarah won't know what happens at the end of the story until she gets there, not long before you get there with her. Each week she'll bring you the latest chapter, so it's important to listen in, starting with Episode 1.
#3 This American Life
This American Life is a weekly public radio show, heard by 2.2 million people on more than 500 stations. Another 2.5 million people download the weekly podcast. It is hosted by Ira Glass, produced in collaboration with Chicago Public Media, delivered to stations by PRX The Public Radio Exchange, and has won all of the major broadcasting awards.
A two-time Peabody Award-winner, Radiolab is an investigation told through sounds and stories, and centered around one big idea. In the Radiolab world, information sounds like music and science and culture collide. Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, the show is designed for listeners who demand skepticism, but appreciate wonder.
#5 Dan Carlin's Hardcore History
In "Hardcore History" journalist and broadcaster Dan Carlin takes his "Martian", unorthodox way of thinking and applies it to the past. Was Alexander the Great as bad a person as Adolf Hitler? What would Apaches with modern weapons be like? Will our modern civilization ever fall like civilizations from past eras? This isn't academic history (and Carlin isn't a historian) but the podcast's unique blend of high drama, masterful narration and Twilight Zone-style twists has entertained millions of listeners.
#6 TED Radio Hour
The TED Radio Hour is a journey through fascinating ideas: astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, new ways to think and create. Based on Talks given by riveting speakers on the world-renowned TED stage, each show is centered on a common theme – such as the source of happiness, crowd-sourcing innovation, power shifts, or inexplicable connections. The TED Radio Hour is hosted by Guy Raz, and is a co-production of NPR & TED.
Invisibilia (Latin for invisible things) is about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Co-hosted by Hanna Rosin, Alix Spiegel, and Lulu Miller, Invisibilia interweaves narrative storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently.
#8 Freakonomics Radio
Have fun discovering the hidden side of everything with host Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of the best-selling "Freakonomics” books. Each week, hear surprising conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. Dubner talks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — and his “Freakonomics” co-author Steve Levitt. After just a few episodes, this podcast will have you too thinking like a Freak.
#9 Dirty John
Debra Newell is a successful interior designer. She meets John Meehan, a handsome man who seems to check all the boxes: attentive, available, just back from a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders. But her family doesn’t like John, and they get entangled in an increasingly complex web of love, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately, survival. Reported and hosted by Christopher Goffard from the L.A. Times.
#10 Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!
NPR's weekly current events quiz. Have a laugh and test your news knowledge while figuring out what's real and what we've made up.
#11 Planet Money
The economy, explained, with stories and surprises. Imagine you could call up a friend and say, "Meet me at the bar and tell me what's going on with the economy." Now imagine that's actually a fun evening. That's what we're going for at Planet Money. People seem to like it.
#12 Stuff You Should Know
How do landfills work? How do mosquitos work? Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the Stuff You Should Know about everything from genes to the Galapagos in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
#13 Hidden Brain
The Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain's host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.
#14 The Moth
Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of true stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. Moth storytellers stand alone, under a spotlight, with only a microphone and a roomful of strangers. The storyteller and the audience embark on a high-wire act of shared experience which is both terrifying and exhilarating. Since 2008, The Moth podcast has featured many of our favorite stories told live on Moth stages around the country.
#15 Radiolab presents More Perfect
Radiolab's More Perfect is a series about the Supreme Court. More Perfect explores how cases deliberated inside the rarefied world of the Supreme Court affect our lives far away from the bench.
#16 How I Built This
How I Built This is a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight — told by the founders of some of the world's best known companies and brands. If you've ever built something from nothing, something you really care about — or even just dream about it — check out How I Built This hosted by Guy Raz @guyraz.
Criminal is a podcast about crime. Not so much the "if it bleeds, it leads," kind of crime. Something a little more complex. Stories of people who've done wrong, been wronged, and/or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.
#18 99% Invisible
Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars.
#19 In the Dark
Child abductions are rare crimes. And they're typically solved. For 27 years, the investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota yielded no answers. In the most comprehensive reporting on this case, APM Reports and reporter Madeleine Baran reveal how law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger, led to the nation's sex-offender registries and raise questions about crime-solving effectiveness and accountability.
#20 Pod Save America
Four former aides to President Obama — Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor — are joined by journalists, politicians, comedians, and activists for a freewheeling conversation about politics, the press and the challenges posed by the Trump presidency.
Podtrac currently publishes two Podcast Industry Rankings each month: the Top 20 Podcasts and the Top 10 Podcast Publishers. Our Rankings use proprietary and consistent measurement methodology to allow apples-to-apples comparison of podcast audience sizes.
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