I have increased my podcast listening in recent years, and there are many more podcasts out there since I first start compiling these lists. I was going to update the list last fall, then Serial came out, and everyone was writing about podcasts, so I figured I should hold off. I did listen to Serial, and thought it was fine, though a bit frustrating as journalism.
A technical note: I now use Overcast on the iPhone as my main discovery and listening app, though I was also happy with Downcast. The distinctive features of Overcast, apart from the pleasing design, are Smartspeed mode and episode recommendations from people you follow on Twitter. Smartspeed saved me nearly 72 hours to date by eliminating gaps and silences in the recordings. I listen to a lot of shows, walking around New York or doing chores around the apartment, the same way some people used to listen to the radio or let the TV play. (Here's a list of other iOS apps I find useful.)
The podcasts I currently enjoy:
99% Invisible. Roman Mars takes a look at human design and the psychology of the built environment. Endlessly fascinating. Pleasingly short episodes.
Accidental Tech Podcast. Marco Arment, John Siracusa and Casey Liss talk about Apple and other tech. It can get into the weeds on developer talk sometimes, and that's when I just look at Twitter or play chess.
Answer Me This! Humorous trivia with British accents.
Back to Work. Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discuss movies, comics, parenting and, sometimes, productivity.
Buddhist Geeks. The intersections of Buddhism and digital technology are explored.
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. A former LA radio and TV personality with an interest in history takes deep dives on everything from Genghis Khan to the root causes of World War I. Quite lengthy and compelling, good for long drives.
The Ethicists. Answering readers' ethical dilemmas, with writers from The New York Times Magazine and Slate.
The Ihnatko Almanac. Andy Ihnatko, tech writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, and Dan Benjamin talk about movies, music, books, comics and tech (the "clickable arts").
The Incomparable. A weekly dive into geeky media, including movies, books, TV, comics and more, with a rotating panel of guests hosted by Jason Snell.
Jordan, Jesse, Go! Silly, profound, vulgar comedy from public radio's Jesse Thorn and his college pal Jordan Morris, with a variety of visiting comedians and other guests, with reader contributions ("momentous occasions"), part of the Maximum Fun network. I listen to occasional episodes of the network's other podcasts.
Mac Power Users. Insanely detailed and frequent helpful Mac productivity tips from Katie Floyd and David Sparks, two lawyers who know a lot about Apple software and hardware.
My Brother, My Brother and Me. The McElroy brothers banter and answer advice questions posted on Yahoo Answers and other sites, on this Maximum Fun podcast.
The Memory Palace. Short tales of the past, sometimes only a few minutes long. Offbeat and fun.
Notebook on Cities and Culture. Colin Marshall interviews cultural creators, intellectuals and scholars. Despite the plural "cities" in the name, the fixation seems to be on Los Angeles, its history and efforts to reverse the dominance of the car culture.
Oh No Ross and Carrie. They apply a scientific approach to new age claims: ear candling, isolation tanks, reiki, dowsing, reflexology, etc.
Risk! Real-life stories and story-tellers, sometimes disturbing or explicit, exploring the full range of human emotion and experience.
Roderick on the Line. John Roderick of the Long Winters band and Merlin Mann talk about life.
Savage Lovecast Dan Savage gives sex advice to people with problems so esoteric that your own interests will seem quite vanilla.
Song Exploder. Musicians pick apart their songs, telling the story of how they were made.
Systematic. Brett Terpstra interviews nerds and geeks about workflow, hardware and software.
The Talk Show. John Gruber, the Mac blogger behind Daring Fireball, talks to various tech journalists and developers about Apple products and other tech.
This American Life. The public radio show with Ira Glass, so you don't have to remember when it's on the radio locally.
This Week in Tech. Leo Laporte, John C. Dvorak, Dwight Silverman, and many other tech writers talk every Sunday about the latest tech and computer news.
Tomorrow. A new project from Joshua Topolsky, formerly of The Verge. Good so far.
Uhh Yeah Dude. Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette (the actor's son) banter and crack jokes about offbeat news items and other esoteric matters.
Upgrade. How technology from Apple, Google and Amazon is reshaping our lives. With Jason Snell and Myke Hurley.
Welcome to Nightvale. Updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, from the activities of the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers and the local weather, which usually includes a good song.
You Are Not So Smart. David McRaney explores human self-delusion related congitive biases, heuristics and logical fallacies. He interviews scientists about their work, then he eats a cookie from a recipe sent in by a listener. The guy really likes cookies, maybe too much.