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The Best Podcasts You Haven't Heard Of

The Best Podcasts You Haven't Heard Of

Credit:  Cup of Joe

Credit: Cup of Joe

I want to tell you about my love of podcasts… Podcasts are free audio programs distributed over the internet. There are podcasts on any topics that tickle your fancy and their simplicity lies in the fact that you can listen to them on your laptop or cell phone. They're perfect for our busy lives. I began listening to this form of mobile radio about two years ago. I’ve been hooked ever since! And I am not alone. About 17% of the U.S. population listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. Some of the most well known options include This American Life, Radiolab, Serial, etc. but I want to go beyond these and share some lesser known podcasts that deserve your attention. So, let’s listen away… Here are my top 5 favorite with suggested episodes. Hope you'll give them a listen!

Latino USA

Latino USA is my shit. It was recommended to my when I studied at UIC but began listening only about 2 years ago. The purpose of this superb radio program is to provide insights into the experiences affecting Latino communities in the U.S, including cultural, social and political issues. This program was founded 20+ years ago, won multiple journalism awards, and is anchored by the powerhouse that is Maria Hinojosa. Latino USA is NPR’s only show dedicated to lending a voice to this nation’s fastest growing demographic. Every time I listen to this show, the topics and themes explored resonate deeply within layers of my being, some of which I wasn’t even aware of. I invite you all to give this program a chance to familiarize yourself with the issues impacting Latinos. Here's a good start:

Radio Ambulante

Radio Ambulante uses its name as a cultural reference to the mobile street vendors found throughout Latin America called vendedores ambulantes. “Ambulante” literally translates to mobile or traveling. This program is the Spanish language answer to podcasts using narrative, story based content such as This American Life or Radiolab. The mission of this program is to share the stories of the Spanish speaking world, including Latin America + Hispanics living in the U.S., using their own language with accents and slang to highlight our diversity. The stories Radio Ambulante produces are often touching and moving. For my non-Spanish readers, I say: I am sorry. But not to worry! Radio Ambulante recently started producing unscripted English versions of some of their best episodes. Here are my choices:


Alt.Latino is NPR’s program devoted to Latin Alternative music + Latino culture. What can I say? I am obsessed with this show because it fulfills my passion for music and knowledge. I often discover new jams while becoming more educated and informed on a range of topics related to my origins.  These episodes are essential in your life!

TED Radio Hour

Oh goodness, when I found out about this podcast, my inner nerd was beyond ecstatic! TED Radio Hour is the brainchild of TED Talks + NPR. Each episode features a theme or topic highlighting various talks to convey the story. This program is interesting, informative and thought provoking. Because I try to watch about 3 Ted Talks a week, this podcast is simply a dream for me! It was extremely difficult to choose only a few episodes, but here they are:


Millennial podcast is the project of Megan Tan, a recent college graduate with hopes of working in radio that decides to take the DIY route and start her own podcast. However, like countless other 20somethings, Megan feels a bit lost and confused about her future. She documents her journey through this complex stage of life. I enjoy this podcast because it’s so relatable and raw. Megan isn’t afraid to share her fears, doubts and dreams with the audience. She does a great job of capturing and telling the experiences + feelings that are all too familiar to Millennials in the U.S. This is a new podcast with only 9 episodes. This is the first episode:

Bonus: Vocalo

Recently, Vanesa Baerga, a journalist based in Chicago, told me of Vocalo Radio. Vocalo is produced in Chicago and strives to connect with a younger, culturally diverse audience through music, stories and training. They offer workshops on how to make podcasts and also feature Spanish content on Sundays. Vanesa has worked with them in the past and recently published an excellent Spanish piece on LGBT rights in Cuba. Read about it and listen to it here.

What do you think of all of these? Do you listen to any of them? If so, which episodes do you recommend and why? If not, would you be open to listening to these suggestions? What other podcasts do you listen that I should pay attention to? 

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