Illustration of person with eyes closed listening to podcasts on over ear headphones

Illustration by Jamie Bennett

10 podcasts we’re hooked on

From the stark reality of prison life to music to mental health, here’s the best in binge listening

Listen up! It’s time to treat your ears to something fresh and fascinating. We canvassed LocalLove.ca readers, editors, partners and friends and asked them to share the podcasts they just can’t shut off—you know, the ones you’ll sit in your car to hear long after you’ve reached your destination—and the results range from diverse, side-splitting comedy to a real, raw look at life behind bars. Best of all, each of the shows highlighted here is dedicated to illuminating a particular part of the human experience, helping us better understand our neighbours, our communities and the wider world. Prepare to be entertained—and inspired.

Conversations with People Who Hate Me

Recommended by: Kelly Ziegner, CEO, United Way Elgin Middlesex
What it’s about: Host Dylan Marron calls people who have sent hateful messages to him online and engages them in frank, in-depth conversations.
Why she loves it: “Marron shows remarkable patience and empathy, which encourages healthy debate and often results in finding common ground—a rarity in today’s polarized world. The show is a powerful reminder that there is a human being on the other side of the screen.”

Cover art for Ear Hustle podcast of man wearing navy toque and shirt seen from behind

Ear Hustle

Recommended by: Nicholas Jones, LocalLove.ca writer/photographer
What it’s about: Produced by inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California, the show explores different aspects of life under incarceration.
Why he loves it:Ear Hustle gives a human voice to people who are normally seen as faceless perpetrators. It makes me reflect on the impact that a life sentence or solitary confinement has on the human who has to live through it.” (Image provided by: Ear Hustle, Radiotopia)

alt.Latino

Recommended by: Kat Tancock, LocalLove.ca audience developer
What it’s about: This NPR podcast is all about Latinx music, art and culture.
Why she loves it:alt.Latino is a great guide not just to what’s coming out of Latin America now, but also to some of the top music in the region from past decades. It has introduced me to musicians and groups that I now love, such as Chilean MC Ana Tijoux.”

Cover art for Invisible City podcast of white logo overlaid on dark black and white city scene

Invisible City

Recommended by: Elliott Simpson, consultant on Toronto’s Public Sector Transformation Team at Deloitte Canada
What it’s about: Former Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat hosts this informative show, which examines city building and the complexities of urban living.
Why he loves it: “I believe Toronto is at a watershed moment of sorts, where we could either repeat the mistakes other cities have made or be innovative in our planning decisions. To do that, we need to be well informed as voters—and this podcast can play a part in that.” (Image provided by: Invisible City)

Other People’s Problems

Recommended by: Rebecca Biason, communications coordinator at the University of Toronto
What it’s about: Each episode features real therapy sessions between Hillary McBride and her clients, with the goal of demystifying mental health.
Why she loves it: “It’s such a great reminder that you aren’t alone in your problems. Hillary, the therapist, is fantastic not only at narrating but also at identifying the issues each of her patients is struggling with. She makes you feel like you’re in a therapy session, too.”

Cover art for Thunder Bay podcast stark black and white image of bald man

Thunder Bay

Recommended by: Maria Khan, LocalLove.ca social media manager
What it’s about: Host Ryan McMahon investigates corruption and violence in Thunder Bay—including the deaths of nine Indigenous teenagers.
Why she loves it: “It helps me learn about issues in Canada that I wasn’t aware of. When I think of corruption, discrimination and even violence against minorities, I don’t often think of Canada. It’s important to know about these issues if we want to change them, or prevent them from happening in the first place.” (Image provided by: Canadalandshow.com)

Still Processing

Recommended by: Samra Habib, LocalLove.ca editor
What it’s about: This culture podcast examines TV, movies, art, music and the internet to better understand the pleasures and pathologies of present-day America.
Why she loves it: “Co-hosts Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris take a step back to unpack what is actually troubling and pleasurable in pop culture at the moment—and what that reveals to us about ourselves as humans.”

Cover art for The Secret Life of Canada podcast two people reading purple book

The Secret Life of Canada

Recommended by: Chiara, PhD candidate in Toronto
What it’s about: The Secret Life of Canada explores well-known areas of Canadian history, as well as the stuff that probably didn’t make it into your high school textbook.
Why she loves it: “This podcast makes history and politics fun by tackling myths, correcting misperceptions, highlighting undervalued historical contributions and making insightful connections about the past in our present, all in a warm, approachable and witty way.” (Image provided by: CBC)

2 Dope Queens

Recommended by: Jennifer Goldberg, LocalLove.ca executive editor
What it’s about: Comedians Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams host a live comedy show showcasing LGBTQ+ comedians and comedians of colour.
Why she loves it: “The show has introduced me to amazing comic talent that wouldn’t have otherwise been on my radar. It’s also introduced me to different points of view through comedy. As a cisgender, white-presenting woman, it’s important for me to listen to a variety of voices.”

Podcast host Rich Roll with arms crossed leaning on tailgate of white pickup truck in outdoor scene

The Rich Roll Podcast

Recommended by: Adrienne Clarke, LocalLove.ca editor-in-chief
What it’s about: Ultra-athlete, wellness evangelist and author Rich Roll engages thought leaders in in-depth conversations to educate, inspire and empower his listeners.
Why she loves it: “Roll speaks to some of the brightest and most interesting minds in entertainment, fitness, sports, wellness, entrepreneurship and spirituality. And these aren’t just interviews. They are real, deep, sometimes meandering—but always fascinating—conversations.” (Image provided by: Richroll.com)

Make a difference now:

• Share this story with your friends and family!
• Sign up for The Good News Letter to get more stories like this in your inbox every Saturday.