Conversational podcasts are booming in popularity, and I think I can explain why.
Many of us have been guilty of finishing a discussion with a “Good Chat,” but we aren’t really having good chats.
I believe conversation is actually becoming a lost art.
In an era of social media and seemingly infinite access to information, few people find time to properly converse with others.
And that’s not great, because we humans need the connections and insights that come from a one-to-one discussion.
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you love conversation. Not necessarily having a conversation, but listening to a conversation. Because at the end of the day, feeling like your eavesdropping on two other people have a meaningful chat can be even more pleasurable than having one yourself.
While TikTok videos and quick news headlines have their place, there’s something wholesome and calming about sitting down and listing to a conversational podcast.
A host with strong conversation skills can prompt guests to reveal things about themselves that perhaps they weren’t even aware of.
It’s those kinds of hosts I was looking for when compiling this list of the 20 best conversational podcasts in 2024.
Below, I hope you’ll find a genuine “good chat” that will entertain and educate you in 2024.
Best Conversational Podcasts
- 20. The Conversation Weekly
- 19. Life Stories
- 18. Conversations
- 17. Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda
- 16. Christopher Lochhead Follow Your Different
- 15. ManTalks
- 14. RadioWest
- 13. The Dishcast with Andrew Sullivan
- 12. Big Mood, Little Mood with Daniel M. Lavery
- 11. Changes with Annie Macmanus
- 10. Ghostrunners
- 9. Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything
- 8. Death, Sex & Money
- 7. Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People
- 6. Shawn Ryan Show
- 5. Fresh Air
- 4. SmartLess Podcast
- 3. Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
- 2. Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
- 1. The Joe Rogan Experience
20. The Conversation Weekly
At number 20 on our list of the best conversational podcasts, is the very popular ‘The Conversation Weekly.’
Hosted by Gemma Ware, the podcast features an in-depth discussion with a different academic expert each week.
Recent topics have included the rise of far-right women influencers on social media, the complex debate around wolves returning to Europe, how social media overload impacts our brains and decision-making, and the chilling effect the Israel-Gaza war has had on academic freedom.
With a keen curiosity and journalistic approach, Ware manages to bring her listeners very unique perspectives by asking the right questions of her fascinating guests!
Each compact episode (usually around 20 minutes long) manages to tackle big ideas and leave listeners with a deeper understanding of the world around them.
For anyone seeking an intelligent yet accessible podcast that stimulates the mind, The Conversation Weekly delivers.
19. Life Stories
I don’t know about you, but I love listening to a good life story. People are almost always fascinating – regardless of their background!
On ‘Life Stories’, host Shara Goswick brings you incredible conversations with guest who’ve learned valuable life lessons by overcoming significant obstacles over their journey.
This podcast can be fascinatingly raw, with no topic off-limits. Goswick even pulls back the curtain on her own journeys and struggles, which include teenage parenting and raising an autistic child.
Though based in Texas, Goswick aspires to feature voices from every U.S. state, allowing her to hear stories from a range of backgrounds. The conversations on this podcast are highly recommended!
In Australia, the simply named ‘Conversations’ is an extremely popular podcast.
Hosted by legendary broadcast Richard Fidler, the podcast features a different guest each episode. With empathy and insight, Fidler spends around an hour getting to the heart of each person’s journey.
From celebrities to ordinary people living extraordinary lives, the guests deliver gripping personal stories and insights that you won’t usually get from bite-sized pieces of mainstream news.
Conversations is a prime example of how a good conversational podcast can foster understanding and open minds. I can’t recommend this award-winning show highly enough!
17. Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda
At number 17 on our list of the best conversational podcasts is Clear and Vivid with Alan Alda.
Alda, and acclaimed American Actor, uses this show to explore how we as humans can better connect with others in every area of our lives.
With his trademark warmth, humor and curiosity, Alda has incredible conversations with his celebrated guests, who come from all walks of life.
The pace feels comfortable yet engaging as both parties share personal stories and insights. Much like Alda’s acting, his interview style appears effortless and genuine.
Covering topics from activism to neuroscience to the secrets of good marriages, Clear+Vivid leaves you feeling a little more hopeful about bridging divides.
Alda masterfully shows that open and thoughtful conversation can be entertaining while bringing more light into the world.
16. Christopher Lochhead Follow Your Different
According to New York Times Bestselling author Hal Eldrod, this podcast is one of the “best of all time.”
Hosted by marketing, design and speaking guru Christopher Lochead, the show is known for its “captivating, candid, insightful, no B-S” conversations.
Recent topics have included ‘CEO Whisperer’ Jerry Colonna, venture vapitalist Paul Martino and Harvard’s top astronomer Dr. Avi Loeb.
While Lochhead’s delivery may not be for everyone, those keen on learning from those unafraid to color outside the lines will find his podcast makes following the herd seem bland by comparison.
The ManTalks Podcast is unapologetically “for men, about men, for the betterment of men.”
With warmth and wisdom, host Connor Beaton leads meaningful discussions with experienced mentors, including relationship experts, scientists and academics and bestselling authors.
With his unique style, Beaton fosters an atmosphere of candor and trust, extracting fascinating insights from world-class guests.
From strengthening connections to unlocking potential, the conversations artfully blend philosophy and practicality.
Balancing hard truths with humor and compassion, Beaton steers exchanges with savvy and sensitivity. For those seeking more fulfillment, richness and consciousness in their lives and ties to others, ManTalks proffers thought-provoking ideas to integrate into our ever-evolving journeys.
Whilst perhaps not a huge mainstream success, RadioWest satisfies the most curious of minds with cerebral yet accessible conversations led by engaging host Doug Fabrizio.
This Award-winning program from KUER public radio assembles today’s foremost writers, scientists, creators and philosophers for discussions that illuminate and probe.
Fabrizio steers these exchanges with journalistic skill, cuing rich insights while keeping pace lively.
Spanning science, arts and global affairs, episodes feel like collegial seminars elevated by nuanced perspectives and carefully curated guests.
For those who share RadioWest’s wildly open-minded spirit of inquiry, Fabrizio convenes a highly stimulating space where complex concepts are unpacked and new dimensions of understanding can unfold. Expect delightful discourse that will linger long after the hour elapses.
13. The Dishcast with Andrew Sullivan
“Unafraid conversations about anything.”
That’s the simple description of the ‘Dischast with Andrew Sullivan’ on Apple Podcasts.
Sullivan makes an art of conversing: eloquently sharing his own views while asking probing questions of his guests.
Exchanges ebb and flow gracefully from personal anecdotes to big-picture analysis, traversing current affairs yet feeling timeless in relevance.
Whether an episode leaves you thinking or laughing out loud, you’re guaranteed delightful company and engaging perspectives. For those who relish both listening to and participating in vibrant discourse, Sullivan has laid a welcoming table where ideas and wit are on the menu.
12. Big Mood, Little Mood with Daniel M. Lavery
American writer Daniel M. Lavery brings his signature wit and wisdom to the mic on Big Mood, Little Mood.
A transgender man open about his personal journey, Lavery features a different guest each week. The episodes begin with questions from listeners before Lavery asks questions about “relationships, dissatisfaction, drives, regrets, estrangement, embarrassment, self-assessments, and feelings.”
While diverse in background, Lavery’s affable guests all radiate the same judgment-free warmth.
The result is a podcast that feels more akin to chatting with dear friends over drinks than tuning into a standard advice show.
Guests have included comedian Ben Roy, journalist and screenwriter Max Read and addiction expert Dr. Ida Santana.
11. Changes with Annie Macmanus
Coming it at number 11 on our list of the best Conversational Podcasts of 2024 is Changes with Annie Macmanus.’
On this show, Macmanus has discussions with artists, musicians and writers about one topic: Change.
In each weekly episode, the guest will talk about the biggest changes they’ve been through in their life, and how they have reacted to it.
Guests on the show, which has a 4.7 rating on Apple Podcasts at the time of publication, hae included bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, writer and broadcaster Michael Rosen and global superstar Idris Elba.
They call it a “podcast about nothing” and that’s kind of true.
For the most part, hosts (and best friends) Jake Hurwitz and Brad Evans are all about lighthearted, relatable banter (my favorite kind of conversation)!
Drawing upon a shared obsession for shows like The Office, they highlight the humor in everyday life, and in their words, give “mediocre” updates on what they’ve been up to in their lives.
Those seeking positive vibes peppered with wit will love Jake and Brad’s signature blend of goofs, gaffes and good intentions. Episodes come out every couple of days and usually run for around an hour.
To give you an idea of what to expect, episode titles include ‘Breastfeeding at the Trampoline Park,’ ‘Church: The Sitcom’ and “The Most Condescending Nicknames.” Delightfully random.
9. Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything
Part investigative journalism, part comedic storytelling, Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything playfully probes life’s big questions by “personally connecting the dots” between disparate topics.
Described by his fans as “clever, funny, deep and insightful”, Walker covers a range of topics from dystopian societies and disinformation to coffee and travel.
One reviewer put it succinctly when he said: “This is a difficult podcast so summarize, and that is one of the reasons I love it. It is an incredible exploration of how ideas, stories and conspiracies exist through mixing them, and creating them, and acting as if they are real.”
This podcast won’t be for everyone, but it definitely deserves its place on our list of the best conversational podcasts of 2024.
8. Death, Sex & Money
Confronting subjects many shy away from, Anna Sale fearlessly guides intimate conversations around life’s thorniest topics on Death, Sex & Money.
Launched in 2014 as a 30-minute podcast, the show has featured countless big name guests, including Brooke Shields, Bill Withers and Jane Fonda.
No taboo is off limits as Sale unpacks issues such as love, loss, purpose, finance and identity from her recording studio in New York City.
In 2018, the podcast won a Webby Award for ‘Best interview/Talk Show’, while in 2021 it was an Ambies Award for ‘Best Interview Podcast.’
7. Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People
I love the concept of this podcast.
The basic idea is that the host, comedian Chris Gethard, opens up his phone line each week to one anonymous caller, and no matter what, he can’t hang up first. He must hear the person out.
The callers don’t give their name, but instead anonymously tell incredible stories. Recent callers have spoken about everything from processing grief over losing a friend, the challenges of military co-parenting and playing piano in a rock band as an Episcopal priest.
Part impromptu comedy act, part revealing confessional, Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People delivers amazing conversations. I highly recommend.
6. Shawn Ryan Show
Blending candor with compassion, Navy SEAL veteran Shawn Ryan has one of the best conversational podcasts out there in 2024.
Ryan interviews people from all walks of life about the successes and struggles they’ve encountered on their journey. Episodes are quite long – sometimes over four hours – but somehow, he holds your attention.
The host prides himself on having very raw conversations and covering topics not being spoken about in the mainstream media.
Recent guests have included SAS Operator Christian Craighead, award-winning journalist Michael Shellenberger and big wave surfer Laird Hamilton. So far, Ryan has more than two million subscribers on YouTube – and counting!
5. Fresh Air
Coming in at number five on our list of best conversational podcasts is a show that began being broadcast in 1975 on radio stations across the United States.
Very briefly, it was hosted by Judy Blank, however Terry Gross took over as presenter and producer in that first year and has remained there for nearly half a centure!
The show features interviews with big names in a range of fields, including entertainment, culture, journalism and the arts.
Fresh Air has won several tom awards, including the National Humanties Medal from President Brack Obama in 2016. However, the show hasn’t been without it controversies. In 2010, it was pulled from Mississippi Public Broadcasting radio because of “recurring inappropriate content”, shortly after an interview with comedian Louis C.K. in which he discussed his sex life. This decision was reversed in mid-2011.
Since becoming available in podcast format, the show has continued to be hugely popular. In 2016, it was the most-downloaded podcast on iTunes!
4. SmartLess Podcast
You can’t go wrong with a podcast hosted by a trio of comedic talents like Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett.
Their chemistry and camaraderie prompts plenty of laughter and ensures the dialogue with their guests is engaging, entertaining and insightful.
The best thing about this show is the conversations are with people from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. Guests have included Ben Affleck, Bono, Katy Perry, Ricky Gervais, Tom Hanks and Paul McCartney! What a line-up!
A review in Vulture says: “There are sincere pleasures to be found in the superficialities of Smartless. This is a show steeped in a comfortable Hollywood life, constantly drawing out, at least from me, a mix of Gary Shteyngartian feelings: fascination with and contempt for such plush existences, but envious all the same. So if you’re hankering for a podcast offering proximity to show business and other assorted fantastical worlds, Smartless is a prime listen: relaxed, low-stakes, undifficult, uncomplicated.”
New episodes come out every Monday for free, but you can listen 1-week early and ad-free with a Wondery+ or Amazon Music Unlimited Subscription.
3. Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
Comedy luminary Conan O’Brien brings his signature wit and warmth to the mic on Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, seeking to forge genuine bonds after years of surface-level celebrity interviews.
The show was created when, after a quarter of a century on the Late Night desk, O’Brien realized the only people at his parties were the people who worked for him!
It’s no surprise that the episodes are incredibly entertaining. O’Brien has an uncanny ability to connect with guests and produce hilarious, yet insightful conversations.
From comedy greats to prominent public figures, guests feel increasingly like old pals relishing the chance to showcase lesser known talents. For those craving quality time with entertainers far more complex than public personas suggest, this podcast delivers laughs and surprising intimacy in equal spades.
2. Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
“Hi, I’m Dax Shephard, and I love talking to people.”
That’s how American actor Dax Shephard introduces his podcast, the Armchair Expert.
The weekly show has simply become a juggernaut. Featuring interviews with journalists, celebrities and academics, it is clearly one of the most popular conversational podcasts out there.
According to the Podcast’s Wikipedia page, episodes are recorded in Shephard’s guest house attic. The first epsiode was posted in February of 2017, with Shephard’s wife, actress Kristen Bell, the very first guest!
Other guests have included actor Ashton Kutcher, America philosopher Sam Harris and talkshow host Ellen DeGeneres. Oh, and in 2021, there was also this bloke named Barack Obama. Not bad, eh?
1. The Joe Rogan Experience
He may be a polarising figure, but Joe Rogan simply had to be number one on our list of best conversational podcasts.
The fact is, he’s insanely popular with listeners. In fact, research by Podbam shows his podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience, is the most searched podcast on google.
For a comedian, Rogan manages to produce gripping conversations about sports, health, politics, philosophy, and, of course, conspiracy theories!
The conversations are long. The topics choices are bold. And the entertainment value simply can’t be denied. Love him or loathe him, nobody can dispute the enormity of his reach and influence.
While meandering dialogue frustrates some, fans feel those rambling journeys often expose lesser known sides of prominent figures. Joe Rogan is a very different cat. And that’s why many people love him.
Enjoy the Chats!
While we live in an increasingly polarized world, these podcasts show how open and thoughtful conversation can bridge divides. So amid modern noise and isolation, we hope you can make space for meaningful dialogue by inviting these enriching podcasts into your routine!
And if you’re a fan of conversations, we think you may also enjoy the podcasts in these carefully curated lists:
- 10 Top Podcasts Hosted by Athletes
- 21 Best Buddhism Podcasts for Enlightenment
- 22 Self Improvement Podcasts for Personal Growth
If you’re looking for other great shows, be sure to check our extensive library of best podcasts, category by category!