In no particular order,
but some folks pop to mind first:

Savage Love by Dan Savage
On his weekly podcast Savage begins the show with a brilliant rant, usually on the hypocrisy of politicians over sexual morals. The show deals love and sex advice to callers — extremely straight talk about bent subjects, though vanilla relationship breakups are as likely to come up as partner-swapping. In any case, highly entertaining and surprisingly informative; you get to hear how various are human desires and how complicated normal really is. The perfectly named host also writes a love and sex advice column, plus contributes political commentary, in Seattle’s Stranger, and created the life-changer project It Gets Better.

Lexicon Valley by Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo
A podcast all about language — they have the light touch for some recondite offerings. Couple of recent episode titles: “How Jews Grew Horns”, “Lord Grantham, Don Draper’s on Hold”. The latter uncovers anachronisms in the dialogue of period shows; the former, also titled “Death to Potatoes”, is about mistranslations and how that can and does personally affect every thing you do. They deal a lot in idiom, but even if it does emanate from Wash DC its purview is global. Half an hour’s enlightenment and delight every two weeks.

Lingua Franca presented by Maria Zijlstra
RN’s language show, very well focused and produced. Eg: Are people who speak with accents less believable?

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The Culture Gabfast with Stephen Metcalf, Julie Turner and Dana Stevens
The host of this Slate offering, Stephen Metcalf, is the reason to listen. He is rebarbative, deliciously eloquent, contrary and amusingly self-deprecating. His readings of pop culture with his crew are fun, and fun to argue with.


On the Street : Street fashion by Bill Cunningham
A regular vlog fron the NYT by their longtime fashion spotter, who is 83. A touching and fascinating doco shows Cunningham bicycling around the metropolis in his trademark French blue coat snapping passers by and interacting with the fashion world of which he is a part, but not embedded in. His ethics are trad — at openings he declines drink or food: “I say I’m working.” His reports from the kerb are essential, cutting edge fashion.

The Modern Art Notes Podcast hosted by Tyler Green
I’ve struggled to find an art podcast to enjoy, and this sort of fits the bill. Each week the very American MAN podcast rounds up curators and historians and writers and artists to talk about a topical subject, quite often a big show of a big name, like Manet, or a show by an artist that’s making a splash (or not). But, but the thing is, the delivery is somewhat flat. You can get quite a bit out of it but best to have a strong coffee to hand.

Movies, various: FilmspottingThe /FilmcastThe Parallax Podcast

These podcasts are a bit like the movies — you have to like the cast, their voices. If  you happen to like, say, Scarlett Johansson, you’ll watch anything she’s in; if not, not.

Filmspotting, since 2005 (Chicago), is the daddy here — currently presented by original founder Adam Kempenaar, and Josh Larsen. Suoperbly produced, catholic in taste, expertly paced and passionately argued.

The /Filmcast is David Chen, Devindra Hardawar, and Adam Quigley, who have been broadcasting since 2008. Lively pontifications all round, and having three voices is a useful dynamic.

The Parallax Podcast is the baby of the bunch, hosted by Crikey’s film critic Luke Buckmaster, and Rich Haridy. Young Turks kicking at the pricks, is one possible description; unbridled opinions and highly engaged. Check their views on Argo for a taste.

Also: RN’s MovieTime with the legendary Julie Rigg, and the deep film podcast of Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith.

Most missed podcast: The Philosopher’s Zone
By the late great Alan Saunders. But we can still listen to his beautiful voice and mind in the archives.