Lauren Ober hosts "The Big Listen," a show about podcasts from NPR and WAMU.

Lauren Ober hosts "The Big Listen," a show about podcasts from NPR and WAMU.

Sure they make earbuds for the individual, but listening to a podcast doesn’t have to be an isolating act. Lauren Ober, host of NPR’s “The Big Listen,” shares some of the shows she thinks are perfect to hear and digest as a family.

Listen to this program on the 1A podcast:


  • Lauren Ober Host, WAMU's & NPR's "The Big Listen"

Lauren's Podcast Picks For Family Listening (Based On Who's In The Car)

Adults and older children

Scene On Radio’s Seeing White — This is an amazing 14-part series from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University that tries to unpack the meaning of whiteness. It particularly focuses on the last 600 years or so of history in America.

Considering the political and social climate we’re in right now, this is a very important educational tool (more so for white people than others, I’m guessing), but it doesn’t feel like you’re sitting in a lecture hall getting talked at. 


By The Book  — The premise of this show is that two friends, one who has it all together and one who doesn’t, decide to live by the rules of various self-help books like “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and “Past Lives, Future Healing.” They read the books, and then for two weeks live by the rules. Hilarity, misery and the sometimes clarity ensue. It’s a broader commentary on our need to constantly fix ourselves, but its approach is clever and accessible.


74 Seconds — This is the Minnesota Public Radio show about the Philando Castile shooting. It’s named for the amount of time that it took Officer Jeronimo Yanez to pull Castile over and kill him. The show is a rich exploration of a horrific incident in contemporary American history and also clever way to cover the trial of Yanez. It’s mission-driven public radio at its best.


Radiolab Presents: More Perfect — This is all about the Supreme Court’s most famous cases, and some more obscure ones. It’s an excellent primer on the highest court in the land, but it’s from Radiolab so it doesn’t feel like someone’s reading a legal textbook to you.

 30 for 30  ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary film series is a different side of sports than game-day analysis or a rundown of who won and who lost. The 30 for 30 podcast series is just like the doc series, but for audio. They’re richly reported tales of sport’s humanity. So all the sports stories you never knew you wanted to know and some you thought you knew, but didn’t really.  Younger kids can also listen, which makes a good moment to transition to podcasts that are good when your car is full of kiddos.


Whole family, including young children

Story Pirates  — A podcast from Gimlet where adult comedians, singers and improv actors adapt and perform a story written by a kid. Lots of singing and silliness and entertaining for adults, too…unless you hate improv. 


Christmas Is Coming — This is an advent calendar audio journey that comes to you from the WXMAS radio station in the North Pole. It’s a clever way to count down the days before Christmas. It’s from Pinna, which is Panoply’s kids network. So if you download the Pinna app, there are a bunch of kid-ready podcasts there. 


Short & Curly — An Australian ethics podcast for kids, which asks questions like “should we kill feral cats ?” and “do you have to love your sibling?” It answers tough kid questions so parents don’t have to!


Eleanor AmplifiedFrom WHYY in Philadephia, this show is about the adventures of a kid radio reporter pursuing justice and foiling all kinds of dastardly plots from crafty villains. It’s making journalism cool for kids … or at least making it seem not terrible.  


This Podcast Has Fleas — WNYC Studios’ first kids podcast effort. It stars Alec Baldwin, Jay Pharoah, Eugene Mirman and Emily Lynne as a bunch of animals who somehow all have podcasts. It’s weird and cute. 

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