For a time, podcasts existed as lonely pieces of content floating on the seas of the internet with only iTunes to bring them together. Then folks in the podcast-verse recognized they could link up with three, four, even dozens of other podcasts to appeal to listeners. Now, with so many options to choose from, which networks stand tallest amongst the rest?
The Nerdist Podcast Network
Nerdist Industries, founded by MTV’s Chris Hardwick, stands above the rest of the comedy podcasting pack when it comes to network reach. His Nerdist Podcast Network features 26 different podcasts about everything from Star Trek to sex education. Owned in part by production company Legendary Entertainment and affiliated with BBC America, Nerdist has been able to land big-name celebrity guests like Willem Dafoe and Tom Hanks. No matter your podcasting tastes, chances are Nerdist has something for you.
Standout Podcasts: The Nerdist, Cashing In with T.J. Miller, You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes, Nerdist Writers Panel, The Indoor Kids
Started by Scott Aukerman and Jeff Ulrich, Earwolf was originally based around Aukerman’s successfulComedy Death Ray (later renamed Comedy Bang Bang) podcast, but has since expanded. While Comedy Bang Bang is still the star program for the network, it has managed to grow by becoming affiliated with internet giant Funny or Die and bringing top-notch talent like Har Mar Superstar, Brian Posehn, Kevin Pollak and Tig Notaro on board for hosting duties. Alternative comedy fans will find everything they need and a bit more besides.
Standout Podcasts: Comedy Bang Bang, Who Charted?, Nerd Poker, Sklarbro Country, How Did This Get Made?
HowStuffWorks was an early player in the podcasting game with its super-popular show Stuff You Should Know recording episodes as early as April of 2008. The HowStuffWorks network focuses on breaking down science, history, math and the universe with good-humored, intelligent hosts. The site’s introduction of podcasts in 2008 led to a number of highly informative shows dealing with technology, conspiracies and stuff your Mom never told you. HowStuffWorks is part of the Discovery family of companies, so you know they mean business when it comes to feeding your brain.
Standout Podcasts: Stuff You Should Know, Fw:Thinking, Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Stuff You Missed in History Class
For the NPR lover in you looking for an alternative, you’ve found it. Maximum Fun was founded by Jesse Thorn after he brought his show The Sound of Young America to the internet in 2004. While NPR wasn’t in the cards for Thorn as a career, he grew the network to include comedy-based programs from notables like “Daily Show” contributor John Hodgman. In 2012 The Sound of Young America turned into Bullseye! with Jesse Thorn, an NPR-like interview show that’s featured guests as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Christopher Guest, Billy Bragg and Bill Bryson.
Standout Podcasts: Bullseye!, Judge John Hodgman, Jordan Jesse Go!, Stop Podcasting Yourself
All Things Comedy
The newest kid on the podcast network block is All Things Comedy, founded by experienced comedians Al Madrigal and Bill Burr. All Things Comedy debuted with a bang, featuring shows hosted by well-known comedians like Ari Shaffir, Moshe Kasher and Eddie Peppitone. The feather in All Things Comedy’s cap is The Flophouse, easily the best movie podcast on the internet. The network doesn’t yet have the fan base of a Nerdist or an Earwolf, but with this much talent behind it, it’s definitely a network worth checking out.
Standout Podcasts: The Flophouse, The Long Shot, Dork Forest, Walking the Room