Favorite Podcasts For The Long Run: Pop Culture and Entertainment

Pop Culture Podcasts

I listen to a ton of podcasts while I run. For me, they are just the ticket to getting through those solo long runs.

I started listening (so many years ago) when I finally accepted that my musical taste isn’t runner friendly. Icelandic ambient post-rock doesn’t really lend itself to a solid 135 BMP running playlist.

Now I load up my little iPod shuffle with podcasts and head out the door.

I’m already rueing the day when they stop making my little shuffle. Someday it will die, I won’t be able to replace it, and I don’t know what I’ll do.

Best Podcasts For The Long Run

I was originally going to put all my favorite podcasts into a single post, but there are just too many. So a series it is!

In the next few weeks, I’ll post my favorites, loosely arranged into categories:

Pop Culture Podcasts

My Favorite Pop Culture And Entertainment Podcasts

Imaginary Worlds 

I resisted listening to Imaginary Worlds for a long time.

People, whose opinion I respect, kept recommending it, but it’s about sci-fi, fantasy, and other imaginary worlds. The tagline for the show is: How we create them and why we suspend our disbelief.

I don’t particularly like sci-fi, why would I listen?

I finally gave it a shot when they did a series on Harry Potter. The episode discussing the sorting hat finally hooked me.

It once again reminded me that well-told stories are well-told stories, whatever genre they are in.

New episodes every other week. 

Pop Culture Happy Hour

Pop Culture Happy Hour is four NPR writers discussing pop culture topics. They predominately cover TV and movies, but increasingly discuss music, comics, plays and other topics.  PCHH covers an interesting variety of subjects and usually has a broad spectrum of opinions.

I’m not proud of this, but I’ll confess that more than once I have faked my way through a casual conversation on a TV show or movie I didn’t see based on information gleaned in this podcast.

Every week they end with a round of ‘What is Making Us Happy.’ That segment was the inspiration for my every other week Things I Love feature.

One new episode each week. 


From the British movie magazine Empire, not to be confused with a number of podcasts about Empire the TV show.

The Empire Film Podcast is all things movies. News, reviews, interviews, and Q and As from the writers and editors of the magazine.

Every few weeks they have spoiler specials for big movies, which are always amusing.

The timing of the reviews can be a little off since release dates can vary in the UK, but they are close enough.

One new episode each week. 

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Two Harry Potter mentions in one post? Is that allowed?

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is two Harvard Divinity School grads discussing the Harry Potter series, chapter by chapter. Each chapter is read through the lens of a specific theme using sacred reading practices.

Their tagline: Reading something we love as if it were sacred.

The chapter themes are things like ‘imagination,’ ‘bravery,’ ‘friendship,’ and ‘jealousy.’ The hosts review the text for how the theme is reflected in the book and what it calls them to do in their real lives to make the world a better place.

This podcast also makes me appreciate JK Rowling’s writing even more than I did before. Did she mean to put in all those layers of meaning?

They are currently working their way through The Prisoner Of Azkaban, but prior books are still available in their feed.

One new episode each week. 

The Americans

Every TV show ever has at least one podcast that discusses it.

Some are discussions of current shows or re-watches of every episode.

Honorable mention to Kumail Nanjiani’s The X-Files Files. I listened to every podcast episode that discussed the good seasons of The X-Files, but stopped listening when they got into the later seasons I didn’t like.

One of the few current TV shows I still love and watch is The Americans on FX. The Americans (the podcast) is from Slate and features interviews with the showrunners and actors.

Each episode they point out (at least) one new thing I didn’t catch while watching.

One new episode a week when the TV show is in production. 

The Americans (the TV show) can be found streaming on Amazon. Binge it now if you haven’t been watching. Which, based on its ratings, you haven’t been. 

Sara is a runner, running coach, writer, blogger, and a lover of all things written.

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