Nothing quite screams “I’m adulting” like tuning into a daily news podcast. After hours of listening for this review, I suddenly felt a decade wiser. Although most news podcasts are typically off-shoots of established newspapers and other media outlets, we’ve also witnessed a rise in independent shows that are both competent and engaging. And despite many of these podcasts employing similar formats, there’s no universal standard for a daily news show, giving teams the chance to experiment with tone, length, and even distribution.
While most daily news podcasts post episodes early in the morning, others opt for an evening bulletin that, while listening, makes us feel like a character in a Graham Greene novel. (Sixty years ago, you’d have found us smoking our pipe and reading a broadsheet.) Of course, this is unlikely to be your priority, which is why we’ve compiled a list that encompasses several specialisms, from politics to finance. There’s also plenty of scope. From general briefings to deeper analysis, there’s more than enough here to get you through those chats in the office kitchen. Here are the best daily news podcasts to get your day off to a well-informed start.
Co-hosted by Sean Rameswaram and Noel King, Today, Explained brings together the best reporters from the wider Vox network to offer insightful coverage of the stories that matter. If you’re tired of clickbait, you should consider this show. Today, Explained is concise but on-point, bringing clarity to the top news stories of the day. The show comes out when you’re finishing up your day; we like to listen while putting the finishing touches on dinner. While the production is top-tier, there are few frills here. Well, an occasional music transition, but we’ll let it slide. The show’s style has obviously been influenced by NPR, a tried-and-tested way to deliver both political and human-interest stories. Today, Explained is both insightful and accessible. If you’re new to daily news podcasts, this show is our pick for how to get started.
You don’t need a business card to crave a daily financial scoop, though it might earn you fewer nerd points. IPOs? Workers strikes? The FT News Briefing serves it all, making global markets digestible with your morning cereal. Most episodes take under ten minutes to equip listeners with key updates. Granted, its brevity might leave you wanting, but remember, this gem comes straight from the Financial Times’ newsroom. Craving a deeper dive? They’ve got more in-depth takes in their print and online formats. Slotting this podcast into your daily groove is a breeze. If today’s economic pulse interests you, consider this not just handy, but downright vital.
What a Day is Crooked Media’s daily dose of news, offering analysis of American politics with its signature comedic twist. The podcast was adapted from their popular daily newsletter and is hosted by network regulars Tre’vell Anderson, Priyanka Aribindi, Josie Duffy Rice, and Juanita Tolliver. They cover domestic political stories and larger global events with jokes and quips that were probably focus-grouped on a Twitter thread before recording. Is What a Day a serious news show? Not really. It’s more like a gateway drug for people who still consider Deux Moi to be the height of investigative journalism. But it’s all done in good faith, providing a lighter alternative to stuffier news shows. If this podcast gets more young people engaged with politics, then we applaud it. There are plenty of moments of genuine levity and we appreciate that it shines a light on underrepresented issues more than other shows in the genre. And with a loyal following, it’s sure to be a staple for a long time to come.
From NPR News, Up First is a pragmatic, no-nonsense daily news podcast. Resembling a traditional news broadcast, it offers a succinct roundup of the news, expanding its coverage on weekends. The show provides a mix of American and international stories on a schedule that runs as smoothly as clockwork; you may not be able to count on a productive day, but you can rely on Up First to brief you every morning before the chaos really gets started. Sundays are reserved for “The Sunday Story” with Ayesha Rascoe. This segment’s deeper delve into human interest stories makes it a standout addition to the lineup.
Hosted by journalist Peter Hamby, The Powers That Be is the daily news podcast from Puck, an upstart publication that prides itself on being on the inside. From Hollywood to Wall Street, the show invites journalists to discuss the most important issues of the day from a boots-on-the-ground perspective. Analysis benefits from distance; but without insider accounts, we risk putting all our faith in outside observers. Hamby maintains a critical posture in his handling of these stories, which include the backlash to the #MeToo movement and the latest news from Capitol Hill. The show’s production value is on par with better-established competitors. Similar in both tone and insight, The Powers That Be will appeal to fans of Pod Save America and serves as a more serious alternative to Crooked Media’s own daily news show, What a Day.
Taking a detour from the norm, Post Reports is The Washington Post’s daily news show delivered each evening. Guided by Martine Powers and Elahe Izadi, the show commits to top-tier reporting on the day’s most pressing story. It casts a wide net, covering global events from the Iran protests to the war in Ukraine, dedicating roughly twenty minutes each day to dissecting geopolitics. Yet, it’s just as keen to spotlight local narratives, like the aftermath of natural disasters or shifts in U.S. politics. For enthusiasts of classic news broadcasts, this daily podcast hits the mark.
Few daily news podcasts have gained popularity as fast as The News Agents. It’s everything I wished Pod Save the UK could have been: astute, insightful, rigorous. Hosted by veteran BBC journalists Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel, and Lewis Goodall, this show delivers the news with a mix of sarcasm and “grown-up” analysis that will be familiar to regular listeners of British radio. Each episode covers the daily headlines, with guests from across the media industry weighing in on the chaos that always seems to be engulfing British and American politics. Clearly one of the best in its genre, the show offers the insightful moments and journalistic prowess that other British punditry lacks. If you are a fan of BBC radio but seek more opinionated analysis, give The News Agents a try.
If asked to think of a daily news podcast, this show from The New York Times is likely to come to mind. For over half a decade, The Daily has set the bar for the format, bringing cutting-edge journalism to the breakfast table. It publishes at 6am ET — just in time to plug in for your commute to your living room. Just kidding. We’ve heard a lot of people are back in the office these days. In fact, they’ve done stories on that.
The Daily is hosted by Michael Barbaro and Sabrina Tavernise, and it’s the flagship show of the newspaper’s ambitious audio lineup. One of the show’s biggest assets is its diverse range of journalists who offer analysis on stories of the day, drawing from the newspaper’s extensive roster of top-notch reporters. The Daily may have an air for dramatics, but it exemplifies what the NYT does best: quality journalism. Recently, the show has been recognized out for its standout coverage of the Maui fires, which was both sympathetic and informative. It might be old-school, but The Daily is still one of the best.
Today in Focus is a podcast that brings you closer to quality British journalism. Hosted by Nosheen Iqbal and Michael Safi, this show combines storytelling with insightful analysis to focus on a single story through investigative journalism. Instead of soundbites, the show goes beyond the headlines to offer something more substantial to your day. Think of it as adding a long-form article to your routine without compromising your busy schedule.
Today in Focus exemplifies The Guardian‘s commitment to in-depth reporting. While the show primarily focuses on stories from the UK, it delves into international events, too. It even occasionally features multi-part investigative reporting, bringing you closer to the stories that really matter, right now.
Alice Florence Orr is a staff writer and assistant editor for Podcast Review. She is based in Edinburgh. You can connect with her on Twitter or read her work on aliceflorenceorr.com