7 Podcasts I Wish Would Come Back

7 Podcasts I Wish Would Come Back

Hearing the news that Longform will be saying goodbye to listeners after twelve years, I reluctantly consigned the show to a mental list that I have been writing since the pandemic. It’s a roster of shows that “I couldn’t live without,” until suddenly I was forced to.

Critics and fans often lament TV shows cut down in their prime, like Firefly and Mindhunter. Trust me when I say you can also build an emotional bond with podcasts. Not to bring up the old cliche again, but audio is an intimate format. Losing a show can feel like getting ghosted by your best friend.

When people ask me to recommend my favorite podcasts, I hesitate for a simple reason: most of them ended a long time ago. Maybe I’m wrong, but I assume people are looking for shows that are still publishing episodes. To be clear, I’m not talking about limited series. People will listen to Serial’s first season for as long as we have ears. I’m talking about the weekly shows that get cancelled because the hosts move on or their networks pull funding. You probably have your own list of such podcasts, though maybe you’d rather not think about it.

When I gathered these seven shows, I was struck that many of them had something in common: I listened to them just before or during the pandemic. Perhaps I’m aging myself here, but the podcasting era I miss most is 2017-20, when The Dave Chang Show was actually good and Gimlet was still making exciting content. There was something about the comfort found in podcasts that helped stave off the social isolation, and the shows we all turned to for company carry an emotional significance that the daily political podcasts and endless interviews of today can’t emulate.

The podcasts on this list may no longer exist, but I will always recommend them, even if just for the sake of nostalgia.

The High Low

The High Low was a staple of many British millennial women’s pandemic experience. It was hosted by the authors Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, who have both since gone on to do other projects that, though successful, have not had the same cultural impact as their brief podcast fling. The High Low covered celebrity gossip, politics, and book reviews, hence the name. It was this conflation of important and frivolous topics that made the show relatable, with Alderton’s middle-class hedonism providing an interesting counterpoint to Skyes’s moralizing.

This bastion of British feminism has been imitated (right down to the cringey merch) but never matched. The closest we have is the BBC’s Miss Me? with Lily Allen and Miquita Oliver, which provides a similar format. Both shows elevate female friendship to an aspirational state; this is likely why The High Low proved so comforting while we were all stuck indoors.

Reply All

Reply All was a Gimlet podcast that relied on two things for its success: the unpredictability of its subject matter, and the chemistry between hosts Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt. The downfall of Reply All has been covered extensively. Frankly, I’d prefer to remember the good times. And times didn’t get much better than one of my favorite podcast episodes, “The Case of the Missing Hit.” I’m not alone in loving this tale of earworms and music nostalgia. It has frequently been cited as one of the best podcast episodes ever, so you might be getting tired of hearing critics applaud it. But even after many years and multiple listens, the episode remains deeply satisfying, and it works for avid podcast fans and newbies alike. The appeal lies in the fact that this episode could never have been done better in a different format; it was made for podcasting. That’s what Reply All did best. It told stories that didn’t just make you a fan of the show. It told stories that made you a fan of podcasting.


A self-proclaimed “media autopsy,” this independent podcast by Christan Sager and Charlie Bennett ran from 2016 to 2020. The idea of Supercontext was to understand why a book, television show, film, or album was actually made. It refused to perform plot analysis or become a Cliffnotes hack job; instead, it placed media in its cultural context to fully understand its means of production.

Supercontext was a show that was hard to categorize, as it encompassed mainstream and indie genres of media. My favorite episodes include their conversations on the work of Joan Didion, the film Heat, and ‘On Moral Fiction by John Gardner.’ Sager and Bennett’s vast curiosity still astounds. It’s clear that they were drawn to specific aesthetics, but they rarely took a cheap shot at a film or novel that didn’t fit their tastes.

It would be reductive to say this was a show for nerds. Anyone who has taken liberal arts classes will appreciate the discourse here, as it aims to examine work through several methodological lenses. Okay, maybe it is a bit nerdy. But before you write off this show as pretentious or dry, I’ll end with this statement: Supercontext is the podcast that made me a podcast critic.

Mystery Show

Here’s what you should know about Mystery Show. It was a show about mysteries hosted by Starlee Kine. Only six episodes of the podcast were ever made. It was a Gimlet podcast. It came out in 2015, long before Gimlet was acquired — and effectively killed — by Spotify. Mystery Show was also, I’ve been told, expensive to make. This is perhaps why it ended, though, ironically, that is also a mystery. What is certain is that the episodes we’ve been left with are still fun to listen to, almost a decade later. And they are all different lengths, making the listening experience a bit erratic.

It’s easy to hear why other podcasters love this show. Mystery Show checks the “three Es” of good podcasting: engaging, endearing, and edifying. Okay, I might have made those metrics up. But honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if Kine invented most of Mystery Show. And for that, I’ll always miss it.

The Cut on Tuesdays

Every time I read a press release describing a new show as “narrative journalism” that “explores the complexities of our modern lives,” I close my eyes and hope that whatever I’m about to listen to might come close to replacing The Cut on Tuesdays. It never does.

Before we go any further, I must distinguish between the more recent versions of The Cut‘s podcasts that came after the departure of host Molly Fischer. Despite brave efforts from recent hosts, nobody ever got close to the partnership between Fischer and Gimlet. I’ve heard various reasons for this, including pandemic-related production issues. It doesn’t matter. The Cut on Tuesdays is over, and I will always be upset about it.

As a publication, The Cut understands the complexities of being a woman in the West. Its writers don’t see contradiction when serious career women are also into clairvoyance and crystals. So, it was fitting when The Cut launched its first podcast, it created something relatable and aspirational. Fischer didn’t judge us for not being out on a Saturday night. Rather, she made acceptable our fretting over career choices, our pondering of modern romance, and our attempts to stay connected with friends out of town.

Each episode of The Cut on Tuesdays felt distinct. These extended audio essays were both journalistic and deeply personal. One episode, about a woman who passes out in the back of an Uber and is driven miles out of town without her knowledge, made me cry so much that I still can’t relisten to it. I think about her all the time.

Home Cooking

Hosted by Samin Nostrat (Salt Fat Acid Heat) and Hrishikesh Hirway (Song Exploder), Home Cooking was a traditional question-and-answer podcast that celebrated the trials and triumphs of cooking in your kitchen, no restaurants allowed.

This cult food podcast was Nostrat and Hirway’s pandemic baby. Hardly surprising, as the duo have wonderful professional chemistry. To stave off lockdown boredom, they invited listeners to phone in their culinary questions, from the practical (“Should I soak beans?”) to the absurd (“Can I make a birthday cake with whole wheat flour?” Nostrat: “impossible”.) The show was a snapshot into a difficult year that makes the very best out of a few ingredients: talented hosts, zealous listeners, and way too much spare time.

Binge Mode

Binge Mode was a fandom podcast that ran from 2017 to 2021. Each of its seven seasons covered a different cultural phenomenon, like Game of Thrones or the Harry Potter franchise, recapping a series episode by episode. This was not a show to listen to if you worry about spoilers.

Hosted by The Ringer’s now editor-in-chief, Mallory Rubin, and former senior creative, Jason Concepcion, Binge Mode epitomized the best of the network’s output, and earned loyal fans thanks to the production team’s enthusiasm for the concept and skillful execution.

It’s easy to be cynical about Binge Mode’s success. It capitalized on fan passion for someone else’s IP, offering little in the way of original ideas. Looking back, it’s clear that this was a podcast that was easy to become obsessed with. But anyone who thinks that maintaining loyal listeners over multiple seasons is simple is living in a dream world. Binge Mode was a clever formula that relied on a great team. To this day, this is the show mentioned the most when I ask “What podcast do you want to come back?” I don’t blame them.


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