Apr 20, 2019
Photo Courtesy: The Huffington Post

A Beginner’s Guide to Podcasts

In the era of virtual reality, streaming services, countless sources of entertainment and media, podcasts seem like an unlikely contender in the fight for your attention.

Nevertheless podcasts are experiencing an unexpected boom in popularity.

According to a study by Business Insider, the percentage of people in the United States who listened to podcasts regularly rose from just 9 percent in 2008 to 21 percent in 2016.

This is likely due to the easy accessibility of podcasts, the explosion of new content now available, and the immersive quality of audio.
Unlike youtube or streaming services, podcasts can be enjoyed while doing chores around the house, walking to your next class, or even while enduring that grueling early morning commute to campus.

It’s convenient and immersive, but the best part is that there is no shortage of variety. Do you like learning about politics or science? There are podcasts for that. Do you enjoy being outdoorsy or visiting museums?  There are podcasts for that, too.
There is even a podcast about podcasts!

With so many options it is easy to feel overwhelmed, so I wanted to share a few of my absolute favorite podcasts to help new podcast listeners get started.

News & Politics

There are so many podcasts under this category. Whether you are liberal, conservative or anything in between these podcasts will keep you up to date with current events and political news:

  • NPR’s Up First

NPR’s “Up First” promises to deliver “the news you need to start your day” in just 10 to 15 minutes. This is ideal for those with a short commute, or when you want to know what’s going on in the news but your not quite ready for the nitty gritty details. More accurately  

  • The Daily from The New York Times

“The Daily” presents a deeper look at the most important news stories twenty minutes a day, five days a week. With top notch journalism you can follow stories about the true death toll in Puerto Rico, or the details surrounding the latest White House scandal in the time it takes you to find a parking spot on campus.

  • NPR politics podcast

The NPR Politics Podcast is a weekly roundup of the most important news stories from NPR’s political reporters. Hear the opinions of white house correspondents and reporters who are up close and personal with politicians.

Pop Culture, Science and Media Explained

Some of my favorite podcasts are the ones that teach me something, pique my curiosity, or challenge me to view my world differently. Here are a few of the most illuminating, interesting and strange podcast I listen to regularly.

  • On the Media from WNYC Studios

If you are an MCJ major and you have never heard of Brooke Gladstone, then you should definitely give this podcast a try. From WNYC Studios this podcast is “a weekly investigation into how the media shapes our world view”. Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield examine themes and social movements with a wide lense, offering you a big picture take on the state of media and the tools to navigate the current state of news and information.

  • Reply All

If you are like me, then internet culture is often a strange and fascinating world of trends and memes, too difficult for a busy student to decipher or keep up with. “Reply All” from Gimlet Media aims to explain the mysteries of the internet to confused listeners in “a podcast that is actually an unfailingly original exploration of modern life and how to survive it.”

  • Science Vs.

“Science Vs” is a podcast that takes on myths or popular opinion and pits them against science and facts. Wendy Zuckerman’s adorable Australian accent will reel you in but the unflinching and often humorous topics will keep you listening. With episodes like, “Science Vs. Detox Teas”, “Science vs. Love” or “Science vs. Abortion” if you’ve ever questioned the validity of one argument or another then this podcast has the science you need.

  • RadioLab

This is one of my favorite podcasts out there. Radiolab describes itself as “a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.” If this description made you want to know more about the show, then you are going to love the content. Always fascinating, always entertaining, Radiolab is a must listen for the perpetually curious individual.

  • More Perfect

“More Perfect” is a podcast about the Supreme Court decisions that continue to shape our society and affect our everyday lives. It is a useful source of historical information, telling us the story of the laws we take for granted or have never understood. “More Perfect” also delves into the personal stories of the individuals involved adding a rich context and excitement to an often boring topic.

Fiction and Audio Dramas

Podcasts come in a wide variety of formats and themes, but not all are meant to inform or discuss.

I actually discovered podcasts after stumbling upon fictionalized audio dramas. Being a huge reader and audiobook fan, I immediately fell in love with the immersive quality of audio especially when it comes to sci-fi and scary stories. Here is a short list of some of my favorite sci-fi and fictionalized scary stories podcasts available.

  • The Message

  • Lore

  • The Black Tapes

  • The Bright Sessions

Of course these are just my suggestions, there is a whole world of podcasts out there just waiting to be explored. There are podcasts about the outdoors, food, music, pop culture, and like I mentioned before there is even a podcast about podcasts.

  • The Big Listen from NPR

The Big Listen from NPR shares podcasts you may never have heard of and interviews the creators of some of the most popular podcasts available. The Big Listen is how I discovered Science Vs. and a podcast about truckers. Yes, truckers. There is a podcast for everything.

Also don’t forget to check out The Collegian’s new podcast shows: Badvice, Deep Breath and The Collegian Sportcast.

Available on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Play and The Collegian website.



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