The Best Podcasts

Alex Kim, Staff Writer

Some people lament that we don’t read books as much as we used to, but I believe that it’s partly related to the wealth of other media that we can use for entertainment and information. Podcasts are one of them! From mystery stories to comedy, Mars geology to butterfly science, misunderstood history to explained economy and politics, there are hundreds of incredible podcasts on every subject under the sun. Both easily accessible and fun to listen to, and they are also a great accompaniment to driving long distances, folding the laundry, getting ready for the day, or winding down for bed. Whether you’re a first-time audience or an experienced listener, here is a diverse list of podcasts to check out!

When it comes to talking about podcasts, one cannot ignore true crime, the genre responsible for starting the big podcast revolution. While some follow one case, never sparing a single detail, others break down several different incidents in an episodic manner. A good place to start would be My Favorite Murder. Hosted by comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, My Favorite Murder recounts one true crime case every week. From audience submitted “hometown murders” to unsolved crimes, strange murders to survivor stories, Kilgariff and Hardstark discuss each case in a fun, engaging, and compassionate way. Thus, their large following is not only because of the stories themselves but also because of the conversations that direct empathy toward the people involved and the discussions about the discrimination against women and the mentally ill in the genre. Other notable true crime podcasts include Serial, Broken Harts, Casefile, and Wine and Crime. Also, for some non-crime related story-based works such as first-person narratives, check out This American Life, The Moth, and Reply All!

If you’re looking for something fun and somewhat educational to feel more productive, try some of these science podcasts that I swear are more exciting than you’d expect. Ologies, hosted by the Alie Ward, brings in a different expert every week to discuss their “ology” such as Areology, Teuthology, Dendrology, and Lepidopterology. Not sure what these terms mean? That’s okay! The tagline for the show, “ask smart people dumb questions,” perfectly embodies its welcoming, informative, and comedic tone. Every week, listen to Ward interview infectiously passionate and enthusiastic experts, dispel several misconceptions, and blow your mind with hilarious insight into topics that you never thought could be so interesting or entertaining. RadioLab by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulrich is a unique storytelling podcast that blurs the “boundaries between science, philosophy, and human experience.” It is a well-produced, stylish, and engaging literary approach to science with full-length stories filled with music, mystery, and culture that will leave you in awe. Apart from these, there are so many other great science podcasts such as The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, Stuff You Should Know, StarTalk, and Science Friday.

Moving away from science and traveling into the government and history side of podcasts, try out Revisionist History, Pod Save America, and Planet Money. Famous author and journalist, Malcolm Gladwell, hosts Revisionist History, a podcast that reinterprets the misunderstood and overlooked details of an event, a person, or an idea from the past. Well-researched, thoughtful, and passionate, this is the type of show that you will enjoy if you are opinionated and curious about society in America. Pod Save America is a comedy conversation about politics, hosted by three former Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, and Jon Lovett. A progressive political podcast, Pod Save America covers recent news and interviews several politicians, activists, and journalists to “inform, entertain, and inspire action.” You don’t need a degree in economics to understand the complex intricacies of American politics and the economy. Planet Money, produced by NPR, has you covered with easy to understand weekly insight on topics such as health care, trade, immigration, and political movements. There are even some fun episodes such as the one explaining the game theory in the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians.

My favorite part of podcasts is how easy it is to become invested into things that I otherwise would never have been interested in before. The hosts know how to draw the audience in with comedy but also some serious discussions that have shaped the way that I view the world as well. Even though I have included some of my favorites, there are hundreds more that I didn’t mention, so go out there! Listen to some stories! I promise you will be laughing before you know it, but also probably learning something unexpected.