*Disclaimer: For those who are coming in completely blind, I apologize for the amount of enthusiasm I will have on this topic. Over the past three years, I’ve discovered and fallen in love with so many stories and characters that it’s very easy for me to geek out on the subject. I hope in this small personal essay of mine I can share in my love of podcasts with you all and hopefully have some of you join the wonderful communities around these wonderful shows.*
Podcasts are a lot like audiobooks in the fact that they can tell you a story but you get to picture it all in your head. Yes, there are some podcasts that are just two people sitting around talking about what makes them passionate, but the podcasts I’m about to share with you are gems. They tell stories, create worlds, have plotlines spanning years, everything that TV series or novels have, but on such a unique platform. I hope you find at least one new adventure to love that forces you down a rabbit hole you’ll never want to escape.
This podcast is where it all began for me. Three years ago, my friend shoved her phone in my face and said: “listen to this” and from that moment I was hooked. The Bright Sessions follows Dr. Bright as she records her therapy sessions with her patients. The twist? Each of her patients has a special ability, including time traveling, mind reading, and as one patient phrases it, “getting what he wants.” With 50 episodes brilliantly produced following a wonderfully constructed story of love, self-care, revenge, and so much more, The Bright Sessions is one of the best story podcasts on iTunes and is a great starter podcast for those new to the podcast world.
Where can one even begin with WTNV? In a lot of ways, it’s indescribable, and any attempt to describe it will cause you to lose many aspects that make the oddness of it all so wonderful. I can tell you this much – the voice acting is wonderful and quite soothing, the stories twist and turn and often have no predictable end in sight and, at the end of the day, it’s a calming and unique experience, unlike anything I’ve ever heard. With over 100 episodes, it might take you a while to get through it, but I promise it’s worth every second. Also a reminder – there are no dogs allowed in the dog park.
*Editor’s Note: Much like Law & Order: SVU, WTNV’s episodes are uniquely interesting (excluding the occasional two-part story). This makes jumping into the show super easy, although I highly recommend starting at the very beginning so you can get to know all of the characters. Like John Peters, you know, the farmer?*
King Falls AM was my second love. This podcast is based around two men, Ben Arnold and Sammy Stevens, hosts of their own late-night fictional talk show “King Falls AM.” Throughout the series, Ben and Sammy deal with a multitude of strange happenings going on in their small town, from alien abductions to a Jack-in-the-box Jesus. This podcast has so many well written and developed characters who always manage to make you smile when they call into the show. Though you don’t exactly get to be there for the action in a lot of ways, you feel like just another dear listener and citizen of the sweet small town of King Falls.
This was my first Dungeons & Dragons experience and, not going to lie, I was afraid of it. “Isn’t that just for nerds?” I thought. But I had so many people recommend it, that one day I just had to sit down and listen. Truthfully, the first few episodes were rough. The cast of three brothers and their dad (the same cast as the podcast My Brother, My Brother, and Me) honestly had no idea what direction their weird show of a podcast was going, but once they found their niche, they found gold. The Adventure Zone is one of the most beloved and well-known podcasts in the D&D subgenre (yes that exists) and with the closeness of this weird podcast enthusiast family, you quickly become absorbed in the worlds of Magnus Burnsides, Merle Highchurch, and Taako Taaco as they travel far and wide in the world that youngest brother Griffin creates. Join the TAZ cult today. You seriously won’t regret it.
This is The Adventure Zone on steroids. This Dungeon & Dragon podcast is a trip beyond your wildest dreams. With the main cast of eight talented voice actors who have worked on projects including Dragon Ball Z, Sofia the First, Naruto, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fullmetal Alchemist, and so many more, this D&D podcast will immerse you in a world unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. And yes, they do use their talents to make those sad scenes extra painful. And with episodes spanning an average three hours coupled with weekly uploads, it will be enough content to last you a lifetime.
Strangers isn’t like the other podcasts on this list. Story Central argues that “each episode is an empathy shot in your arm, featuring true stories about the people we meet, the connections we make, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that WE aren’t even who we thought we were.” There have been so many episodes that have ended up with me in tears, but in the way that made me want to go up to my mom and remind her how much I loved her. A perk of this show is that each episode is (mostly) individual, meaning you can start wherever and jump around to your choosing. Get ready for a heart full of feels after this one!
*Editor’s Note: If Strangers sounds like a show that’s right up your alley, I recommend checking out comedian Chris Gethard’s Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, or more simply Beautiful/Anonymous. The premise of each show is the same: One phone call. One hour. No names. No holds barred. Every week, Chris opens the phone line to one real-life anonymous caller, and he can’t hang up first, no matter what. From shocking confessions and family secrets to philosophical discussions and shameless self-promotion, anything can and will happen!*
To wrap up this dork session, I will admit it takes a long time to digest all of this content. But you can listen while you drive, do chores, homework, whatever! I promise you that at least one of these shows will get your interests. If I’m wrong, keep exploring. I have a feeling we’ll just keep finding bigger and better shows in the years to come. So get going and get listening!