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Coming back to college in the city means that I don’t get to listen to the radio as much as I did at home. In Texas, you had to take a car to go anywhere, and being in a car meant that you generally listened to either the radio or music. In my family, we switched between a couple of different radio stations. One that we always come back to if there is nothing else is the KERA news station, which is essentially the radio version of NPR (National Public Radio), a publicly funded, non-profit media organization based in Washington D.C. 

Here, I listen to a lot of music walking to and from classes or other places I need to be. Recently, I started to miss listening to the radio, and something that I’ve discovered that has helped me is listening to podcasts — especially the NPR podcasts as a lot of their radio shows have been converted to podcast form! 

NPR News Now

This is one that I listen to multiple times a day because it gets updated on the hour, every hour. It just provides updates about what is going on currently in the world — essentially, it discusses the news, happening “now,” as the title indicates. I would recommend this one for people that like to listen to the news and feel like they don’t have a lot of time to do it. Most of the episodes are under 5 minutes. If you are looking for a news podcast that’s a little bit longer and more in-depth, the other news podcast NPR has is called “Up First,” which tends to be between 10 and 15 minutes long. I recommend either because they are both quite thorough and enjoyable!

TED Radio Hour

If you are a person that likes to listen to TED talks or speeches similar to that style, I would recommend listening to the TED Radio Hour. This podcast is simply the audio version of TED talks, and there are so many different topics you are able to choose from. The topics range from climate change to discussions about meditation — essentially, there are deep dives for a multitude of subjects, and all of them will most likely teach you something you didn’t know before.

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

In comparison to the other two, the title of this podcast doesn’t really explain what the show is about. It is a radio game show, where regular people or even celebrities participate in a current events quiz. This one is a lot of fun to listen to if you like trivia or games shows or if you are with other people because then you can play along with the participants and see how much you know!

The NPR Politics Podcast

It took me a while to find a politics podcast that I actually enjoyed listening to, and this was the one that made the cut! I discovered that political podcasts are very long and boring to listen to, and they are not really that engaging. This show brings in journalists, policy-makers, politicians, and researchers to explain what is going on and what their opinion are on selected issues. Along with this, there are multiple people that report the stories — not just one. NPR has a lot of news correspondents, and they are all assigned to cover different topics, such as the White House, Congress, local elections, and much more. I think the change in the reporters contributes to how dynamic the show is, making it a lot better than a regular politics podcast. I would recommend listening to this podcast if you have 20 to 30 minutes and are either interested in a general politics update or updates on specific issues.

Life Kit

This is one of my favorite podcasts ever — not just out of the other NPR podcasts. It is similar to the “TED Radio Hour” show, but it talks about things you could do in your life to make it a little bit better. The show brings in experts to help explain and give advice and tips on what listeners can be doing in order to feel more “put together.” I really do think this podcast is amazing, and I think everyone should give it a try because there’s an episode on almost everything you could think of!

Some honorable mentions: Up First, Consider This, Code Switch, Car Talk — but I think almost all of the podcasts that NPR produces are great, and I’m sure you’ll find one that suits your taste!

Mahati Shastry

Columbia Barnard '24

Mahati is a sophomore at Barnard who is excited to experience the wonder that is NYC. She loves reading, writing, and spending time outdoors. Even though she is just entering the Barnard family, she already feels like she’s at home. Currently, she is undecided but is very interested in political science and human rights. :)
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