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The Magic of Podcasts

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CUA chapter.

If you’re anything like me, your memorized music playlists get old day-after-day. And again, if you’re anything like me, you’ve always wondered what this purple undeletable app Apple insists we have is: 


This magical app is the Podcasts app. For those of you who don’t know, podcasts are a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player (your iPhone), typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.

They say it’s the little things in life and I’ve found that rings particularly true with this app. As nerdy as this may sound, I wake up excited on Monday mornings, looking forward to my new episode of, ‘This American Life’ to help me get through my workout, metro commute, or walk to Aquinas hall. Not to mention the thrill of an unexpected notification from the Podcasts app, surprising me with a new episode of one of my subscribed podcasts. 

The best part of the Podcasts app is that it is free; as in, this app, and all of the episodes cost no money. In other words, it costs zero dollars to listen to any episode on the Podcasts app. They also say, the best things in life are free, so here you go. 

I’m going to walk you through my 5 favorite podcasts. However, there are thousands of podcasts centered on nearly any topic. I strongly encourage you to navigate through the Podcasts app and find episodes tailored to your interests.

5. Stuff You Missed in History Class 

Brought to us by HowStuffWorks, Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey host this captivating podcast. Stuff You Missed in History Class is pretty self explanatory, each episode discusses a certain moment, event, mystery, person, etc. in history. Some episodes sitting on my phone now are: “The Vanishing of the U.S.S. Cyclops”, “The Discovery of Longitude”, and “Calamity Jane”. These episodes vary in length depending on how in depth the hosts choose to go. Some are 12 minutes and others are broken up into 2 part episodes, each 45 minutes long. Wilson and Frey do a fantastic job of keeping the episode interesting and riveting. Due to the length in flexibility, I’ve never listened to an episode filled with “fluff”, which as well all know, is rare for a history lesson!

4. WTF with Marc Maron 

First and foremost a standup comic, writer, producer, director, and actor, Marc Maron has added Podcast host to his list of accomplishments. He tires to answer what he believes is a most philosophical question: WTF?! With a number of celebrity guests on each show, from Louis CK to Barack Obama, Maron keeps it provocative, engaging, and informative all in about an hour. 

3. Mystery Show

Arguably my favorite podcast with only 6 episodes, the adorable host, Starlee Kine, tackles small mysteries that can’t be solved with our favorite search engine: Google. From tracking down Jake Gyllenhaal to discover the truth about his controversial height, to discovering the meaning behind a local and notorious vanity plate, Starlee Kine’s inquisitiveness will surely engulf you. 

2. This American Life 

This American Life, the most popular podcast in the country hosted by Ira Glass, is a pleasure to listen to. It’s hard to sum up This American Life in so many sentences, but most simply, This American Life picks a different theme each Monday and picks a few stories the fit into that theme. As generic and boring as that sounds- it’s not. This American Life can be dramatic, or inspiring, lighthearted, or emotional, and sometimes it can be all of those emotions tied into a 60-minute episode. I have never listened to an episode that I didn’t finish and enjoy, and it’s always made me think about a topic in a new light. What more can you ask for than that?

1. Serial 

From the creators of This American Life, Serial tells one story throughout the entire season with each episode picking up where the last one left off. Led by Sarah Koenig, Serial season one is about the 1999 murder of a girl named Hae Min Lee and the investigation of her trail and the man who went to jail for it, her boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Although the research Koenig has conducted for this case is complex and overwhelming, she beautifully communicates her findings in a way that is easy to follow and understand.  You will not be able to put your headphones down, you may even take the longer route home from work to listen a little longer; Serial will leave you on the edge of your seat, questioning the characters, and our judicial system until the very last minute.