Beyond a Listen: How Podcasts Are Tackling Real Life Issues

In the last few years, there has been an explosive podcast craze taking over the U.S.; from crime podcasts to politics and entertainment podcasts, there's no shortage of genres of podcasts for every kind of listener. One constant among the thousands of increasingly popular podcasts is that more and more often they seem to approach real-life topics. Outside of the realm of the ever-so-popular movie reviews, interviews with celebrities and even the latest from Washington, people are taking on the responsibility of talking about real-world problems that the everyday person can relate to or identify with. Unlike other platforms such as TV and radio that tend to show real people and their problems for entertainment purposes, podcasts take the route of sharing personal aspects of life and usually take an educational approach. 

Recently I was listening to “Now What?!,” a podcast hosted by Big Brother Season 19 contestant Jessica Graf. She often features her husband, who she met on Season 19 of Big Brother, Cody Nickson, and other reality TV stars. Most of the time the episodes will revolve around the most basic aspects of her and her guests’ lives on reality TV: relationships, feuds, friendships, etc. Personally, some of the most interesting episodes pertain to Jessica’s personal life: her home renovation projects, meals her and her husband cook, and what her recent (and first) pregnancy has been like. Jessica gave birth a few weeks ago and took the time to make an episode all about her birthing experience with preeclampsia. As a 21-year-old woman, I had never in my life heard about preeclampsia, or how it is the single most common complication of pregnancy. Not only was this informative to me, but it was relatable to any of the hundreds of women that listen to this show and have had the same experience during pregnancy, or are currently pregnant. There aren't a lot of podcasts that revolve entirely about pregnancy and other aspects of women’s health. Even if it was an emotional conversation for Graf, it was refreshing to hear something other than the latest drama and gossip (no matter how entertaining that can be.)

Courtesy: E! News

Another more popular podcast is “Crime Junkie”—the murder mystery genre is among the most listened to on platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. This particular podcast is hosted by two friends, Ashley and Brit, and goes far beyond using anyone’s murder or disappearance as a means of entertainment, as they tend to choose disappearances or murders that have gone unsolved and ask their thousands of viewers all over the world to keep an eye out if they’re in any of the last known places of the missing person or suspected murderer. Some cases they report on even lead to follow up episodes with family, past suspects, law enforcement and even with a conclusion to the investigation in instances where someone is eventually caught. Crime Junkie is more than just a podcast though. On their website, the girls have something called “If I Go Missing” on their main webpage, which allows anyone to input information about themselves that might be relevant if they disappear into a forum available to police, as well as order a DNA Kit to use in the case you know your DNA is not in any police accessible databases. The show is very educational about what may have happened or been relevant to your local community, as well as a huge resource for virtually all listeners that use the forum and DNA Kit because you never really know what could happen. The take-home point is that the world is a big and sometimes a scary place and not only should we all be more careful, but we should also look out for one another.

Twitter: @AshleyFlowers

These are just two examples of podcasts that are branching outside of the typical, but it seems that as the world of podcasts gains popularity and audience members, their topics become more and more relevant to everyday life, and hosts become more willing to get personal. The relatability of these shows is what push it past radio or TV shows, that tend to focus on aspects of real life solely for the entertainment factor or increased viewing. In a time where people's real-life problems are put in the spotlight to garner the attention and judgment of anyone who catches a glimpse, or where accusations of "fake" and "real" take over the media we consume on a daily basis, it's refreshing to see such a big source of content becoming more genuine and real!