Since high school, I have been listening to podcast after podcast; continuously intrigued by the range of knowledge I could consume on one platform. Podcasts are fascinating because they allow listeners to laugh, cry, or learn a snippet about any topic imaginable. Personally, the obsession started with Serial, a WNYC podcast about the disappearance and murder of Hae Min Lee and the conviction of Adnan Syed. I was hooked. For months I listened solely to true crime podcasts and had basically become a member of the FBI. But after listening to endless crime episodes, I needed to look around for other genres of podcasts. It has been a few years since then, and I'd say I know a thing or two about what makes a good podcast. Here's the breakdown of my favorite podcasts.
Pod Save America: This podcast is intense. The hosts, all former Obama Administration staffers, break down the weekly news in a way that helps listeners genuinely understand the issues. To me, the best part of the podcast is that they discuss how people can help work towards a resolution for the issues. They also interview current and former policymakers, as well as highly intelligent, engaged and impossibly exciting guests like Stephen Colbert and activists working towards social justice.
Welcome to Night Vale: Hear me out; this podcast strays from the usual format of news, advice, and conversation podcasts. Welcome to Night Vale is a radio news show reporting on the fictional town of Night Vale. I had to listen to this podcast for a high school class, and after having hesitations toward it at first, the quality sound, dramatic effects, and realism of it hooked me. Listeners will want to start on episode one since this is a story that builds over time.
Call Her Daddy: Yes, I love learning about the world's political climate and other serious issues. However, listening to Call Her Daddy makes me feel like a baddie. With advice on sex, dating, relationships, and more, Alex Cooper not only empowers women but also gives us all a good laugh. After the drama with ex-host Sofia Franklin erupted, many wondered if the show would be the same with a single host. Well, I'm here to say that it is better than ever before, and with notable guests like Miley Cyrus and Olivia O'Brien, it's safe to say our single father isn't going anywhere.
TED Radio Hour: Each week, this podcast illuminates the outstanding presentations given at TED events by speakers worldwide. This show almost acts as a highlight reel, shortening episodes to their core message. As profound and life-changing as many full-length TED Talks can be, this podcast does a terrific job of portraying the speaker's message and combining several presentations into one episode. To name a few things this podcast has taught me and to demonstrate the range of topics this show covers, I've learned about how to question the universe with Stephen Hawking, how being vulnerable is a superpower, and what happens when you respond to spam emails.
I'm Trying My Best: Okay, everyone. If you are looking for a podcast that gives you advice on college life, relationships, health, and self-love, this is it. Not only is this podcast well-produced and entertaining, but the host herself is also an MSU student and a good friend of mine, Hunter Gadwell. One of the many reasons I'm Trying My Best made this list is because it is so relatable. Hunter comes from a grounded perspective, and when she gives advice, she follows it up by telling an embarrassing story that reminds listeners that we all balance our moments of both humility and success.
The Michelle Obama Podcast: Duh. I mean, come on. Michelle is amazing. In this show, Michelle is joined by incredible guests including her husband the former President Barack Obama, OB-GYN Sharon Malone, TV personality Conan O'Brien, and many others. In these discussions, Michelle digs deep to reach an understanding of how "the relationships in our lives make us who we are." Although this podcast has only been available for a little under two months, there's no question that this show should be on everyone's best podcast lists. This show is inspiring and motivating in that no matter who you are or where you are, these episodes will leave a positive impact on you.
We Bought A House: This is the sweetest, most personable podcast I have ever listened to. Hosts Claudia Sulewski and Finneas talk about their relationship, careers, dog, and life in general. Claudia is an accomplished YouTuber, and Finneas is a singer, songwriter, producer, and together, they are a powerhouse couple. Not only are they wonderful humans who outwardly support important social movements such as Black Lives Matter, but they are both so eloquently spoken that listening to this podcast is pure joy. One interesting aspect of this podcast is that it launched right at the beginning of quarantine in March, so the early episodes convey such a raw, honest vulnerability and uncertainty for the future while still incorporating light-hearted and sweet stories.
Snap Judgment: This show is the coolest mix of true stories and sick beats. Each week, guests are featured to tell their stories, whether it is inspiring, hilarious, sad, or educational, while music is produced specifically for each episode, and each story to perfectly fit the mood. My favorite guest is referred to as "The Closer" - a.k.a. James Judd, a comedian whose wild stories paired with his impeccable storytelling, will have listeners rolling with laughter.
There are at least 27 other podcasts I could add to this list, but these are the shows that I have found to be the most useful and reflective of my own life and experiences. For me, podcasts act as an escape where I can learn without assignments, and broaden my understanding of others and the world we share. Especially during this time of COVID-19, being able to experience the world through someone else's perspective is invaluable. So, while you're getting ready, driving, running, or doing whatever the day may bring, put on one of these podcasts and slip away for a while.