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While I love the romanticized idea of sitting at a kitchen table drinking coffee every morning while reading the paper, I think this tradition has been greatly lost on Gen Z. I can’t think of the last time I read an actual newspaper. That’s not to say I am uninformed, however; on the contrary, I stay freshly up-to-date on all the current events through podcasts. Not only do they require less energy than reading newspapers, they’re also free and you can put them on double speed if you’re extra impatient like me. Podcasts are also great for exploring areas of interest to you whether it be science, true crime, or sports. Personally, as a sociology major and political science minor, I tend to listen to podcasts dealing with topics of current social issues. If that sounds like you’re cup of tea then keep reading to find out what my top five picks are. 

1. Up First

While the news can be painful to listen to at times, it’s still important to do nonetheless. I know many people warn about looking into the news too much, but this podcast is only 10-15 minutes long and provides a great wrap up of the top 3 or 4 news stories of the day. It’s great to listen to while getting ready, and you know the information is reliable because it’s made by NPR! 

2. The Daily

“The Daily” has got to be one of the most notorious news podcasts out there, even garnering an amusing parody on Bojack Horseman. The famed host, Michael Barbaro of the New York Times dives deep into one major news story every day, as the title would suggest. Topics include the blackout in Texas, the GameStop rebellion, the homelessness crisis, and more. The podcast is the utmost of professional and is a great source to get your news from. Not to mention, the introductory jingle is super catchy!

3. Code Switch

If learning more about race relations in America is your thing (which it should be) then please listen to “Code Switch.” The hosts Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby engage in wonderfully intellectual and entertaining banter as they look into different aspects of race, culture, ethnicity, and identity in the United States each week. Recent episodes focused on the skepticism of the black community towards coronavirus vaccinations, black love featured in historical romance novels, and reparations. Episode typically range from 20-60 minutes and make for great accompaniments to any lengthy drive. I normally listen to “Code Switch” in the drive-thru to get my Covid test. It makes the experience much less painful! 

4. Nice White Parents

I had seen this podcast get advertised everywhere, but never bothered to listen until my professor recommended it to me after reading my paper on inequality in public schools. I’m so glad she told me to try it out because I finished this podcast in less than a week, despite it entailing five hours’ worth of content. “Nice White Parents” follows the real-life story of an attempt at integration in a low-income New York City public school. It is truly a perceptive disentanglement of the convoluted complexities involved in education reform in America, particularly New York City. What I love most about this podcast is its willingness to call-out the unintended but very real effects of the actions of privileged white liberals. In some way it reminds me of how the internet has recently been dissecting the trope of the “nice guy” and how he typically causes nothing but trouble. The whole series raises necessary questions about white people’s place in integration and the realities of such a situation coming to light. 

5. Queer Diagnosis

If you’re a student on the pre-med track, I highly recommend that you listen to this podcast. Not only does it give a superb look into the issues of queer identities in medicine, but it was also created by our fellow seawolves! Hosts Zarya Shaikh and Srihita Mediboina interview fascinating members of the Stony Brook medical community each episode who provide unique insights into the intersectional approach to medicine and healthcare. Something I love about this podcast is that at the end of every episode they include a reflection section for the audience and the hosts to contemplate about all that they have learned throughout the course of the hour. 


I hope you check out some of these podcasts and enjoy. I promise they are all worthy of your spare time, especially if you’re a commuter and need to fill those quiet rides with something! 


Leela Rajeev

Stony Brook '22

Hello, I love writing and watching Netflix!
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