My Favorite Podcasts and Why

For many reasons, I am a podcast addict. One of them is that humans are amazing. We have an internal desire to connect with others, to feel seen, and to see others. Storytelling is one of the main ways that this intrinsic human need is fulfilled. We gather ‘round the campfire and tell ghost stories as we roast s’mores, and we clink our glasses together at weddings and enjoy funny anecdotes about newlywed couples. One of the most famous quotes of the American Civil Rights movement, “I have a dream,” comes from a story told by Martin Luther King Jr. about a world of peace, hope, and acceptance of others. Stories like this have the power to change the world.

I love listening to conversations and learning about people and how they interact. I love learning without feeling that classic classroom burnout that plagues stressed-out university students. I love thinking about things from a new perspective, or being introduced to ideas and thoughts that would never have come into my universe otherwise.

But most of all, I love stories. Podcasts are full of this hope, emotion, and intrinsic human need for connection. Podcasts give us virtual access to more stories than anyone could ever possibly listen to in their lifetime (trust me, I would know). Some of them are scary, or heartwarming, or sad. Some are even just plain bad. To save you some time, I’ve picked out five of my favorites just for you.

5. Crime Junkie

Crime Junkie is a true crime podcast unlike any other. The two girls that host it are lifelong friends, but they don’t fill their episodes with endless conversation that is unrelated to the case they are discussing. They do their research ­­– and fill the half-hour to hour-long episodes with facts. They have respect for the victims of the violent crimes that they talk about and often reach out to families and raise awareness about cases that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. This attention has the potential to bring unsolved cases to justice by encouraging anyone who might have information to come forward. Be warned, though, episodes can get gruesome or intense.

 

Image Source: Crime Junkie Podcast

4. Guys We F****d

This raunchy podcast is not for you to listen to with your mom (or do it, power to you). Two womxn discuss their previous sexual encounters in an interview format with guys they have f****d. They talk about men’s emotional barriers, oral sex, kinks, and aim to spread a “healthy outlook on female sexuality.” It’s a fun, dirty podcast that keeps me laughing.

Image Source: Guys We F****d

3. Invisibilia

I recently discovered this NPR podcast, and have since consumed hours of it in a mere week. Once again, two womxn are the host, and in a beautifully written and introspective way, they craft artistic stories about the way that human beings think and feel, and how our experiences shape our behavior. My favorite episode of theirs included a woman so nervous that she would throw up on every date and explored an entirely new and provocative way to look at emotion, as told by a psychologist, that would shape the way we feel about feelings.

Image Source: Invisibilia

2. Criminal

Criminal is a true crime podcast (shocker). However, it feels different to me, in a good way. The host doesn’t just tell stories, she hunts them down and opens them up. She interviews criminals, victims, and witnesses, and always masterfully crafts a lesson into her episodes. Unlike most true crime podcasts, Criminal doesn’t focus on the gore. It focuses on the human connections, social implications, and context of the crimes. It explores more than murder or violent crimes. The most recent episode chronicled an immigrant transwoman who turned to sex work to survive. Before that, we meet an elderly gay man who gave up everything to take care of his dying best friend, until they decided to die together. Before that, we listen to a man who escaped prison to rob a bank and fell in love with his hostages.

Image Source: Criminal

1. Hidden Brain

Hidden Brain is my favorite podcast because it explores the ways that human beings think and interpret the world. Using relevant psychological studies, Hidden Brain tells anecdotes that help us grasp the concrete reality and implications of research findings, and how those findings express themselves in real-world human behavior and emotion. Intelligent psychologists frequent the show, and each episode is a beautiful mix of educational, interesting, emotional, and sometimes heartwarming.

Image Source: Hidden Brain