If you ever talk to me for more than 30 seconds, I more than likely will start a sentence with, “So I listened to this podcast…” and then make a tenuous connection to the conversation topic with a winding summary of the podcast’s content. Podcasts are accessible, fun and helpful in expanding your knowledge without the commitment of taking a class or reading a book. Even better, you can find a podcast about literally anything or hosted by literally anyone, which means you can change your podcast based on your mood. Here’s four of my favorites, described by four of my most common moods.
- When you want to learn something from two friends: You’re Wrong About.
I started listening to this podcast after seeing a friend recommend it on their Instagram story. Did I only click on it because they had a cool logo? Yes. Do I enjoy it for more than the aesthetics now? Also yes.
Hosts Mike and Sarah investigate phenomena that have been misunderstood by our mainstream culture, except instead of becoming another conspiracy theory podcast, they present well-researched, factual studies of both events I’ve heard about and ones that I’ve never heard about. Some of their podcast topics include the Tuskegee syphilis study, killer clowns, the Wayfair human trafficking controversy and “The Prom Mom” murders. Their conclusions are fascinating and very educational, but when you’re listening, it feels like you’re just listening to two friends talk about something they’ve read.
- When you want to learn something from a history teacher: Throughline.
I absolutely love NPR podcasts. It took all I had to not make every one of these five moods different variants of NPR podcasts. However, this is one of my all-time favorite long form podcasts. In a single hour-long podcast episode, Throughline presents a professional, in-depth investigation about an event in history. While it lacks the humor of You’re Wrong About, it more than makes up for it with their interviews and the reach of NPR’s investigative history. Some of my favorite episodes have been about the 3 Mile Island nuclear meltdown in 1979, the history of American police and American Evangelical Christians. Throughline is perfect for a long walk through some autumn leaves, a road trip or cleaning your bedroom (all things I’d like to do this month).
- When you want to be spooked because it’s October: Radio Rental.
If you couldn’t tell already, I usually listen to educational podcasts, so this one was definitely out of my comfort zone. Radio Rental is a podcast where you hear people recount some of the scariest, unexplainable events in their lives. Each episode includes two stories submitted by listeners (or pulled from Reddit), and the person tells their story firsthand, so you can hear their experience, which is way creepier. The stories are set in a broader story of a man (voiced by the same guy as Dwight from The Office) who has this collection of recordings at his video store, which to me was less interesting than the stories themselves. I couldn’t sleep for days after listening to Episode 2, so I’d highly recommend this series if you’re ready to be spooked.
- When you want a real-life, crazy story: Painkiller: America’s Fentanyl Crisis.
This wild eight episode series produced by Vice News explains the American opioid crisis with gritty, personal stories and far-reaching investigation. Reporter Keegan Hamilton interviews all sorts of people, including those who sold fentanyl, those who were addicted, the families of addicts who died from overdoses and even those who manufacture the drugs. Hamilton travels to Shanghai and Mexico, and the first-person perspective conveyed in the podcast makes you feel like you are there with him. While the journalism is shocking, more shocking are the conclusions drawn and the real-life implications of America’s addiction to opioids. I learned about the whole world of opioids from this podcast series without feeling like I was in school.
Those are my four favorite podcasts defined by my most favorite podcast moods. The knowledge I gain from these podcasts may not help on my political science exams, but I’ll always have something to talk about on a first date! Do you have favorite podcasts that you think I should listen to? Email me at email@example.com. I’ll listen to them, provide my commentary and even send you more recommendations.