6 Podcasts to Help You Procrastinate On Your Midterms

Like any other college student, several times a year I prey upon my own weakness and look for ways to procrastinate on my midterms. As a regular listener of about 42 podcasts (I know, right) I have narrowed down 6 of my favorite contained podcast series to pass along. Fascinating enough to lead you to binge listen, but not extensive enough to keep you there long, these pods will sustain students as they get ready in the morning, walk from class to class, and sit in a fog of stress as they try not to fall asleep in the campus library. Enjoy!


1. Atlanta Monster

I have some rather critical opinions about the fetishization of serial killers by a lot of the Hip Teens™ on the internet these days, and that made me hesitant to begin Atlanta Monster. Murder and abuse are serious business, and creating content about their perpetrators often walks a thin line between explaining the gravity of the crime vs exploiting the sensational details. When the subject is the 28 murders--the majority of them children--that needle can be hard to thread.

Like most true crime stories, Atlanta Monster is captivating, complicated, and creepy. It asks all the uncomfortable questions: how fast and loose did the prosecution play with “proof beyond a reasonable doubt?” Could quiet, unathletic, intelligent Wayne Williams really have done this? Do conspiracy theories about this case matter if the families of the victims believe them? Could this really be the work of the Klan, or a secret ring of paedophiles?

Despite the disturbing content, it’s hard to argue against the quality of the storytelling. We all trust the podcast charts right? Either way, Atlanta Monster currently holds the #1 spot.


2. Serial

It was a podcasting phenomenon, occupied the #1 spot on the charts before it even came out, and aired almost four years ago. Do I still have to tell people to go listen to Serial?

As iconic as its theme music, Serial follows the investigation of the murder of Hae Min Lee by Sarah Koenig. Popular enough that even non-listeners are usually aware of a few aspects, it is a classic podcast that forever influenced the industry.


3. S-Town

When I picked up this podcast, I had a lot of preconceived ideas about what I thought the story of a rural Alabama small town would be like. S-Town begins with series of recorded phone calls, in which a local horologist taken it upon himself to investigate a neglected murder case in Woodstock, Alabama. There’s no hiding the regressive, repugnant attitudes toward race, gender, and sexuality in what he calls “S*** Town,” and John B. McLemore is a tragic character who sees no way out of the oppression.

A tale of isolation, repression, a hidden fortune, tragedy, clocks, genius, self flagellation, and a hedge maze, S-Town details complex identity of a stranger to his own world. Not always an easy listen, it remains a compelling example of the humanity of people who are more than their stereotype.


4. Heaven’s Gate

Just as with famous serial killers, there seems to be a similar modern fascination with cults, where fans consume details about the wicked and weird in a voyeuristic fashion. Glynn Washington, the host of Heaven’s Gate handles the topic with a fresh, empathetic, and chilling message: it could happen to you, and he knows this because he was raised in an apocalyptic cult.

In the mid 1990s, the enormous Hale-Bopp comet was the catalyst to a mass ritual suicide of 39 in a San Diego mansion. The Heaven’s Gate group practiced a religion of fused Christianity and UFO worship. Members abandoned their families for an ascetic, nomadic lifestyle, sported identical haircuts and uniforms, practiced celibacy, and by the sounds of their tapes… were incredibly happy. Heaven’s Gate is an emotional story of human beings that were lost from devotion to their belief. It’s not simply explained by brainwashing or coercion, and they were regular people who could have been any of us.


5. Slow Burn: A Podcast About Watergate

When I say collusion, sabotage, and obstruction of justice, which American president automatically comes to mind?

Can you imagine living in the 1970s during the Watergate Scandal, where the American public stared, fixated, as the President went on trial? Well, it actually didn’t go down like that. Slow Burn tracks the timeline of a huge political scandal that didn’t really catch on at first, but in retrospect was a defining moment of risk for the country. Prepare to have your preconceptions about the climate of the Watergate Scandal challenged, and draw whatever contemporary comparisons that you may. Of all the questions that Slow Burn asks, would we be aware if we were on the brink of a revelation of that magnitude, or would we be unconcerned by the slow burn around us?


6. The Adventure Zone

Do you like Dungeons and Dragons, slapstick humor, and brotherly banter? Bless your life with The Adventure Zone, a podcast that I like to describe as half creative storytelling, half antidote to our world of toxic masculinity. Three brothers and their dad get together to get their RPG on and fall into a wild realm of high fantasy and lowbrow comedy. Their fantastic tale starts out as human Magnus Burnsides, dwarf Merle Highchurch, and fabulous elf Taako, walk smack into the middle of an ugly mutiny (union dispute?) of goblins, manage to accidentally destroy a bunch of stuff, and get recruited for the adventure of a lifetime. The McElroy Boys go on to create an all-star cast of Klarg the Bugbear, Garyll the Binicorn, Angus the Boy Detective, Boyland the Bounty Hunter, Barry Bluejeans, Garfield the Deals Warlock, a terrifying elevator named Upsie, and the spectral recreation of… Della Reese?

Enjoy this wholesome, inventive podcast that has changed the game by writing heartbreakingly human characters (even if they’re actually robots, dragonborn, or an animated being of clay.)



Image 1: https://mic.com/articles/119856/this-is-what-happens-inside-your-brain-w...

Image 2: http://crimefeed.com/2018/01/exclusive-crimefeed-talks-to-atlanta-monste...

Image 3: https://www.wnyc.org/story/serial-true-crime-and-crime-fiction/

Image 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sv-r7Phs67E

Image 5: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/heavens-gate-20-years-later-10-thin...

Image 6: http://www.thejournal.ie/what-was-watergate-14-facts-richard-nixon-49497...

Image 7: https://twitter.com/crowdraws/status/776377230746267648