The Beginner’s Guide to Podcasts

If you don’t currently listen to any podcasts, I highly recommend picking it up. Educational, funny, and entertaining, they’re great ways to spend time whilst doing something: on a run, cleaning the house, or during traffic at rush hour. However, it can be kind of scary to start: there are hundreds of topics about perhaps every topic you can even think of. Well, below I’ve listed some of my favorite categories and recommendations from each.


News

Admittedly, I don’t listen to a lot of news podcasts to begin with, but I’d universally recommend anything This American Life has come out with. Recently, Serial blew up, even spawning podcasts about that podcast. It details the the true story of an 18-year-old who was committed for the murder of his ex-girlfriend in 1999. From beginning to end, the story is absolutely thrilling. As the host, Sarah Koenig, uncovers the details of the decades-old case, you’ll be holding your breath the entire way. It’s filled with so many twists that you’ll come to doubt every person involved and yearn to know who actually killed Hae Min Lee.

Episode to start with: “Episode 1: The Alibi.”

Comedy

Now this is actually my personal favorite genre, as there are tons and tons of hilarious comedians currently involved in the podcast world. If you don’t mind going particularly nerdy, The Adventure Zone consists of three brothers and their father playing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. The story they come up with is in equal parts ingenious and funny. The three characters–a dwarf cleric, human fighter and elf wizard–incompetently tromp their way through a magical land of monsters and artifacts, all of which are trying to kill them.

Episode to Start With: “Ep. 1 Here There Be Gerblins- Chapter 1.”

If that’s a little too nerdy, I’d suggest The Flop House, a bimonthly podcast where three hosts watch a usually recent and almost-always terrible movie. The hosts are knowledgable and experienced, as two of them were comedy writers for The Daily Show and have been running the podcast for years. They’ve been friends for years too, and their banter definitely reflects it. I love listening to their podcasts in lieu of actually watching the movies.

Episode to Start With: “Ep. 161- A Talking Cat?!?”

Docudrama

Set up as straight documentaries, these actually fictional podcasts are fascinating and creative stories that are absolutely thrilling. By far, my favorite is a relatively new one called Limetown. As the story goes, an entire small town in Tennessee disappears in 2004. Over three hundred people, gone without a trace. A reporter seeks the answers and documents the dark and disturbing twists she finds in this podcast with every episode. I can’t say too much without spoilers, but I highly recommend this.

Episode to start with: “Ep.1 What We Know.”

Informational 

Podcasts are an absolutely fantastic way to learn about something that interests you. There’s definitely a podcast about some subject you find fascinating out there, so you can just jump into that specific category. More generally, Stuff You Should Know is highly informational and really fills in some of the gaps in our knowledge.

Episode to Start With: “That Time Nazis Invaded Florida.”

You Must Remember This is an intricate podcast that researches Hollywood in the 20th century. It’s definitely a fascinating and beautiful exploration of the scandals and stars of Tinsel Town.

Episode to start with: “Charles Manson’s Hollywood Part 1: What We Talk About When We Talk About the Manson Murders.”


If you are already a fan of podcasts, recommend your favorites below!

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One thought on “The Beginner’s Guide to Podcasts

  1. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. Recently, I’ve been obsessed with The Black Tapes, a story formatted podcast about the unexplained and paranormal. I would describe it as “Serial” meets “The X-Files,” and I cannot help myself from downloading and listening to the next episode. If you’re into ghosts, demons, and mysterious disappearences, I highly recommend it.

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