We’ve all been that friend who’s “really gotten into this podcast recently.” Instead of trying to hide what can feel a bit too hip, we should all embrace this trend. Podcasts are more than dinner date talking points if you use them strategically. Here are a variety of topics and vibes to round out your thinking, ordered by descending levels of topicality.
Pod Save the People
This relatively new Crooked Media podcast is hosted by organizer, social activist and past educator DeRay Mckesson and focuses on topics of culture, social justice and politics. He has a group of three consistent news contributors as well as rotating guests who bring to the audience different ways to address the current political climate. I admit that this pod leans quite left, but it provides in-depth information on sociopolitical issues that are instructive regardless of political alignment. The conversation topics are repetitive, focusing on things like health care, educational inequity and incarceration rates, but this is clearly stated in the podcast’s description and advertising.
Five of five stars.
This Wizzard Media podcast is a great way to make yourself feel like a more critical and well-rounded thinker without having to commit a ton of time or intellectual energy. Hosts David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton bring specialists to their show to discuss philosophy in a less abstract way than one would get in a lecture or classroom setting. The 15 to 30 minute episodes focus on topics ranging from human nature and the definition of consciousness to disagreements on artistic taste and what causes sexual attraction. In this way, specific philosophers and their sometimes dense philosophies are connected to contemporary day-to-day experiences. As someone who struggles to understand philosophy in its own right, I appreciate how this podcast presents the utility and relatable nature of different schools of thought in a simplified yet non-condescending way. If you’re looking to increase your theoretical understanding of the culture in which you live and those you are unfamiliar with, this is a great start.
Four of five stars.
This pod features incredible real-life storytelling and ranges from lighthearted to emotionally draining to dark and spooky. Host Glynn Washington sometimes features bits from his own interesting and experience-filled life, unafraid to share even his most embarrassing anecdotes. More often, each themed pod features two or three stories from a variety of guests. The goal of the show is to encourage listeners to seek out perspectives wildly other to their own. This does not preclude some top-notch humor and entertainment, though. This show’s variety of tales means listeners can either pick and choose the kind of catharsis they want or blindly listen. They’ll be sure to feel that their listening time was well-spent. During times of particularly volatile politics, Washington is not afraid to give his opinion. This does not impede his sticking to the goal of a variety of perspectives. Conservative as well as liberal leanings here are represented.
Five out of five stars.
Sometimes, you need a break from the normal and into the bizarre. This Nerdist podcast hosted by Jessica Chobot and Andrew Bowser highlights strange and potentially supernatural happenings. From unsolved and poorly planned murders to haunted houses to embarrassing first date listener stories, this pod keeps you gasping, laughing or crying without fail. Chobot and Bowser are unafraid of the nitty-gritty, shying away from neither curses nor cursing. Their opinions on the stories are uncensored, and their continuous and unrelenting banter adds lightness to things that could otherwise be just straight spooky. If you need a laugh and a dip out of reality, it’s sure to keep you distracted for at least an hour, stop by this pod.
Five out of five stars.
Cover photo courtesy of WUNC