Maybe you’ve heard of them, maybe you haven’t, but podcasts are basically radio on the internet, on demand. They are surprisingly popular, and according to Edison Research, a quarter of Americans are listening to them on a monthly basis. It's an interesting medium, but if you are new to podcasts, there’s so much content out there that it can be intimidating to know where to start. Especially if technology is not your forte. Thankfully you have me to help.
First the best place to listen to podcasts is with your smartphone, and whether you are on Apple or Android, forget the standard podcast listening app and use the app Overcast. It’s easy to find things, and the layout over all is more user friendly. After that, these podcasts are a great place to start listening.
The first stop for most podcast newbies has generally been ” Serial”. This was the first truly viral podcast that drove a significant number of people to the platform as a whole. This one was so ubiquitous that Saturday Night Live did skit spoofing it in 2014. I’d recommend only listening to season one, about the trial of Adnan Syed, as season two is universally considered to be lackluster in comparison. This is a great one for fans of long form reporting and true crime.
Second is a personal favorite of mine, “The Popcast”. If you enjoy this column, I’d like to think you’d also enjoy this podcast. It's a conversational style show about pop culture hosted by two delightful human beings, Knox and Jamie. These two are funny, sarcastic, and very opinionated. Listening to this podcast feels like having a fun conversation with your most entertaining friends and bonus, their website knoxandjamie.com gives you a list of episodes to start at first, making it easier to decide if this is a podcast for you.
For people who love the idea of someone telling them a story and in the spirit of fall approaching, I’d recommend “Spooked”. “Spooked” is technically a spin off of “Snapped Judgment” but for the Halloween season. This podcast is weekly installments of scary stories and is done with exceptional quality. This year’s season has started already and will have a new episode every week until Halloween.
“Slow Burn” is great for the political junkie. Season one covers the story of Nixon’s impeachment and how it felt to experience the drama of that process while it was actually happening. I listened to the first season in a week. The current season is all about Clinton’s impeachment and so far looks to be just as interesting.
Last but not least is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the kind of story podcasts were meant to tell, “Dirty John”. Currently being developed for Bravo as TV Show, “Dirty John” follows the story of man whose “dirty” practices affect a california family in a number of disturbing ways. It’s a true crime masterpiece. Once you start listening you’ll want to binge the whole thing.
I’m very much just scratching the surface of what podcasts have to offer. If you want to be educated on a topic, there’s “Radiolab”, “Freakonomics” and the Quick and Dirty Tips network of shows. If you want a faith perspective there’s “That Sounds Fun” with Annie F Downs. Want conversations about food? “Milk Street” or “The Sporkful” are a great place to start. There’s great fictional story podcasts like “The Big Loop”, “Kings Falls AM”, or “The Bright Sessions.” Either way, podcasts are a great way to learn something new, laugh, or just not be so annoyed about being stuck at the railroad tracks