Need A #SmartBinge? You Should Be Listening To Podcasts

An alternative listening experience on your daily commute.

It always surprises me when I bring up a recent podcast I listened to in a conversation – which happens often — and the person I’m talking to says, “I’ve never listened to a podcast.” What? Listening to podcasts is only my number one hobby. If you haven’t gotten into the podcast scene, I’m here to tell you: you are missing out on a whole lot of goodness.

Podcasts are news stories, personal stories, or audio of simple conversations told through easily-downloadable audio packages. You can listen to them when you’re commuting to work, on a run, working out, washing dishes, doing homework, or while laying on the floor in your room (my personal favorite.)

Next time you reach for Spotify or Netflix, give Taylor Swift and Meredith Grey a break (they aren’t going anywhere) and try out a podcast. They are way more worldview-expanding and eye-opening than listening to Blank Space for the millionth time.

Give your eyes and ears a rest from everyday media and #smartbinge on these podcasts.

If you’re new to podcast listening, I would recommend the podcast This American Life. When I say I’ve listened to almost every single podcast made by This American Life, I’m not kidding. They have about 600 episodes since they began in 1995, but hey, you can really roll through them with hour commutes to work and daily dish cleaning. Also, they’re crazy addicting.

My favorites, and great ones for podcast beginners, are “20 Acts in 60 Minutes”“Three Miles”, “How I Got Into College”, and “No Coincidence, No Story!” This podcast does a great job of putting together high-quality episodes comprised of amazing personal stories from around the country.

But wait, there’s more.

This American Life also has incredible offshoot podcasts. Case in point: Serial. Serial follows journalist Sarah Keonig as she investigates the murder of a young high school girl and the boyfriend who was charged for her death. It’s like a TV crime drama, but a real life story that will have you halting all other commitments in your life until it’s over. Sorry boys, I can’t go out tonight; I have a date with the Serial podcast.

S-Town is another branch of This American Life, this one following journalist Brian Reed as he tells the story of a genius watchmaker living in a small, rural Alabama town. Thoughtful and contemplative, this podcast will have you reconsidering your life’s purpose by the end.Thoughtful and contemplative, this podcast will have you reconsidering your life’s purpose by the end.

Thoughtful and contemplative, this podcast will have you reconsidering your life’s purpose by the end.

If you want to have intelligent things to say about current events (I do!), try listening to The Daily Podcast  from The New York Times. This podcast runs about 20 minutes – perfect for morning commute or while getting ready – and covers what’s up today in news and politics.

It has been especially helpful to listen to while in college because it gives me a solid understanding of current events for those inevitable in-class politics conversations. What’s new with President Trump? The environment? Foreign policy? I’ll tell you all about it, thanks to The Daily.

If we’re talking about The New York Times, I also love their podcast Still Processing, a “culture conversation.” This podcast lets you listen in on the daily conversations of two super smart New York Times staff writers (Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham) as they discuss current events and popular culture trends.

On a more creative note, have you heard of The Moth Podcast ?The Moth is for my storytelling and creative writing obsessed girls out there. The Moth is a compilation of nothing but personal stories from a diverse group of writers. Brave souls read their writing aloud at Moth readings in front of live audiences that are later replayed on The Moth Podcast – bringing us stories that are both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Start with listening to the Moth’s Anniversary Special, which is comprised of three stories – one of an inventor who has trouble with the mob, one of a woman grappling with a break-up, and one of a woman who works to understand her friend.

Last but not least, take a stab at listening to Radiolab. Radiolab is unique in the way they creatively play with storytelling; they experiment with merging sound and personal stories and today’s hot topics. I recommend starting with one of their most listened to episodes, “Null and Void”, which takes a look at the power of jurors in the courtroom.

These are just a few podcasts to start with, but there are tons – just check iTunes and explore all the podcast offered for every interest: sports, culture, art, etc! Trying to explain to someone my love of podcasts is like trying to help someone understand how great The Office or ice cream is – you just have to experience it to understand.

After I listen to a podcast, I’m inspired and I’ve always learned something – something interesting and worthwhile about human beings, about the world, and about the stories that surround us all the time.


Also published on Medium.

Hannah is a student in Oregon. She is obsessed with writing, the outdoors,...