Podcasts are a totally underrated form of entertainment and education in my opinion. They’re perfect for long road trips and plane rides, or even just for a fun distraction on a more everyday basis. And, I promise, podcasts are not as boring as you may think. Here are the JagWire’s suggestions.
Want to feel like you have life on the ropes and not the other way around? Listen to Up First while you get ready in the morning or on the way to school! This ten minute podcast from NPR runs down the top three stories of the day every weekday morning in a way that is comprehensive yet accessible. It’s a great way to stay informed without becoming overwhelmed by the countless headlines you find as you scroll through the news on your phone.
Episode suggestion: whichever one is most recent!
This American Life
Is there a voice more soothing than that of Ira Glass? I think not. Besides helping me fall asleep at night, Glass (the host of This American Life) is a wonderful storyteller. His radio show is intriguing, genuine, funny and poignant. This American Life sometimes covers stories that are fairly obscure (like the true meaning of summer camp or the tale of a car dealership in New Jersey trying to meet its monthly quota) and other times shares ones that are equally relevant (for example, differing views on immigration or Trump’s America).
Episode suggestion: “No Coincidence, No Story!”
The Moth Radio Hour
Another fantastic podcast for story-lovers is The Moth Radio Hour. Storytellers switch every week, and you never know what a story is going to be about until you listen. Sometimes the recordings are live, sometimes the episodes are themed and sometimes it’s just a stranger telling you something crazy, terrifying or emotional that happened to them — but it’s always good.
Episode suggestion: “The Prince and I”
The sister podcast to its namesake column in The New York Times, Modern Love is a guilty pleasure for all us hopeless romantics. Modern Love the column features new write-in essays every week on, in their words, “love, loss and redemption.” The podcast version includes a reading of a particular essay by a well-known actor, as well as a follow up with the essay’s author and comments by column editor Daniel Jones on why he chose to print this particular essay. The follow-up makes the podcast stand out from the column to me, especially for essays that may be decades old.
Episode suggestion: “An Empty Heart”
Foreign Language (Radio Ambulante)
This suggestion is a little more broad. If you’re taking a foreign language class or just trying to keep up a particular language, find a foreign-language podcast that suits your fancy. Even if you don’t understand everything, following how real people speak will improve your skills. For Spanish speakers I suggest Radio Ambulante, a longer weekly podcast that follows interesting stories in Latin America and the rest of the Spanish speaking world (including the US).
Episode suggestion: “In the Dark”
FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast
I’m a junkie for FiveThirtyEight in general, and their new-ish politics podcast came as a blessing during the most recent election. It’s conversation style, and I like how the informality takes a certain edge off of pressing political issues.
Episode suggestion: “Does Trump’s mood matter?”
While I never got into Serial, this podcast follows a similar story-like format. And boy, is it a weird story. Forc those of you who like dark, real-life mysteries, this is 100 percent up your ally. Morbid, a little sweet and certainly complicated, S Town will keep you on your toes and possibly awake at night.
Episode suggestion: Episode I
Illustration by Nina Scott-Farquharson