Podcasts have a fraught reputation: some of us depend on them for our daily commute, while others find them hard to follow. Just as any given person’s tastes and interests cannot be put in a box, neither can podcasts as a medium. Some are funny, some are investigative, some are intellectually stimulating. Listening to podcasts is surely a different experience from listening to the Top 40, but can be informative and entertaining for college students all the same. You may be familiar with the big ones, like Serial, and so provided here are five currently active podcasts that cover a wide variety of subject matter, thus appealing to all different kinds of people. Yours for the taking.
#1: For the Pre-Law
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect
Ranging from thirty-eight to sixty-four minutes, each episode of More Perfect begins with a reading of the Preamble to the Constitution. The podcast itself, which is featured a few times a month on NPR and available to stream on Spotify, takes a close look at how “an elite group of nine people” (the justices of the Supreme Court) “shape everything from marriage and money, to safety and sex for an entire nation.” More Perfect dives into the “rarefied world of the Supreme Court to explain how cases deliberated inside hallowed halls affect lives far away from the bench.” In an election year, and furthermore in the wake of an unsettling new administration, More Perfect is a crucial listen, whether or not you’re studying for the LSAT. (Source: More Perfect website).
#2: For the Urban Studies Major
WNYC Presents: There Goes the Neighborhood
Here at Wash U, it’s likely that you or your friends are thinking of moving to New York City. They’re going to Pace Law School, they’re working as a scribe for the oncological attendings at NYU Langone, they’re hoping to make it in the fashion or art world. As it turns out, however, there’s only three hundred five square miles of real estate in the five boroughs; and everyone needs to fit somewhere… Enter the new-age dilemma of gentrification.
There Goes the Neighborhood takes a close look at the young, white gentrification of the denser areas of Brooklyn. Host Kai Wright and his team collect data from the developers responsible for the housing itself, as well as checking in on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan for affordable housing, ending each episode by reminding listeners of the integral role that race plays in the process. A must-listen for any student interested in urban development, or those gearing up for the thousand-mile move east, as it reminds them that they did not, in fact, get there first.
#3: For the Rationalist
Gimlet Media Presents: Science vs.
This relatively new—but standout for its unusual and fascinating subject matter—podcast is hosted by Wendy Zukerman, a renowned science journalist. In each episode, she tackles and explains to listeners the most up-to-date scientific research on topics such as “do antidepressants work?” (Science vs. Antidepressants), “the g-spot” (Science vs. The G-spot), and probing possible solutions for America’s dire problem with gun control (Science vs. Guns). It’s the responsibility of any well-informed college student to be well-versed in the issues that matter. Science vs. provides an educational and nuanced view of several of these pressing issues, while eliminating any opportunity for unreliable bias.
#4: For the Comedian
Nerdist Industries Presents: You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes
Funny podcasts are often a great entry into the podcast-listening world. won’t take nearly as much effort. Pete Holmes’ talk show podcast, You Made It Weird, features Holmes and another celebrity, typically a fellow comedian, riffing off of each other and devolving into laughter for a full hour. Holmes’ semi-weekly podcast is noteworthy for its straightforward approach to interviewing. He doesn’t dance around topics like the sex life of his guests, or their take on religion. The show differs from the average comedy podcast in that it’s humor complements what is fundamentally an interview show.
#5: For Everybody
Chicago Public Media Presents: This American Life
Widely cited as the most popular podcast in the country, This American Life is a weekly public radio show broadcast on more than 500 stations, flanked with well over two million listeners tuning in. Originally a television show on Showtime, TAL is now hosted by Ira Glass, and has won each and every major broadcasting award, including three Emmys. Its official categorization is a journalistic non-fiction program, though it has also featured essays, memoirs, field recordings, short fiction, and found footage. Simply put, This American Life (of which Serial is a spin-off) has marked a watershed in the credibility and expansion of American podcasting, and it never quite follows a theme. Nothing can be written that will do TAL justice. For a beginner listener, a technology skeptic, or even a non-American, This American Life is a truly phenomenal broadcast about which everybody can find something to love.