Staff Opinion: Why you should listen to podcasts

By Hannah Sievert | March 27, 2018 10:59pm

Hannah Sievert is living editor for The Beacon.
by Brennan Robinson / The Beacon

The one thing I get really, really passionate about is podcasts. I’m the person who will get all up in your face and scream, “You’re not listening to podcasts?!?!?” I’m the person who, on a road trip, will hold the fellow road-trippers hostage and force them to listen to podcasts for the hours on the road (“you’ll love it, just listen”) and not let them interrupt for the entire podcast hour.

I’m someone who has listened to certain podcasts multiple times and can recite them by memory. Obsessive? Maybe. But there is something about podcasts that make them my favorite kind of media. You can listen to a podcast anywhere and while doing anything, like washing dishes, running, laying on the grass in your backyard in the summer. The short hour-long time span makes podcasts easy to digest anytime of day. They will expand your worldview and make you smarter, guaranteed, without having to leave your backyard.

Podcasts are the media of today, with all major media outlets getting on board with the podcast.  ITunes began supporting podcasts in 2005. Thirteen years after that and now literally everyone has a podcast (or way more than a single podcast, like five podcasts): Buzzfeed, ESPN, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Oprah, even #TotalFratMove has one.

Looking at the ITunes podcast store can be overwhelming, so below is a list of podcasts to try for beginners or those interested. The list is painfully small, but if I could tell you about all the great ones, this would go way past the word limit, so here are my five faves.  

1. This American Life is my go-to podcast. The hour-long podcast centers around a theme for every episode,  like coincidences, walls or human error. Ira Glass and guests tell compelling stories and are a source of great journalism. Some especially interesting ones to start with are Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde, Three Miles and How I Got Into College

2. S-Town and Serial, season one. I group these together because they are both offshoots of This American Life and both are heartbreaking, riveting and amazing pieces of journalism. 

S-Town is an unexpected true story of a genius watchmaker who lives in rural Alabama with gold hidden on his property.  Serial, season one, is about the murder of a high school girl and the boyfriend who was blamed for her death but years later still claims he was wrongly charged. Listening to these podcasts is similar to the first time you discovered Grey’s Anatomy: you’ll be binge-listening until you’re through every episode.

3. The Daily is what you should listen to to be an informed citizen and human being. Each episode of The Daily is a 20-minute snippet of all the news you need to know from The New York Times. On the same New York Times note, I also really like Still Processing, a culture conversation podcast with Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham. 

4. The Moth is for storytellers out there. This podcast is a recording of people telling personal stories to crowds at Moth storytellings. These stories are often funny and relatable.

5. Lastly, a podcast a little less well-known is How I Built This. Guy Ras interviews company CEOs and entrepreneurs to talk to them about how they built their companies from the ground-up. Great interviews include Jimmy Wales who started Wikipedia, Reid Hoffman who started LinkedIn, Kate and Andy Spade with Kate Spade and Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. 

Hannah Sievert is a junior Organizational Communication major. She can be reached at