Although staying at home and practicing social distancing are the safest practices during this pandemic, they’re not the most entertaining. Most of us have way more free time on our hands than we’re used to having. While a lot of this time has probably been spent bingeing on Netflix or catching up on books that have been in your to-be-read pile for months, even that can get boring after a while. Why not try something new? To help you do just that, I’ve compiled a list of podcast recommendations.
If you’re skeptical, hear me out. First, podcasts offer a change of pace. They’re a refreshingly unique medium and if you can think of a topic, there’s probably a podcast (or multiple!) covering it. Plus, you can listen to podcasts in versatile scenarios: while you’re just hanging out, while taking a drive to get out of the house or even while you’re on a run (if you’re into that sort of thing). Still not convinced? Just check a few out below; you might be surprised by what you find.
Here’s my recommendation for…
Someone just getting into podcasts
If you’re looking to get into podcasts, “Serial” is a great place to start. “Serial” is an investigative journalism podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig, and its first season basically revived the medium as a whole, thrusting podcasts into the mainstream. The first season revolves around Adnan Syed, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2000 for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. The case against Syed was mainly based on the testimony of one witness, and Syed has always maintained his innocence. Over the course of her investigation, Koenig finds that the case is not as cut and dried as it may have first appeared. She examines court documents, listens to trial testimony, investigates forensic evidence and speaks to anyone willing to rehash the case, including Syed himself, whom she regularly calls in prison. The podcast unfolds like a thriller and is definitely binge-worthy. It also raises important questions about the American justice system and the nature of innocence. The following seasons are also well-done, but I would highly recommend the first season.
Science and trivia nerds
If you’re the type of person who loves learning new things, just for the sake of new knowledge, “The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week” is a great choice. Hosted by the editors of “Popular Science,” a magazine dedicated to reporting on science and technology in a fun and easily digestible way, the podcast provides listeners with an endless supply of new trivia or, alternatively, unique conversation starters for post-quarantine parties and gatherings. Each week, three editors gather to share the weirdest thing that they learned that week in the course of their reporting, ranging from labor-inducing salad dressing to civil war wounds that glowed in the dark to a cat used as a telephone. The conversational style of the podcast immerses the listener in the conversation and adds an element of humor, as each host reacts to the other editors’ wild facts. You won’t be able to believe that what you’re hearing is true, but that’s all part of the fun of this podcast.
Lovers of Humans of New York
This is a podcast for people who are fascinated by the power of human connection. “This is Love” is described as a podcast that investigates love, but don’t be misled. Each episode delves into a love story of some sort, but this does not necessarily mean the episodes center around romance. Some episodes are about the love a parent has for a child or the love a person might have for their passions or even the love one might have for an animal. The podcast explores how we interact with one another and the world around us, and host Phoebe Judge is exceptionally skilled at asking people to lay bare truths that are profound and moving. This podcast will stand out to you as being different from anything else you’ve listened to, and although at the outset you might not understand how an episode will end up being about love, by its end you’ll definitely be convinced that — as the podcast’s title suggests — “this is love.”
Someone looking for a laugh
If you’re in the market for something funny, this soap opera-esque podcast from comedian Allison Raskin is sure to satisfy. The first part of each episode focuses on the weekly meetings of three quirky friends who love to gossip about everyone and everything in their small town. The fictional hijinks they discuss are entertaining and usually unrelated, however, the podcast also features an overarching mystery plot about a young girl that has gone missing in the suburb. If that isn’t enough for you, once the story part concludes, the episode doesn’t end. Raskin subsequently hosts a brief interview with a guest, usually someone whose voice appears in the podcast, and asks them to share their best piece of gossip, making for yet another funny conversation. This unconventional podcast is loaded with gossip, both fictional and real, and is perfect for listeners who love to spill the tea.