Awesome Auditory Adventures: Top 11 Podcasts

I’ve been feeling particularly lovesick for college lately though perhaps not in the way you’d expect. Yes, I miss my college friends, and my small college worries, and the ice cream bar at the Terrace Dining Hall. But I also miss learning and dissecting essays written by obscure, off-the-rocker writers. I miss filling my slushy brain with wonderfully random facts and debunked theories.

So, in true college fashion, I sat at my computer for most of the day on Saturday and listened to one podcast after the other. There are, of course, millions of worthy podcasts out there but these are my favorites so far. If you have a favorite podcast that is not listed here, please leave a comment below. I would love to expand my list of worthwhile auditory adventures!

Here’s what I have so far:

The Moth

No matter how many podcasts I listen to, The Moth will always be my go-to. The premise is simple and extraordinary. Every week, a theme is chosen and ordinary people tell their stories in front of a live audience. The stories vary from the humorous to the heart-wrenching, the scientific to the humanitarian but every week, without fail, after I listen to this podcast, I fall deeper in love with The Moth and the way it celebrates and preserves the vital art of storytelling. Listen here

This American Life

My very first introduction to the world of podcasts. I first listened to This American Life in one of my freshman writing classes in college and I’ve been a die-hard fan ever since. Similar to The Moth, This American Life, which has been in the podcast game for decades now, explores a different theme each week. Though the stories are not told in front of a live audience, expressive and quirky host Ira Glass brings each piece to life. Some notable episodes include an Australian woman interviewing every guy that catcalls her on the street or the episode where hilarious comedian Tig Notaro describes here five chance encounters with her favorite singer, Taylor Dayne. This podcast will always be one of my favorites. Listen here

Ear Hustle

I just recently discovered this podcast and I cannot wait for the next episode to come out. Ear Hustle is broadcast within a prison in California. It was founded by two men who are currently locked up in San Quentin State Prison and hosted with the help of visual artist, Nigel Poor. The latest episode was all about how prisoners go to exhaustive measures to look good. One prisoner, with a low booming voice, described how he mixed orange peel, which he dried on the window sill of his cell for three weeks, with oats and soap shavings to create exfoliating bars for his fellow inmates. Certainly not what you would expect from incarcerated men which makes this podcast all the more important. It gives a fresh and multi-dimensional perspective on a population most of us view in a one-dimensional way. Listen here

Dear Sugars

Cheryl Strayed is best known for her beloved book “Wild”, the true life account of her experience hiking the Appalachian Trail. But the best-selling author is also a widely celebrated columnist and has been writing the popular advice column “Dear Sugar” for years now. In this podcast, Strayed not only satisfies sugar cravings but also provides some killer advice on everything. No subject is off-limits nor met with judgement or flippancy. Instead, Strayed reminds us in a cool and edgy way that writing, and storytelling, are acts of compassion. Listen here

Stuff You Should Know

When I was a kid, my Mum always called me “Anna-lytical” because I asked a lot of questions. My curiosity has only grown with age so naturally I gravitated toward this podcast. Each week, hosts Josh and Chuck inform listeners on a new subject. So far, I’ve learned that the Sherpa people are unsung superheros and that redheads require more anesthesia (yikes!). If you love to learn, you will certainly love this podcast. Josh and Chuck are animated and engaging hosts and each episode is 20-30 min, perfect for breakfast time. Listen here

Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People

I absolutely love how this podcast is structured. Host Chris Gethard, whose voice drips with compassion, talks on the phone with a random person who chats with him about anything they want. The best part is Chris cannot hang up first. He will stay on the phone until the caller decides to end the conversation. It’s like an informal therapy session that indeed reveals some beautiful stories from anonymous people. Listen here

The Story

Two minutes into this podcast I was, well, bored. The host has a very matter-of-fact voice and seems to be a fan of the slow build-up when telling stories but, as the climax neared,  I was literally (I mean it) dancing around the room in a mixture of annoyance and anticipation and when he finally got to the point, the earlier monotony was forgiven because I got to hear the incredible story of how Spanx were created. Every week, this podcast examines the back stories of some of the most successful people (this season, the focus in on women) and though the host does not exactly have an electrifying voice, this podcast is well worth the listen. I have seriously never cared more about Spanx! Listen here

Love + Radio

“The thing about pain is it’s always fresh […] you never stop feeling it.” The one episode I listened to on this podcast was so captivating, so painfully real, I can still hear the narrator’s voice hammering into my ears. Love + Radio talks about everything; there are no limits to this podcast. I listened so intently to a man’s personal account of life in a 6 by 9 foot cell. He was kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for nearly 44 years, longer than any other American in history, and still, he managed to share his experience with this podcast. How brave, how mind-blowing, how vital of a story that every person would do best to listen to. Listen here

The Hilarious World of Depression

Hilarious? Depression? Really? I had that same thought when I read the title but two minutes into an episode and I was completely hooked. This podcast is flipping fantastic! The host engages you from the very beginning when he says “having a sense of humor and depression are not mutually exclusive; they go together like peanut butter and depression.” Whether you have depression, know someone with depression, or simply want to learn more about depression, this podcast is an absolute must. Listen here

Pod Save the World

World politics can also be a downer and wading through complicated, beat-around-the-bush political jargon can be downright soul-crushing. Thankfully, this podcast is here to save us. The hosts discuss the most recent news in international politics every week in an understandable way without watering down the enormity of each issue. They also invite political experts on the show, including Madeline Albright, to make sense of the sometime (mostly) senseless political scene. Political apathy is a big, deeply frightening problem so please, for the love of Pod, listen to Pod Save the World. Listen here

The Tip Off

This podcast is gold for investigative journalists. Each week, The Tip Off examines a case where journalists went above and beyond to follow leads that led to some of the most shocking and explosive news stories in history. Not only are their stories gripping and entertaining but they also portray how important investigative journalism is to civil society. Listen here

Listen Up,



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