Listen Up: Top 5 Podcasts

Story By: Madeline Baker

As the school year winds down, many have already started asking themselves, “What will I binge watch during exams when I really should be studying, but who am I kidding no time to study when I have all this free time?!!!!” We all do it, so let’s stop pretending we are all in the library “studying” for 12 straight hours. No, we’re catching up on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO GO, Showtime Anytime, Hulu and whatever other streaming service there might be out there. I love my shows, and have already promised myself that I will get around to finishing Westworld, but for those of you who don’t care to watch shows, there is a plethora of really entertaining podcasts that I am sharing now for your exam-season listening pleasure. I prefer to listen to podcasts at night when I’m about to fall asleep, or when I’m on a long run and I want to focus on something other than the intense pain radiating through my body. Here are a few of my favorites, just in time for your all-nighter in Clem 1.

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Sarah Koening, the host of Serial. Courtesy of alchetron.com

Serial: Season 1

If you haven’t listened to the first season of This American Life’s acclaimed series, you probably didn’t pick up on a lot of pop culture references in the winter of 2014. This series changes the way you think about the American justice system and the idea of “innocent until proven guilty.” The podcast is just as the saying suggests, a serial, a story told week by week about a murder that took place in Baltimore in 1999. This podcast also brings a whole new meaning to the term “plot twist,” and I was brought to tears during some episodes, not necessarily out of sadness, but more out of shock and frustration. Anyway, get with the times and listen to this show.

Missing Richard Simmons

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the 80s fitness icon Richard Simmons, but if you aren’t, well, that’s who he is. So why is this relevant? Simmons has always had a larger than life personality, and was generally considered an accessible celebrity until February of 2014, when he disappeared from the public eye for no apparent reason. He stopped teaching his workout classes, answering phone calls, and making television appearances. Essentially he fell off the face of the earth. This podcast investigates Simmons’ mysterious entrance into seclusion, and while the ending leaves a few questions about Simmons’ disappearance unresolved, the series definitely leaves you wanting more.

The Read

I CANNOT get enough of this weekly podcast. The Read, hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle, keeps me #current on all things hip hop and pop culture. I didn’t even know I needed to be current on these topics until I started listening to this show. The hosts are podcast gold, and I die laughing at some of the things they say about celebrities like Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, and Kim and Kanye. They keep things light and fun, and the news they report on is a nice break from anything you might find on CNN.

Homecoming

I once read a review of this podcast that described it as a “star-studded psychological thriller in podcast form,” and I can’t describe it any better myself. Homecoming tells the story of a caseworker from an experimental facility who’s helping soldiers integrate back into their community. However, what is revealed throughout the 6-part podcast is something incredibly disturbing and deeply intriguing. This one is an easy podcast to pick up, as the episodes are roughly 25 minutes long and leave you at the edge of your seat with each ending. I think I listened to this series within the span of 12 hours because I just couldn’t pace myself. If drama and mind games are your thing, you’ll love this podcast.

Pod Save America

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Courtesy of getcrookedmedia.com

Like The Read, this is another podcast that keeps me #current, but in a much more political way. If you love the liberal media, as I do, then this is the current events podcast for you. It’s just four guys sitting around discussing everything from North Korea, the wage gap, systematic racism, to…you name it. They also jump on every opportunity to make fun of Trump, and I love a good joke, so I am definitely on board. Although it is unapologetically biased, at least you will know what’s going on in the world, and you won’t have to pretend to know what M.O.A.B stands for.

Heavyweight

Hosted by Jonathan Goldstein, Heavyweight addresses the idea of facing the past head on and mending both personal and impersonal relationships. Goldstein talks to a new person every week about where exactly he or she feels their life went wrong, and he gives them the resources to  confront issues that have been eating away at them for years. Heavyweight is hilarious, but it’s also something that leads to your own introspection. Have you ever felt as if you could’ve done more? Have you ever looked at yourself and felt like something was unresolved? Heavyweight asks those questions not only to the people being profiled, but to the listener as well..

Lore

This podcast scares the s*** out of me. Sometimes when I listen to this at night I start to cry because it’s dark and that’s how frightened I am of what is taking place in this show. Lore’s tagline is “The truth is more frightening than fiction,” and that honestly says enough right there. Lore explores the dark side of history; these are true-life scary stories rooted in folklore from across the world. Picture the supernatural occurrences of your worst nightmares come to life, and that is Lore. Listening to this show reminds me of sitting around a campfire, scared out of my mind that some woods monster is going to come out of nowhere and eat me alive because sometime back in history this has definitely happened. So if you love to give yourself a good jolt with some really creepy entertainment, consider Lore.

S-Town

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Julie snyder, Ira Glass, Brian Reed, and Sarah Koenig, the radio geniuses who brought us S-town. Courtesy of wired.com.

S-town is from the same people who brought us Serial. Yes, these podcasts are super bandwagon-y, but for really good reason. S-town is the incredibly invasive dive into the life of John B. McLemore, a resident of Woodstock, Alabama. After reaching out to journalist Brian Reed of the aforementioned This American Life, John reveals to Reed that he thinks there are some shady happenings going on in Woodstock. What comes to light throughout this podcast is far from what anyone would’ve expected. You can’t stop listening to this show; it’s so unpredictable that you have-to-can’t-wait-to listen to what happens next.

Are podcasts the new brunch? I don’t really know, but you should definitely give these shows a listen if you are adventurous, love a good story, or just need a break after your 5th consecutive season of Friends.