I fell in love with podcasts like a lot of people did. Serial. Season 1. I never knew I was a true crime fan until I uncontrollably devoured episodes of Serial at a time and finished the season within one week. I also didn’t know my phone had its own built-in Podcast app until after I listened to every episode of season 1 on Serial’s website through my phone’s web browser, and my mom sent me a concerned text asking why our data usage was so high so early into the month. Oops.
She was surprisingly cool when I told her it was because I started listening to podcasts more (although I didn’t mention that I just learned there was a way to listen without using, like, all of the data), and she answered, “Me too!!!” Podcasts were the thing to do, apparently for my mom and me and the rest of the world. This was about three years ago, and since then, podcasts, and my love for them, has only grown.
They used to be the thing I went to in order to escape from the Excel sheets I stared at all day, to have a place for my mind to play instead of it going numb inserting names and numbers into columns for hours at a time. I don’t have a data-entry job anymore, praise the Lord, but my podcast addiction is still going steady. I actually find that it’s hard for me to clean or cook or do any other quiet and mindless tasks without a podcast playing. I can’t decide if this is a problem or a positive… Let’s go with positive. (The mindful meditators out there are shaking their heads at me, I know, I know.)
I’m subscribed to every kind of pod, from mystery narratives to comedy pop culture round-ups, but there is a handful of podcasts that I try to listen to every week for both entertainment and education that anyone can learn from or get a kick out of. Here are the five I listen to the most:
The Morning Toast: This is a Monday-through-Friday podcast, which, yes, is a commitment, but I promise it’s worth it if you’re a millennial and enjoy pop culture. (I listen at the gym a lot because it keeps my mind off the pain of squats and on the humor of our weird, hilarious world.) The two Manhattan-based sisters who host it, Jackie and Claudia, are fast-talking, witty, refreshingly honest commentators on everything celebrity, reality TV, and sometimes tech and world news. They have their own hilarious semantics that make me laugh every time I listen, but they steer clear of politics, so if that’s what you’re looking for, try my next recommendation.
The Betches Sup Podcast: If you’re on Instagram, you’ve probably seen Betches, a snarky news and media company full of memes and GIFs that perfectly describe everything in world and entertainment news. Betches Sup is one of the company’s podcasts that covers political news in laymen’s terms. As their tagline says, “We read the news so you don’t have to.” I’m open about my political views with anyone who wants to discuss it: I’m liberal when it comes to social issues and fiscally more conservative. This podcast is as liberal as it gets, but I like it because they break down the news into digestible information, where as a lot of other news outlets write and talk about politics in a way that’s clunky and confusing. Sometimes the hosts get a little aggressive and passionate, but if you want a way to learn about politics in the simplest (and funniest) way, this is a good start.
Rise and Rise Together: Technically, these are two different podcasts, but they have a similar thread and are both worthy of a listen. Rachel Hollis is an author and speaker who motivates women to be the best version of themselves with her valuable and reachable advice. She hosts Rise and interviews badass women in the entrepreneurial and personal growth worlds, and she cohosts Rise Together with her husband, Dave, where they talk about how to basically be the most loving and supportive, yet independent and inspired, partners to one another. It might seem a little woo-woo to you, all this talk about “personal growth,” but I have become a big believer that if you aren’t doing things to grow and become better (both on your own and in your relationships with others), then you’re stagnant. Which would you rather be? These pods’ll help you find out. (Her book “Girl, Wash Your Face” is on my list of what to read next, too.)
Wrongful Conviction: Now for a little true crime fun. And by fun, I mean heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring, wildly frustrating, but wholly moving stories of people convicted of crimes that they didn’t do, telling their stories of forgiveness, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, years of incarceration even though they’re innocent, and what they’ve learned from it all. These stories have opened my eyes to our criminal justice system: They get it right a lot of the time, but man, when they get it wrong, it’s incredible and devastating how many lives have been wrecked (and subsequently rebuilt). Each episode is a different story of a wrongfully convicted person who has had to fight their way to freedom. I like to listen to these when I think I’m having a bad day because, woof, my bad days could really be so much worse.
My Favorite Murder: Some more true crime fun! This one has been a consistent favorite of mine for years, and I’ve listened to every single episode (some twice). Somehow, hosts Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff mix murder with humor (yes, I/they know how messed up that sounds). It’s like listening to two of your funniest friends exchange stories about the scariest things they’ve heard…every single week…and it’s amazing. They each tell a story about both infamous and less-known killers in every episode, and they talk about a lot of other random stuff, too, like mental health, feminism, current annoyances, and what’s making them happy each week. Some people don’t like that part (the random conversation), but I think they’re hilarious and interesting and my best friends who just don’t know it. Normal. Oh! And they just announced that they’ve written a book that comes out in May! Snagged from their weekly sign-off tagline, the title is “Stay Sexy, Don’t Get Murdered,” and I can’t wait to support these two badass women and read it the minute it comes out. (Go here to snag your copy during pre-sale!)