A Guide for Getting Into the Wonderful World of Podcasts

Illustrated by Lucy Zuo

I am a podcast enthusiast. Britt and Ashley, the hosts of Crime Junkie, keep me company as I sip my morning coffee. Various storytellers featured on The Moth wow me with their vulnerability as I flail about on the treadmill. The Ezra Klein Show’s unique brand of approachable intellect keeps me engaged as I drive up I-95 to visit my boyfriend. (Admittedly, I am sometimes so engaged that I find myself voicing objections and raising questions to an empty car.) 

I first got into podcasts in high school, around the time I started jogging. I loved the feeling that someone was coming along to tell me a story. I dabbled in true crime, love stories, poignant meditations on mental health, and provocative commentaries on educational inequity. I wandered into the world of contemporary poetry, country music, pop culture, celebrity gossip, and horror stories. Similar to literature, podcasts seem to offer a boundless realm of explorational opportunities; the breadth of available programming is enough to itch every curiosity I could conceive. Podcasts, however, have something that even books do not: a built-in buddy, a narrator and confidant, and an intrinsic sense of community. 

As someone who doesn’t love to be alone, the ability to put on a podcast and feel a part of something, whether it be an intimate conversation or academic lecture, is—in no hyperbolic terms—remarkable. The versatility of where and when you can listen is another highly alluring factor. “I listen to podcasts everywhere…a quiet lunch or breakfast by myself, walking up Science Hill, folding my laundry, working out, walking my dog when at home, and sometimes while doing my homework although, I try not to multitask too much,” my close friend Odessa Goldberg, BF ’25, wrote to me.

To recap, podcasts are awesome. They are fascinating, informative, and evocative, and portable companions that fit into any empty sliver of time you have. Nevertheless, if my podcast-championing crusade hasn’t convinced you quite yet, I get it. Odessa herself was initially a skeptic. To her, “podcasts seemed like a vestige of radio hanging on for dear life.” However, after giving them a fair chance, Odessa has transformed into a super-fan. All her friends at Yale will likely cite her endless podcast recommendations as one of the most endearing things about her. “In the span of a 20 minute conversation,” Odessa confessed, “I will most definitely recommend a podcast to you.” 

Podcasts won Odessa over fair and square, and I think they just might win you over too. Pop in your earphones and give it a try using the following guide:

For the one who watches Dateline right before bed and then falls into an astoundingly deep slumber: Dr. Death will mar your perception of medical professionals with its shockingly disturbing and emotional recount of Dr. Christopher Duntsch’s crimes. By the end of the series, you will find yourself appalled by Duntsch—a young doctor with Ted Bundy-esque charisma—the inadequacies of hospital hiring procedures, and the horrors of corporate cover-ups. 

For the one who is constantly bopping to music in their AirPods and occasionally gets caught dancing in Bass: Song Exploder will take you out of your usual role as a listener and give you insight into the intricacies of composition, production, and sourcing inspiration for a multitude of artists. Each 20-minute episode delves into the story behind one song, featuring musicians across all genres from Halsey to Hans Zimmer.

For the one who loves storytelling and isn’t afraid to experience the entire range of human emotions (I’m talking crocodile tears, cackles, and everything in between): The Moth will tug at your heartstrings like you are its personal marionette in a Vegas residency puppet show. Each episode features a series of true personal stories which are recorded at live performances and then curated into episodes according to specific themes. Each episode also boasts a great tonal range with stories about wedding dress shopping, prison choirs, hot dogs, and prosthetics all in one show. 

For the one who wants to stay on top of the news but is tired of flat-toned email recaps: For a daily format, try Consider This, an NPR program that breaks down news stories each day of the week in a comprehensive and thoughtful fashion. If you are more of a once-a-weeker, Skimm This may be a good fit. The program recaps major news stories from the week with consistent clarity and solid coverage.  

For the one who has an essay due tomorrow that they haven’t started yet so they most definitely don’t have time to listen to podcasts: 600 Second Saga or 60 Second Science. If you love sci-fi, 600 Second Saga is calling your name. The podcast will thrust you into a fantastical world of magic and futurism by offering new original stories each week that are all under 10 minutes. 60 Second Science keeps the science but ousts the fiction; the show recaps the newest and most fascinating developments in the scientific world, once again, in under 10 minutes.

Whether you’re looking for something to give you full-body goosebumps, an earnest smile, or a better understanding of current events, the world of podcasts is a place you can turn to. Give yourself the gift of escapism. Seek out new knowledge. Quash loneliness. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, see how it feels to cast yourself into someone’s narrative.

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