I love podcasts. I’ve said it before. But sometimes when I bring up podcasts with people in my real life, they don’t know what I’m talking about or they don’t know where to start. It’s hard to know what to listen to when there are seemingly endless options. You might know you like 30 minute comedy TV series and murder mystery books. But if you’ve never listened to a podcast, how do you find out what you like? Where do you start?
This list of podcast episodes, they’re the gateway drug to becoming a full-blown podcast addict. Each is put out by a podcast that I truly love (and have probably listened to dozens of other episodes of) and each episode completely hooked me. So if you’re trying to figure out where to start with podcasts, here are my ultimate suggestions.
THIS AMERICAN LIFE – HARPER HIGH SCHOOL PART ONE AND PART TWO
Here is the description, straight from This American Life:
We spent five months at Harper High School in Chicago, where last year alone 29 current and recent students were shot. 29. We went to get a sense of what it means to live in the midst of all this gun violence, how teens and adults navigate a world of funerals and Homecoming dances.
I could not stop once I started these episodes. In fact, what started out as a quick jog turned in to walking aimlessly in circles around my neighborhood until I got to the very end. It’s shocking that this is reality for teenagers (or anyone, really) in America.
THE LIVELY SHOW WITH KENDI SKEEN
If you’re a blogger and you haven’t listened to The Lively Show yet, hop to it. I’ve listened to some interviews with a couple of my favorite bloggers and I find their thoughts on blogging and business completely fascinating (and helpful). It’s also interesting to put a voice to the words you’ve been reading, often for years. Kendi’s episode was my favorite. She was so introspective and thoughtful. She’s incredibly successful but very open about her failures as well. I like her even more after listening.
FREAKONOMICS – IS THERE A BETTER WAY TO FIGHT TERRORISM?
Simultaneously eye-opening and terrifying, this episode of Freakonomics will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about terrorism, particularly the cause.
RADIOLAB – PATIENT ZERO
A fascinating look at the story of Typhoid Mary, a woman who genuinely never believed she was sick, despite being a carrier of typhoid and causing the death of several people. The podcast continues by tracking the AIDS virus, the man commonly thought to be patient zero, and taking a stab at who patient zero actually may have been.
NERDIST INTERVIEW WITH BILL GATES
You know Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft. But how well do you know Bill Gates, the philanthropist? Mr. Gates discusses what the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has accomplished and what we need to do to eradicate poverty, plus why just throwing money at an issue is not nearly as beneficial as investing in education and infrastructure.
The interview with Mr. Gates ends and two staff members of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are interviewed – an Epidemiologist and the Director of Program Related Investments at the foundation. Somehow they might have been even more fascinating.
NERDIST INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL RADCLIFFE
This particular interview is what helped me see Daniel Radcliffe as more than just Harry Potter. He’s incredibly likeable and this interview just makes him seem so absolutely normal. He loves American football and only briefly talks about his time on the Harry Potter set (most of his childhood), looking back fondly on how much he adored the crew.
If you loved this episode, you might like the episode with Benedict Cumberbatch.
THIS AMERICAN LIFE – WILL THEY KNOW ME BACK HOME?
A heartbreaking look at wartime, with stories from multiple perspectives. Act Two, the story of Sarah, an Iraqi translator who worked with the US military, is gripping and stirs up all kind of emotions. Her story is one you absolutely must hear.
STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW – HOW TEMPER TANTRUMS WORK
I referenced this podcast episode in my post last week, A Letter to the Mamas Out There. N and I both randomly had listened to this separately and found it completely fascinating and a little comforting. As non-parents, it’ll give you more patience for other people’s children and for parents, well, hopefully it will make you realize how normal your kid’s meltdown is. The science behind temper tantrums is pretty cool though.
Also really great episodes of this show – How Bipolar Disorder Works and How Dissociative Identity Disorder Works.
There is a reason you’ve heard about this podcast. I couldn’t pick a single episode because it is just that gripping. I listened to it episode by episode (which was torture, waiting for a new one to be released every Thursday morning). Just listen to the first episode. You’ll be hooked.
N, THE ORIGINAL PODCAST JUNKIE OF OUR HOUSEHOLD, RECOMMENDS THESE EPISODES:
- Radiolab – The Fact of the Matter (particularly the second story)
- Radiolab – 60 Words
- Invisibilia – The Secret History of Thoughts
- Criminal – I’m About to Save Your Life
- Stuff You Missed In History Class – The Christmas Truce
So tell me, what episode of a podcast got you hooked? What is your all-time favorite podcast episode? I can’t wait for the recommendations!
HI, I’M NADINE.
I left California after college to start my life on the east coast. East & is what happened after that.