Podcasts have been around for a while but they’re only now starting to pick up popularity in the mainstream populace. Like, at least once a week someone I’m related to or went to high school with posts a Facebook status that says something like, “Comment podcast recommendations below!” The problem with these podcast recommendations is that they are overwhelmingly true crime pods. In fact, some people even say “I like true crime!” to guide people’s recommendations. Sometimes I think Facebook locals think podcasts have only one genre and that is true crime. For me, however, true crime is overdone and boring so I’m here to share with you some of my favorite podcasts.
Invisibilia – This in an NPR podcast and let me just tell you that I have loved NPR for years and years and years. I liked NPR probably before it was cool to like it below the age of 30. Not to BRAG BUT I’ve donated multiple times to my local NPR station. But you don’t have to be in your car and listening to the radio to catch this hour-long(ish) podcast! The hosts of this podcast explore the “unforeseeable forces” that control us, our actions and our beliefs. They do this through intriguing narrative storytelling and insightful interviews with professionals that provide scientific explanations for things like empathy, categories, our feelings or social experiments. The episodes are so interesting and I learn so much! A few of my favorite episodes have talked about how bringing McDonald’s to Russia forced an entire country to learn how to smile and a small town in Belgium called Geel where community members have boarded mentally ill patients for hundreds years, creating a whole different approach to mental health that the U.S. is completely unaware of (episodes are The New Norm and The Problem with the Solution, respectively).
Two Less Lonely Girls – A thirty minute, unironic podcast by two adult women about Justin Bieber. I initially started listening to this podcast because it is cohosted by one of my favorite comedians, Corinne Fisher. Her co-host, Rosebud Baker, was actually a guest on Corinne’s other podcast and a little while later this gem appeared. If you’re like me, you’re not super into the Biebs–I mean not anymore, I’m a grown woman who really never cared *too* much for him. As a preteen and teen, I rarely obsessed over the same boys my peers obsessed over, like Justin, One Direction or whatever other teen heartthrob was making their way through the female actresses of the Disney Channel. But I did obsess over famous boys (Logan Lerman, Ben Barnes (the less famous ones I thought I had a chance with)) so I can still very much relate to this podcast because at its core: it’s about celebrity obsession. Lovers of conspiracy, Corinne and Rosebud spend episodes deep diving into Hollywood secrets and rumors and somehow they always relate it back to the Biebs. And that’s the Circle of Life, my friends. The podcast has a really beautiful progression (they befriend Pattie Mallette! They attend a Hillsong service! THEY MEET JUSTIN BIEBER!) and they are so freaking funny.
The History Chicks – This is not one of my favorites, but I do enjoy it when I’m tired of my constant rotation (Invisibilia and GWF). In high school I was a total history buff! I lived, breathed and loved history. I got a 5 on my AP US History Exam and that success will fulfill me until I die. I was also a History major at WKU before I decided to graduate a semester early and move to Argentina (sorry, history, I still love ya!). The way the hosts approach history is a little different than your average world history class because they only focus on female characters in history (either fictional or nonfictional) and convey the facts and stories about this woman as if they were just having an hour, hour and half conversation among themselves. They can be funny at times but they are a bit older than me and, therefore, are in very different stages of life (I think they both have kids and a lot of their pop culture references are like…who is that?).
The Heart – This podcast was recommended to me in December 2017 when I was going through some real. tough. heartbreak. According to their website, The Heart is an “audio art project about intimacy and humanity.” This podcast did series instead of seasons (did as in there are no more new episodes! the podcast wrapped in early 2018), meaning about 5-6 short episodes (20-30 minutes) were on a specific topic. The only series I listened to while dealing with my heartache was “No,” which dealt with sexual (physical and emotional) boundaries. It’s been almost two years since I listened to this series so recalling episodes would be too fuzzy but I do remember listening and crying and feeling heard and seen and validated and that’s totally what I needed at that time.
Spirits – This podcast was recommended to me by my friend Ben and I would say it’s fairly similar to The History Chicks in that the two female co-hosts use comedy and conversation to explain mythology, legends, and folklore…but this time there’s alcohol. I also don’t listen to this one religiously but I do like it when I’m craving more of a “teach me something!” podcast. As far as I can tell, these hosts are a bit younger so the jokes and references fall on more relatable ears. Episodes are in the hour range!
SAY MORE – I got really into slam poetry for a hot minute about 2-3 years ago when Olivia Gatwood came and did her poetry at WKU. I didn’t know of her then but I went because the event was sponsored by my department at the time (Gender & Women’s Studies, DUH! Did you think at one time I was a poetry major? Ha! Ha! I’ll regret dating one but I would never be one.). Her poetry was funny, and youthful, and bitchy and strong and empowering. I loved it! I bought her book on Amazon (instead of buying it directly from her after the show LIKE I SHOULD HAVE DONE, FOOL!) but I’m glad I did it in the end though because I was recommended two other collections of poetry, one by my gal Sabrina Benaim and the other by Melissa Lozada-Oliva. SAY MORE is hosted by Olivia and Melissa, two people who I’d describe as best friends on a soul level. Their friendship and intimacy is palpable through my headphones and their eagerness to hear each other out is contagious. In each episode, they interview each other about one specific thing they are known for obsessing over. There, they SAY MORE in an hour or so on things like bikini lines, cat hatred, bangs and psoriasis.
The PowerScore LSAT Podcast – OKAY so this one is incredibly niche but I can’t not shout it out. If you keep up with me on social media, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been studying for the LSAT and took it in March. I started listening only a week before the March test so I don’t at all credit them for helping me on the LSAT but I am taking the test again this fall (because I am disappointed in my very, very average score) and plan on continuing to listen to them. Honestly, these guys are either in their late thirties or early-forties and I think they have no idea who their target audience is nor their actual demographic. In each episode they have a song of the week and a drink for the episode and it’s always like,
What are you drinking, Dave?
A manly man’s man drink: straight scotch and you?
A fine aged wine from my family’s vineyard that tastes crisp, dense and earthly…reminds me of my childhood because that’s how long ago I was born. Anyways, what’s the song for this week, Jon?
Well, Dave, I’m wasn’t sure if our listeners have heard of this little band called Mötley Crüe so instead I chose a band that’s a little more modern, though maybe not as well known, it’s one of our favorites, right Dave?, Muse.
Awesome, Jon. Let’s spend the next 20 to 30 minutes talking about March Madness.
Anyways, like I said, I am SUPER confused at who they think is listening to their podcast. Maybe they think no one is listening and that would explain what they talk about? I just don’t know. Either way, PowerScore is one of the leading Test Preparation companies for the LSAT and I can make fun of them as much as I want but that doesn’t take away from the fact these guys are experts in their field.
The Butterfly Effect with Jon Ronson – It’s actually an Audible original series but I listen to it via the Apple Podcasts app (where I listen to all my podcasts). It’s only seven episodes and each episode is about 30 minutes long. Jon Ronson is a best-selling author who I learned about on the Guys We F****d podcast because Corinne is seriously obsessed. The series is incredibly interesting and informative. Many already believe that free porn sites like PornHub have normalized violent sex acts, but this series goes a lot further into what exactly are the effects for regular people, Fabian (PornHub’s CEO), sex workers and porn directors. It really makes us think about the lives of the people behind the scenes. Porn may be more normalized and readily accessible, but the people in the industry are still stigmatized, penalized for their profession and are at risk. The podcast is made up of Ronson’s findings and musings, interviews between Ronson and his interviewees, and various sound clips relevant to the interviews. (P.S. He has a new series out called The Last Days of August and I’m super excited to start it! If you want to listen to this one though, still search ‘The Last Days of August’ and listen to its first season, which has The Butterfly Effect episodes in full!)
Guys We F****d: The Anti-Slut Shaming Podcast – This is my ~pinnacle of podcasts~. In my opinion, no podcast can do better than this one. But alas, my recommendation to listen to this podcast, for the most part, will fall on deaf ears. Unfortunately, after five years of being a free, easily accessible podcast, GWF is going behind a paywall by joining the Luminary team of exclusive podcasts. Luminary is an app where you can listen to all your free podcasts, but there are forty or so podcasts that are subscriber-exclusive, meaning to listen to GWF, you’re looking at another subscription service charge of $7.99. However, you can still listen to the back catalog for free, you just have to download the app. New episodes? You gotta pay. And while my love for GWF and the two hosts of this podcast, Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson, is INTENSE, I still haven’t decided whether or not I will be paying Luminary any time soon. Because $8 for one podcast seems a little much and the other exclusive podcasts spark absolute no interest within me whatsoever (Russel Brand? Trevor Noah? Lena Dunham? Pass, pass, pass.). NOT TO MENTION, the app isn’t available in Argentina! However, if I do decide to shell out what little cash I have as an unemployed college graduate, this is why: I love this podcast and I owe them so much for getting me through a breakup, for opening my mind to the increasingly diverse world we live in, and for helping me embrace my sexuality–all the while, they are super freaking funny and their guests are normally ON POINT (whether they be fellow comedians, educators, the freaking president of the ACLU, or guys they did actually sleep with). I have their book! I’ve listened to almost all the episodes! I met them on their Bridget Bishop tour last year! This podcast is funny, inspiring and educational. Granted, the show is not without its faults: C + K can seriously be a little dumb when it comes to worldly affairs but I’m guessing if you didn’t graduate with an International Affairs degree that’s just how you’re roaming the earth (they have dangerously misguided views on socialism (they like AOC–YUCK) and they interviewed a former Islamist extremist a few years ago and the entire episode MADE ME CRINGE). However, GWF is an incredibly impactful podcast for young women to discover (but could totally be enjoyed by anyone of any age, gender or sex!). Even though I am disappointed by their move to Luminary, I can’t forget or undue all they’ve done to help me develop as a sexually explorative bad-ass bitch! ALSO, similar podcasts such as Girls Gotta Eat and Call Her Daddy are copycat podcasts of the OG GWF. Not saying they’re bad just recognizing generic brands when I see them! 😉
For the most part those are the podcasts that I am consistently listening to. I’ve tried out others and I still have a few I’ve been meaning to try. The point is: there are so many podcasts and there is a podcast for literally everyone on literally anything. A few months ago I thought genius had struck me–a Riverdale podcast. My sister and I would do a podcast on the beautiful, charming shit show that is the CW’s Riverdale. About 15 Riverdale podcasts already exist. SO, if you haven’t gotten into podcasts like the rest of the world yet, you should try them out! Spotify, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Audible, Apple Podcasts, and now Luminary, are all hosts to free and premium podcasts that are waiting for you!
DISCLAIMER: WHAT I LISTEN TO MAKES ME SOUND SEX-CRAZED BUT HEAR ME OUT: YES, I AM A YOUNG ADULT BUT ALSO I MINORED IN GENDER & WOMEN’S STUDIES IN COLLEGE AND MAY PURSUE A LAW DEGREE IN CONJUNCTION WITH A MASTERS IN WOMEN’S STUDIES BECAUSE I WANT TO DEFEND AND HELP SEX WORKERS. SO THINK OF THIS AS CAREER RESEARCH, NOT AS ME BEING HORNY. (OH MY GOD, I CAN’T BELIEVE MY FAMILY IS GOING TO READ THIS, I AM SO SORRY)