We’ve established that attending college amid a global pandemic qualifies as “unprecedented times.” But quarantine has also painfully revealed our own unprecedented time. How do we fill our suddenly empty schedules? Podcasts may have the answer, whether they serve as an efficient time-killer or intelligent background noise. Here are some of my favorite podcasts at the moment, categorized by their entertainment level and by how smart you’ll sound referencing them. Give them a listen and find your new community.
When I’m not listening to this podcast, I’m recommending it to everyone I know. The Moth is a mix between Ted Talks and Humans of New York, with a mission to share the stories of strangers in order to foster understanding among different people. Each episode focuses on an overarching theme that ranges from regrets and relationships to tough truths and lessons learned. Audio from live Moth slam performances around the country are grouped together by topic and turned into podcast episodes. Stories can be tear-provoking or laughter-producing, all depending on the take of the storyteller. There’s something for everyone in this podcast, which is what makes it so special.
Entertainment Level: 10/10
Level of Intelligence Reached with Reference: 5/10
One album per season, one song per episode. This podcast takes a deep dive into top charting albums, emphasizing the artistry of songwriting and production. Albums explored so far include Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Tyler, the Creator’s Flower Boy, and several works from Frank Ocean’s discography. Each episode is about 40 minutes long and promises to leave you with a deeper appreciation of the song in question. Interviews with the artist are incorporated alongside stripped layers of the song to underline the complexity that goes into each sound and word. Dissect is a cool listen, especially if your favorite artist is under analysis.
Entertainment Level: 9/10
Level of Intelligence Reached with Reference: 4/10
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
This one is meant for reflection. Unlocking Us offers a breath of fresh air and mindfulness amid the chaos of everyday life. Brené studies the emotions and experiences that make us human and offers insight meant to inspire calm and introspection. She tackles feelings that may have previously been left undescribed and helps listeners recognize them in themselves. Topics like the difference between disappointment and self-pity, living with anxiety, and finding the meaning in grief are approached with grace.
Entertainment Level: 7/10
Level of Intelligence Reached with Reference: 7/10
Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction
If combating ignorance has been your coping mechanism lately, this is a great source of new and upcoming information. While the whole series is worth a listen, I recommend one episode in particular: “Isolation and the Brain” from Sept. 15. Using a neuropsychological approach, this episode investigates how being under quarantine has affected people’s mental state. This episode serves as a great example of how we aren’t alone in our struggles, that togetherness is vital to combat loneliness. Does this mean there’s a plus side to awkward Zoom breakout groups? That’s still up for debate.
Entertainment Level: 6/10
Level of Intelligence Reached with Reference: 9/10
My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
This podcast is one of the oldest on Spotify, and for a good reason. It’s hard not to form a personal connection with Karen and Georgia, who are both so organically funny and lighthearted. Their genuine dynamic has attracted a large following, and fans send in letters and stories of their own in the hopes of appearing on an episode. Karen and Georgia share the stories of serial killers and obscure murders, but they do so in a relatively laid-back manner, enabling even the most squeamish listeners to handle the show’s gruesome content. This one is especially relevant with Halloween fast approaching, and will definitely do the trick to get you in the spooky mood.
Entertainment Level: 9/10
Level of Intelligence Reached with Reference: 6/10
Graphic by Meegan Minahan / Heights Editor