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Insight: Podcasts for people who can't get into podcasts

Sometimes choosing one from the abundance of podcasts out there is a steep task to tackle, so here are some recommendations on where to get started


“Finding a good podcast is finding a conversation you want to be in, a story you want to hear, or a celebrity you want to follow.” Illustration published on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

Despite the ever-growing popularity of podcasts, they have never been my personal media of choice.

The main reasoning was because of how intimidating the selection of shows was — most of the time, I felt overwhelmed by the infinite choices. I had no idea where to start, and when I found possible places, my focus waned away quickly.

The possibilities were endless.

As daunting as it was, I was determined to catch a ride on the podcast wave. After spending hours searching through shows, I couldn't stop. 

I found podcasts speaking to all walks of life, proving there truly is a podcast for everyone. Here are some recommendations for those of you out there faced the same dilemma I had. 

For the music enthusiast: 'Song vs Song'

Podcasts catering to music lovers are plentiful — "Dissect", a podcast produced by Spotify, and "Song Exploder", produced by Hrishikesh Hirway, are two podcasts that have long been in the limelight.

While the central focuses of these examples — dissecting lyrics and sonic choices — are interesting to any music fanatic, "Song vs. Song" hosted by Todd (in the Shadows) Nathanson and Alina Morgan brings a more unique concept to the podcast music scene.

Rather than focusing on a single artist, the show pits two sonically similar and equally loved songs against each other, breaking them down and creating controversial outcomes on which song triumphs over the other.

For those who want to escape reality: 'Welcome To Night Vale'

Already loved by many, "Welcome To Night Vale" is a podcast created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, narrated by their fictional character, Cecil Gershwin Palmer (voiced by Cecil Baldwin). While many podcasts speak about real-world events and occurrences, this one flexes its imagination and creativity muscles with obscure and wild storylines.

The show itself is set up as a radio show for Night Vale, a fictional desert town in which nothing seems normal. Different arcs run throughout the episodes, with recurring characters and off-the-wall situations.

The various segments, such as "Horoscopes," "A Word From Our Sponsors" and "Traffic" are quirky and humorous, captivating intrigue from listeners. A highlight from the show can be found in the weather segment, when the podcast features a new song in every episode.

For the true crime enthusiasts: 'Small Town Murder'

True crime has quickly become a staple genre within the podcast community. With our innate human tendencies to be fascinated by the unknown, just as much as we fear it, true crime podcasts scratch the niche itch, and "Small Town Murder" is no exception. 

While shows like "Serial" have paved the way for the true crime podcast genre, the comedian hosts James Pietragallo and Jimmie Whisman of "Small Town Murder" elevate the category by putting humorous spins on the absurdity of the crimes committed in towns with populations under 300,000.

For those who want to stay one step ahead of the news: 'Citations Needed'

There are countless podcasts about the daily news: "The Daily", "The New Yorker Radio Hour", the list goes on. However, these news podcasts can be politically slanted — that's where "Citations Needed" takes center stage.

Hosts Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson dive into biases and uncover how U.S. media perpetuates narrow views to distort the general public's perceptions. Picking apart one element of news coverage after another, "Citations Needed" aims at fostering a society more aware of the power the media can hold, and how no one is safe from misinformation.

For those who want to get into podcasts but prefer visuals: 'Duncan Trussell Family Hour'

"The Midnight Gospel" is a Netflix original series created by Duncan Trussell and Pendleton Ward. It is an incredibly fun animated fictional watch about Clancy Gilroy, a space podcaster living in the Chromatic Ribbon. But what makes the show so unique is each episode deriving from Trussell's real-life podcast show, the "Duncan Trussell Family Hour", with voice acting taken from the podcast itself.

Trussell voices Clancy and invites different guests onto his fictional show. The show then animates the dialogue with added background occurrences, such as hot air balloon rides and hybrid dog-reindeers, adding another dimension to already intriguing conversations.

The spectrum of topics brought about in each episode are existential and intriguing, ranging from enlightenment through meditation to death and our perception of reality.

For the history geek: 'Ridiculous History' 

History is a rich subject which can take many routes, and "Ridiculous History" creators Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown take the more obscure path.

While other shows elaborate on what people already learned in their high school history classes, Bowlin and Brown recount historical tales indulging in the bizarre.

This show is a gold mine for history lovers who want to up their knowledge of human civilization. From Benito Mussolini's strange obsession with milk to U.S. political officials waging war on pinball machines, this show balances learning and comedy to a T.

These podcast examples, while genre-spanning, only scratch the surface of what's available on various platforms. So, put your headphones on and begin the search.

 Reach the reporter at and follow @jillianecote on Twitter.

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