Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Listen to these podcasts to get inspired

Podcasts to refocus and redirect to where you want to be going
(Courtesy of The New York Times – Modern Love official Facebook page)

The race always starts smoothly. Your stamina is building and your breath under control. You can even see yourself passing the finish line to a crowd of cheering bystanders.

Yet, somewhere along the way, you run out of breath. You lose sight of the finish line. You may even have forgotten the direction you were headed in the first place. You stumble and fall.

Now, behind, how do you catch up? How can you still manage to win the race?

Mid-semester is a time when many of us get jammed up in all the responsibilities that can be almost dizzying: there are places to go, procrastinated homework assignments to get done and grades to raise amidst a week-long load of tests. In the heat of it all, one can easily succumb to the stress. It can eat away at why you’re here at college in the first place, stacking up school loans and waking up bright and early for classes. If you are looking to get back on track, listen to one of these podcasts to get you re-motivated to do the things you want to do. If you are unsure what those things are, these podcasts are a great place to start.

Change Agent

Have you found yourself stuck in a rut over a problem? Instead of continuing to ask why out of the 7 billion other people on the planet, you were the one who had to face this issue, listen to the New York Times newest podcast “Change Agent.” The podcast looks into the problems of particular individuals and tries to fix them.

The stories told can range from an alcoholic who’s trying to get back on her feet, to an 80-year-old woman trying to find what lights her up again, to a young man wanting to confront a friend on the offensive things he says. While the people brought on the show are definitely engaging characters, the stories are easy to relate to. By your first listen, you may be brought back to the drawing board to rethink and redirect what you want and in what direction you want to be going. There are also great tips given on how to get there. Each episode is the reminder that wherever you may be right now, there’s always a possibility for change. Maybe, knowing that is half the battle.

Dear Sugars

“The universe has good news for the lost, lonely and heart-sick; Sugar is here—the both of us— speaking straight into your ear” is the introductory line for the Dear Sugars podcast. There are plenty of times we will find it difficult to navigate what we should be doing in a certain situation in the messy worlds we live in. In those cases, we are often in need of advice. But the catch is that maybe what we need advice on scares or embarrasses us so much to the point that we’re afraid to ask for it. Or we desire guidance from someone without the bias and judgment of our inner social circles. That’s where the sugars come in.

Each week, author of New York Times best-seller “Wild,” Cheryl Strayed and American short-story writer Steve Almond come together to give “radically empathic advice” to anonymous listeners who have written in. Subjects range from topics like, but not limited to, “how to say no” (in a general sense) to how to make sense of the sexuality-spectrum.

The podcast originated from a column that Steve Almond started in 2008 under the pseudonym “Sugar.” He wrote Sugar’s advice under the lens of a “tough-yet-vulnerable woman who turned her emotional bruises into hard-earned wisdom about life and love.” When Cheryl Strayed wrote into the column for advice, Almond realized she was the real-life embodiment of a Sugar so he asked her to write the column in his place. Despite the many personal reasons she could have used to say no at the time, Strayed agreed and the column quickly gained a cult following. Now, the podcast brings in guest stars from Hillary Clinton to Oprah Winfrey to offer advice to those in vulnerable places.


There’s so much knowledge in those who are learning. New England Public Radio’s Media Lab takes the work of young student journalists as an insight into their lives in Springfield, Massachusetts—then relating their stories to a global scale. The students explore big questions about complex issues like life in foster care, to coming out as transgender in high school to police brutality.

The voice of these students not only gives an insight into how they view their worlds but provides a particular sense of honesty and earnestness in them being able to tell their own stories.

Media Lab runs on the philosophy that we all have a story to tell. The question they ask is, “what story will you tell?”

MediaLab partners with the students of Nicholas McBride’s “Community Journalism” class and the High School of Commerce, as well as The Care Center in Holyoke and the Ground Truth project.

Sometimes, all it takes to get out of a rut yourself is hearing young people navigate their truth. It makes you want to navigate your own.

Modern Love

Stuck in a romantic rut? Feeling heartbroken? You aren’t alone. The New York Times Modern Love podcast features readings from the popular New York Times Modern Love column by notable personalities such as Kate Winslet or Lois Smith. Following the reading, WBUR host Meghna Chakrabarti and New York Times Modern Love editor Daniel Jones work on receiving updates from the columnists themselves—opening a discussion as to why the work was chosen for the column.

Hearing a story about heartbreak followed by reactions after the fact reminds us that life will always move forward and time heals most wounds. Other people have been there and they made it through, so you probably will too.

Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations

In one-on-one conversations, Oprah Winfrey discusses, with prominent leaders in our society, how to live a life filled with values, character, purpose and meaning during the turbulent times we live in.

The episodes feature conversations from “Super Soul Sunday” and “Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations.” Guests have included the host of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” to writers and stars of the Broadway show “Hamilton.”

The series of talks motivate listeners to get up and get into things that they are valuable in ways that are valuable to them—and others.

Caeli Chesin can be reached at [email protected].

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