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

The power of podcasts

Podcasts offer us an endless choice of genres, stories and debates

Podcasts offer us endless possibilities of ways in which we can learn, discuss and be entertained. Currently, podcasts are a great way to provide solace and adventure whilst we are all currently participating in either social distancing or self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. Podcasting platforms are often a free service, which all of us can easily access through platforms such as ACAST, Apple Podcasts and Spotify as they provide us with much needed escapism. The platform of podcasting has also rapidly increased over the last few years, which has resulted in only endless hours of entertainment that is currently available to the public.

One of the biggest genres within the podcasting world is true crime. This genre had developed in popularity with a fascination for the gruesome and  sometimes morbid, but often forgotten tales of murder and crime. There are countless podcasts within this genre, from historical retellings of specific cases to modern day debates of current cases and unsolved mysteries. If you are interested in this genre, check out “Serial,” where each season offers an in-depth exploration of complex and often conflicting cases. “My Favourite Murder” is another podcast with a cult following, which not only presents two different murders that are shared and discussed each week, but has progressed to a self-help community of “murderinos” and allows their audience to share their own hometown murder stories. Lastly, “The Teacher’s Pet” is a weekly podcast released in 2019 by the Australian about the disappearance of Lynette Dawnson. The podcast, hosted by journalist Hedley Thomas, is not only full of twists and turns but is completely compelling. But the case, at the time of release, was still ongoing, which allows the listener to become even more involved in the process of justice within this case.

For history fans that are looking for comedic relief, “No Such Thing as a Fish” and “Evil Genius” are choices that use panels to debate useless facts and figures from history to later analyse their impact and importance. “Evil Genius” presents icons throughout history and debates whether for those who want a more frank comedic podcast, look no further than those ofRuPaul: What’s the Tee” and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” Both of which offer sharp and bold social commentary which shall broaden your perspective of life, society and pop culture.

In terms of lifestyle, this genre is somewhat of a broad church for food, family, living, popular culture and mutual daily experiences. “How to Fail” reminds their audience of the importance in the statement, “if at first you do not succeed, try again.” The podcast invites guests to explain when and how they failed, but more importantly how they moved past these failures in order to achieve their desired goals and reflect on how the past failures made they who they are today. “The High Low”, is a British sensation in which journalists and writers Pandora Skyes and Dolly Alderton discuss current affairs, pop culture trends and literature. In terms of food based podcasts, “Table Manners” hosted by Jessie Ware and her mother invite guests to dinner and discuss food, their careers, inspiration, life experiences, a death row dinner and the all-important table manners. From unexpected guests to a heartfelt family dynamic this podcast is a comforting dose of familiarity in these uncharted times. Other stand out food podcasts include “Bon Appétite Foodcast,” which invites all of your favorites from the Bon Appétite test kitchen on to discuss their passion for food and everything in between. Lastly, “Talking Tastebuds” brings back food nostalgia, whilst also evolving to has unusual and individual guests on to share their personal expertise on more holistic topics.

For arts and entertainment, there is plenty from celebrity fronted options including; “Anna Faris Is Unqualified,” “Pretty Big Deal with Ashley Graham,” “The Big Podcast With Shaq,” “Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness” and “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard.” Each podcasts features a famous person from pop culture as the host who is joined by another celebrity guest to discuss the topics of the episode. For film fanatics, both “Beyond the Screenplay” and “Kermode on Film” explore not only recent blockbusters and award season news but also breakdown the big ideas and talking points from the silver screen. Similarly, for music obsessives, both “Popcast” by the New York Times and “Hip Hop Saved My Life” debate current issues and events in music, as well as reminiscing on historic artists, albums and music events. Last but not least, “Dolly Parton’s America” is a recent podcast which has taken the media by storm. Not only does it divulge the life of Dolly Parton, her success, life story and the power of country music as a whole, but it also shows how one artist is able to appeal to many different people within a society and also what can unite us all, with one leading commonality being her music.

For current affairs, history and politics, “The Daily” by the New York Times as well as “Today in Focus” by the Guardian offers the latest news headlines and debates for you to listen and learn about in a brief and concise manner each day. In terms of more continuous series “This American Life”, presents short stories, essays and extracts in a weekly hour long special. For any history buff, “1619” by the New York Times was created to commemorate 400 years since the first Africans were brought to Virginia. “Slow Burn” explores historical scandals from within American politics, from covering the Watergate Scandal, the impeachment of Bill Clinton and then branching off in its most recent season to cover the murders of both Biggie and Tupac. Finally, if you enjoyed HBO’s series, “Chernobyl,” then check out “The Chernobyl Podcast,” which offers a more comprehensive exploration of this catastrophic event and as well as behind the scenes of the creation of this award winning show.

At its most simplistic form, podcasts are all about interviewing interesting people so that we can learn from them. Interviews occur through all genres of podcasting, however there are some which use specific formats or topics in order to get guests to open up.

One of the longest running radio-turned-podcasting series is, “Desert Island Discs,” which first aired on  BBC in 1942 is still a weekly interview for the network. Through podcasting platforms, the whole archive is now accessible to the public. Other interview style podcasts include those of “Feminist’s Don’t Wear Pink” and “The Guilty Feminist,” which both address the topic of feminism, its multi-faceted issues and how it works within wider society. NPR’s “How I Built This with Guy Raz” allows entrepreneurs to explain how they achieved goals to become some of the biggest businesses and brands that we know today. For hopeless romantics the New York Times’ “Modern Love” explores all different forms of love and is an evolution of the popular column published within the paper.

During this time of a slower pace of life, podcasting is a great way to become informed, education, humoured, enchanted or entertained. It allows us to experience different stories and learn about a lot different topics that are at the tips of our fingers. No matter one’s interest, there are hundreds of podcasts for us to listen to as we practice self-isolation.

In crazy times like today, it might be nice to take the time to be transported away from the mundanities of our daily lives and hear something new.

Robyn Cowie is Collegian staff and can be reached at [email protected].

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