By: Ashley Ann Reich

If you are like me, you grew up in an era where printed documents, paperback books, and face-to-face learning were prevalent. In today’s world, there are many virtual learning opportunities, and the world of podcasting has taken off in ways many never predicted. During COVID, many people found ways to get creative with content generation that provided many new opportunities for our minds to be stimulated when everything else shut down. As a constant learner, it was difficult to narrow down the right podcast initially, and I have learned a bit along the way to finding something I love. Grab your favorite headphones and app of choice, and let’s get listening!

The vast repository of podcasts can be overwhelming, especially when you are constantly bombarded with ads and suggestions. In fact, there are over 4.3 million podcasts available to choose from, and this number continues to grow daily. When searching for the ideal podcast, take some time to write a list of things you enjoy, such as travel, food, fitness, or money. Many popular apps can be narrowed down by genre and then reduced even further to hone in on a specific person or episode title, depending on how specific you want to get with your interests. Personally, I like to listen to podcasts that are unrelated to my career. This helps me broaden my horizons and learn other hobbies or about other people or places, which helps me clear my head after a long day. 

Once you have narrowed down your list, you will want to test out several podcasts. For me, my mood will dictate what I am wanting to listen to that day. The Pew Research Center noted that over 67% of Americans listen to podcasts for entertainment, which goes to show most people want something reminiscent of comedy to get them through the day. As you test out a podcast, try listening while doing a mundane task such as cleaning, walking the dog, or taking public transportation to and from work. This will keep your attention much better than listening during a more complicated task. Once you have found at least one podcast you want to keep listening to, you will want to “follow” or “subscribe” to get all the newest episodes and begin a library of your favorites. 

Many podcasts seem to generate themes or series throughout the year, which can increase your chances of continuing to listen. Podcasts like Serial took off initially because it kept the listener coming back with suspenseful content that could not be consumed in simply one episode. Additionally, it is not abnormal for someone to be listening to multiple podcasts at one time – six in ten listeners have at least two podcasts going at any given time! One of the best ways for podcasters to keep someone coming back is to post-show notes. Show notes are an excellent resource for the listener because it gives them expectations as well as resources. The title of a podcast may be a dead giveaway as to the content, but show notes are where I go first to determine if I want to listen to that episode or to better understand the content. 

In conclusion, I could not write about podcasts without giving a shameless plug for some of my favorites. I have become a devoted listener because I find that I am able to “kill two birds with one stone” by plugging in my favorite podcast and getting in my daily walk around campus. Do not be afraid to keep listening and trying new podcasts, as they are changing all the time. You will quickly land on a few that will keep you putting in your earbuds and getting lost in the content. Here are my current listens: 

  • Smart Money Happy Hour with Rachel Cruze and George Kamel 
  • The His and Her Money Show 
  • Money Guy Show 
  • LiftingLindsay’s More Than Fitness
  • Mind Pump: Raw Fitness Truth 
  • Travel with Rick Steves 
  • Women Who Travel
  • Zero to Travel Podcast
  • The Minimalists Podcast
  • An Oral History of The Office 
  • Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
  • Conspiracy Theories 
  • The Bible Recap 

*One of our own SWSM writers, Gabriella Hoffman, has her own podcast – District of Conservatism – check this out to learn more about public policy matters and news.