On Oct. 20, writer and actress Lena Dunham announced that she will be teaming up with close friend Jenna Weiss-Berman and Buzzfeed to release a podcast called Women of the Hour. Created with the purpose of delving deeper into topics such as feminism, gender and sexuality, Women of the Hour aims to empower women. With a bestselling book and a newly created email newsletter under her belt, both already touching on the same topics, one might wonder: Why a podcast?
Though podcasts have been underrated in the entertainment world, eclipsed by television and websites, they are slowly increasing in dominance. With so many platforms to choose from, the podcast is one of the only ones that can convey an authentic message through personal storytelling. It also intimately connects listeners to the host. People can remain informed and entertained without having to do much more than listen, making podcasts great for long car rides, marathon-running and practically any situation that requires multi-tasking. Ultimately, a podcast is like listening in on a really engaging discussion.
Podcasts have been pivotal in shaping the role of narrative storytelling in the constantly changing world of media. With so many podcasts to keep up with, six edge out the rest as most entertaining.
Serial is one of the most successful podcasts of all time. The first season of Serial, a nonfiction podcast focused on investigative journalism, explores the mystery behind the 1999 murder case of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old from Maryland. Her ex-boyfriend was charged for her murder but claimed to be innocent. It’s compelling and addictive, leaving listeners obsessed, completely enthralled and puzzled by the clues given in the story. Later this year, host Sarah Koenig will be back for season two. Though details are being kept under wraps, the second installment is set to be centered around United States Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by a guerilla insurgent group connected to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
This American Life
A well-received and unique podcast hosted by the charismatic Ira Glass, This American Life mixes storytelling and reporting in its weekly program, focusing on a new topic every week. It integrates simple topics with the lives of Americans and masterfully finds meaning and depth in their personal stories. Though straightforward and informative, This American Life isn’t afraid to be a quirky and silly show as well, making it continually successful and loved by many.
Based on the successful books, Freakonomics Radio is a weekly podcast that discusses complicated issues in society and culture. They converse about “hidden topics” such as stories on cheating in relationships, drug-dealing children and self-dealing real estate agents. Freakonomics is unlike any other podcast — it challenges people to think differently and open their minds to controversial topics.
Not Too Deep With Grace Helbig
Grace Helbig is a YouTube sensation turned podcaster. Known for her intelligent and hilarious personality as “Online Grace” on YouTube, Helbig delivers the same humor and creativity in Not Too Deep With Grace Helbig. An interview podcast that proclaims itself to be “silly, ridiculous and unapologetically superficial,” it is sure to entertain old fans and new listeners.
Gastropod is an interesting podcast that focuses on food, through a science and history perspective. It releases a new episode every month, covering topics from the science of ice cream, to the evolution of cutlery and the increasing popularity of kelp in an upbeat and fascinating manner. The hosts interview food experts and visit labs, helping listeners understand and see food in a new and fun way.
The Nerdist, a series by BBC America, is a podcast on “what it means to be a nerd.” An interview podcast hosted by Chris Hardwick, Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, The Nerdist truly puts on a show revolving around comedy and entertainment. The hosts create a comfortable and conversational interview environment that allows for freedom in the dialogue for the guest, leading to more captivating stories. Past guests have included Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams and actor Tom Hiddleston.