Intro to Podcasts

For intense research and writing days, I prefer to work in silence (which can be rare in a graduate student office!) or with some quiet music. The rest of my day is often filled with podcasts. I wasn’t really aware of podcasts or what made them appealing until the series Serial was released. It created a new weekly podcast habit for me, and I quickly sought out many new podcasts to listen to during walks to school, afternoon runs, and weekend chores. I’ve found podcasts to be the easiest way to stay on top of the latest news and trends for both scientific research and general interest topics.

Podcasts are just like music styles in that each show has certain environments when it’s best suited, and it can take time to figure out what works with your personal tastes. I tend toward weekly shows that have new guest interviews and topics in each episode. Below are some of my favorite podcasts that I’d recommend trying out if you’re new to podcasts. I will update this post from time to time with additional recommendations. Feel free to comment on your favorites as well!

Favorite podcast app: Pocket Casts

Weekly lineup:

Science Friday –  This podcast feels like catching the highlights of groundbreaking science seminars in an easily digestible format. Most Science Friday episodes cover topics that are accessible and interesting to general audiences, though a predilection for science news helps make this one enjoyable.

Useful Science – Ever wish you could easily access and scrutinize the research findings discussed on a science podcast? Not only do the creators of Useful Science make that possible, but the hosts of each episode break down and examine the methods, conclusions, and limitations of various studies. Topics are geared toward those that can be applied in everyday life.

Intelligence Squared Debates – I’ve always been one to play the devil’s advocate, so listening to this podcast with experts crafting arguments on contentious issues always holds my attention. The episodes are recorded live and guests attempt to sway an audience’s opinion.

TED Radio Hour – Each week, host Guy Raz weaves together snippets of TED talks and interviews with enthusiastic curiosity under a cohesive theme for each episode. If you’re a fan of TED talks, this is definitely one to check out.

Freakonomics Radio – The best selling book has led to an extremely popular podcast. The show covers a range of social and economic topics, though lately many episodes seem to be related to crime prevention and education.

Planet Money: This one is much shorter than some of the others (~15 min), so it’s an easy one to fit in each week. The subject matter and show format are quite similar to Freakonomics.

Old standbys:

Fresh Air and This American Life: Classic NPR podcasts that delve into personal stories through interviews and storytelling.

New to the mix:

Two podcasts I recently picked up from a friend who listens to podcasts during her research:

Awesome Etiquette – Weekly tips on how to handle just about every odd or awkward social situation? Yes, please!

Love + Radio – Some stories in this show are uplifting, while others are heartbreaking. Nevertheless, I look forward to new episodes each week.

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