Like many other students on campus, I find myself on the JHMI Shuttle multiple times a week, traveling back and forth from the medical campus where I’m a Research Assistant. While my commute of about 20 minutes each way is nothing in comparison to the commute of some professors and graduate students, travel time gives me the opportunity to plug in my headphones and escape traffic on St. Paul street for a little bit. So every Monday, Tuesday and Friday I find myself with time to do one of my favorite things: listen to podcasts.
I remember, as a younger student, not understanding how people could listen to podcasts because it felt like more learning (ugh). But as life got a little busier, and current events became more pressing, podcasts turned out to be the easiest way to keep up with the news and also hear about stories that go otherwise unreported. As a plus, listening to them reminded me of listening to Car Talk on Saturday mornings with my Dad. So, to give a little window into my world, here are a few of my favorite podcasts and recent episodes:
Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam
This podcast is on the shorter side, about 20-25 minutes (perfect for the JHMI!), and releases a new episode each week. The podcast is described perfectly on NPR’s website: “The Hidden Brain project helps curious people understand the world – and themselves.” The host, Shankar, interviews people from around the world in varying fields, and finds a way to relate all the stories to the human condition. The perspective can be psychological, sociological or even economical, and the resulting effect is not only interesting, but also eye-opening. All in all, it’s nerdy and I love it.
One of my favorite episodes to date, is “Episode 48: Men: 44, Women: 0.” The podcast touched on how and why we still aren’t seeing women in leadership roles and how society has bound women into a sort of catch-22. I loved all the interviews in this episode, not only because it hit close to home, but because I finished it feeling empowered—I highly recommend it.
Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! With Peter Segel
This is NPR’s Saturday game show, and it’s HILARIOUS. Each week the host travels to different cities with different guest panels and different celebrity interviews. The games all center on news stories from the week, and everyone has an incredibly strong pun game. These episodes are a bit longer—about 45-50 minutes—so I like listening to them while I’m running an experiment and have some down time. I also sometimes listen to them when I’m working out!
This American Life with Ira Glass
By this point you probably have concluded that I’m a huge dork and an NPR-ophile, to which I say, you’re absolutely right. This American Life is not only one of my favorites because of my love for Ira Glass (which I share with JHU_Emily), but because it’s definitely one of the most interesting ways to hear about current events that may not be making headlines. The episodes can be silly or serious, but will transport you to different cities across the country to discuss meaningful and recent social or political events. This podcast is also on the longer side, but totally worth it.
One of my recent favorites has to be “#600: Will I know Anyone at This Party?” I actually texted JHU_Emily in the middle of this episode because I was geeking out. The episode talks about the changing atmosphere in the Republican Party while focusing on St. Cloud, Minnesota. It also features a musical number sung by the one and only, Neil Patrick Harris. So…enough said. Give it a listen!
Serial with Sarah Koenig
If you’re into murder mysteries, this one is for you. I actually got into Serial over the summer, because I would listen to it while running (what can I say…the intrigue of what was going to happen next kept me from thinking about the pain in my legs). Sarah Koenig investigates criminal cases that were closed with loose ends, and tries to piece together the information step by step to see if the case’s verdict was just. This podcast skyrocketed to popularity with the segment on Adnan Syed, but her second season unfolds a really interesting case as well.
NPR fuels a lot of my traveling, but the Podcast app on the iPhone has a lot of other great options. I like to scroll through the top charts to explore new series each week, whether it’s politics or a new comedy show. If you haven’t before, take a look!