The Growing Popularity of Podcasts: Your Guide to Finding What to Binge Listen to Next

As the world has become increasingly busier in recent years, podcasts have become one of the most popular mediums for news and entertainment for just about anyone.  With about 25% of the United States population listening to podcasts weekly, they have completely swept the nation.  This boom in popularity for audio content can mainly be contributed to one major advantage over reading an article or watching a video on a screen — its ability to allow listeners to multitask.  From cleaning the house to driving to work, podcasts can be listened to while doing just about anything, making them extremely appealing to those constantly battling the hustle of everyday life.  

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Though they have just recently become more mainstream, podcasts have been around for years and actually predate the internet itself.  This form of audio content goes all the way back to the 1980s and was originally called ‘audio blogging,’ but due to a lack of ways to distribute these recordings, it took another 25 years to truly launch the genre.  Following the rise of popularity for audio streaming devices in the early 2000s, including the iPod and other audio players, Apple added podcasting to their iTunes Music Library in 2005.  Since then, 700,000 podcasts have been created with over 30 million episodes of content.  

Even though podcasts work great for multitasking and fitting in with a busy everyday life, the last few months at home have also opened thousands up to this genre.  From binging a true-crime series to staying updated on the latest news, many have used podcasts to take their minds off of their stressful lives over quarantine.  This latest rise of podcast creators, including almost all of your favorite influencers, has promoted the release of thousands of new shows, many of which you’ve probably already heard of.  So if you’re looking for your next obsession, or completely new to the genre and looking for a place to start, we’ve got the perfect line up for you.  Here is our guide to finding your perfect podcast to binge along with our own recommendations because, let’s be honest, surfing the iTunes store or Spotify can be a bit overwhelming.  From true crime to relatable shows run by other members of Generation Z, there’s something for everybody.

  1. Up First  
    1. NPR’s Up First gives you the news you need to start your day every morning — covering the three biggest stories of the day accompanied with the reporting and analysis from NPR News, all in under 15 minutes.  Perfect for the drive to work or to go with your morning coffee, Up First delivers unbiased reporting for you to incorporate into your morning routine.  For news without the headlines or flipping through channels, this podcast is great for everyone.
  2. Serial 
    1. Serial is typically regarded as the podcast that put podcasts on the map.  The first season of this investigative journalism podcast (my personal favorite of the three seasons currently available) that grew its popularity dives into the murder of Hae Min Lee, and the conviction of her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed based largely on the unreliable account of one witness.  Host and journalist Sarah Koenig sorts through thousands of documents, trial testimonies, police interrogations, and conducts interviews with just about everyone involved to find out just what happened to the 19-year-old from Maryland.  If you’re looking for a multi-part deep drive into a true-crime case, look no further.  
  3. Crime Junkies 
    1. If you’re another true crime junkie like me, you’ll love the way this podcast tells the stories of murder victims, missing persons, and conspiracies that will not only keep you on the edge of your seat, but will make you question the intentions of those around you.  Unlike Serial, each case is told in one 40 minute episode — so you can get your true crime fix every week without the wait to see how each story unwinds.  Hosts Ashley Flowers and Britt Prawat from Indianapolis not only tell each story in an easy to follow manner, but you’ll fall in love with their friendly banter and intelligent remarks.  Whether your cooking dinner or doing a workout (but maybe not a walk by yourself), these short episodes will give you exactly what you’re looking for.  
  4. You’re Wrong About (my personal quarantine addiction)
    1. Your Wrong About, an American cultural-history podcast, explores some of the most misunderstood media events discussing why and how the public got things wrong.  From generation-defining events like the O.J. Simpson Trial, the life and death of Princess Diana, and the Challenger Disaster, to focusing in on people like Anna Nicole-Smith, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Lorena Bobbitt, this podcast challenges everything you think you know about pop culture events and common philosophical ideas.  Hosted by journalists Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall, this extremely well-researched podcast will not only teach you something new to bring up at the dinner table, but show you just how often the media can mistell a story.
  5. Emma Chamberlain’s Anything Goes
    1. Typically regarded as the number one trendsetter and influencer to come out of Generation Z, Emma Chamberlain’s podcast isn’t a new find to any of her close followers.  Anything Goes is a podcast about, well, anything.  From relationship advice to relatable stories of friends to handling success and failure, Emma talks about whatever’s on her mind.  This positive influence for many members of Gen Z not only offers advice from her own experiences, but uses her platform to do exactly what launched her career — provide good entertainment.
  6. Gen Z Girl 
    1. This podcast focused on everyday advice and self-improvement is hosted by and from the perspective of your average Gen Z girl, Abby Asselin.  Gen Z Girl has hour-long episodes on just about every struggle most teenagers face and advice on how to handle them — from gaining confidence and self-love to dealing with school stress, this show’s got it all!  This is the perfect podcast for motivating yourself and finding inspiration to create the life you want to live, all by a fellow member of Generation Z.
  7. American History Tellers 
    1. For anyone with a passion for American history, American History Tellers tells the stories we read in our textbooks in a way that is far more engaging and easy to understand.  Every part of our lives today can be traced back in history, but how well do you know the stories that made America was it is today; that made us the people we are today?  This podcast lays it all out for you.  Outside of just listening in your free time, this podcast can be super beneficial for those of you learning about America’s past in class — I know Lindsay Graham, the host of American History Tellers, has definitely gotten me through a few lessons of my APUSH class.
  8. Stuff You Should Know 
    1. Stuff You Should Know is one of the biggest podcasts available right now and for good reason.  This podcast has almost daily hour-long episodes on exactly what the title suggests — stuff you probably don’t know, but should.  From explaining how Groundhog Day works to diving into chaos theory, Hosts Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark teach you stuff you actually want to learn about in a fun and engaging way, providing great educational entertainment.  Whether you just want to unwind after a long day or actively work on your trivia skills, this is a great show for just about anyone.
  9. Black Girl Blueprint 
    1. Black Girl Blueprint is a show dedicated to giving a voice to the raw and unfiltered Generation Z Black girl perspective.  From social injustices to finals week, these girls discuss everything and commonly bring on guests to help them do so.  The natural chemistry and complementary personalities of the hosts, Lauren Ritchie and Makeen Zachery, make you feel like your having a conversation with friends while engaging in refreshing and relatable topics.  From the first episode, you’ll fall in love with this funny and authentic podcast highlighting the accomplishments of young black women.
  10. Business Wars
    1. Business Wars gives listeners the unauthorized, real stories of what drives major companies and their leaders, inventors, and investors to success — or failure.  This podcast dives into the origins of competing companies, like Dunkin and Starbucks or Nike and Adidas, and tells the whole truth of what they’ve done to win our attention and money in our wallets.  Did you know that Snapchat’s original name was Peek-A-Boo and was almost bought by Facebook in its early days?  Neither did I, until I listened to this podcast.  Host David Brown tells the untold stories of these multi-million dollar empires in a way that feels like your listening to a true-crime podcast.

Reese Trowbridge

Reese Trowbridge is a 16 year old junior at Bayonne High School with interests in biology and medicine. Along with being a Zenerations writer, she has served as many positions in Student Government and is apart of Model UN. Her work mainly reflects her passions which include the environment, music, and mental health.

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