There’s something so comforting about a podcast. If you’re bored with music or just want a little background noise for doing work, they can be a great go to. Especially during social distancing. I have been finding myself gravitating toward podcasts even more often than usual. I enjoy listening to them before bed as a way to fall asleep and during the day as background noise. I think a lot of the joy of podcasts has to do with hearing other people’s voices. Through listening, you feel a sense of companionship and comfort. This quality is especially soothing during a time like this where in-person socializing is a lot more difficult.

Podcasts also span such a wide variety of interesting topics. There is a podcast for literally any activity or subject you could possibly be interested in. Some of my favorite podcast types are crime, comedy, and life advice. I often alternate between these podcast types depending on my mood. Plus, podcasts are a great way to pass time while also staying somewhat productive and informed. When I want a break from watching TV, podcasts provide a similar level of entertainment without the eye-strain. 

These podcasts have been some of my favourites recently and really pulled me through quarantine:

1. Modern Love

Modern Love is a collaboration between WBUR and The New York Times and is based off of the publication’s column by the same name. The podcast often features famous personalities such as actors, TV talk show hosts, and other celebrities reading Modern Love’s published essays submitted by writers around the world. The episodes tend to be on the shorter side, ranging from 15 to 25 minutes. 

2. Thick and Thin

Thick and Thin, on the other hand, is an advice/stream of consciousness podcast by YouTuber Katy Bellotte. In the podcast, Katy talks about everything from dating, love, being a 20-something in New York City to fear of loneliness, dealing with criticism and more. I genuinely enjoy the podcast for how insightful, honest, and relatable it is. The episodes are on the longer side, usually 45 to 50 minutes. It’s a great option for millenials and Gen Z because Katy caters specifically to young adults navigating the world with her content. 

3. Off Menu

Off Menu is a funny hybrid podcast, which is what I enjoy about it. The podcast emerged in 2018 and is currently on its third season. It’s hosts are James Acaster and Ed Gamble, two English comedians. It combines a food-related podcast and an interview-style podcast filled with humorous asides. In it, the hosts have a guest in their fantasy restaurant to talk about their life and career in between favorite courses of a meal. I like this podcast for its banter and ability to both inform and humor listeners. The guests are usually incredibly interesting people who are celebrated in their fields.

4. Gals on the Go

I first began listening to Gals on the Go because of its hosts, Danielle Carolan and Brooke Miccio, two YouTuber friends who I both enjoy greatly. This lifestyle podcast is a mixture of tips on how to be productive, story times, and college and young adult advice. What I love about it is the ease of Danielle and Brooke’s friendship and the way they play off of one another. I also enjoy how honest and refreshing their advice often is. It feels like you’re having a conversation with a group of your girl friends.

5. Bad Friends

Finally, Bad Friends is a great comedy podcast that my close friend introduced me to recently. It features comedians Andrew Santino and Bobby Lee. There are only 13 episodes in total, but despite being short, the podcast is hysterically funny. Andrew and Bobby play so well off of one another. The episodes span a wide variety of random subjects. They are generally an hour-and-a-half long and will have you chuckling the entire time. 

Podcasts have such a special quality about them. They allow people to feel transported through their storytelling. In fact, according to an analysis of people’s brain waves conducted by The New York Times, listening to podcasts triggers at least 12 different areas of the brain while listening.

According to communications professor, Emma Rodero, who specializes in audio design, audio is so powerful because it allows listeners to create their own version of a story in their head. Audio is more active in that way than reading because it requires the brain to keep up with and process the story at the pace it is played. These complex and multifaceted stories create complex reactions in our brains. We form tons of associations hearing even just one simple word. The power of podcasts then, seems to come down to their ability to stimulate our brains and engage and immerse us so fully in a story. If you need a way to pass time during social distancing and staying at home, podcasts are the way to go. 

  • Maggie Mahoney is an editorial fellow based in Washington D.C. She is a soon to be graduating senior at American University studying Literature with a minor in Communications. Maggie is passionate about poetry, elementary education, blogging, and R&B music. She loves to cook and try new cuisines and considers herself a textbook Virgo.