Whatever your pleasure, there’s a pod for you
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/03/2020 (1042 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Trying to find a new podcast to listen to is almost as overwhelming as the state of the world right now. There are literally hundreds of thousands of options to choose from on every conceivable topic. In 2019, Forbes pegged the number of active podcasts at more than 800,000.
Here you’ll find five suggestions for podcasts to stay informed, entertained and sane while living in social isolation.
You can also take this downtime to catch up on the Bury the Lede podcast with Free Press arts reporters Jen Zoratti and Erin Lebar, who recorded their 124th episode earlier this month.
For staying informed: The Big Story
Hosted by longtime Canadian journalist Jordan Heath-Rawlings, The Big Story is a daily podcast that covers a wide range of national news and current events. Previously, the show touched on things such as health, crime, business and technology but has pivoted since mid-March to cover all COVID-19, all the time.
While Canadians might feel overwhelmed by the glut of information coming from governments and traditional media, The Big Story does a good job of diving into the biggest headline of the day and breaking down the impact for individuals. A good example of this is the March 27 episode on how the federal government’s recently announced financial aid package will work and who it applies to.
Heath-Rawlings and producer Claire Brassard have an easy rapport that makes for entertaining listening. Episodes run about 25 minutes on average and are posted daily at 6 a.m.
Honourable mentions: Front Burner, Deep Background with Noah Feldman
For good storytelling: Dying for Sex
Dying for Sex isn’t nearly as salacious as the title suggests. Yes, there are detailed accounts of surprising sexual encounters, but beyond its 18-plus content the podcast is a sincere look at life, human connection and death.
Over seven episodes, host Nikki Boyer tells the story of her best friend Molly, who after being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer decides to leave her husband and embark on a series of sexual escapades with people she meets online.
While the earlier episodes are quite raunchy, the later ones go much deeper and darker. The podcast shines for its honesty and Molly and Boyer’s friendship is a treat to listen in on. Episodes clock in at about 40 minutes long.
Honorable mentions: This American Life, Heavyweight, The Mystery Show
For coping with the news: The Happiness Lab by Pushkin Industries
The Happiness Lab, hosted by Yale University psychology professor Laurie Santos, is all about using the science of happiness to improve your life. The show features interviews with experts in the field of happiness and evidence-based examples of why money won’t make you happy and why positive thinking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The first season ended in December and Season 2 is set to come out April 27, but Santos has been publishing a bunch of bonus episodes for dealing with COVID-19 in the last month. So far, recent episodes have touched on loneliness, crisis coping, controlling strong emotions and meditation. Episodes range from 20 to 45 minutes.
Honourable mentions: On Being with Krista Tippett, Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
For true crime: Cool Mules
If you want to feel good about your life choices, you should give Cool Mules a listen.
The six-part Canadaland show hosted by Kasia Mychajlowycz investigates the life and crimes of former Vice music editor Yaroslav Pastukhov (a.k.a. Slava Pastuk), who was convicted in December for his part in an international drug smuggling operation. Pastuk convinced young rappers, models and a Vice intern to smuggle more than $20 million worth of cocaine into Australia in 2015.
The podcast features interviews with Pastuk, former colleagues and lawyers and takes a look at the workplace culture of Vice. Episodes are about 40 minutes each and still being released.
Honourable mentions: Chasing Cosby, The Catch and Kill with Ronan Farrow, Criminal
For a history lesson: Slow Burn
Slow Burn by Slate Podcasts looks back on some of the biggest stories in recent American history.
Seasons 1 and 2 are hosted by Leon Neyfakh and dive into the Watergate scandal and the impeachment of former U.S. president Bill Clinton, respectively. Season 2 takes a detour from politics to focus on the high profile murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. with host Joel Anderson.
While all of these events have been covered to death, Slow Burn shines a light on some of the lesser-known people and side stories that didn’t necessarily make headlines back in the day. Episodes are between 30 minutes and an hour long.
Honourable mentions: The Secret Life of Canada, Revisionist History, Commons
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.