Avoiding your Thoughts? Listen to one of these Podcasts!

When the iPod first debuted in the early 2000s, people finally had a portable way to store and download podcasts. Since then, podcasts have continued to grow in popularity. In 2015, nonfiction crime podcast “Serial” was the first podcast to receive a Peabody Award.

Talking to Seattle University students indicated that popular podcast topics that interest students on-campus range anywhere from formal news to goofy comedy shows.

Advertisers have taken full advantage of this rising popularity of mainstream podcasts. Recently released data from Apple Podcast Analytics indicates that ad revenues reached $220 million in 2017.

What seems like a trend away from traditional broadcasting to streaming services is reflected in this spike of podcast popularity. Edison Research reports that a quarter of Americans have listened to a podcast in the past month.

However, some see podcasts as a way that younger generation is getting re-introduced to radio. He perceives the uptick in podcast production in a positive light. Randy Scott, station manager at KXSU 102.1 FM thinks podcasts are great for traditional radio broadcasting because they serve a different need than traditional radio.

“Radio is an intimate form of media,” Scott said. “Podcasters get that very quickly.”

As author Emery Lord tweeted last December, “Being alone with your thoughts is lava! We have to jump from podcast to podcast to survive!”

The following is a list of podcasts that are keeping students from being alone with their thoughts this quarter.

My Favorite Murder

My Favorite Murder is a conversational non fiction crime podcast which consistently ranks high on iTunes podcast charts. The two hosts, Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgari , spotlight and discuss different murders each podcast, but also discuss their experiences with mental health, substances and hard- partying past lives. They usually get to murder, the subject of their podcast, a good 20 minutes in.

“[They] go through so many topics so I can just pump it into my brain,” Kavya Shanmuganathan, a Seattle U student and begrudging fan of the podcast, said.

The casual and rambling discussions differ from the format of other successful true-crime podcasts, and it seems that is central to its appeal.

Their coherent-enough conversations interspersed with self-consciously sardonic advertising quickly gets addicting. Shanmuganathan said she can’t stop listening.

Welcome to Nightvale

Parodying news and radio broadcasts in a deadpan tone, the main character in the podcast, voiced by Cecil Baldwin, navigates a desert town somewhere in the United States. In Nightvale, conspiracies are a part of everyday life.

“The guy’s voice is very soothing,” Seattle U student Heather Cornwall said. “It’s escapism, it’s weird…it’s mostly escapism.”

Welcome to Nightvale has been around since 2012, so there is plenty of content for fans of the low-key surreal.

The History of Philosophy Without Gaps

Tatiana Summers considers Philosophy Without Gaps her favorite podcast, as she’s listened to roughly 100 episodes.

This podcast is produced by Peter Adamson, a professor at King’s College London. Summers says Adamson explains topics so anyone could understand. In this podcast, Adamson attempts to start at the beginning of philosophical history and teach his listeners about minor figures and ideas, as well other typical topics one might encounter in a philosophy UCOR class at Seattle U.

Adamson also invites other lecturers on to share about their fields of study. One recent podcast highlighted the philosophical aspects of Chaucer, specifically on the topic of marriage and chastity. Other episodes discuss topics like the role of suffering in Jewish philosophy, Avicenna’s metaphysics and the typical cast of Greek thinkers too.


Sam Bick and David Zinman produce Treyf (which is traditionally what food that does not meet the requirements of Jewish Law is called) out of McGill University in Montreal. It is played on CKUT radio, and can be streamed online from their Soundcloud site in the U.S.

This podcast discusses the political happenings in American and Canadian Jewish communities with a leftist bent. They also highlight topics that are not being discussed in Jewish spaces, that they think should be.

An example of a topic they recently featured is the history and legacy of the First Intifada, which is regarded by historians as a crucial turning point in Palestinian history. Mezna Qato, a Palestinian academic and activist whose work focuses on Palestinian education systems, was a guest on this episode. She provides her perspectives both as a scholar and as someone who was present in Palestine at the time.

The leaders of this podcast are facilitating a workshop on naming and deconstructing the frameworks used for understanding Anti-Semitism in Seattle on March 4.

Imagine spending spring break laying in rare rays of Seattle sunshine, eyes closed, listening to the podcast of your choice. The podcasts mentioned above are only a small selection of the milieu of audio entertainment available for streaming, and maybe you’ll find one that keeps you from the hot lava of your own thoughts too.

The editor may be reached at
[email protected]