If you see me around campus or on the bus with my AirPods in, I’m not listening to music — I’m listening to a podcast.
Podcasts are free internet-audio series for users to listen to on mobile or on their digital devices. The term comes from a combination of the words “pod” (like iPod) and “broadcasting.” There are podcast series about every subject possible and episode times range from 10 minutes to 2 hours, usually.
Podcasts differ heavily from a typical radio talk show because they are curated for very niche communities. Due to the wide variety of subjects and genres, it’s easy to find a topic you enjoy.
Additionally, most podcast-listening applications provide a show description and individual episode descriptions, along with listeners’ reviews.
During an extremely long road trip, I started listening to my first podcast when I grew tired of traffic and my looping playlist. As a lover of true crime, I first started listening to “My Favorite Murder,” a comedy podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.
Not only are podcasts entertaining as an audio track for everyday life and activities, but they also can be very educational. I personally love listening to cases of true crimes and learning about how professionals respond to certain situations and how to react to them.
I also started to prefer podcasts to music because there is such a variety in them. Listening to the same music all the time can be boring or grow old, and it’s easy to zone out when doing so. But with podcasts, you’re listening to something new every time. If you’re following a series, you’re excited to tune in each week for the newest installment.
Recently, my favorite podcast has been “The Shrink Next Door.” This is a six-part series hosted by journalist Joe Nocera. He tells the story of his Hamptons neighbor, Ike, who is a therapist to both celebrities and Manhattan’s elite.
One summer, Nocera returns to his house and notices Ike’s disappearance. He comes to find out Ike never owned the elaborate house next door where he threw star-studded parties: It was his patient’s. Marty was a patient of Ike’s for almost three decades and had finally broken free of the psychological and manipulative spell Ike had put him under.
This podcast is different from others because it’s very theatrical and has a high level of production. The show is formatted like a documentary, narrated by Nocera and it features many interviews with other “characters,” like Marty, his family members and other patients of Ike’s.
I can appreciate the strategic structure of each episode, with catchy music undertoning the introduction and conclusions to each episode. Additionally, I love that there are multiple people telling their sides of the story, with actors reading parts for those who refused to interview in person.
Because a journalist is behind this show, the entire story is very well researched, professional and put in an easy-to-follow timeline. This is different from most other podcasts, which are usually just an exchange of dialogue between a few people. Documentary-like structures for podcasts seem complicated, but Nocera did a seamless job. This story would fare very well as a film or TV documentary or even as a video series.
What works best for this podcast is its episodic structure. Each episode unveils a new character, new dilemma or new points of view. There are scandals exposed within Ike’s practice, and the show has an almost fantastical element to it due to this.
Stories exposing the filthy rich’s covered disgraces have drawn audiences since early forms of entertainment, and “The Shrink Next Door” is no different. The entire series is 6 hours long and I finished it within a week. Each episode ended with a cliffhanger and I couldn’t help but continue.
Podcasts are just as binge-worthy as Netflix shows. They also make mundane activities, like sitting in traffic or walking to class, much more enjoyable. Save yourself from zoning it and let your mind become engaged with something interesting and entertaining.