By Madalyn Watson | Reporter
Although many Baylor students have schedules packed with classes, work and organizations, they still want free time to enjoy some mind-numbing and obsession-worthy entertainment. However, when students binge watch television shows on Netflix, it can take a toll on their time management, motivation and bank accounts.
I can admit to spending too much of my time binge-watching television shows and letting it bleed into the time I had allotted for schoolwork. However, I feel there is another form of entertainment that not enough Baylor students have looked into as an alternative: Podcasts.
Even though it is possible to let podcasts dominate your time and energy — I have spent a few too many weekends curled up on the couch with endless mugs of coffee listening to episodes of The Black Tapes back-to-back — students can do a lot more while listening to podcasts than while they are watching television. Podcasts can be the perfect background noise while cleaning apartments or dorm rooms, driving long distances or preparing meals.
Most podcasts are also free to access on music streaming services like Spotify and iTunes, YouTube and even the podcast’s official website. This can be especially attractive to students wanting to save money rather than paying monthly for Hulu, Amazon Prime or Netflix subscriptions.
Podcasts are also not just limited to graphic true crime and ‘nerdy’ subjects, as some of my friends would say. There are a lot of different genres and niche topics that podcasts cover.
Let’s start with horror; it’s that pumpkin spice and slasher films time of year again. I personally think that podcasts are the perfect media for scary stories. The suspense is built-up through sound alone; even horror films do this with their soundtracks. Also, by not actually seeing what they are describing, you can let your imagination run wild, and your imagination is much more terrifying than anything a filmmaker can generate through special effects makeup or CGI. Listening to these podcasts is like sitting around a bonfire on a camping trip telling stories of the ghosts or werewolves in the woods behind you.
My favorite horror podcast is The Black Tapes. It is a docudrama hosted by Alex Reagan who initially intends to make a show about people with strange occupations. The first episode, where she covers ghost hunters, leads her to Dr. Richard Strand, who has dedicated his life to debunking claims of paranormal activity. Reagan becomes interested in the cases that he has not been able to disprove, which she names ‘The Black Tapes’ and spends the rest of the show investigating them.
Welcome to Night Vale falls into many fictional genres such as paranormal horror, yet it is presented as a radio show that reports on the strange events that occur in the fictional town of Night Vale. The show has received rave reviews since beginning in 2012 and has even led to the creation of two novels, “Welcome to Night Vale” and “It Devours!” written by the show’s creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.
Another well-represented genre in popular podcasts is science fiction. Limetown, created by Two-Up Productions in 2015, crosses into the genre of psychological horror and investigates the disappearance of 300 people in a neuroscience research facility.
I would also suggest The Bright Sessions for any fans of superhero films like “The X-Men” and “The Avengers” as well as psychology majors or students interested in psychotherapy. Each episode is a therapist’s recording of her appointments with her patients; however, her patients have different problems from the average person –unless you can travel through time or control people’s actions with your mind.
Although many students may not want to continue to learn after their classes are over and they have finished studying, podcasts cover unique and interesting true stories such a true crime, unknown histories and interviews with celebrities.
The wildly popular first season of Serial, a true crime podcast, investigated the murder of a senior in high school, Hae Min Lee, and the role of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, in her disappearance and murder. Serial not only won a Peabody Award, but popularized the podcast format and contributed to the grant of a new trail to Syed who has been in prison for the murder for 18 years.
For students who are already fans of Serial, Serial productions released another popular true crime podcast, S-Town, in 2017 and the podcast Undisclosed that focuses on the court case rather than the investigation covers the State v. Adnan Syed in its first season.
Unlike these true crime podcasts that take a whole season to cover a case, or murder, there are many shows like My Favorite Murder, hosted by comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, that cover a new story every episode.
A stand-up comedian, Dan Cummins, began his own podcast in a similar format called Timesuck. Each episodes covers topics ranging from conspiracy theories and paranormal occurrences to serial killers and famous, historical events. In addition to the in-depth research that goes into each episode, Timesuck has become wildly popular because of the cast of characters he uses to tell the stories like Bojangles, the one-eyed, three legged immortal pit-bull. Cummins even has an episode about the David Koresh and Branch Davidians.
Many podcasts focus on unknown aspects or eras of history. You Must Remember This, created and hosted by Karina Longworth, tells forgotten stories of Hollywood when it first began to rise up in the entertainment industry. It shows the abuse of power and other dark aspects of show business that no one wants to talk about.
Not all non-fiction podcasts are doom and gloom. There are many comedic podcasts including the comedy and advice podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me, hosted by brothers Travis, Justin and Griffin McElroy.
These non-fiction podcasts also cover extremely niche subjects, so there is a podcast to peak nearly everyone’s interest. The podcast Alive and Kicking is solely about ’90s football; How Rude! is a podcast dedicated to the ’90s sitcom, “Full House;” The Pen Addict is a podcast by Myke Hurley and Brad Dowdy who are obsessed with all things stationery.
For anyone who has ever watched a video on YouTube, many YouTube personalities have begun their own podcasts, too. John and Hank Green, the founders of Crash Course – which I am sure has helped many Baylor students when cramming for exams – have their own humorous and educational podcast called Dear Hank and John.
Some of the other YouTube celebrities who have started podcasts include Shane Dawson, Cody Ko, Jenna Marbles and Ethan Klein and Hila Hakmon of H3H3Productions.
Sleep and Meditation
Although podcasts meant to help listeners fall asleep or meditate do not necessarily fall into their own category together, they could help many stressed out and sleep deprived students during the school year.
There are several podcasts, like Sleep With Me and Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast, that feature a host with a calming voice reading a new short story each episode. Although I prefer Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast because of the host’s beautiful voice, sometimes I find the interesting stories she reads to be a bit too captivating to put me to sleep.
Although there are many podcasts used for mediation like The Meditation Podcast and Mediation Oasis, many students may feel that they do not have enough time for mediation even though it is shown to help with stress, anxiety and negative thinking. Mediation Minis, hosted by Chel Hamilton, are perfect for the busy college student because each episode is approximately 15 minutes long.