7 Killer Podcasts for Your College Major

The podcasting world is vast. According to Apple, thousands of podcasts are available from 90 countries worldwide, spanning numerous topics — comedy, beer brewing, history, economics, music, fishing, technology, terriers, Sesame Street — so if you’ve got an esoteric interest, there’s probably a podcast for it. This means that if you’re a college student, there’s likely a podcast that caters to you, no matter what your field of study may be. These can provide you with industry updates, insider interviews, and just good old-fashioned entertainment. Here are a few outstanding podcasts, recommended by major.

  1. Communications: "Bullseye with Jesse Thorn" started as Jesse’s college radio show at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2000. The show began distribution by Public Radio International in 2007, making Jesse the youngest national host in public radio history. Jesse has interviewed actor Simon Pegg, author Sara Vowell, documentarian Werner Herzog, Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee, musician Phil Collins, cartoonist Gahan Wilson, comedian Aziz Ansari, and actress Jane Lynch, to name a few.

    If you like this: Fresh Air, Dinner Party Download

  2. English Language and Literature: "The Moth" was begun by novelist George Dawes Green in New York City to recreate evenings of story-telling on a porch in his native Georgia. Since then, the Moth has evolved into a national storytelling series where anyone can come up on stage and tell a true, five-minute story without notes. The Moth also organizes "Mainstage" shows around a theme. The podcast, hosted by author Dan Kennedy, curates the most succinct, intense, and affecting of the StorySLAM and Mainstage stories, such as Steve Zimmer’s battles with an office addiction to 3D Tetris, Elna Baker’s remembrances of a Mormon Singles dance in New York City, and Alan Rabinowitz’s account of growing up with a stutter that shaped a remarkable career in zoology.

    If you like this: TED Talks, Story Collider

  3. Sociology: "This American Life" states that "Each week, [they] choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme." But, as they admit on their website, this podcast cannot be summed up so easily. Ira Glass hosts "This American Life," a sort of experimental journalism that will occasionally incorporate fiction with thorough investigative reporting. The show is usually broken up into acts on one theme that relate each report to one another. For example, "#1 Party School" goes to Penn State (voted "#1 Party School" by the Princeton Review in 2009) to find out how the tailgating, partying, and drinking culture contributes to a safe and economically thriving school town. "Act V" devotes an entire episode to the story of high-security inmates rehearsing the last act of "Hamlet."


    If you like this: Radiolab, Freakonomics

  4. Economics: "Planet Money" was created in 2008 from an exceptional "This American Life" show (titled, "Giant Pool of Money"). Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson started the twice-weekly podcast "Planet Money" to cover the global economy in a well-managed, accessible way. It’s a daunting task, but, with their help, understanding topics like the housing crisis, the recession, unemployment ratings and China’s transforming economy become less distressing, even if the topics themselves… well, don’t.

    If you like this: Marketplace, Freakonomics

  5. General Studies: "Stuff You Should Know" was launched by Josh Clark and Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant from HowStuffWorks.com. They’re on a mission to explain life, the universe, and everything in it. Favorites include "Coffee: The World’s Drug of Choice," "How Déjà vu Works," and "Prison: Not as Fun as You Would Think." While some topics prove more difficult to tackle ("How the Sun Works"), the banter between the Josh and Chuck keep every topic, from Scabies to shrunken heads, accessible and informative.

    If you like this: Stuff You Missed in History Class, Stuff Mom Never Told You

  6. Film: "Doug Loves Movies" has comedian Doug Benson sitting down with fellow comedians, actors, and filmmakers (including David Cross, John Hamm, and Edgar Wright) to talk about movies. That’s the frame of the show, though it tends to fall into irreverent, but entertaining, digressions that make up a good deal of the show’s casual appeal. At its heart is the Leonard Maltin Game, wherein the week’s contestants are given a category to guess a movie title from, followed by hints about that movie excerpted from Leonard Maltin’s extensive catalogue of movie reviews. The guests then bid on how many of that movie’s billed actors they would need to know to name the movie.

    If you like this: WTF!? W/ Marc Maron, Filmspotting

  7. Biology: "Radiolab" has an innovative, overlapping, conversational editing style that flows through every intriguing topic until the blend of "science, philosophy, and human experience" becomes a weekly compulsion. Each big question is introduced and explored by Jad Abrumrad and Robert Krulwich. Science writer Carl Zimmer presents a defense case for "Parasites," Neurologist Oliver Sacks and portrait artist Chuck Close discuss a shared condition called Face Blindness in "About Face," professor of biology and neurological science Robert Sapolsky presents a case where vehement baboons defy their expected behavior in "New Normal?"

    If you like this: Story Collider, Stuff You Should Know

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