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Escaping The Noise: A Beginner’s Guide To Podcasts

By Malvika Gera, Undergraduate Batch of 2023

In an increasingly developing world, there is an urgency to multitask and catch up on daily events without compromising your time. It often hampers the ability to kick your shoes off and sit back. But there exists a simple solution, podcasting, which allows you to do both. Apart from the above reasons, podcasts also fulfil the role of quick and simple entertainment. The Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated the production of podcasts due to the hurdles it provided in creating live, visual content. The necessity to listen to a conversation—or anything for that matter—that does not revolve around, well, the pandemic, has created an onslaught of podcasts, and the several genres they come in. A question arises: which one do I listen to? And this is the exact question that I have attempted to answer below, saving you the time and trouble of finding the right one for a first-time podcast listener.

  1. Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Why should you listen to it: “I find people who are vulnerable and honest about their struggles and shortcomings to be incredibly sexy.” This is Dax Shepard’s self-proclaimed and evident fondness for vulnerable conversations rather than light chit-chat, which is at the very soul of this podcast. Owing to his rocky past dealing with substance abuse and having knowledge of what hitting rock-bottom feels like, he has an ability to make guests and listeners feel at ease, with none of the usually perceived judgement between an interviewer and their interviewee. In addition to this, his wide range of guests do nothing but make it even better; they include Nick Kroll, Bill Gates, Tristan Harris, Halsey, Gillian Flynn, and so on. The variety of guests sheds light on how this podcast manages to be not just an engaging conversation, but one that is intellectually insightful too. His co-host Monica Padman is just the cherry on top with her ability to call Shepard out when he’s incorrect, both during the interview and after, in the final segment of each episode known as the ‘fact check’. Episode(s) to get hooked on: Ashton Kutcher Returns, Jake Johnson, Mila Kunis, Nick Kroll Average duration of an episode: 01:47:02. Where: Spotify Frequency: Every 2-3 days.

  1. The Overthink Tank by Surbhi Bagga

Why should you listen to it: Comedian Surbhi Bagga’s easy-going nature and colloquial slang will make you feel as though you are sitting amongst a group of friends, kicking back with Bollywood music, and raving about everything under the sun. Called The Overthink Tank, Bagga accurately addresses our existential questions such as ‘Are You A Bad Texter?’ or ‘How To Be A Hoe?’. With guests ranging from comedians Kanan Gill and Kenny Sebastian to Sumukhi Suresh, you are sure to run out of reasons to put this off. A gem amongst the several Indian comedy podcasts on Spotify, The Overthink Tank is a collection of relatable stories, humour, and a listen that does not demand much concentration. Episode(s) to get hooked on: How To Get Along with Your Roommate? ft. Abish Mathew and Pavitra Shetty Average duration of an episode: 00:46:24. Where: Spotify Frequency: It is dormant as of now, there have not been any new episodes since July 2, 2020.

  1. Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions

Why should you listen to it: With the odd and unexplained pairing of Microsoft Founder, Bill Gates and actor-activist, Rashida Jones, this podcast aims to discuss, rather than solve, all the big questions spinning in the world’s mind right now. It is apparent in episodes where they attempt to address questions such as ‘Is it too late to stop climate change?’ or ‘Is inequality inevitable?’. The duo manages to have an informative yet entertaining conversation, particularly with the self-proclaimed dynamic of Jones being the pessimist, and Gates the optimist. But what makes this podcast unique and a great listen is its fascinating ability to enlighten sans throwing a wet blanket over the listener’s head. Episode(s) to get hooked on: Why do we believe lies? Average duration of an episode: 00:47:52. Where: Spotify Frequency: Every Monday.

  1. The Cut by Vox Media Podcast Network

Why should you listen to it: With its informative yet quick editing which makes it an entertaining listen, writer and host Avery Trufelman has created a masterpiece. Unlike other podcasts which revolve around a conversation between the interviewer and an interviewee, The Cut includes several different stories and perspectives in one episode. By including several others, it diminishes the single and almost dominating opinion that the listeners would otherwise receive. Given that this has been created by Vox Media Podcast Network, it is just another tick in the box. Episode(s) to get hooked on: Everybody Must Get Stoned Average duration of an episode: 00:31:28. Where: Spotify Frequency: Every Wednesday.

  1. I Weigh by Jameela Jamil

Why should you listen to it: Actress and activist, Jameela Jamil’s crass humour and honesty is the very essence of this podcast. With her experience as an eating disorder survivor, she brilliantly utilises her platform, on Instagram, Twitter, and now her podcast, by calling out celebrities such as Kim Kardashian for sponsoring several weight-loss products. With guests such as writer Amrou Al-Kadhi, actress Reese Witherspoon, and writer Roxane Gay, it offers a multifaceted view and range of experiences. This podcast is a must for those struggling to come to terms with society’s decision to place ‘weight’ on a pedestal, and the risky and often fallible relationship social media creates between us and our food. Episode(s) to get hooked on: Demi Lovato Average duration of an episode: 01:03:21. Where: Spotify Frequency: Every Friday.

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