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Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

Good Podcasts Endure: The Best of EHS’s Recommendations

Good+Podcasts+Endure%3A+The+Best+of+EHSs+Recommendations
Art by Sami McKenney

Today’s podcast landscape looks dreary on the surface.

With all the influencers, conspiracists, unhinged self-help gurus and self-entitled alpha males flooding social media with inflammatory clips and shocking sound bites, it can be a struggle to find quality podcasts that leave you feeling enriched and entertained.

But the likes of Andrew Tate have not completely suffocated the good stuff. Unique shows hosted by skilled people are still out there, and I decided to take a look at EHS’s recommendations.

I put out a survey asking students to share their favorite podcasts, and they responded with everything from true-crime to celebrity interviews. After hearing a couple episodes of each recommendation, I’ve narrowed it down to the best five. 

 

“Ologies with Alie Ward”

She’s excited about science, and she’s determined to make you just as eager to learn. In each episode of “Ologies,” Alie Ward, an Emmy-winning TV science correspondent, dives into a new branch of science – an “ology” – with the listener. 

Ward is always enthusiastic to talk about niche sciences with her expert guests. She’s witty, and she doesn’t take her interviews too seriously, reliably asking questions that deepen her audience’s understanding of the “ology” of the week, while also keeping the learning experience fun.

Featured “ologies” range from syndesiology, the study of connections throughout time, to lemurology, the study of lemurs. Ward is careful to explain every scientific concept brought up that may not be understood by the general public, so no background knowledge is required.

If you’re looking for science that doesn’t bore, give “Ologies” a listen.

“Morbid” 

Hosted by Alaina Urquhart, an autopsy technician, and her sister Ash Kelley, a hairstylist, “Morbid” is a historical true-crime podcast with a unique focus on the victims of murders throughout history.

The vibrant duo present incredibly well-researched accounts of murders and the lives they entangle. They’re fantastic at contextualizing how killings and scandals would have been interpreted depending on what time period they took place in, and they tastefully weave in the humor that accompanies looking back on centuries-old stories with a twenty-first century perspective.

What’s most notable about “Morbid” is its refusal to center the killers. In their retellings, Urquhart and Kelley name almost all episodes after the victims and discuss them in a way that makes it clear they are more than their brutal deaths. This is a respect often overlooked by other true-crime podcasts.

“She Speaks: Academic Muslimahs”

Less renowned and much closer to home than the other podcasts in this list, “She Speaks” far surpasses the other four in intellect. It’s hosted by Saba Fatima, an associate professor of philosophy at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

In each episode, Fatima features a different Muslim woman in academia. Not only are all the guests incredibly interesting people, but the podcast as a whole offers a brilliantly in-depth portrait of the intersection between Islam, feminism and academia.

Fatima’s understanding of the women she interviews as a Muslim woman in academia herself grants her the ability to ask questions at the heart of the “academic Muslimah” experience, and her commitment to sharing their lived experiences makes for a truly eye-opening podcast.

Unfortunately, “She Speaks” is on an indefinite hiatus as of Dec. 12, but its existing 43 episodes are worth the listen.

“Smartless”

Less academic and more entertaining than my other recommendations, “Smartless” is the perfect podcast for a mindless listen. Hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett – all well-known actors and comedians themselves – bring in celebrity guests and dissect their careers to discover what makes them unique as individuals.

Though recent episodes feature the likes of Selena Gomez, Adam Driver, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emma Stone, the podcast’s merit doesn’t come from the stars alone. The hosts talk as much, if not more, than the celebrity guests, and they are all funny, captivating conversationalists.

It’s more of a chat between four friends than an interview, and it offers a highly entertaining, hilarious way to get to know the people we don’t usually get to know.

“This American Life”

I was absolutely thrilled to see this show recommended. It’s a personal favorite, and if we’re talking about podcasts of quality, “This American Life” cannot be excluded. 

The show is hosted by Ira Glass, whose one-of-a-kind voice and delicate cadence guide the listener through a series of acts, all centered around the theme of the week. 

The acts are usually each a story, always thoroughly reported and often posing deep questions about what it means to participate in American life. It’s not terribly on-the-nose –the stories often connect to the theme subtly. Glass and his team do an impressive job of spanning an entire country and finding stories that are strangely relatable, even across stark political lines.

Vastly sweeping and ingeniously formatted, “This American Life” is consistently ranked among the best podcasts of all time. It has earned a Pulitzer and nine Peabody awards, alongside many smaller accolades. 

It’s the podcast. It’s quintessential. It’s humans being humans, connected by the overarching themes and everyday experiences of American life.

 

These five shows can be found on Spotify, among other streaming services. They remind us that quality podcasting persists, and that even in a world where anyone can pick up a mic, it takes someone special to do it well.

About the Contributor
Sami McKenney, Opinion Editor
Sami McKenney is a junior, a second-year journalism student, and the opinion editor of The Claw and Tiger Times Online. She is co-president of Creative Arts Club and a member of the Women’s History and Empowerment Club, NFHS, French Club, and the Ethics Bowl team. Outside of school, Sami can be found almost every day at Turning Pointe Academy of Dance, either in classes or in rehearsal for its pre-professional company: Tour Dance. Additionally, she is an avid reader, cat lover, and Taylor Swift enthusiast. She hopes to pursue a career in journalism and is extremely grateful to be part of such a supportive program and capable team of staff members with whom to start her journey!