During her 40-minute commute from San Anselmo to school, senior Rachel Cramer plugs in her headphones and listens to the investigative journalism podcast “Serial” to pass the time.
“I love to listen to podcasts because they are another source of media that allow me to learn about my surrounding society,” Cramer said. “My eighth-grade teacher introduced them to me, and hearing that podcasts were both entertaining and informative caught my interest instantly.”
“Serial,” produced by Sarah Koenig and Julie Synder, from “This American Life,” uncovers the nonfiction 1999 murder mystery of a 17-year-old high schooler in Baltimore over 23 episodes.
“Other than ‘Serial,’ I listen to podcasts about boosting self-confidence, taking on challenges in life, discussing music, and exploring pop culture,” Cramer said. “I can really understand how a person feels by listening to his or her voice, and I love analyzing that when I listen to podcasts.”
Podcast episodes can range from 10 minutes to an hour and cover topics including arts, current events, science, culture, comedy or recreation. Cramer recommends podcasts “NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts,” hosted by Bob Boilen featuring live music concerts, and “Love Rice” directed by ‘Scabs’ from Bloom Productions featuring self-care techniques and life hacks for women.
Unlike radio stations, which are often only available by geographical locations, podcasts can be accessed with internet and downloaded onto an iPod, iPhone, iPad, or computer for listening anywhere.
“I listen to podcasts when I am in the car with my parents, especially during long road trips,” junior Arlena Jackson said. “I usually listen to political podcasts, such as ‘NPR’ or ‘The Federalist’ because I enjoy hearing all perspectives, especially those that I would not hear in San Francisco or in my community.”
Podcasts often feature multiple voices in the same episode, allowing for an array of opinions on one topic.
“The podcasts are usually a discussion between multiple people who all bring new ideas to the table, especially when it is a diverse group of people,” Jackson said. “I think there are more ideas being thrown around in podcasts than in a newspaper, which to me seems more refined.”
Junior Alisha Kalra says podcasts are a more convenient news source than newspapers for her because she can multitask while listening to the information rather than when reading it. Karla also says that listening to the podcast “Coffee Break Spanish” by Radio Lingua Network enhances her spoken Spanish through auditory learning.
“Podcasts are really informative and they give me a sense of what is going on in the world without having to sit down and read a paper,” Kalra said. “I like listening to them in the mornings before I jumpstart my day at school because they get me into a learning mindset.”
As genres continue to expand and more podcasts begin to focus on younger audiences, listenership among Americans under the age of 35 has reached 42 percent, according to a 2016 LinkedIn survey.
“I hope listening to podcasts will not only educate me about what is going on in the world,” Kalra said, “but also help me educate my community.”