The popularity of podcasts, particularly political podcasts, has grown substantially in recent years.
“I saw this boom in the industry where everyone is getting podcasts,” said Jack McNeil, a sophomore political science major and president of DePaul College Democrats.
“All of these news commentators now have their own podcasts. There’s a former speechwriter (Jon Lovett) who helps to host ‘Pod Save America.’ Stephen Colbert’s ‘The Late Show’ podcast has over a million downloads every time they have an episode. People are more reeled in now, and it’s gotten really big.”
Political podcasts have also grown in variety, especially post-election. They analyze and give depth to many issues in ways that will appeal to all kinds of people.
“I reccomend political podcasts for everyone,” Hope Herten, a senior health sciences major and the Treasurer of the DePaul College Democrats, said. “Politics, whether or not you like them, impact our daily lives and no one can escape that. In our current environment when we are constantly bombarded with shallow information, podcasts offer a sanctuary to really hear people discuss things in depth.”
Some of the top news and political podcasts have thousands, even millions of subscribers, including The New York Times’ “The Daily,” “NPR Politics Podcast,” “The Ben Shapiro Show,” “The Axe Files” by David Axelrod, ABC Radio’s “The Mark Levin Show” and Vox’s “The Weeds.”
McNeil noted the recent shift in tone in a lot of podcasts.
“You’ve seen a change in podcasts after the election,” said McNeil. “Trying to reflect the period now, trying to talk about politics in a more no-nonsense kind of way, trying to have an honest conversation about the policies and the politics, and how it has an effect on people’s lives.”
Molly Andolina, a DePaul professor in the political science department calls herself a political podcast junkie. “Some of my favorite political podcasts are FiveThirtyEight’s Politics Podcast, WNYC’s ‘On the Media,’ ‘Backstory,’ which is a historical look at issues of the day, ‘Pod Save America,’ and ‘Can He Do That?’ from The Washington Post which is actually really balanced and informative.”
Andolina often finds herself listening to podcasts almost 24/7.
“I have them playing so often around the house that the first thing my kids do when they enter a room is find my phone and pause it,” Andolina said. “I listen while I’m making dinner, when I walk the dog, when I do laundry. I listen when I run. They make my commute to work, which is often 45 minutes to an hour, more enjoyable.”
Derek Peters, a DePaul alumna and creator of the Radio DePaul Podcast agrees that listening to political podcasts is integral to his commute to and from work.
“I commute from Grayslake to the Loop every day for work, so I would say that I probably listen to a political podcast almost everyday,” Peters said. “It really depends on the distribution schedule of the podcasts. “Common Sense with Dan Carlin” comes out monthly, “The Ben Shapiro Show” comes out daily Monday through Thursday, “BBC’s Documentaries” come out sporadically, most of the others, like CNN’s “Party People” and “The Bugle,” come out weekly. I tend to listen within a week of them being released.”
Herten is a huge fan of NPR’s podcasts.
“I listen to many of the political podcasts on NPR. ‘Code Switch’ is my favorite because it is about race in America,” Herten said. “I donate monthly to NPR, so I definitely take advantage of everything that they offer. I also listen to ‘All Things Considered,’ ‘Here and Now,’ and ‘Morning Edition,’ which similarly get into political topics without being strictly about politics.”
According to senior member of the DePaul Socialists Felipe Bascunan Simone, there are many political podcasts for socialists as well. “As far as socialist political podcasts go, ‘We Are Many’ is a collection of talks that you can listen to in podcast form, that’s probably the most straight socialist politics podcast. ‘The Dig’ and anything on ‘Jacobin Radio’ are also pretty good, as well as ‘Intercepted.’”
People have different ways of accepting some podcasts as more reliable than others.
It can be easy to fall into the habit of only listening to political podcasts that align with your views, but some agree that podcasts offer a way to to listen to opposing views with an open mind.
According to Andolina, listening to podcasts with neutral views can be a great way to start.
“I can understand wanting to listen to podcasts that make you feel connected to others who are fighting for your cause, whatever that is,” Andolina said.
“Podcasts can serve multiple purposes, including creating community and mobilizing constituencies. But if you want it as a news-gathering purpose, which I advocate, then listen to thoughtful ones, not those that are mostly high-fiving and amen’ing the usual perspectives.”
Peters purposely listens to podcasts of opposing views often.
“I listen to podcasts of opposing views all the time, I make an effort to do so,” Peters said. “That’s definitely a major advantage of podcasting. With the sheer number of podcasts available, I think it’s easy to find shows and hosts that I find engaging, even if they don’t agree with my perspective.”
John Minster, vice president of the DePaul College Republicans, thinks that although podcasts are not a good substitute as a whole to reading or watching the news, they are still beneficial.
“If I’m busy or moving around and don’t have time to sit down and actually read, they at the very least will let me know about the big stuff if I didn’t already,” Minster said. “Personally, I listen to them more for analytical and argumentative purposes rather than just straight news.”
Still, everyone interviewed agreed that everyone can benefit from listening to political podcasts.
“There’s something about audio that makes it accessible,” sophomore political science major Doug Klain said. “I think there’s a very rich future for it, especially amongst young people. You can go on your phone and read a political article, but that takes you away from whatever you’re doing, it’s impossible to read articles while walking down the street or driving. But with political podcasts you can just put in your earphones, or put something on the car radio, and you’re still able to do whatever you’re doing.”
Herten included a special note to those who don’t like politics, but can still get something out of political podcasts.
“You might find, listening to people have intelligent conversations about politics and explain the context of certain situations in depth will help you not only understand our world better, but might spark personal interest,” Herten said.