Opinion | Quarantine is perfect for podcasting

Podcasts are the perfect type of media to consume during COVID-19 that don’t get the acknowledgement they deserve.


Michael Guhin

Audio equipment used for Iowa City’s new podcast is seen on January 16th, 2019

Signe Nettum, Opinions Columnist

I used to read books in the car all the time on long car trips before motion sickness forced me to stop. To fill in the monotonous time between destinations, I turned to podcasts to fill in the void books once provided to me.

Suddenly, a whole new world was opened up.

Like the many genres of TV shows and books, there is an endless world of podcasts to listen to at any time of the day. There are authors reading their work, retelling fairy tales and myths, old time radio pieces. Some are from NPR — radio segments given to me to binge listen to while I go about my day. There are even some informal, reddit-post podcasts of my favorite YouTubers.

Yes, I listen to someone reading reddit posts — r/entitledparents is a hoot to listen to when the narrator is laughing.

While it may seem a bit far fetched, there are benefits to listening to podcasts. Listed by Learningtime.com, podcasts are able to personalize heavy information. Instead of watching true crimes shows and hiding from the brutal images, I listen to podcasts retell the history of cults.

Podcasts are also convenient and easy to consume. I could never do my treadmill workout while having a book positioned on the machine. But now I can get through a whole episode just by listening to my phone.

A benefit I found personally while on my first search for podcasts, is that a great majority of them are nonfiction, a genre that I typically do not venture into because I always thought it was boring. But The Cut, a New York-based magazine, quoted that “podcasting is typically focused on nonfiction, educational content. . .New York Times’ weekday show The Daily, [is] about current affairs. The top ten include NPR’s Rough Translation, about international news, Crooked Media’s Pod Save America, about U.S. politics, and general interest documentary-style shows such as Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History and Stuff You Should Know.”

Alongside the intellectual benefits that come with listening to podcasts, there are many personal reasons listeners have to learn via podcast. Podcastfasttrack.com reported in 2018 that people listen because there is more variety, it’s free (with a few ads), and it’s up to date.

While not everyone has to immediately jump on the podcast train, everyone should know that there is a new medium to gather information from, or even to use as an entertainment platform. There are certain story-based podcasts that have gathered such a fandom that they host (prior to COVID-19) live shows of their performances. One of those podcasts shows is a cult classic in the podcast fandom: Welcome to NightVale.

It may seem like an exaggeration, but Welcome to NightVale has changed my life, both as a person and as a writer. It has expanded my horizon of storytelling and strengthened my sense of community — a feature of their show is audience participation, something a podcast typically does not provide.

All in all, I believe that everyone should give podcasts a try, especially during this time of COVID-19. Anything to fill in those longing moments we wish we had someone talking to us.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.