5 Podcasts That Are Perfect For Any Liberal Arts Major

Use these to drown out the STEM students who're saying you'll never get a job.

Digital media is currently going through a podcast renaissance. If I told you back in 2003 that one of the most popular forms of media in the U.S. is radio, you’d laugh at me — but it’s true. Today over 67 million Americans listen to a podcast monthly; that’s 24 percent of Americans. For context, just 21 percent of Americans practice Catholicism.

Podcasts can thank smartphones and tablets for the rise of podcast productions, and thanks to in-home audio devices such as Alexa and Google Home, the rate at which people are downloading and listening to podcasts is only rising.

Podcasts are a great way to learn during a long run, car rides, while taking a shower or, my personal favorite, while cleaning my apartment. Obviously, you can listen to a podcast at anytime and anywhere, I just named the few instances in which my mind will wander and when I’m most likely to have a creative revelation.

There seems to be a podcast for everything nowadays. You can gather the amount of niches found in magazine media and compare it to podcasts, as the medium continues to grow among lesser-known niches every year.

Lucky for us there are plenty of niche podcasts for and about writing, history, politics, art, psychology, philosophy and anything that you’re artistically inclined heart desires. Here’s a list of podcasts perfect for any liberal arts major.

1. “Pod Save America”

This podcast is for all the political junkies. Hosted by Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor, who are all Obama administration alumni, the show features commentary on the current administration, interviews and even insights into the behind the scenes discussions that shape policy.

What’s so attractive about this podcast is its informative fireside-chat style that makes you feel so productively part of the resistance.

With the amount of news that comes from Washington on a daily basis, you’d think it would be impossible to cover everything in this format, but the hosts do a good job of breaking down everything that has happened since the last episode. The weekly, informative discussions are great therapy during this unbelievably disturbing and dishonest administration.

2. “Hardcore History”

Dan Carlin is arguably one of the best storytellers of all time. For anyone who enjoys history, or just a good, long story in general, this podcast is perfect. The lengthy time between shows is well worth the wait.

You can tell how much research and passion Carlin puts into each episode, as some episodes are over five hours long. The length is a welcomed feature, because Carlin makes it feel as if I’m listening to a fantastical epic rather than a historical narrative.

However, it never ever sounds academic or dry. Carlin makes you feel like you’re immersed in the power plays of politics, technology and military strategies in equal parts, probably because of his prolific use of primary sources.

My favorite thing about the show, however, is the way Carlin regularly brings the conversation back to the human element, whether that be an imaginative look into what these people were feeling or thinking, or first-hand accounts of what it was like to live through the extremes of the human condition.

3. “Lore”

Aaron Mahnke’s “Lore” brings me back to when I used to read “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” Mahnke’s storytelling ability is admirable and his research is clearly visible (audible?) in his work.

Paired with Chad Lawson’s hypnotic piano, this show transports you to a creepy place where it feels like there’s always someone watching you. Most historical narratives sound like something you would hear around the campfire while traveling a world filled with death and despair.

Mahnke spares listeners the gratuitous or severely graphic details found in the more grim tales, all the while expertly maintaining the interest and mystery of each episode. The speaking style and pauses may take a bit to get used to, but I think it adds to the charm and uniqueness of the podcast.

4. “The Tim Ferriss Show”

If you’re familiar with Tim Ferriss from his “4 Hour Work Week,” “Body” and “Chef” best sellers, you’ll have some idea what you are in for here. The jack of all trades hosts a podcast that everyone in college should listen to, not just the liberal arts kids.

The podcast covers psychology, business, music, technology, spirituality and more in the form of interviews and stories. Ferriss takes his deft questioning of everything in life and applies it to the interviews of influential people the majority of us would never have the pleasure of meeting.

Previous guests of the show include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Robbins, Jamie Foxx, Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, Olympic coach Charles Poliquin, professionals from Silicon Valley and many other successful individuals.

Ferriss does a great job of systematically breaking things down through experience. The listener can get an idea of how the skills and methods can be applied through the experiences of Ferriss and his guests, who have put in the time to learn for themselves.

His passion for learning is as radiant in his podcast as it is in his books. It’s clear that he has produced the ultimate companion to his other publications in the “Tim Ferriss Show.”

5. “Selected Shorts”

“Selected Shorts” is probably the best storytelling podcast I’ve come across with by far the best audio quality and storytellers. The podcast features both contemporary and classic short stories read by renowned actors, who use their ability to convey tales without the use of visual aid.

Some guests of the show have included: Stephen Colbert, Sherman Alexie, John Lithgow and Meryl Streep. If you’re a fan of literature and spoken word narratives, then this one’s for you.

Jake Deven, The University of Texas at El Paso

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Jake Deven

University of Texas at El Paso
Multimedia Journalism

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