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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Popular podcasts 2021


Spotify logo 2021.

In 2021, there is a podcast for every subject you could dream of. Do you love sports? Listen to ”Pardon My Take” from Barstool Sports, where commentators deliver their opinions on daily sports news with the utmost confidence. Into video games? Try “Mom’s Basement,” a funny name for an even funnier show about internet life and gamers. Even the topics that you rarely think of, like magic mushrooms, always have a podcast for them somewhere. (In the case of magic mushrooms, try the show ”Science VS,” for they devote a whole episode to the subject.)


Podcasts have been steadily rising in popularity over the last few years as the entertainment format gains new creators and curious minds. The most popular podcast on listening platforms today (and yesterday, and the day before…) is ”The Joe Rogan Experience,” a podcast well-known for comedian Joe Rogan’s humor, interview format, and characteristic energetic voice. Rogan has branded himself well, calling the podcast “an experience” to separate it from the rest of the mix. Just below Rogan’s pod, we see other popular shows like ”Crime Junkie,” a classic truecrime show that tells stories of people getting murdered, going missing, and everything in-between. In fact, true crime has been the most successful genre in podcasting, for the majority of popular shows fall under that umbrella; shows like ”CounterClock,” ”Crime Show,” and ”Morbid: A True Crime Podcast” lead the charge. It is hard to pin down the certain reason that true crime podcasts are so popular nowadays, but common reasoning says that true crime junkies are a lot like horror movie junkies—in it for the thrill of being scared while actually being safe. Additionally, it seems a part of human nature is to be morbidly fascinated with the gross aspects of crime, simultaneously wanting to know and regretting finding out. Regardless of the real reason true crime is beloved, the numbers don’t lie—it’s popular. 

Under true crime, we see the emergence of news shows. NPR and ”The Daily” are there for your mostly unbiased current events. Looking for extreme bias? Listen to ”Part of the Problem” or ”The Ben Shapiro Show.” Or, you know, don’t; news with a side of bias is an overflowing plate.

Following news, a whole new world opens up: Internet stars that have turned their attention to podcasts more and more lately, unabashedly jumping on the bandwagon. ”Anything Goes” with Emma Chamberlain takes on a new subject each week and questions from her loyal fans. TikTok star Addison Rae briefly did the unthinkable and started a podcast with her own mother, titled ”Mama Knows Best.” If you know an Internet star, chances are they either have a podcast or are thinking about making one—good news for fans and stans everywhere. 

Why try podcasts at all, though? Doesn’t it get annoying hearing people yap-yapping in your ear for hours at a time? Answers vary from “I just like the white noise” to “Podcasts are educational and make me feel smarter every day.” I am a big podcast listener, and I listen to podcasts because I like having people around and the podcast mimics that feeling. Additionally, I am easily bored and tuning in to my favorite podcasts captures my interest and keeps it for an hour. I will finish this article with one of my favorite podcasts: The H3 Podcast. This pod has so much history and such a loyal fanbase that it even has multiple shows within itself, all operating weekly. H3 is more about the personality than the subject matter of the show. Over time, listeners have fallen in love with hosts Ethan and Hila Klein, and tune in up to three times a week to listen to them talk about everything under the sun. As the best podcasts do, H3 feels like company.