Podcasts let you tune into your passions

Podcasts have seen an explosion in popularity in recent years, thanks to their variety and the connections hosts forge with their listeners. If you’ve never listened to a podcast before, you can think of them like prerecorded radio shows on your favorite topics. But, because listeners can download podcasts to a phone or computer and play them at any time, audiences can go as deep or as light as they want on a given topic. Podcasts also don’t require the full attention video does, meaning you can drive to work, answer emails or cook dinner — all while continuing to enjoy your favorite programming. In the early days of podcasting, following your favorite show meant navigating a technological obstacle course of downloads and synced devices.

Today, the process is as easy as downloading an app. Apps like Apple Podcasts and Stitcher make it easy to search thousands of the latest podcasts and subscribe to your favorites for free. If you have the Spotify app, you’re already set. Just go to the Search tab and choose “Podcasts & Shows” to start adding new discoveries to your list.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few of our favorites to get you going:


One of the first true crime hits, even before “Serial” hit the scen, “Criminal” tells the “stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.” Going beyond tales of murder, it takes a critical look at the impact of crime on its victims and perpetrators.

“This American Life”

“This American Life” has been on the air since 1995, so there are plenty of stories to catch up on. Described as little movies for radio, each episode is also a little different. But they all tell the true, entertaining and often surprising stories of the people and events shaping our American lives.

“The Big Picture”

Struggling to keep up with the latest movie releases? Hosts Sean Fennessey and Amanda Dobbins run down all the movies you need to see while also discussing old favorites and interviewing the people behind them twice a week.


Truth is scarier than fiction in this documentary podcast series that explores the dark corners of history. Gather around the audio campfire to listen in on true historical tales, legends and folklore biweekly.

“Sound Opinions”

Chicago music critics Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot know everyone’s a critic. Each week, they get together to discuss music’s greats, talk shop with artists and share their opinions on the latest releases on this independent radio show and podcast.