Podcasts seem to have gone nuclear in the last five or so years. Something about spending two years trapped inside with little to no human interaction made every Tom, Dick and Harry believe they were the ones to rid us of our boredom by mindlessly narrating the most mundane stories and spewing out nonsensical ideologies that their oversized egos believe to be the only thing worth listening to.
Thankfully, the beauty of podcasts and their oftentimes hyper specificity means it can be pretty easy to filter through all the noise
With this popularity showing no signs of slowing and hosts desperately scrabbling around in attempts to find their niche (a man who is strictly not a therapist offering therapy advice whilst dressed in a gecko suit surely takes the cake) from what remains of a market becoming rapidly saturated, how exactly do you find what it is that scratches that itch that so many others seem to love about podcasts?
Thankfully, the beauty of podcasts and their oftentimes hyper specificity means it can be pretty easy to filter through all the noise as you have to actively search for them to find them. There’s no chance they will be shoved down your throat whilst stuck in a traffic jam on your way to work; it’s more likely that someone has recommended you one or you have gone hunting yourself, for me it was the latter.
I had yet to dip my toe into the endless sea of podcasts but knew that I wanted to hear from someone who felt the same, who could validate my feelings.
The relaying of deeply personal anecdotes mixed with well articulated academic ideas in what feels like such an intimate setting is what makes it so special
So onto Spotify I went, typing a single word – existentialism – into the search bar before hitting ‘podcasts and shows’. I was instantly flooded by reams of podcasts vying for a top spot on Spotify’s algorithm. If not for the cartoon stick man used to depict such a vital philosophical belief, I likely wouldn’t have clicked on the Sisyphus 55 podcast. This blend of childlike wonder, as portrayed through the playful art, and the relaying of deeply personal anecdotes mixed with well articulated academic ideas in what feels like such an intimate setting is what makes it so special.
Personally this is the podcast that had me trying to fill an insatiable appetite for podcasts. It made me appreciate what it is that a podcast can be, it doesn’t need loud mouthed bigots hosting (looking at you Mr. Tate), which is sadly something I feel has been upheld by persistent Instagram reels, Youtube shorts and TikToks. For the best hosts, they are able to deconstruct barriers and expose the listener to a pure, vulnerable conversation that one can recognise and relate to. It’s what Sisyphus 55 does so well, in being able to ground these complex ideas with the connection of two humans, who may have a shared pain or perhaps just a shared interest, the listener is warmly welcomed to join the dialogue and encouraged to think up their own views on the subject matter.
Not all podcasts have to be heavy on the doom and gloom subject matter, but this starting point was a way for me to create a discussion with friends around podcasts who can then recommend me even more. In fact, some of the best and most popular podcasts around are the comedy ones.
A single word – an emotion or idea, a question or belief – is all it takes
Ultimately, it is personal preference and I can’t tell you what you will or will not like. But whatever it is you are craving, it’s absolutely out there, whether you want a laugh listening to a group of friends reading the porno one of their dad’s wrote, a full on scripted musical, some harrowing, but insightful, investigative journalism, financial advice, bite sized news snippets or anything in between, it really is at your fingertips. Don’t wait for that recommendation, go out searching for yourself. A single word – an emotion or idea, a question or belief – is all it takes to have tens of thousands of creative minds thinking alike to you, with their thoughts available to be understood and learned from, if all you do is open your ears and open your mind to hearing them.