The Wide World of Podcasts

With the boom in popularity for shows like “Serial,” business is booming for podcasts

Now one of the top forms of media on iTunes, podcasts have come from their humble beginnings, created by MTV video jockey Adam Curry and Dave Winer. Podcast popularity began in late 2004, and in June 2005, Apple added podcasting to its music software. Soon, George W. Bush began adding his weekly radio addresses to the podcasting format, and there began the widespread acceptance that podcasts had considerable commercial potential.

Though podcast popularity has been growing for quite some time– reaching over a billion total downloads in the midst of 2013– it doesn’t stop there. The number and types of podcasts have steadily increased. 2014 was a banner year for them, as the true crime drama “Serial” became the first podcast to pass 5 million downloads and streams. Most podcasts on iTunes are free, however some cost about $1.29, the same as most individual songs. Here are a few of the most popular podcasts up right now that are worth checking out:



The child of the beloved radio program “This American Life”, this podcast has 12 episodes that investigate the murder of an 18-year-old student in Baltimore. The riveting show debuted in October last year, and Season 1’s episodes have been downloaded more than 68 million times. Season 1 of Serial unfolds as journalist Sarah Koenig re-investigates the true crime story, and Season 2 (following a different story) is currently being produced.



One of the newest podcasts, Invisibilia takes a look at the inner human psyche and explores the “Invisible” forces that make us who we are. This podcast combines storytelling with scientific research to cover the topics of thoughts, expectations, and the categories that we put ourselves into. In various episodes, the hosts, Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller, profile a woman that says she can physically feel what others feel, a blind man who has trained himself to ride a bike, and many more interesting oddities of the world.


This American Life

Arguably the most popular NPR podcast, this weekly public radio show is heard by 2.2 million people on more than 500 stations. Hosted by Ira Glass, this podcast covers (usually) true stories of everyday people, and presents information on a wide variety of topics.


All Songs Considered

In a weekly podcast of a variety of new music, mostly from the alternative and indie scene, host Bob Boilen spins new music from up- and- coming bands along with current music icons. It’s a fun/informative podcast if you’re looking for some new music to get into, or just want to hear the latest info on some of your favorite bands.


How To Do Everything

Ever wanted to know how to throw the perfect punch or eat a cupcake the proper way? Then How To Do Everything is the show for you. The podcast looks humorously upon the aspects of everyday life that we all want to know more about. Hosts Ian Chillig and Mike Danforth bring up their takes on the topics discussed, and often let celebrity guests in on the fun.


The B.S. Report

For those who love sports mixed with a dash of entertainment and humor, this is the podcast for you. In his podcast, ESPN writer and founder of Bill Simmons has a strong variety of guests, and focuses mostly on basketball and football. The episodes generally consist of Simmons talking with sports broadcasters, athletes, or even especially significant guests like commissioners. The show occasionally delves into relevant pop culture matters such as discussions of movies and television shows. Be warned: Simmons does have a strong and pronounced allegiance towards Boston sports teams.


The Adam Carolla Show

One of the longest running and most popular iTunes podcasts, host Adam Carolla offers his comedic take on pop-culture and life in general, with an explicit twist. Carolla features guests from comedians to porn stars and has free flowing conversations all around.