Soak up the Sun with these 9 Poolside Podcasts
I love the sun. It’s warm, feels great on my skin, and it even adds a little color to my pale, awkwardly hairy legs. It’s great. If I could spend the entire summer laying by the pool, I probably would. Except for two reasons:
- I don’t want skin cancer/I don’t want to look like a dried apricot in my 40s.
- I get bored.
You see, I’m low-key ADD. I don’t sit still for long, and I don’t like falling asleep in the sun. So, I have to find entertainment.
TV shows don’t work for me since I don’t have a plug by my pool and it’s too bright to see my laptop/phone screen anyway. Books are cool, until I flip over onto my back and then I don’t know how to hold them without blocking the sun from my face. Music works well for like 15 minutes, but then I get tired of skipping songs that I used to like. Ugh.
But I’ve found a free, easy-to-use solution: podcasts.
If you’ve never tried listening to podcasts before, you should. They vary greatly in length, subject matter, and production quality. Some have millions of listeners nationwide, while others target niche audiences. They might be funny, informative or even deadly serious. But they’re freely available on your smartphone; just download a podcasts app and start searching for them.
Next time you’re at the pool, consider downloading a couple podcasts. They might just make your stay in the sun just a little more enjoyable. Here are some of my poolside favorites:
In 2014, podcasts became legitimately popular, largely due to Serial. Over several weeks, in real time, one reporter searched for the truth behind the 1999 murder of Baltimore student Hae Min Lee. With new findings and twists each episode, this podcast is arresting, dynamic, and always fascinating. My girlfriend and I listened to all 12 of the first season’s episodes in just a couple days. It’s that good.
Each episode is roughly an hour long, and it’s an easy listen with excellent production values. The show’s second season was well-done, but it doesn’t quite capture the magic of the first one. If you’ve never listened to podcasts before, this is an excellent introduction to the format.
I’m not sure exactly how to describe this one. Produced by WBEZ Chicago Public Radio and hosted by Ira Glass, This American Life routinely features the people, places, and ideas that define America. Whether it’s examining the culture of a small, Alabama town or determining why Americans like Paris so much, the show always delivers engaging, relevant content.
Each week, the producers of the show select a theme, whether it’s rom-coms, a politically relevant topic, the ghost of Bobby Dunbar or something even stranger. They then share several stories on the theme. The team behind TAL created the aforementioned Serial podcast, showcasing their reporting skills. Listen to this one; it’s routinely rated as one of the best (and most popular) podcasts in the country. Like Serial, episodes last about an hour.
I love Science VS. Within each episode, Australian host Wendy Zukerman explores the subtle myths and superstitions in our culture, and then looks to science for the answers. Through answering tough questions like “How did the opioid crisis happen?” or “Are GMOs safe to eat?” and even “Do chiropractors really do anything?”, Zukerman and her team shed light on many fascinating subjects.
Episodes range between 30-45 minutes in length, perfect for a poolside listen. Plus, you can finally explain to your Aunt Beatrice why vaccines don’t cause autism. Zukerman keeps the vibe light, inserting humor and light-hearted jokes into the occasionally complicated topics. And the team does an excellent job of summarizing their findings and citing their sources.
You know that movie you really love? Like the one that you’ve seen ten times and quote daily? It’s great. Maybe even an all-time classic. I’ve got a few of those. The best part after seeing a great movie, personally speaking, is the discussion with friends afterward. But what if your friends haven’t seen it? (Even though you’ve begged them to watch it multiple times).
Enter The Rewatchables. This podcast dives deep into discussing some of the best movies of all time. Whether they’re breaking down The Princess Bride or The Departed, these guys know their movies. They’ll look at casting misses, behind-the-scenes drama, who delivered a killer performance, and whose performance you might’ve missed. It’s great, and it’s even changed how I watch some of my favorite movies. The episodes range from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, so they can get a little long, though.
If you grew up watching Reading Rainbow on PBS, then you’ll recognize LeVar Burton’s smooth voice and story-telling abilities. In each episode of the podcast, LeVar reads a short story. He’s an excellent narrator, and he picks interesting stories to read. Basically, it’s a series of mini-audiobooks read by one of America’s favorite readers. The episodes generally last for 30-45 minutes, and they’re easy to listen to: perfect for the poolside.
Can’t get enough of true crime? Then this podcast is for you. Each episode dives into stories of real (and often bizarre) crimes and the criminals that commit them. The production values are solid, and you’ll learn real-life lessons along the way (like how much it actually costs to fake your own death). The episodes last from 20-40 minutes, so they aren’t too long. Episode 66: Bully, is a great introduction to this one.
If you’re tired of feeling left out when people start talking about what’s going on in Hollywood and D.C., then you need this podcast in your life. In quick, 20-minute episodes, NPR’s team breaks down exactly what you need to know about what’s making them happy. Why is everyone talking about last week’s episode of Scandal? What’s hitting theaters this week that’s worth seeing? Tune in to find out.
NPR’s weekly news quiz features celebrities, current events, and comedians as contestants compete in fun, silly challenges. Hosted by Peter Sagal, the popular radio broadcast began in 1998 and has continued since, and it’s now available as a podcast. Each episode lasts for roughly an hour, and it’s full of jokes, fun, and some information about the week’s news.
Since 1985, NPR has been broadcasting Fresh Air to millions of listeners across America. Hosted by Peabody-award winner Terry Gross, this daily podcast features rich, in-depth interviews with celebrities and artists. Each episode lasts for an hour, and Gross does an excellent job of pulling deep, thoughtful answers out of her guests.
Not going to lie, it can get a little dry. But since Gross has interviewed basically everyone, you’ll probably enjoy at least a few episodes. Just look through the podcast’s archives for celebrities you like. I find that the slow, conversational nature of this podcast helps me relax by the pool, and many of the guests have fascinating stories.
Already listen to podcasts? Think we missed a good one? Comment below or message us on social media @AuburnCampusRec and let us know. Also, The Rec's pool is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. except for Sundays, when we open at noon. Check here for an up-to-date schedule. Hope to see you out there! Oh, and please wear sunscreen because melanoma is real.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Jack P.