It’s September, a time famous for learning and the return of the school year. Even if you’re a fully grown adult and have left the educational system, it doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the back-to-school spirit and still learn something new. Learning knows no age limit so here’s a selection of some of our favourite educational podcasts to make you feel smarter, better informed, or at the very least make you feel superior to all your friends who aren’t bettering themselves through the pursuit of podcasts!
Dark History is a history podcast that focuses on all the strange, dark, unsettling but interesting events in US history that you wouldn’t have learned in school. The show is hosted by YouTuber, makeup artist, and true crime connoisseur Bailey Sarian and is an audio spin-off of her popular YouTube series Murder, Mystery & Makeup.
While the show suffers from a few too many ads that can feel a bit jarring to the audience, each episode is masterfully researched and Bailey’s storytelling skills captivate her audience. Though the show is relatively new, with episodes that span from the history of birth control to The Zoot Suit riots, it has the promise and potential to become one of the most interesting and unique history podcasts around. If you like history deep dives and don’t mind things getting a bit dark then this is the show for you.
You’re Wrong About
You’re Wrong About is a show that explores moments in popular culture that are either misremembered, misunderstood, or misrepresented in history. Hosted by Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall, two journalists who use these misrepresented moments to uncover the darker side of the media in an approachable way.
The show explores everything from Princess Diana, to O.J. Simpson, cancel culture and more. Many of these episodes expand into incredibly well-researched and well-developed sagas looking into major players in pop culture history spanning five or six episodes. The show also offers stand-alone episodes that are just as interesting if dedicating yourself to episode-long sagas is too much for you to commit to (though I highly recommend you check it all out).
This podcast is a treat for all pop culture fans and a fascinating look at how the media representation of certain figures and events can shape our way of viewing them, both in the past and present. Even if the facts dispute our collective knowledge and memory of how these events actually played out.
Stuff You Should Know
Stuff You Should Know is a podcast that teaches you all about the interesting, strange, and even downright mundane things in the world that you may have always been curious about but knew nothing about on a deeper level. Hosts Josh and Chuck cover topics on everything from science and history to myths and legends, and even daily life skills like taxes or the government – anything you could think of wanting to learn, this show has got you covered.
With an extensive back catalogue and new episodes coming out on close to a daily basis, this show is a crash course of learning, conveniently wrapped into a neat one-hour runtime. For those who don’t want to commit to the full hour, they also offer 15-minute shorts that are just as immaculately researched as their long-form content but packaged into a more palatable bite-sized chunk. This show is a must for anyone looking to educate themselves on a variety of weird and wacky topics.
Pop Culture Happy Hour
NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour gives its listeners five episodes a week that review, discuss and analyze the latest in TV, film, music, books, video games, and more.
The show takes a roundtable discussion format with a series of four hosts, all of whom are some of NPR’s most knowledgeable pop culture journalists. Between them, they alternate hosting duty to discuss everything from how to build a franchise, to the best way to perform a cover song with their guests. The show is short and manageable with most episodes falling under the half-hour mark, making it a great podcast to stick on whenever you have time without feeling like you have to make a huge commitment.
If you love to keep up to date with all things pop culture but want to look at things beyond a surface level “is this bad or good?” read then this is the podcast for you.
Language is a funny thing and often not something we think to unpack but The Allusionist is a podcast that explores all things language and dissects common words and phrases that we use on a daily basis in immense detail often with surprising results.
Host Helen Zaltzman is a former student of Latin, French, and Old English and she guides listeners through the exciting world of linguistics in handy 30 minutes episodes. The exploration of language is a fascinating topic and the show has covered everything, from asking if the term “Dude” really is gender neutral now, to swearing, small talk, and the differences between British and American English.
A fun little segment from the show I enjoy is the random dictionary word of the day, where Helen picks a random word and gives us the dictionary definition, which I find to be a quirky and unique way to expand your vocabulary! So if you’re looking for some interesting facts you can use to wow your friends about language then this podcast is for you and for literary savants everywhere!
Reply-All is a podcast which explores the internet in all its forms. The hosts stumble upon unexpected revelations while asking seemingly innocent questions about various aspects of the online world. Like when their producer recently asked the question “what makes the TikTok algorithm so good at knowing what she wants”, and the answer turned into an exploration into her own sister’s inability to burp and the possible medical procedure which could help her.
Hosted by Alex Goldman and Emmanuel Dzotsi, they take a light hearted, fast-paced approach to the topics raised, but aren’t afraid to dive deep into research to draw out the core of their stories. Some atmospheric music keeps a fast-paced, upbeat tone during some of the longer explanations, keeping the show entertaining at all times. Listeners find they learn the most when the podcast goes slightly off topic to explore some other far more interesting tangent.
The format of the show has changed recently, with a new host taking over from fan-favourite PJ Vogt. While the new dynamic will take some getting used to for long-time listeners, this is definitely a show to check out if you’re interested in learning about all aspects of the vast world of the internet.
Do you have any go-to podcasts when you want to learn something new? Let us know in the comments below!