Over the last few months, podcasting has become quite a lucrative career. Creators from all walks of life are jumping into a market that encompasses nearly a million shows with over 30 million episodes for listeners to hear, with new ones coming out every day. No two shows are the same, which gives listeners a vast range of topics and hosts to choose from, forcing creators to find and fill their own niche. The best podcasts are those that provide their audience with consistent, thought-provoking episodes, leaving them wanting more. 

Here are five podcasts that have captivated both myself and many others as some of the top-rated and most enjoyable shows on the Internet.

“The Joe Rogan Experience”

Out of all of these selections, this podcast has been the most influential for me and potentially other JMU students. I first encountered Joe Rogan by watching his Netflix comedy specials in high school and began listening to the podcast during my freshman year of college. He’s also famous for calling fights for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In other words, he has a diverse span of interests; that diversity has been well represented in this show.

The show is great for people who want to laugh but also learn. The guests he interviews are from all over the world and from a wide range of careers and walks of life. Rogan’s commitment to picking the brains of these people is what keeps me on the hook. The last couple of episodes have featured a string theory expert, a professional endurance athlete and a former monk turned punk band singer.

Perhaps the most important component of this show is that all the individuals who are featured are more than what they are at surface level. Rogan does an amazing job of extracting the underlying stories that come with all his guests, allowing listeners to try to understand complex ideas explained by some of the best minds in the business.

“The Tim Ferriss Show"

Tim Ferriss, the author of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling book “The 4-Hour Work Week,” is in a thorough and elongated search for professionals in eclectic areas to provide his listeners with skills and tactics to apply to their everyday and professional life.

The show has over 400 million downloads and is one of the top-rated business podcasts on the Apple Store. This is a great option for anyone looking to grow and better themself with dramatic and long-lasting effects. 

One particular aspect I love about this show is that Ferriss speaks to and questions his guests clearly, summarizing his findings frequently for his listeners. It’s not as funny as some of the other podcasts on this list, but it’s useful for providing actionable strategies for JMU students to use in our daily lives. 

“Useful Idiots”

On this podcast, co-hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper share their thoughts on the current political climate while remaining unbiased — most of the time. It’s a relatively new show to the podcast market that’s still in its first season. However, its popularity has certainly picked up in the last few months since the election season has come into full swing. 

I discovered “Useful Idiots” after Joe Rogan had Matt Taibbi on his show as a guest in November 2019. I enjoy the way in which Taibbi discussed political issues in an informative and logical manner. The hosts are relatively explicit in their political views but bring on a variety of guests from both the right and left to debate.

“Art of Charm”

Relationship experts Johnny Dzubak and AJ Harbinger have a life training company in L.A. that focuses on the dynamics of human interactions and bettering oneself both professionally and in day-to-day life. Each month typically follows a theme — like change, communication or parental relations among others — that they investigate with the help of guests, renowned in their fields.

I recommend this show to anyone who’s looking for a mood boost. Dzubak and Harbinger focus on making sure listeners are well adept to use the tactics and skills from the show in their lives and to be able to share those skills with others.

“StarTalk Radio”

Bringing on a slew of different guests, host Neil deGrasse Tyson has formed a creative way to bring knowledge of the cosmos to his listeners while also appealing to a less-informed public. I’ve only had the chance to listen to segments of the show; however, it’s one that pairs well with shows like “JRE” and “Useful Idiots.”

It’s a perfect fit for anyone who enjoys getting lost in the vastness of space and wants to further their understanding of what’s out there. Tyson’s book, “Astrophysics For People In A Hurry,” is a phenomenal work that gives people an easy “in” to discussing the past and future of our planet. This podcast has the same goal — being able to grasp the attention of listeners and grow their knowledge of an important topic, especially with climate change issues the Earth faces today.

Contact Will Roberts at rober2ws@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.