Editorial board’s favorite podcast choices

From sports to cults to sex, there’s a podcast out there for everyone


Tyler McElmurry - The State Hornet

Sick of listening to the same playlists while commuting or walking to class? The State Hornet Editorial Board chose 11 podcasts covering everything from sports to cults to sex to help you find your next favorite.

Claire – “Heaven’s Gate”

As a person who is fascinated with cults, I was drawn to this podcast immediately. I knew only a few basic facts about the Heaven’s Gate cult: that the members followed a new-age religion focused on UFO’s and committed the largest mass suicide in the United States.

Not only did this podcast deliver on fascinating details about the 39 members — men and women, all dressed in the same outfits, from their haircuts to their sneakers — who killed themselves while inside a picturesque San Diego mansion in 1997, it also completely changed the way I view members of cults.

The story of Heaven’s Gate is told by Glynn Washington, who was raised in a cult. Though Washington left when he was a teen, he tells this story with a perspective I’ve never heard in the discussion around cult behavior by demystifying just how easy it is to get caught up in a cult.

My whole perception of cult members changed after listening to this podcast — Washington tells the stories of individual members’ lives and journeys to Heaven’s Gate in a non-judgemental way.

Everyone should listen to this podcast, if not for the story about the UFO-following cult, then for the unique perspective that Washington lends when describing cult members.

Emily – “Myths and Legends”

This podcast is strictly for the curious. Dare to take a break from the pop culture, sports or news podcasts you’re used to and let a clever writer tell you a bizarre, ridiculous, interesting story instead?

Myths and Legends” is a storytelling podcast that takes the familiar and unfamiliar stories of folklore, fairy tales and origin stories and transforms them into an informative but entertaining narrative.

Did you know the story of the Ugly Duckling had a lot more exploding heads in it than you may have previously thought? What was the real story behind Pinocchio, and did you know he accidentally killed a kid? Who really was Hercules, and why does it seem like his family belongs on an episode of “Jerry Springer”?

The narrator takes his time telling you the meat of the story while inserting subtle, modern humor and in-depth research to help the listener keep up with the storyline.

Chase the feeling you had in middle school when you started reading a great fiction novel and listen to this podcast. You might also learn something, which is not always a bad thing.

Kameron – “Slow Burn”

After a debut season focusing on Watergate, Slate’s “Slow Burn” is back, focusing on something I and many other college students only have hazy memories of; President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

I only recently found Slow Burn. I binged the entirety of Season 1 before the semester started, while simultaneously playing a lot of Madden 19. Now the sounds of Leon Neyfakh’s voice are forever associated with that horrible Longshot mode on Madden.

But the podcast is amazing. Neyfakh recaps not only what happened beat by beat, but also dives deep into how what happened affected the United States as a country. The show also features interviews with many of the most important sources surrounding the scandals, and archival audio from news broadcasts from the time.

Slow Burn takes you down winding roads, introducing you to real-life characters you’ll find fascinating, like Mae Brussell, dubbed by Neyfakh as a “queen of conspiracy.” Brussell, a radio host and writer, was just one of a growing number of U.S. citizens growing skeptical of their government in the face of growing evidence that it, or at least President Richard Nixon, was wholly corrupt.

The Watergate season is a tremendous history lesson in something that happened before me and most of my classmates were born. The new Lewinsky (or Whitewater, I suppose) season is appointment listening, filling in gaps of things that I was only vaguely aware of as a child.

“Slow Burn” has officially taken the title for “Less-Than-Daily Podcast I Eagerly Anticipate” away from Harry Potter and The Sacred Text, which I still love very much and think is the greatest single piece of HP adjacent media in existence, Slow Burn has me hooked.

Eric – “Monday Morning Podcast

Bill Burr is one of my favorite stand-up comedians. His satire and insult comedy reaches many topics from current events, conspiracy theories and sports. His stand-up specials are some of the funniest I have ever had the pleasure to witness, and this doesn’t come close to how amazing his podcast is.

Every Monday morning, or whenever I feel like, I look forward to listening to Bill Burr’s “Monday Morning Podcast”, an excellent way to make Monday mornings a little less nauseating. His podcasts are about an hour long, and during that one hour, he has no filter for anything he talks about.

One of my favorite podcasts is when he talks about ‘80s hair metal music — not only because it is exhaustingly funny, but also how right Burr is in saying that hair metal was much worse than disco. Seriously, who thinks that disco was the worst music genre of the ‘80s? Utterly ridiculous.

This is one podcast I recommend listening to for if you’re in the mood for a good week starter.

Adria – “Code Switch:NPR”

The “Code Switch” team is made up of journalists of color from NPR who not only discuss issues related to race, ethnicity, culture and identity but they break it down and talk about the good, bad and ugly sides of it.

The journalists behind “Code Switch” have this opportunity to create this platform, and spearhead these conversations by talking about issues that come up in stories around the United States that comes from the point of view of people who can elaborate and break down how to navigate topics, like race, due to their own experiences.

The weekly podcast tackles the uncomfortable conversations most people would rather avoid having but sometimes need to hear. The “Code Switch” team does a great job at balancing conversations with humor and asking the questions that most people listening to them talk about race, culture and identity are going to have — which is why I love listening to them.  

I recommend starting with the first episode: “Can We Talk About Whiteness?”

Cory – “Rooster Teeth Podcast”

The official podcast of Rooster Teeth Productions is a long running show that is a good watch or listen for anyone needing an hour or two to unwind with the latest in pop culture and gaming.

Hosted by Rooster Teeth founders Gus Sorola and Burnie Burns, also usually featuring Gavin Free and Barbara Dunkelman, the “Rooster Teeth Podcast” features the type of conversations on movies, video games, the Austin airport and the daily struggles of life that you’d expect to have with your own friends.

Despite the Rooster Teeth Podcast’s 500 episode, and counting, run and the company’s 15 year history in animation, scripted series and gaming videos, the podcast is easy to get into by just putting on the latest episode and sitting back to relax.

Thomas – “The Routine Podcast”

Right now, this is the only podcast that dedicates itself to collegiate gymnastics. In a world where it is very hard to find knowledgeable people to talk NCAA gymnastics, this podcast helps to fill that void.

Many of their podcasts are ageless because they interview athletes and coaches about information that isn’t time sensitive. They bring on recruiting experts and even Anna and Grace Glenn of UCLA who talk about what it is like to be an athlete for a team that wins the national championship.

The hosts are a mother-daughter duo who give you a summary of what is happening around the nation. The daughter is a former NCAA gymnast and her inside perspective on how hard it is being a gymnast and student athlete is very fascinating.

Jordyn – “Real Ghost Stories”

I’m the kind of person that watches the TV show “Ghost Adventures” and has to sleep with the lights on for the next two weeks. That’s why “Real Ghost Stories” is perfect for me –– who needs overpriced Dutch Bros. to power through a night-before cram session when you have this absolute magnificent piece of bone-chilling terror?

Podcast husband-and-wife duo, Tony and Jenny Brueski, bring terrifying stories to life with Tony’s ‘Denzel Washington meets Scary Movie 7’ speaking voice and Jenny’s real-world application. The best part? Every story they tell is from viewers like you, leaving you wondering if there really is a demon spawn standing behind you while you shampoo your hair.

Trust me, after hearing two of these episodes, you’ll be throwing out your parents’ hand-me-down Keurig and changing your Goodwill bed sheets in no time.

Robby- “Guys We F#@$!D”

In a world where the topic of sex is often frowned upon in normal day-to-day conversations, hosts and comedians Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson stray from the ordinary and make sexual relations a focal point of their podcast episodes.

What started as a podcast to interview men the hosts have slept with has grown to be more than just about their hookups and past exes. They’ve invited fellow comedians, authors and friends to discuss their professions, issues in their personal life and of course, crazy sex stories.  

Fisher and Hutchinson’s goal for this podcast is to “make the world a more sex-positive place,” according to the podcast’s description on Apple Podcasts.

These two women have made me laugh uncontrollably, cry a bit and have shed light on issues — specifically about women and the challenges they face — that often change my perspective. I’ve even seen them perform here in Sacramento and I would recommend seeing them if you get the chance, you won’t regret it.

This podcast — though as the name implies is definitely not safe for work — has quickly grown to be one of my favorites and I look forward to the new episodes that are released every Thursday.

Alex – “30 for 30 Podcasts”

Watching “30 for 30” on TV is wonderful and all, but the podcast version of “30 for 30” is way too clutch. After a long day of classes and questioning what I am doing with my life, it is relaxing to come home, grab my lemonade, lay down and just listen to different sports stories.

My personal favorite “30 for 30” podcast is “Yankees Suck”, which discusses the rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, and how the famous “Yankees Suck!” chant came about. I may not be a Red Sox fan, but I can sure enjoy hating the Yankees just as much as them.

For any sports fan who enjoys podcast and learning about different stories that relate to sport, this podcast is for you.

Shaun- “Fantasy Focus”

If you have a fantasy football team, this podcast is for you. Fantasy Focus Football is brought to you by ESPN, featuring fantasy experts Matthew Berry, Field Yates and Stephania Bell. “Fantasy Focus” doesn’t just spotlight football, but also baseball, and formerly basketball.

Each analyst provides advice throughout the season from draft day to the playoffs. Berry uses advanced analytics to provide advice on who to start each week in your weekly matchups. Yates is one of the best at finding players who are hardly owned and putting them on the map as top waiver wire pickups. Bell is ESPN’s injury analyst who can breakdown each player’s injury to give you the best advice on how to manage your team.

Fantasy Focus has been a staple on the iTunes “Top 10” podcasts charts for the last decade. The podcast can be found on iTunes and ESPN Podcenter. Whether if you’re a novice fantasy player or an expert, this podcast is very informative. Tune into this podcast and bring home your fantasy football league championship.