I’m going to steal a stat we used in a blog post about podcasts a couple of months ago:
Ten years ago, 1 in 10 people over age 12 had listened to a podcast in the previous month. By March 2019, it had jumped to 1 in 3.
Source: Edison Research
In the midst of the COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) outbreak, the demand for podcasts has been increasing even more. For example, Acast, the largest global podcast company, reported that they now host more than 1,400 podcast episodes with the words “covid” or “corona” in the title. These episodes have been downloaded more than 27.5 million times, as of March 25, 2020.
Whether you’re in the middle of social distancing or bravely making your way to your job (thank you essential workers!), you may have started turning to podcasts as a way to get answers to your questions, relieve stress and boredom, and cope with the roller coaster of emotions you may be riding on.
Here are 5 podcasts to listen to in the midst of COVID-19.
1. Coronavirus Daily (NPR)
NPR’s Coronavirus Daily podcast covers all aspects of the impact of COVID-19 — from science and medicine to politics and economics to culture and society. Episodes feature interviews with NPR’s reporters and crews.
For this podcast, there are two main pros and cons, and they are basically the same — it just depends on what you’re looking for.
- Episodes are only 10 minutes, so you can get your quick scoop and head-on with your day.
- With so many topics covered, you’re not limited to only health or economic news.
- Episodes are only 10 minutes, so if you’re very interested in a topic, you’re only going to get an overview.
- Since many topics are covered, it’s not the best one if you’re really only interested in one specific one.
2. Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic has been publishing updates and articles about COVID-19, many of which contain podcasts. Podcasts cover medical topics, such as flattening the curve and coping with mental health challenges related to the pandemic.
- Mayo Clinic is one of the most well-known and highly respected medical institutions in the world, so you know you are getting accurate, trustworthy information.
- All episodes are focused on the medical and health aspects of COVID-19 (not economic or political), which is great if you want to stick strictly to medicine.
- The episodes might touch on non-medical topics briefly, but they pretty much stick to medicine — so if you want information on economics or policy, this probably isn’t the podcast for you.
Bonus: Mayo Clinic also released a special COVID-19 miniseries where medical professionals can earn continuing medical education (CME) credit. The general public can listen, but these episodes tend to be more “jargon-y.”
3. Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction (CNN)
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent at CNN, discusses the latest news on Coronavirus. He covers topics that are highly consumer-focused, such as what to expect if you need to travel, what the COVID-19 test is like, and how to talk to kids about the virus.
- This podcast looks at COVID-19 through a unique lens. He speaks with frontline healthcare workers, patients who have recovered, and people from other countries who experienced lockdowns before the US.
- Dr. Gupta answers listeners’ questions directly, so he is closely in touch with his audience.
- Dr. Gupta’s voice is reassuring. We’re not kidding. Don’t underestimate this.
- Listening to healthcare workers’ and patients’ stories is powerful but it can also be a little difficult — especially if you’re already feeling anxious.
When: Every weekday
Approximate Length Per Episode: Between 5-20 minutes
Host: Dr. Sanjay Gupta
4. Podcasts For Kids
While there isn’t one children’s podcast series devoted to the virus, several series have produced episodes geared towards young listeners. The episodes answer questions about where COVID-19 came from to how it is spread to whether it’s still safe to hug Grandma and Grandpa.
- These episodes are directed right toward kids, so they are easy to understand.
- Since there isn’t one full series, you have to look around a little.
- Understanding coronavirus and how germs spread (Brains On, 34 minutes)
- Answering Kids’ Coronavirus Questions (Tumble Science Podcast for Kids, 19 minutes)
- Coronavirus For Kids, And The Science Of Soap (But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, 31 minutes)
Details — when, length per episode, and host — all vary based on the podcast. But these three range from about 20-30 minutes each.
5. Anxiety Slayer
Due to the fear of getting COVID-19, social distancing, and the general uncertainty surrounding the virus, anxiety is running rampant. Anxiety Slayer is a mental health podcast that provides tools, tips, and practices for staying calm.
- The importance of taking care of mental health cannot be understated, especially during this time. And since Anxiety Slayer has been around for years (they are on Episode #489 as of March 20, 2020), you know they are experts.
- There is a combination of podcasts that do and do not mention COVID-19, so you can choose to delve into your coronavirus stress specifically or seek an escape.
- With a good mix of both guided meditations and education about anxiety relief, you can access in-the-moment solutions and also learn how to cope in the future.
- Even though they might give you ideas for quick ways to relieve anxiety, the podcasts themselves are about 20-30 minutes. If you’re looking for a fast way to reduce anxiety, you might be better off with an app that offers 3-5 minute mindfulness exercises.
- There are only a few episodes that mention COVID-19, so this probably isn’t the one to listen to if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of coping with coronavirus anxiety.
Approximate Length Per Episode: 20-30 minutes
Hosts: Shann Vander Leek and Ananga Sivyer
There are plenty of fantastic COVID-19 episodes within existing podcast series (ones not solely dedicated to the virus). Here are some episodes the CareContent team recommends:
- 8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You (NPR, 15 minutes)
- Coronavirus: Where Are The Tests? (Science Rules! with Bill Nye, 23 minutes)
- Coronavirus Update with Anthony Fauci, MD – March 18, 2020 (JAMA Network Learning, 31 minutes)
- Coronavirus Thoughts — What a Year this Week has Been (Nutrition Matters Podcast, 32 minutes). Paige Smathers, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, talks about self-care and nutrition during the time of coronavirus.
- Figuring Out What’s REALLY Going on With Tyler and Hannah With Comments by Celebs (US Weekly Bachelor Podcast, 42 minutes). This one is about how the stars of The Bachelor are coping with quarantine (and even a COVID-19 diagnosis!). Sorry. Can’t resist.
Finding The Right Podcast
These are only a handful of the podcasts/episodes devoted to COVID-19. Find the one that you like best, but remember to do a little research first and make sure that a podcast that provides medical or scientific information is trustworthy. Look for podcasts from reputable medical organizations or ones that interview people from those organizations (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health).
And whether you listen to a podcast or continue watching a show where people get engaged having never seen one another in person, take care of yourself during this time.