The Gen Z podcasting space is rife with unfinished series and spotty audio. It’s a pillar of the culture; its rawness mirrors the period of self-discovery that is teenagedom. Many Gen Z podcasts rely on school resources to operate, so their coverage is mostly school news or commentary on social issues that impact them locally. However, there are independent teenage podcasters who put together shows from their bedrooms without the help of school resources. Present on the usual platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, these podcasts talk about navigating relationships, balancing school and home life, and flit around the same theme of holding onto childhood while approached with the tendrils of adulthood.
Hosts McD and McG don’t let their pseudonyms impede on the hilariousness of their best-friend banter, which hops from topics like youth culture to board games to schoolwork, yet always manages to return to how awkward middle school is. Sprinkled with snorts and the occasional voice crack, they reflect on anecdotes about school life and their growth since elementary school. McD and McG wrapped up season 2 in quarantine and have taken a hiatus until season 3 drops in the fall.
Paola Ochoa’s Teen Boss Babes is for the teenager looking to upgrade their lemonade stand. Drawing from her own experience as the founder of a social media management agency, her podcast focuses on how Gen-Z teens can hustle their way into running a successful business. Ochoa interviews actresses, photographers and content creators who share tips for teen girls looking to thrive in a business environment.
This campfire-style podcast is the longest running show on this list. Although its five hosts — Gael, Mark, Thomas, Kayla and Issac — were recently featured in the New York Times and Wired, they retain a down-to-earth feel as they explore topics like drugs, body shaming, young love and sexuality through a high school lens.
15-year-old Australian Lilli doesn’t pretend that teenagedom is all rainbows and sunshine. As a competitive cheerleader with scoliosis, her mission is to start conversations that normalize vulnerability and to confront difficult topics like peer pressure and mental health so that her listeners feel less alone.
Nationally recognized by NPR, Sssh! Periods is a biweekly podcast that grew from concentrating on the stigma surrounding periods to sharing social commentary. The podcast is hosted by seven eight graders from a middle school in the Bronx and has bite-sized clips of local impact stories that touch on toxic masculinity, homelessness, and of course, sexism.
A product of the host Sadie’s time in a therapeutic boarding school, She Persisted is a mental health podcast perfect for families to listen to together. Sadie interviews licensed health professionals who talk about different aspects of mental health such as eating disorders and depression. For teens listening to this, it’s an inspiring story of recovery as well as a platform that normalizes having difficult conversations with parents about mental health.
The youngest person to host an iHeartRadio podcast, 17-year-old Sammy Jaye interviews high-profile individuals like Meghan Trainor, Liza Koshy, and David Hogg, offering listeners a look into the lives of Gen-Z cultural icons. Using her subjects’ professions as a jumping off base, Jaye covers current events and how they relate to her guest of the week.
Alex Perry is an adviser to the Wall Street Journal’s Noted. and is a guest editor for The Guardian US’ 2020 Climate Week issue. She writes about politics and has a weekly newsletter called Student Journalism, Nationwide. She is a student at Northwestern University, where she is double majoring in journalism and international affairs with a minor in economics. Follow her on Twitter at @WhoIsAlexPerry and check out her portfolio at www.alxperry.com