Courtesy of npr.org
Jordan Houdeshell

Jordan Houdeshell is a senior studying Elementary Education and Spanish at the University from Maine. She is from Ledyard, Conn. and has been working for the Maine Campus since fall 2014. She is the current Editor in Chief.

Keeping up with current events has always been something that I’ve struggled with. Although I tried reading or watching the news in the morning, but that always seemed to eat up time and leave me feeling more confused. I tested a couple of news podcasts as well, but it wasn’t until someone suggested “Up First” that a podcast was easy to understand and enjoyable.

Hosted by Rachel Martin, David Greene and Steve Inskeep, this 12-15 minute podcast talks about the day’s top stories and what you need to know to stay informed in the news for that day. Hosted by NPR, it has the added bonus of not obviously favoring one political party or another, making me feel like I am getting unbiased news.

The best part about this podcast is the length. Since it is never more than 15 minutes long, it doesn’t take long to get the top news stories with decent depth into each one, making you feel like you have enough information to knowledgeably talk on the issues and events.

Part of this could be the use of experts in the field. The hosts bring in other correspondents to talk about topics that they are actively reporting on or researching. This can be anyone from the NPR White House correspondent or someone reporting from another country after covering an event. One of the most interesting people they had on was Ali Noorani who was a journalist reporting live from Iran during the protests that were occurring there at the beginning of January. These guests add something to the podcast that you can’t just get from listening to the hosts share the news.

Despite calling in the experts in the field, the jargon is never incomprehensible for the common man on the street. I don’t have a lot of experience with politics and I never struggle to keep up with what’s going on in the White House or Congress based on the way the hosts phrase their questions and commentary in layman’s terms.

The one complaint I have of the podcast is that they do seem to focus on politics and the White House primarily. While I understand that the political events are important and impact many other things happening in the United States and the world, I would rather hear more about sports or pop culture events.

For example in the episode for Friday, Jan. 26, the focus of the podcast was a developing story about Donald Trump trying to remove Robert Muller, his plan for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and a brief comment about his current trip abroad. While all of this was important, they could have spent a little less time on covering Trump’s actions last year against Muller and discussed the fire at a South Korean hospital or other pertinent news for the day.

The podcast is released at 6 a.m., so most days I can listen to it while I get ready in the morning or when I am driving to class. They also suggest other podcasts if you want to get news throughout the day or go more in depth on specific issues.

In terms of news podcasts, “Up First” is my go-to for all the news in politics, but I do sometimes have to go to other outlets to make sure I get a good breadth of news for the day. It is released early enough that unless you are up before the sun, it will be waiting for you on your podcast app when you wake up. The knowledgeable experts they call in are just the cherry on top of a very efficient and informative podcast.