Woman listening to a podcast
Credit: WestEnd61/Rex Features/Shutterstock
You may be wondering, “What is a podcast?” Simply put, it’s an audio show, which is usually produced in a series. They are published online and you can download them to your phone or listen on your computer. You can subscribe to a series so that you get all the episodes at once, or as soon as they’re released.
The subjects that podcasts cover are many and varied. Almost any subject you could think of will have a podcast about it: Food, history, film, celebrity interviews, stories, random ramblings. Whether you want something to make you laugh, or cry, or simply to be informed, there’s a podcast out there for you.
They are the perfect entertainment to listen to when you’re doing routine tasks or travelling. You might like to listen on the commute into work, or while you’re gardening, or driving, or laid in bed at night – it’s basically like having your own personal storyteller at hand whenever you want.
Here are ten of the best podcasts to wrap your ears around:
The Moth is a great introduction to podcasts. It features people from all walks of life telling their stories. The stories are always true and are told to a live audience – most performances last around ten minutes, so they’re neat bitesize chunks of entertainment. Some have been known to bring the listener to tears, others are funny, they’re all a slice of the great human experience.
Comedian Deborah Frances-White and her guests discuss topics “all 21st century feminists
agree on” while confessing their insecurities, hypocrisies and fears
that underlie their lofty principles. Subjects include ‘hair removal’, ‘crying’, ‘shoes’ and, ‘not having kids’.
If you like podcasts like ‘Serial’ then S-Town is for you. It’s made by the same people that were behind Serial, but is the story of one man and the town he lives in. It’s a beautiful and profound piece of work, brought to life by the close relationship between the main protagonist, John B. McLemore, and the journalist telling the story.
A politics-themed podcast in which four former aides to President Obama discuss all the latest events in Washington. The aim is to cut through the fake news and media whitewashing and have a sane conversation about US politics.
Comedian Marc Maron gets the best guests for his weekly podcast broadcast from his garage in Los Angeles. From Sarah Jessica Parker, to Mick Jagger, to Louis Theroux, Maron’s inimitable, introspective style can be grating, but there’s no denying he gets all the insider gossip from his guests.
More storytelling from the United States, each episode of Love + Radio is a mixture of fact and
fiction, presented in a series of interviews and stories related to a
theme. Music is used to great effect, enhancing your listening experience. Broadcaster Miranda Sawyer describes Love + Radio as offering: “A world full of intriguing characters who aren’t quite who you think they are when you first meet them.”
Curious about something? Odds are there will be a TED Talk on it. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, though the non-profit company has grown to cover almost any topic you could think of. The talks are short (generally between ten and 20 minutes), informative presentations delivered by experts in the field. The aim is simply to share ideas and information.
The BBC’s Michael Buerk leads the listener through a thorny issue. Expert (and opinionated) guests engage in combative, provocative live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week’s news stories.
An unlikely hit amongst podcast listeners, Philosophize This! is a podcast run by 28-year-old Stephen West, not a young philosophy professor, but a former forklift truck driver (the podcast has become popular enough that he’s quit driving now). West explains and shares the ideas that shaped our world in an easy to understand way.
BBC radio 4’s podcast reveals all the weird and wonderful things about food, but also uses the subject as a way to explore greater issues. It’s an incredibly interesting listen, recent subjects include “How the potato changed the world” and food writer, Tim Hayward on cooking with blood.