favourite five :: podcasts

06 March 2015

I know that I posted the first of this series very recently, but I couldn't wait any longer for this second one! Because it's my current obsession, and I'm a little bit addicted.

Before you skip over this, thinking that you are completely disinterested in podcasts and they have no place in your life, please hear me out. I was also totally oblivious to the world of podcasts before Serial came along (and was never much of a radio listener), and I only started listening to it begrudgingly after it became hugely popular and I couldn't go a day without hearing about it. But I am eternally grateful that I did, because not only did Serial blow me away, but it also opened me up to something that I never even considered trying.

I mostly listen to podcasts on transport & walking commutes and on my runs. Last year, I was subscribed to Audible and relied on audiobooks for entertainment whilst running, but I've since cancelled my subscription (although I do like it a lot and would do it again if/when I need to) because I already have plenty to listen to.

So here are my five current podcasts - most of them air an episode a week - and a little bit about each one. 

This was the first podcast that I tried after finishing Serial - a natural move, since they are the producers of Serial, and I was also recommended it by one of my friends who loves this as much as I do. Ira Glass is the host and main producer of the show, and does an incredible job with it. Each episode is around an hour long, and tells multiple (or sometimes singular) stories based on a theme, in a documentary format. You can have a look at the summaries of recent episodes and listen to their archive on their website - I have made my way through a good chunk of them. Some of them are serious (like the recent 2 episode series about the US Police Force), and some include amusing, lighthearted stories from real people's lives. 

This is the radio show that compiles various different TED talks that are given globally, and interviews those that give the speeches outside of their talks. From entrepreneurs, professors who specialise in fascinating fields of expertise, respected politicians and artists, you hear snippets of the TED talks that they have given and their additional thoughts on those topics. There really isn't a single episode that hasn't gripped my attention and made me more curious (and hopefully more educated).

I love this one! I'd go as far as to say that this is my current top pick. Alec Baldwin, that actor you all know, hosts this show and he interviews "artists, policy makers and performers – to hear their stories, what inspires their creations, what decisions changed their careers, and what relationships influenced their work". So far, I have listened to interviews with Julie Andrews, John McEnroe, Lena Dunham, Ira Glass, Bryan Stevenson (founder of the Equal Justice Institute), among others, and have loved every single one. If you want to start by trying just one of these podcasts, I would recommend Here's The Thing.

This is described as "a podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation." There are no taboos here, and the stories and conversations of people who deal with any and all of these issues in any shape or form are intriguing, inspiring and often amusing. I like Anna Sales, the host, and the situations and characters that are brought on to the show are memorable. One of the episodes I recently listened to was about a man who had been jailed for nearly 30 years, and is now married with 3 children, and the interview with him about how this came about was unnervingly humbling

This podcast has just finished its first season of 9 episodes, and they were all pretty great, in my opinion. They "explore the intangible forces that shape human behaviour - things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions", which is exactly the kind of talks that I like to listen to, and to talk about in real life, too. I love that they dig deeper beyond the superficial (although all of these podcasts do that, really) and present riveting conversations with people with extraordinary (literally) traits, and with people who we can completely relate with.

Honorary mentions go to Serial (of course - not included in the list, simply because I and the rest of the world have banged on about it enough), New Tech City (about how technology is shaping our lives, and the good, bad & the ugly that it brings) and Freaknomics Radio ("the hidden side to everything" podcast, addressing various relevant topics while encouraging us to think creatively, productively and rationally).

Now, just for a laugh, I recorded a little "pretend podcast episode" to go along with this - chatting about the five picks I've listed above. I thought it would be a fun way to jazz things up a little! Click play below if you want to hear me rambling away for a few minutes.

Over to you - if you're a fellow podcast lover, do you have any recommendations for me?

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