I’m a big podcast fan, especially as I am a Metro Commuter, I love nothing more than putting my headphones in for some interesting conversation on my journey to work.
But what is a podcast?
I actually get this question a lot when people ask what I’ve been listening to lately, so thought I would start by answering it! I would describe a podcast as like a very specific radio show that you can take anywhere with you on your phone. The are usually a serial type which is released in a regular manner. If you are interested in a topic then there is most likely a podcast out there!
There are loads of podcast apps, and I’ll be honest the one thing I miss the most about my iPhone (in fact probably the only thing) is the great iTunes Podcast app. The Google Podcasts app is just about getting there for me though! Any podcast app works by letting you search by a topic, or a specific name of a podcast, where you can stream, download and subscribe to a podcast so that you never miss an episode. Spotify is even branching out into the world of podcasts,l although I’ve not really tried it for discovering new listens.
To help get you started I’ve put together a list of my favourite podcasts of the moment for your audio pleasure. I’ve also linked to each of them so you can find out more.
A podcast from the QI Elves (the researchers for the TV show QI), this is what really got me into the world of podcasts, and is still the one I look forward to the most every week. The format is simple, each week the 4 elves, usually Dan, James, Anna and Andrew come to the table with their favourite fact of the week. Taking one fact at a time, the conversation leads into related and interesting funnies. There’s puns, things that will impress you, and things that will leave you in disbelief, and any fan of QI will love this.
The name is based on a fact from the very first episode, and each episode has a different name, usually coming from the biggest laugh of the week. This podcast genuinely has me laughing out loud, and if you’re a geek like me who likes to know loads of pointless things, then it is perfect for you!
Do I have to listen from Episode 1?: No, each is a contained episode so choose what takes your fancy.
Favourite Episode: 240 – No Such Thing As An Easy Tweet
‘A 25-year old man reading the Harry Potter series for the first time’ is how Mike Schubert describes his podcast at the beginning of each episode. I can’t even tell you how I stumbled upon this brilliant podcast, I’m just glad I did. As a massive Harry Potter fan, I would probably lap up anything, but Potterless is so great because it makes light hearted fun of all of the plot holes, how dense Harry Potter actually is, and why Quidditch is the worst sport ever. What makes it really great though is that the pure enjoyment that Mike is experiencing while reading these shines through, and it has me reminiscing about reading them for the first time myself, and being captured by the magic.
Each episode features Schubes and a guest discussing a few chapters. Often Mike knows the guest off-mic which means you are included in all of these lovely in jokes and feel as if you’re a part of the conversation, but this does mean that the episodes can be a little bit long, anywhere from 45 – 80 minutes.
Proof of how entertaining a podcast Potterless is, when I had a week off work to decorate my bedroom, I listened to about 30 episodes!
Do I need to listen from Episode 1? Yes, even if you know Harry Potter back to front, you’ll appreciate some of the jokes more.
Favourite Episode: Episode 7, Chamber of Secrets Chapters 1 – 6.
Yes, I know the words Radio 4 may not strike you as an entertaining podcast, but I really love the comedy output this brings every week. Not only does it showcase different radio programmes (e.g. The News Quiz, The Now Show, Dead Ringers), they are genuinely funny, and topical. I like to keep up with the news, but sometimes find it quite tedious and repetitive (Brexit anyone?), so I feel like listening to this allows me to keep up with the current political situation, without it being a chore, and having a laugh along the way.
Do I need to listen from Episode 1? No, it’s topical so pick a recent episode.
Favourite Episode: Any of the News Quiz, my favourite of the shows (especially the news clippings!)
True Crime is probably the biggest and most popular genre in podcasting and there are hundreds, if not thousands to choose from. However, I really like They Walk Among Us for two reasons. The first, because it focuses on British crime stories, and secondly, they are not always murder stories, which makes a ton of difference to me, as someone who is not a fan of particularly gruesome descriptions, but still finds true crime interesting. A husband-and-wife team, Benjamin narrates in his steady voice, while Rosie produces an original illustration for each episode. The research that goes into each story is evident too, and it never feels like they have intruded on the victim to get this information. All of the references used for research are listed in the episodes full description on the website.
TWAU is also using a Facebook group to build an engaged audience, where Benjamin and Rosie regularly post and comment.
Do I need to listen from Episode 1?: No, although there are some which have 2 or 3 episodes covering one story, but it’s always made really clear.
Favourite Episode: Season 3 – Episode 20
Answer Me This! has been going for years, 12 years this month in fact, but it’s something I’ve dipped in and out of over the last few years. A bit like having one of those conversations down the pub, Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann answer questions put to them by listeners, such as how many meatballs does Ikea sell, or “I’m moving back from Australia and haven’t told my parents, how do I surprise them?” which leads into other interesting discussions and conversations that make you feel like you’re having a chat amongst mates.
They interlude with funky little songs which detail the ways you can send them a question (which I find myself singing quite a lot!).
Do I need to listen from Episode 1?: No, pick any title which takes your fancy and go from there, although there are usually a few references to a previous episode, but that shouldn’t hinder you.
Favourite Episode: Episode 369: New Years Resolutions, gilets and McDonald’s mayonnaise
That concludes my favourite podcasts of the moment, but I’m always keen to discover new listens. Let me know your favourites in the comments.
Thanks for reading.