Wednesday, 23 August 2017

8 podcasts to improve your commute


My first introduction to podcasts was in Sixth Form when my literature teacher suggested listening to an episode of In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg because he was covering a topic we were studying. After forcing myself to listen for about 15 painful minutes I was bored out
of my mind and had to stop. Sorry Melvyn, but you send me to sleep. For some reason after this I convinced myself that all podcasts must be like this one and therefore they just weren’t for me. 

Fast forward to last year where I was reluctantly convinced to give Serial a try. I was hesitant but as soon as I started listening to the story I got totally hooked and finished it within a few days. It turns out that actually podcasts are my thing after all. Now I’ve found a bunch of podcasts that cover exactly what I’m interested in and are told in really interesting ways and I’m never going back to my pre podcast days. 

Anyway, I’ve made a list of my favourite podcasts and I’m going to tell you all about them.  You may see a bit of a recurring theme for a few of these but what can I say, I know what I like.



The Rooster Teeth Podcast

This one feels like I’m cheating a bit by putting it in the list because technically my love for it blossomed before my relatively recent delve into audio podcasts but since it was the first one I found I felt like I had to include it. I found this one via their YouTube content and I’ve always watched the video version on YouTube as opposed to listening to the audio version, hence my disclaimer about its place in the list. The main cast are Gus Sorola, Gavin Free, Barbara Dunkelman and Burnie Burns who all work at Rooster Teeth and they discuss everything from current events to entertainment news to just random anecdotes from their lives. It has a conversational tone and is very funny and they mix up the cast sometimes when the main hosts have other commitments. This is a good podcast if you want to keep up with current affairs and news but you also want some light hearted content too. 


Serial

Like I said before, Serial was my first introduction into audio podcasts and from the very first episode I was hooked. Hosted by investigative journalist Sarah Koenig, Serial details the murder of Hae Min Lee by trying to work out if her ex boyfriend who was convicted of her murder, Adnan Syed, is actually guilty. Over 12 episodes Sarah explores the details of the trial and the reliability of the evidence presented through Adnan phoning from prison, retracing the journey the prosecution claimed Adnan took in disposing of her body and reaching out to possible witnesses who were never contacted by Adnan’s lawyer at the time of the trial. The podcast is absolutely fascinating, keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout and has you constantly questioning whether Adnan is innocent or guilty as every detail that had a part in Adnan’s conviction is probed and tested. Sarah Koenig is an incredible host in that she goes through all the information clearly and methodically but leaves enough intrigue so that it leaves you wanting more.



My Favorite Murder

This is one I’ve only discovered recently but it’s quickly becoming one of my favourites. My Favorite Murder, as you can probably guess, is a true crime podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark where every episode they each discuss a murder case that interests them. This is definitely a love it or hate it podcast and one for the people out there who have always had a morbid curiosity in the dark and taboo. If, like me, you’ve always felt a bit creepy for having a weird fascination with murder, now there’s a podcast that makes you feel a lot less alone in that. Although it’s categorised as a comedy podcast, the discussions of the murders are tasteful and Karen and Georgia describe how using humour is almost like a coping mechanism to digest the sometimes horrible world we live in. Karen and Georgia are funny and likeable which complements the dark subject matter strangely well and makes the podcast feel like you’re listening to a conversation between two of your friends. It definitely won’t be a podcast for everyone, but if you’re interested in true crime and you want a more light hearted way of digesting it as opposed to dense articles and accidentally stumbling on crime scene photos on Reddit then My Favourite Murder might just be the podcast for you.


The Guardian’s Token

Token was recommended to me by a friend and although at the moment I think it’s on hiatus and there aren’t a ton of episodes, I’d really recommend listening to the episodes that are available. There are some episodes from Australia and some from the UK so the hosts differ but the focus is on discussing issues that affect marginalised identities. Topics include disability, sexuality, gender, race, religion, culture and anything that might make you feel like a token in today’s society. If you know, you know. The episodes are informative, light hearted discussions which usually feature a guest who fits with the theme of whatever they have decided to talk about that week. Some of the episodes I’ve listened to have included discussions on Jewish traditions, black hair and transitioning to name just a few. They don’t pretend to be experts on any of the topics and often ask polite but often awkward questions that you might want to ask someone but aren’t sure whether it’s your place. Well, they’re answering your questions on Token. I feel like everyone could do more to open their minds up to minority identities and so I’d recommend this to everyone.


Guys We F****d

Guys We F****d, ‘the anti slut shaming podcast’, is a sex positive podcast hosted by Krystyna Hutchinson and Corinne Fisher. The original format was that each week Corinne or Krystyna invited a man they had slept with onto the podcast and interviewed him but as the podcast gained popularity the men they approached were less eager to come on the show and speak explicitly about their sex life. This is when the podcast moved to more of a general sex podcast and they started inviting a broader range of guests to come on and speak about their experiences with sex work, their sexual orientation, race and abortion to name just a few topics episodes have covered. When I start a new podcast I usually scroll down and listen from the first episode so I can't really comment on the later episodes because I haven't got there yet. I don’t always agree with everything Krystyna and Corinne say and there are definitely times when their discussions have been problematic but listening to it has also been incredibly insightful and I’m glad they have created a dialogue where people can talk about their sexuality shame free. 



S-Town

S-Town is produced by This American Life which is the same radio show that brought us Serial. It has a similar tone to Serial in that it is told episodically and put together with narration from the host, Brian Reed, along with recorded conversations and phone interactions. Brian Reed was brought to Woodstock, Alabama after several emails from a resident of the town, John B McLemore, with information about an alleged murder which he claimed was being covered up. He is very troubled by a number of things; a lot of which he feels are manifested in the area which he refers to as ‘Shit Town’ which is where the podcast got its name. S-Town is a difficult podcast to describe because for one I wouldn’t know how to categorise it and it also completely changes direction from where you’re expecting it to go very early on. Over 7 episodes it details one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever heard alongside reflections on race, sexuality, class, time, the law and even global warming. It really would spoil the whole thing to reveal any more than that.


Criminal

Criminal is the sort of podcast I stockpile until I have a bunch of episodes queued up to listen to and then I binge them all at once. It’s hosted by Phoebe Judge who has hands down the most soothing voice I’ve ever heard in my life. I could listen to her narrate every part of my life. Each episode of Criminal is different so you don’t have to listen to them in any particular order and at first the range of topics made me wonder whether I was going to be able to get into it. Some episodes are definitely better than others but as a whole it’s so interesting and I’ve learnt so much from listening to it. The topics Phoebe covers are so broad with episodes focusing on police brutality, body farms, abortion laws, historical crime and identity fraud to name just a few.


Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review

This is one of my favourite podcasts because it’s so easy to listen to, has a completely harmless topic and has me laughing in public whenever I have it on. If I’m bored or sad and want something to take my mind off things I put it on and Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s calming voices and terrible dad jokes cheer me up in seconds. Aside from using it as a distraction, I’ve always loved films and it’s a really easy way to keep up with what is going on in the world of cinema. They cover a variety of films from the box office top 10 to foreign cinema and independent productions and it's introduced me to films in the past that I probably would never have heard of if not for the podcast. The episodes usually feature an interview with a director or actor from a recently released film, a run-down of the box office top 10, Mark’s reviews alongside listener’s emails so you can get a rounded view of how the film has been received, all sandwiched in with bad jokes and personal anecdotes. What more could you ask for?



There’s something about digesting information while listening to a podcast on the way to work that makes your commute seem so much more productive than just listening to music. Or maybe that’s just me trying to convince myself. I'm always looking out for new podcasts so if you have any recommendations for me, let me know! 
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