When I was travelling I got really into to podcasts for a few reasons. Despite already being a fan on my commute thanks to their optimum duration to make a journey pass faster, I found them an invaluable source of entertainment on long journeys.
Once I realised I could download podcasts onto my phone while taking up minimum storage, and without using sooo much battery I ended up with plenty of hours to get hooked on long journeys. They’re extremely diverse and you can listen to almost anything to suit your mood, interests, and styles. Ultimately, there’s loads of reasons why I can try to convince you to listen to podcasts, but really, they speak for themselves more than anything. I’ve had lots of recommendations from people, and when asked for mine these are always my favourites ones to subscribe to, enjoy!
Wooden Overcoats: I’m a little biased about this one (cough cough the music is excellent cough), but if you’re looking for a lighthearted and witty alternative to an audiobook or radio drama this is the podcast for you. As the only fictional podcast in this list, it stands out for me as to beat more visual forms of comedy and maintain such a high level of writing and voice acting it’s absolutely a cut above the rest.
The story being set on a fictional Channel Island, narrated by a rather eloquent mouse, and based on the tense rivalry of two funeral directors, it just oozes charm. Quaint yet with a twist, the listener is kept guessing with a series of unexpected events. Each episode easily stands alone, but combined they create the bigger picture, unbeknownst to the listener.
In such a morbid setting, somehow even the most miserable and antisocial personalities you can’t help but laugh with and root for (Antigone you are my inspiration). Now already at the end of its second series, there’s plenty of quirky characters to love, with unique writing and an oh-so-British level of humour this one will definitely keep you guessing and giggling. They also do live readings of the episodes, which if you happen to be around for are a wonder to behold, and really bring all the shenanigans to life.
No Such Thing As A Fish: Brought to you by the QI Elves, this podcast is the perfect mix of unique facts, quick wit, and absolute stupidity. I’ve found myself bursting into laughter on numerous occasions, it’s just one of those things where they’ve hit the magic balance of maintaining the listeners interest and keeping them entertained.
The only issue I find is that it’s very easy to lose track of what’s being said. If you stop paying close attention for just a few seconds (a lifetime in podcast world) you can end up missing the joke or fact that is being discussed. Nonetheless, its adorable appeal and the speakers’ rapport with one another make this such a pleasure to listen to. I can’t count how many facts I’ve rattled off what I’ve learned from these guys, so thanks for making me sound smart!
My Dad Wrote A Porno: Ok hear me out. This is pretty much what is sounds like: a young man has found out his father self published an erotic online book and he reads it aloud, with a couple of pals, for all the world to hear. Of course there is extremely crude content, but it’s almost forgiven because the poor author just has no foundation of knowledge, care for accuracy, or attempt at providing the correct terms (think female body parts mostly). This mixed with a, let’s say unique, writing style of throwing unorthodox analogies, name changes, and generally poor grammar into the works makes for fabulous narration from the trio of friends.
Although the plot lines are muddled they are surprisingly gripping, but everyone’s really there to hear the reaction of the son and co. Snorts of laughter, quick comments and enough analysis to keep it lighthearted means that this podcast has attracted quite the following, with the likes of Daisy Ridley and Elijah Wood taking to the microphones for the “Footnotes” podcast (a spin off because one show a week just isn’t enough!). The second series ended earlier this year so there’s plenty to catch up on before series 3 is out, and the team have even released their own book to document the whirlwind experience they’ve been going through over the past couple of years.
Serial: I’m relatively new to this one, but it is SO addictive! This podcast tells the story of Adnan Syed and how he came to be convicted of the murder of Hae Min Lee. The host Sarah Koenig is a reporter who spends an inconceivable amount of time investigating and analysing the details of this strange case, where absolutely nothing makes sense or seems to add up. Her voice is incredibly easy to listen to, and the flow and progress of the show is easy to follow as she does an excellent job of ensuring you’re reminded of important points when necessary, so you never have to rewind for yourself.
I’m nearing the end of season 1 and can’t even imagine what conclusion (if any) will be reached, and I’m dying to cave in and Google to find out what happened after it aired but I’ll restrain for now. If you enjoy Making a Murderer and similar programmes, this is definitely one for you. There’s something unsettlingly thrilling about a good whodunit right?!
Philosophy Bites: A bit of a nerdy one for me, but this is a wonderful introduction to some really key philosophical ideas. They have guest speakers to discuss and debate with philosopher Nigel Warburton in brief, which if you already enjoy philosophy is a miracle because it’s easy to find yourself deep in 100 page documents, hour long lectures and material that just seems too heavy going.
This podcast breaks things down to manageable chunks, and is actually a great introduction to the world of philosophy. A favourite philosopher of mine Jesse Prinz does an excellent talk on perception, and without bombarding the listener with academic buzzwords and various ‘-isms’ you can learn a lot pretty quickly. Their website is also a great source of material for extra reading on the topics discussed, so you can find out more should you wish to do so!
Stuff You Should Know (How Stuff Works): I’ve not listened to a huge amount of these, as they can get pretty long (I mostly listen to shorter podcasts unless they’re really easy listening), however I have enjoyed specific episodes of this such as “Nirvana: not the band” which I thought was a delightful introduction to something I knew very little about.
This is the kind of podcast where you can learn a lot very quickly, and it explains things concisely and in a way that won’t leave you scrabbling to the Wikipedia article to actually understand what’s going on. Some of these episodes take on a philosophical stance, and maybe that’s why I like them, but for the most part they’re just downright interesting. I promise you that when you have a 12 hour bus ride ahead through bumpy dirt tracks in Laos you won’t care what you listen to, but isn’t it better to spend your time doing something vaguely worthwhile?
As you can see, my general trend here is that I enjoy things that either make me laugh, or teach me something. I’m almost certain these are not unique things to look for in a podcast but these select few seem to have hit the spot for me. There are seemingly thousands of podcasts to listen to out there, so don’t take my word for it that these are the best, but in my limited listening experience these are doing the job so far!
What are your favourite podcasts? Got any great recommendations? Let me know your tips!
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