Podcasts are so hot right now. Here’s some you might like. In no order whatsoever.
Last updated 23 December 2020.
The Two Erins host a podcast where they talk about things that will kill us. Was fun even before the global pandemic! I got to feel smug knowing vaguely what R0 was before everyone else did. My favourite bit is Erin’s history section but it’s all excellent. The episode on rabies is very good and a little freaky.
As someone who finds most of his music through movie and TV soundtracks, and spent a lot of time when younger playing in orchestras, this was always gonna hit me. I recommend the episodes on James Bond and The Empire Strikes Back specifically. Their Back to the Future is also good, and worth a look if you haven’t realised how incredibly important the music is to that film.
I’m surprised this wasn’t already here. I’ve been listening to this for ages. Nerdy tech talk from a very Apple (and specifically Mac) perspective. I even know of non-Apple-fanboys who enjoy it. It’s excellent, especially if you’re a John Siracusa fanboy, and I’m given to understand that that’s the entire internet.
A quick but very appreciated look at various statistics and claims doing the rounds by people who actually care what's true or not. Your little dose of sanity for the week.
There’s a few kinds of episodes these guys put out, but my favourite are the weekly ‘new mixes’, which have full songs with enthusiastic commentary from Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton in-between. A good way to get some fresh music into your ear on a regular basis. Around 1 hour long.
This podcast is made by the researchers behind QI. As you’d expect, this means there’s a lot more facts and trivia than they manage to squish into a TV episode. As you might not expect, it’s actually far funnier than the TV show. The hosts are funny and clever which is a pretty excellent mix. Around 30 minutes long.
If you want a film review podcast, this one is pretty good. You may find you come for the film reviews and stay for the banter between Mark and Simon, which is endlessly entertaining. What I’d classify as a ‘personality-based’ podcast. Around 1.5 hours long.
Comedic waffle about news from Andy Zaltzman and a rotating roster of co-hosts. Zaltzman is an acquired taste, but once you’re in, you’re in. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced a pun run (to my mind, the dog-themed one in Bugle 117 (mp3 link) is still unsurpassed. Around 30 minutes long. Recent favourite: “Not Scared, Bored”, from just after the Westminster attack in March 2017.
A podcast from Gimlet about the Internet. Which is a pretty wide-ranging topic, but so far they’ve explored some really peculiar corners of that very strange place… like France’s crazy pre-Internet Minitels, or domain sales, or Jennicam. Other times, the internet connection is... tenuous, but that's not really a problem. Quick and always interesting. Around 20-30 minutes long.
A Radio National current affairs show that tackles one issue per podcast, usually in a pleasing amount of detail. I particularly appreciate the way it tackles Australian stuff far outside my normal sphere of awareness. Around 30 minutes long.
Erik and Kyle travel through the myriad writers of the original series (not sure why they’re not tackling the new series–probably just because it’s a bit of a Herculean task already) and evaluate their stories purely on the writing level. It’s great fun. I have wanted to yell at the podcast at times, but they consistently explain their opinions, which is all I ask.
If you like silly songs, some decent cussing and awkward ideas for podcast segments, this is the show for you! The three men behind Australia’s Man Bites God natter on (ostensibly about a pre-chosen topic) for half an hour or so. It’s at its best when they’re recounting painful stories from their childhood. I hope they’re not running short.
Was brilliant when it started on the ABC and is still brilliant at Gimlet. Wendy Zukerman takes on various controversial or confusing topics and digs into the actual science behind them. Only disappointing when you realise how often people just haven't actually done the research. You may find yourself wanting to suddenly begin a career researching acne.
I didn’t want to like Invisibilia, because all the other NPR podcasts were promoting the hell out of it when it launched. But as it turns out, it’s pretty excellent. Curses! Alix Spiegel, Lulu Miller and Hanna Rosin look at the “invisible forces that control human behaviour.” Yes, this sounds a bit bullshit, but it’s not, honestly.
About an hour long. A standout episode was “Fearless” (16 January 2015).
Dead, but still interesting
Fans of The West Wing should love this. Joshua Malina (Will Bailey on the show) and Hrishi Hirway (of Song Exploder look at the show episode by episode, with guests from the cast and crew. They also occasionally dig into the policies and problems raised by the show in a modern context. Far better than a rewatch podcast has any right to be.
Towards the end of Jon Stewart's time on The Daily Show, they made a podcast. If you’re a Daily Show addict like I was at the time, you’ll love this. If you’re not… well, a lot of the discussion of how they put together the show will probably leave you a little cold. Probably for fans only. Though it is often quite funny as well.
About 30 minutes long. Particularly interesting episodes include “11: Meet Trevor Noah” and “20: With Jon Stewart”.
Chris Kennett and Bec Petraitis rage about the internet in an amusing fashion. Particularly funny when Bec's younger attitude on the internet clashes with Chris's… older perspective. Their theme music is unreasonably good, too.