Sue and Deepa share the podcasts which stimulate their brains and tickle their funny bones. Which ones can you recommend in return?
Back in November 2016, after months of being addicted to the 100mph news cycle and at risk of getting RSI in my fingers from endlessly refreshing Twitter, I started to feel that getting sucked into all this negativity and outrage wasn’t good for my mental state.
It was also around this time that various people happened to mention all the interesting things they picked up from listening to podcasts, and I began to wonder if they would be helpful in restoring my fast-fading intellect.
So I put a post on Twitter asking for suggestions, and immediately they came tumbling in.
Four brain-expanding months later, and I came across Ciaran Dunne’s excellent post Top podcasts for learning on the Genie Ventures blog. I was so enthused about the subject that rather than just leave a comment, I thought I’d put together a list of my own.
My esteemed colleague Deepa is a long-time podcast listener so she’s offered some suggestions too. Do read Ciaran’s thoughts, read ours, and add your podcast picks below!
Some podcasts which make us laugh
Adam Buxton: There I was, stood up on a hot, packed train on a grey day with everyone around me looking bloody miserable. Not me – I was smiling away, listening to Adam Buxton and Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood’s gentle banter as they wandered around Lyon before a gig. The ones with Matt Berry, Panti Bliss, Tash Demetriou have had me snorting loudly while on public transport too.
Running Commentary. Tell you what, training for the London Marathon is a little lacking in laughs. Particularly on a cold, wet and dark weekday evening when you’re running round a load of boring old cul de sacs because it’s the only route with streetlights.
And then I discovered #RunComPod! Simple format – two comedians go out for a run and record their conversation while they’re at it. It’s had me laughing out loud in the street like an idiot, but hey, whatevs, who’s going to recognise me in the dark anyway? Thanks chaps...you’ve made me feel less...(sniff!)...lonely!
All Killa No Filla. You might not think a podcast about serial killers is funny, but one hosted by two comedians is. It’s full of dark humour but I found that the hosts Kiri and Rachel to also be very considered about the topic area, and so it is sympathetic too. Start with the three-parter on Fred and Rose West, and then work your way through the rest of their back catalogue. Beware, they are oddly addictive. Deepa
Podcasts to give you a cultural fix
The Allusionist is Helen Zaltzman exploring language in delightfully nerdy detail. The other day I learned all about eponymous illnesses and the people behind them, like Dr Heimlich and his manoeuvre, and the medical condition named after a Nazi. Awks.
Love+Radio “…features in-depth, otherworldly-produced interviews with an eclectic range of subjects, from the seedy to the sublime.”
I was glued to Daryl Davis explaining how he formed relationships with members of the Ku Klux Klan and changed their views on race...to the point where one Grand High Wizard actually sent him his robes and pointy hat and said he didn’t need them anymore. Listen up: Part one – The Silver Dollar, Part two – How to argue.
Freakonomics is good on economics and society and ‘the hidden side to everything.’ I’ve not listened to loads yet, but definitely enjoyed ‘Trevor Noah has a lot to say’ on how the Daily Show host’s background in South Africa and Europe has given him a unique take on US politics. Very funny too.
Wittertainment is Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s film review on BBC 5Live, a show which has long been a Friday afternoon treat. I always love that feeling of forgetting it’s on, then remembering. But I don’t always get to listen to it, in which case the podcast comes in super handy.
The Stuff You Should Know Podcast gives me plenty of clever facts for dinner parties, if I were the kind of person who hosts such fancy dos. Find out how pacifism works and why civilisation collapsed on Easter Island, or whether you could live without a refrigerator or go off-grid. These podcasts are usually no more than 30-40 minutes long, very digestible and ideal for my commute! Deepa
Podcasts for business inspiration
The Growth Show is a podcast from inbound marketing specialists HubSpot. They’re usually under half an hour and I like the way they just crack on with it, making it an attractive and easily digestible chunk of listening on a short journey.
I’ve listened to the creator of the hashtag, how Buffer nearly went under, and how comedian Sarah Cooper came across a new piece of business jargon: tofu. Yes, that’s short for ‘top of the funnel.’ Beautiful.
The Bottom Line is a really good business programme on Radio 4 hosted by Evan Davis. I particularly enjoyed How to negotiate, with its discussion between a hostage negotiator and someone explaining how to bargain for a better salary and working conditions.
How I Built This is exactly as described. Fascinating stories about how people built their business, from big guys like Richard Branson to the founders of Instagram talking about how they messed up when changing their terms of service and lost a load of users, and LA Reid on being fired from Arista and getting snapped up by Def Jam the same afternoon.
Planet Money by NPR is another bite-sized podcast, mainly focused on the American economy – analysis of current affairs, history and a little bit of tech too. I like the way they make financial jargon easy to understand as well as making economics interesting too! The episode on how the US government set up a fake bank to launder drug money is fascinating. Deepa
Podcasts for marketing, tech, media and design
Recode is really great if you’re into the nitty gritty of how the big media organisations and tech companies operate, from the New York Times to Silicon Valley.
So, one week you get Jessica Coen on her career at Mashable, Gawker and Jezebel, or BuzzFeed’s video editor on what makes content go viral or How the press can save itself in the era of Trump. Plus, I always get inspiration from listening to Kara Swisher generally being a badass.
Hot Copy is an Australian podcast hosted by Belinda Weaver and Kate Toon, talking through copywriting tips, resources and inspiration. Worth listening to even if you think you know the subject backwards – I picked up some useful pointers myself in this post on why formatting your copy is so important.
Chips With Everything is a nice bitesize bit of tech talk from The Guardian. As with the Digital Human, it’s aiming at a broader audience than just techies, with recent podcasts covering topics like the blind marathon runner, Hillary Clinton’s social media campaign, or romance in a digital age.
99% Invisible is about “all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.”
The Digital Human is a BBC Radio 4 show in which Aleks Krotoski explores the digital world. Working in digital marketing myself, I like the way this is created for a wider audience and touches upon topics you don’t see covered in industry blogs, like how digital activities are changing the way we think about food and our sense of humour.
So, these are some of our favourites, do tell us yours!