I’m not really a music person (I like it, but can’t be bothered to keep track), but I do love podcasts. I listen to several, but due to a lack of time, I can’t listen to each episode of my subscriptions. But there are those I don’t miss, no matter what. Here are my favourites:
Storytelling at its finest. The Moth covers real stories from real people, and can be stirring on many levels. The episodes are culled together from recordings of live storytelling sessions in front of an audience, and given a theme. What is particularly amazing, is that the effect of the person’s words on the live audience. A spontaneous burst of laughter, the odd chuckle, the pin drop silence of poignancy or sadness. It makes each story come alive.
The Memory Palace
I stumbled upon this podcast by accident, and my very first episode was Guinea Pigs. It was such a compelling episode, I was hooked. The voice betrayed very little emotion, but the very flatness conveyed so much. I love history, and especially the untold stories within those annals.
All the things unseen which affect human behaviour. What’s not to love?! Episodes are long, but beautifully crafted. There is effective use of sound effects, music, repetition, narration, interview snippets, and more besides, skilfully woven together to create a sound picture. Can’t stop listening, once I’ve started.
Beats from the East
It’s music. I need to be spoon-fed new music, and so a podcast is a great way to discover someone else’s curated songs. I find a set I like, and listen to it forever. That’s sad, hence this podcast.
BBC Radio 4: Comedy of the Week
British comedy is one of my all-time favourite loves. My only complaint with this show is that it is just once a week. That’s just not enough laughs for me.
BBC Radio 4: Friday Night Comedy
British comedy again, but this time it is about the news. There is the odd bit of international news, but the targets of these comic masterminds are generally British politicians. Whether it is the News Quiz or the Now Show, the laughs are well worth learning about British politics.
Another psychology find. Brilliant in every way. I’ve even decided to buy all the books mentioned in the podcast, because clearly there are very interesting.
Another podcast that has swiftly become a favourite. Investigative and in-depth reportage is always magnetic, and this one is particularly excellent. I haven’t heard its parent shot, This American Life, as yet, but I certainly intend to after hearing Sarah Koenig deftly weave a compelling narrative. Apart from the actual content, which is excellent, Koenig’s impeccable delivery and incredible vocabulary is a huge draw.
Wildly different from my usual fare, but I love a science podcast which is approachable. Sean Willett, the host, doesn’t talk down to one, even though you aren’t an expert. He doesn’t fill the podcast with unexplained jargon either, so manages to effortlessly tread that fine line between both undesirable extremes. Fantastic bite-size podcast episodes. Highly recommended.
One episode in, and I am totally hooked on this one. A bit like The Moth, above, but doesn’t seem to have a live audience. I am only gutted that I discovered this magnificent show so late in the podcast!
Some of these are temporary shows, others have seasons, and some are on throughout the year. The topics range from psychology to music, to comedy and news. Sometimes all together. But they are truly well worth a listen.
I’m always on the lookout for something new, preferably funny though. Do drop me a comment if you think I’m missing a masterpiece. I’ll keep updating these, as and when I find something new I like.
Discovered this one through another podcast, and was instantly hooked by the preview. The host takes one call which lasts for one hour with someone. The host isn’t allowed to disconnect during that one hour, but the caller is. The caller decides what to talk about, and cannot divulge any identifying information. It is brilliant, and the episode I heard evolved into a therapy session of sorts. It was truly beautiful.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
Not a new discovery as such, but because the episodes are so long, and so far between, I took my time getting to one of them. Good thing too, because it is perhaps one of the most well-researched expositions on history I have ever heard. It is a work of art, and I am only sorry that I haven’t heard older episodes.
2 Dope Queens
I adore good comedy, and these two certainly are hilarious. Their guests are hilarious. I love it, and I listened to episodes back-to-back as a result. Amazing stuff, with the added attraction of being multicultural. Their first guest was a Indian-origin American (Aparna Nacherla), and my tricolour heart fluttered a little in response.
Again, not a new discovery. But thanks to the overwhelming number of episodes I have to delete because my poor phone is groaning, I listened to an episode pretty late. Worth it though. The sheer variety of stories is staggering, and it serves up beautiful insights into situations hitherto unexplored.
I have a dream to be a linguist at some point, because that’s how much I love languages. However, I am a dreamer and not a doer most of the time, so I needed to take a concrete step. I do subscribe to many blogs, but so much of the information there is so complicated for a raw beginner. So I downloaded this. It isn’t basic, but it is simply explained and wonderful. My first episode was Blaccent. Too lazy to find a link, but so wonderful. Hooked.
This American Life
I am a little ashamed to admit that I missed out on many, many hours of this wonderful gem, just because I thought it would be exclusively about American stuff. Now, I cannot really tell if it is only American, but the quality of content makes it a negligible concern.
I do know a little Indian history, if not the actual dates. However, I also know that there is a wide ranging spectrum of happenings in this country, of which I am woefully unaware. While I love world history, I do think that knowing the history of my own nation is important. It is important to me, at any rate. I would love to know Russian history too, but for the time being, I’m happy listening to Vivek.