I, like many people I’m sure, was introduced to the wonderful world of podcasts when I stumbled upon Serial.
I was lying in bed with tonsillitis at the time. I was in that delicious phase whereby I was about 3 days in, completely exhausted yet completely bored. My eyes were too tired to focus or read or to look at the TV screen for too long given the pounding headache that kindly kept my poor throat company.
I scrolled through Instagram and saw a friend post about how they were completely hooked on this podcast called Serial and I thought, well, this will be ideal as I can lie in bed with my bleary little eyes closed but gently listen to the storyline and keep my mind occupied.
Before that, I’d heard Greg James mention podcasts on Radio 1 and just assumed they were radio recordings that you could listen back to.
I didn’t realise when I downloaded that first podcast that I’d be introduced to such a rich, wonderful selection of topics; from true crime, to comedy, to panel quiz shows to political debates. Podcasts really are ear candy and good for the soul!
It probably goes without saying that Serial (Season One) is still one of my favourites; for those who are thinking of jumping on to the podcast train I’d highly recommended starting with this.
Released in 2014, this innovative piece of investigative journalism about a real life murder case quickly became a global phenomenon. Producer and presenter Sarah Koenig introduces the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old high school student from Baltimore county, Maryland, whose body was found six week after her disappearance in a shallow grave in a local park. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed was convicted of her murder based on what many consider thin evidence and is now serving a life sentence.
Koenig skilfully takes us through the twists and turns of this case, and through expert story telling , supported by a chill inducing original soundtrack, creates tension and intrigue in a way that makes this 12 part podcast insanely gripping.
CHECK. IT. OUT.
Thanks to Serial, podcasts are a massive part of my life. I listen to them every morning as a now essential part of my morning routine, they help me through loooooong car journeys and keep me company through walks in the park or whilst I potter around the house with a coffee in hand.
I’m going to share with you 10 of my favourite podcasts, almost half of which were recommended to me by my wonderful spiritual and cultural advisor Kate Hammond (thanks hon!) You can check out her awesome blog, Cwtch Up Books, here.
Take a listen to the suggestions below and let me know what you think!
1. My Dad Wrote A Porno
Season 1- 13 episodes
Season 2- 16 episodes
About 30 minutes per episode
Ok, seriously, this podcast is THE single most hilarious thing I’ve listened to. Ever.
I once made the mistake of trying to listen to an episode on the train. Apparently people look at you with a slightly concerned/pitiful look on their face if you’re crying eyes emoji lolling every 3 seconds between Lisvane and Cardiff Central. Whatever.
In a nutshell, Jamie Morton, accompanied by friends James Cooper and Alice Levine, reads out chapters of a porno written by his 60 year old Dad who goes by the pen name ‘Rocky Flintstone.’
The book is called Belinda Blinked, and I cannot put in to words how clunky, cringe worthy, badly written naff and HILARIOUS this little gem is. Good job that Jamie and co can though, as they pull apart each chapter with commentary filled with wit, quips and friendly banter galore. This one is a MUST!
Word of warning; Don’t listen in front of your kids/parents!
2. Optimal Living Daily
Average 7 minutes per episode
Justin Malik reads out a different blog post each day on productivity, minimalism and personal development.
I always start my day with one of these beauties as they really give food for thought and have given me some practical tips I’m definitely going to use such as starting the day with big important tasks that add value to avoid procrastination, how to prioritise your To Do list against the rest of your life, the practice of mindfulness and gratitude and the importance of kindness.
These little bite size reminders really help set the tone for my day.
3. They Walk Among Us
At the time of writing, up to season 1- episode 15
Between 18-35 minutes per episode
I always make sure that I listen to this podcast when it’s light outside.
The reason being is that each episode focuses on sinister and surreal accounts of UK True Crime.
All the crimes covered have been headliners, such as the Shannon Matthews case or Mick Philpott, found guilty of causing the death of his 6 children by arson. Each case is explored with calm objectivity and is underpinned by immaculately thorough reason.
Listener caution is advised for this one, as the details of the cases are extremely disturbing.
4. Words Unspoken: The Hills Podcast
Weekly (but currently at a hiatus!)
At the time of writing, up to episode 16
Between 30-40 minutes per episode
This podcast is created and narrated by two southern sisters, Jem and Susan, who are re watching The Hills and chatting to us about each episode.
This podcast makes my soul happy in so many ways.
Firstly, I used to be absolutely OBSESSED with The Hills in my youth and so listening to and remembering the storylines filled with friendship, romance and drama gives me a lovely warm pang of nostalgia.
Secondly, it actually feels like Jem and Susan are your new American best friends and that you’re chatting with them over a coffee (by coffee I mean a wine, obvs) and being a true girls girl, I am all for that.
They are sassy, witty and their commentary is so spot on. Hilarious hons!
Lastly, the theme song is just the one.
Between 35- 60 minutes per episode
The tagline of this podcast is ‘Was the right guy charged, or did a killer walk free?’
So, if you loved Serial I’m sure you will love this!
It tells the story of the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Andes, who was found stabbed to death in her Ohio apartment in 1978. Much like Serial, the podcast gives a platform to journalists from the Cincinnati Enquirer who wish to reignite the cold case.
6. Modern Love
Around 20-30 minutes per episode
Ahhhhh, this one really appeals to the romantic in me.
Notable American personalities narrate reader submitted essays from the New York Times based on the trials and tribulations of modern love. These stories can be extremely deep and touching through to light and thought provoking and explore the topics of romantic love, friendships, family and breakups. One of my recent favourites was about a guy who refuses to use small talk and now immediately enters in to meaningful conversations with everyone he meets.
I may try this out on my next victim, I mean, date 🙂
7. Under the skin with Russell Brand
Just over an hour per episode
This is a new podcast from Brand, and even though only 4 have been released so far it’s already becoming one of my favourites.
Brand sets the scene by acknowledging that in the last election campaign, he rallied for revolution without fully understanding the issues or without being “fully armed for the battle.”
He’s therefore gone back to uni to study for a 3 year MA in religion in politics and this podcast sees him discussing significant philosophical questions, such as ‘Can we really stop terror?’ and ‘Feminism- can it change the world?’ with academics and experts in the field.
Brand holds his own throughout these discussions, coming across as strong minded yet inquisitive, philosophical, compassionate and empathetic. He also manages to be extremely funny, as always, without compromising the sensitivity of the topics he is discussing.
I love it.
8. Love and Radio
Length can vary from 30 minutes to over an hour
Love and Radio focuses on stylised interviews with intriguing characters.
Two of my favourite episodes are called The Silver Dollar and How to Argue, which both feature Daryl Davis, a black musician with a keen interest in the subject of extreme racism, and who befriended members of the Ku Klux Klan.
His story and his perspective on life are both truly fascinating.
9. Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4
Each episode is just under 30 minutes
The format rotates between:
- The Now Show- Comedy sketches from Huw Dennis, Steve Punt and co
- The News Quiz- Topical panel quiz show taking it’s topics from the week in the news
- Dead Ringers– Impression show taking the mick out of celebrities and politicians
- The Museum of Curiosity– Another panel show with a twist
No matter the format, this is satirical HEAVEN and is the best way to get the weeks news summarised and digested!
And, here it finally is! S-Town.
The long awaited podcast from the makers of Serial.
I’m a few episodes in an I’m engrossed already.
There are 7 episodes posted and I cannot wait to cosy down with a cup of coffee and binge listen to this intriguing story on Sunday evening.
No, YOU’RE getting old.
So, those are some of my favourites! Let me know if you like them? And please throw any recommendations my way.