With the rise of the podcast in recent years, we are now spoilt for choice when choosing a conversation to accompany us into our headphones. Podcasts are starting to fill up so much of our empty time: walking between destinations, commuting on the train, long flights, short flights, running…the list goes on. Whether you think of yourself as a podcast connoisseur, or you’re just jumping onto the bandwagon, here are 7 podcasts that you absolutely cannot miss.
1. The High Low
Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton’s witty and fast paced podcast The High Low is a concise and honest discussion of pop culture intertwined with news and politics. The High Low was born from the idea that “life is best consumed with a mix of the trivial and the political”, and it holds up this mantra in its intelligent discussions of Shamima Begum, Alabama’s abortion ban and Harvey Weinstein, seamlessly intertlaced with debates about the Kardashians and tie-dye frappuccinos. Sykes and Alderton are intelligent and charming, and their opinions bounce off of one another’s perfectly and hilariously to produce commentary that is both fascinating and genuinely funny. These two award-winning journalists and authors strive to perfect the delicate balance between witty and light hearted conversation with candid discussion of more serious current affairs and they absolutely achieve this in their podcast.
Oenone Forbat’s Adulting is a conversational podcast between herself and a different guest each week, discussing, as she puts it, “what the hell is going on, and what it means to be an adult”. Now on its fourth season, a ‘How To’ series, Adulting presents fascinating and honest conversation about issues that affect us both individually and collectively. The first episode of this season is particularly interesting, entitled ‘How To Live Consciously’; a conversation with activist, photojournalist and documentary maker Alice Aedy. These conversations are easy and relaxed and Oenone’s genuine honesty about how she navigates these subjects is refreshingly honest, making Adulting an essential addition to your podcast library.
3. New Yorker Fiction
Each month, the New Yorker’s fiction editor Deborah Treisman is joined by a guest author to read and discuss a piece of short fiction selected from the magazine’s extensive archives. Within this myriad of work, you can find humour, tears, but most of all, incredibly thought provoking pieces of writing. The conversation following the reading is intelligent and insightful, exploring different angles and critiques of the preceding work, often relating it to the reader’s own work. For some amusing listening, try David Eggers’ reading of Bullfighting by Roddy Doyle. If you’re looking for something more serious, Miranda July’s story The Golden Bowl, read by Emma Cline is a beautifully refined and intense piece of fiction; its unexpected and intimate relationships are both stunning and surprising.
4. Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations
Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast explores spirituality, health, wellness, mindfulness and peace, guiding you to gaining a better understanding of the world around you. She talks to guests calmly and openly, extracting life lessons from the way they live their lives and guiding you on how to integrate them into your own daily life. She has spoken to Bradley Cooper on redefining masculinity, Michelle Obama on her book Becoming and Sheryl Sandberg on loss and grief. These conversations are sharp and candid, delving deeply into all parts of life and how we can become the best versions of ourselves.
5. Desert Island Discs
You can learn a lot about somebody from their taste in music, and BBC’s Desert Island Discs proves this. Each guest is asked to choose eight songs, one book and one luxury item that they would choose to take if they were to be stranded on a desert island. The guest and host discuss the reasons behind these choices, delving into the wider context of their childhood, relationships, families and career. Over the years guests have included David Attenborough, Jo Malone, Maya Angelou, Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen. Since 1942 over 3000 episodes have been recorded with different guests, referred to as ‘castaways’, so you have plenty to choose from.
6. Stuff You Should Know
Co-hosted by Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark, Stuff You Should Know is one of the most popular podcasts in the world, consistently ranking in iTunes top 10 podcasts. Stuff You Should Know takes a wide variety of topics both fascinating and mundane, delving into them to explain how they work. Bryant and Clark don’t go by script so their conversation tends to wander, but this only adds to its friendly and funny tone. But whilst their podcast may not be economical with its words, their attention to detail and sheer breadth of knowledge on the subjects in question is extensive and impressive. Listen to learn about how eye witness testimony, sloths, area 51 and champagne work (to name a few).
7. TED Talks Daily
TED’s well known slogan “ideas worth spreading” now reaches into podcast form as well. Each day, TED Talks Daily brings you the newest ideas from global TED conferences to inspire you on the go. These incredibly concise and thought-provoking talks are delivered by speakers who exude enthusiasm and passion in their every word, creating presentations that leave you amazed and inspired. Talks range from Monica Lewinsky’s exploration into shame to Michelle Kuo on the healing power of reading and America Ferrera on identity, so you can find something for every mood.