Podcasts became a thing in 2004. I discovered them in 2016. I’m so late to the party it’s the morning after and people are lying all over the house in a haze of stale beer.
I don’t know which rock I’ve been hiding under for 12 years but I genuinely thought podcasts were just Radio 1 highlights in a handy half hour download. (You’ll understand why I didn’t investigate further). Unbeknownst to me, podcasts are a life-changer. OK, that’s a bit dramatic – but they have revolutionised my commute.
The countless hours I’ve spent travelling to work every week have always seemed like a sad old waste of time. I don’t do anything besides listen to crappy radio stations in the car while I bomb it down the motorway, or tweet about the annoying habits of my fellow passengers on a crowded South West train. But now, I get to listen to whole bunch of stuff that makes me laugh and think about shit. Better still, it’s stuff that I’ve handpicked. Sometimes I even look forward to my journeys to and from work (I know, loser, right?).
If, like me, your techy tardiness is next level on the podcast front, allow me to enlighten you.
Podcasts are basically digital audio files that can be downloaded to your phone. With hundreds of thousands of them bouncing about on t’internet, there are plenty to choose from. Whether you want to listen to something hilarious, entertaining, thought-provoking or silly, it’s a bit like on-demand TV for your ears.
But best of all: podcasts are pretty much free.
If you’ve got an iPhone, you’ll already have the free Apple Podcasts app. For Android there are alternatives like Pocket Cast, Spotify and Deezer, all of which come highly recommended. Some apps do incur a charge and a small number of podcasts do cost to subscribe – but in the main, you won’t have to pay a penny.
Most apps will let you browse subjects and podcast charts to check out what’s on offer. You have the option of downloading one episode, or subscribing to an entire series – where the latest episode will be beamed right into your phone automatically. Winner.
Right: now the boring bit is it out of the way, what do I recommend you get your lugholes listening to?
1. The Adam Buxton Podcast
Adam Buxton, of Adam and Joe fame (Channel 4 and 6Music), started podcasting in 2015. His are the best of the best IMO. Adam interviews a whole load of amazing people (Kathy Burke is my all-time favourite episode, she just doesn’t give any shits) and because he’s so damn likeable and funny he gets great conversation out of everyone he speaks to. He starts every episode chatting to the listener while he walks his dog, Rosie. And the jingles. THE JINGLES. You’ll know what I mean when you pluck his podcast out of the giant podcast bin. #ramblechat
2. Get It On
Writer and broadcaster, Dawn O’Porter, has recently channeled her love for clothes (check out BOB, her vintage-inspired line, it’s lush) into the world of podcasting, where she talks to celebrities about why they wear the clothes they wear. Basically it’s half hour of famous people talking honestly about the emotion behind their personal style and if you love clothes, you’ll love this. Gemma Cairney’s episode is particularly inspiring.
3. Desert Island Discs
When I’m feeling a bit fragile, I listen to Desert Island Discs. It’s comforting. Maybe it’s something to do with Kirsty Young’s dulcet tones or guests reflectively attributing music to important moments in their life. The podcast is a shorter version of the BBC Radio 4 show, where high-profile people choose eight records they’d take with them to a desert island. My favourite episodes: Jo Malone, Cath Kidston, Noel Gallagher and Tom Hanks.
Serial is the most popular podcast ever. The 12 part real-life series follows American journalist, Sarah Koenig, as she re-investigates the murder of Hae Min Lee, a high school teen from Baltimore county, Maryland. Her body was found in a shallow grave in a local park in 1999 and the teen’s ex-boyfriend, Anun Syed, was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison on apparently thin evidence. That’s about all I can probably say without spoiling anything but I can confirm it’s addictive – and frightening.
5. Women of the Hour
Girls creator, actor and general feminist bad-ass, Lena Dunham, hosts a short series of podcasts where she talks to her colleagues, mates and people she respects about friendship, love, work, bodies and more. I’m not always a huge fan of Dunham, but this podcast tackles issues facing modern women with real honesty, and without being too try-hard. The conversations are thought-provoking and insightful, and her interview with Girls co-star Jemima Kirke about their long-term friendship is definitely….interesting.
6. Dear Sugar
Did you love Agony Aunt columns in Seventeen or Mizz as a kid? I did. Dear Sugar is basically that but for grown ups. People write in to Dear Sugar with their questions and problems about love and life and hosts, Chery Strayed and Steve Almond, talk through the issues and offer bucket loads of empathy and sensible advice. They really know what they’re talking about and episodes range from talking about your best friend’s wedding to the guilt of motherhood and troublesome in-laws.
7. Unsorry Podcast
I mean, obviously. Unsorry Magazine started life as The High Tea Cast podcast, which grew into The High Tea Cast online magazine, and we rebranded earlier this year. Our lovely founders, Sam and Lea, talk every week about feminism, careers, bodies, wellbeing and all kinds of other great stuff, along with guest speakers. Check out the back catalogue and subscribe on your podcast app of choice!
There you have it: go forth and give your ears the audio delights they deserve.
And if you’re already acquainted with the world of podcasts, which downloads do you recommend?
Join our tribe
We promise to pop a whole host of good stuff into your inbox every Wednesday to brighten up your week. Can't say fairer than that now can we?