Which Podcast Should I Listen To?
As a commuter I listen to a lot of podcasts, but unlike TV or movies, it is very difficult to hear about new shows and to find something you actually want to listen to amongst all of the low budget rubbish. So, as an introduction to listening to podcasts I present my flow chart of recommendation, all of which can be found on iTunes for free:
Just as a brief bio on each of them, from left to right we have:
No Such Thing as a Fish: a weekly podcast made by the QI elves (the people that do the research behind QI). Each week the regular panel of four each present a fact and then they joke about it and tell related facts. It's quite interesting. Approx 45 minutes. Listen in any order.
Hello Internet: comes out sporadically and is in the "two people chatting" genre. CGP Grey is a Youtuber who you will recognise the style of because his informational videos always go viral. The other host is called Brady Haran from Numberphile. They discuss just life in general, often about geeky things and it is full of in jokes, so it is worth listening to from the start. It's hard to describe, but it has a huge cult following and is the podcast I look forward to most. Approx 90 minutes.
My Dad Wrote a ...: I want to get around the web filters at work, so let's not complete that word. Currently running the 3rd series: three 30 something friends read a chapter of one of their father's self published erotic novels named Belinda Blinked. The writing is frequently awful and the three of them are constantly in fits of laughter as they make their way through: something which proves to be infectious. This is one to make sure your headphones are definitely plugged in before listening to in public, but it is so, so good. Listen from the beginning. Approx 50 minutes.
Welcome to Nightvale: rightly one of the most popular podcasts on the internet. Recorded in the style of a local radio broadcast in a fictional desert town; it is a place where every possible horror or weirdness trope exist in conjuncture with one another. Strange happenings unfold each week and it is somewhere between Lovecraft and the X-Files. It was also the inspiration for my Halloween costume this year and I talked about it at length here. Listen from the beginning (although many are stand alone episodes and if you want to hear one of the best episodes as a taster, try A Story About You (it won't spoil anything)). Approx 30 minutes.
The Truth: A long running series of stand alone stories. Much of the dialogue is semi-improvised so if you hate am. dram. then this might be one to miss, but the stories themselves are often interesting, with occasional brilliance and only a few duds. To try one that I think is genuinely moving, try the episode You're Not Alone and judge for yourself if the format is for you. Listen in any order. Length very variable, but roughly 15-25 minutes.
S - Town: A serialised story from the people that made the podcast Serial (which won so many awards). Very high production values on this mystery story told in segments of radio interviews with various characters living in a redneck town. A reporter slowly unravels a complicated case involving an eccentric who believes there has been a murder. It's just very well put together. Listen from the beginning. Only 7 episodes of around 50 minutes each.
The Allusionist: Helen Zaltzman of Answer Me This fame (another podcast worth listening to if you like to hear people chat while you go and do stuff, like radio of the past) and of St Catherine's College alumnus status (my college, so colour me biased), is a show about words and language. I know that that might not sound appealing to my target audience of mathematicians and scientists, but it is genuinely fascinating and has higher production values than anything in the same genre. Listen in any order. Approx 15-20 minutes.
99% Invisible: the king of podcasts Roman Mars (who helped get several of the podcasts in this list off the ground) has a long running podcast on design. The idea is that design is 99% invisible when it is done correctly. These are stand alone episodes, each talking about the design that went into a particular building or a particular household object. With his training as a sound engineer and radio DJ, these informational pieces are brilliantly edited together and they are the gold standard of what informational podcasts should be. Below I've embedded the TED talk that he did on flag design that got him onto my radar which acts as a good trailer for his work. His podcast is similar, sans the visuals. Listen in any order. Approx 20 minutes.