International Podcast Day was 30 September and what better occasion to discuss the emerging audio trend that’s got everyone talking about a plethora of topics. As many of you know, a podcast is an episodic series of digital audio files that a user can listen to at their leisure. These audio information providers cover topics from feminism, politics, works of fiction and the most pointless animal facts you could think of. There are over 30 million podcast episodes as of June 2019, with over 750,000 shows for listeners to choose from.
Podcasts allow society to listen to and engage with their fields of interest whilst they’re on the go. You could pop in your headphones and listen to them on your walk to work, in the gym, or even listen whilst you make your breakfast. In celebration of this years International Podcast Day, here are some of our favourites, some more serious and informative, whilst others are simply an audible way to relax and unwind!
Moral Maze is a BBC podcast that is guaranteed to get your argumentative juices flowing. Each episode involves a different panel and selection of witnesses debating the morality of almost everything from international aid or surveillance to fashion or Love Island. An incredibly thought-provoking podcast that encourages new discussions that will continue once you’ve taken your headphones out. Moral Maze is also invaluable when developing your understanding of the world and the different views that shape it.
Ways to Change the World
Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy presents this optimistic and eye-opening podcast that tackles a wide spectrum of modern-day issues from #MeToo with Rose McGowan to youth violence with George the Poet. Actors, activists, writers and music artists make up just some of the long list of guests to whom at the end of every episode Guru-Murthy proposes the question ‘how are you seeking to change the world?’. Turn to this podcast if you are in search of inspiration or need to rekindle your faith in humankind.
A wonderfully informative and reassuring podcast for those in the midst of navigating adult life. As a listener you learn alongside presenter Oenone Forbat, a comforting older sister figure, about finding your tribe, managing your finances, questioning toxic narratives and dealing with mental health. It promotes ‘allyship’ and affirms ideas that growing up is an ongoing learning process and an adventure we are all figuring out together.
Brexitcast is the superbly popular podcast hosted by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Katya Adler, Chris Mason and Adam Fleming. Following the gain of a Listeners’ Choice Award at the British Podcasting Awards in May, the podcast made its BBC One television debut in September. Long-term fans need not worry, though – it is still primarily released as a podcast. Brexitcast has maintained its informal (some may say chaotic) style, mixing political analysis, reporting and quotations from unnamed “senior figures” with inside jokes and plenty of digressions. Newcomers may take a bit of time to adjust the panel interrupting and talking over each other but do persist – there are a lot of good insights and explanations here that supply the chaos of Brexit with that bit more clarity.
Today in Focus
The Guardian’s daily podcast, Today in Focus, was launched in November last year. Coming out every weekday, the podcast focuses on one story in the news, and speaks to Guardian journalists – and sometimes experts from outside of the paper – about their take on it. Recent episodes cover issues including the US university admission scandal, the crisis in Kashmir, and, of course, various Brexit-related stories. There is also an opinion segment at the end of the episode, in which a Guardian journalist speaks about a topic they have covered. A very varied and informative listen.
Happy Place is a podcast series by influencer and presenter Fearne Cotton. A more light-hearted and easier listen, this podcast builds on the ideas discussed in Fearne’s book ‘Happy’, published in 2017. The series draws on personal experiences and shares advice from experts about finding joy in everyday life. The podcast has a light and chatty tone and guests include Stephen Fry, Russell Brand and Zephyr Wildman to name just a few. If you’re having a bit of a down day or the pressures of day to day responsibilities are leaving you feeling a bit frazzled, then Happy Place is a perfect easy-going listen to validate and rationalise your thoughts, as well as occasionally make you laugh. The changes that others have made in their life can inspire you to do the same.
Desert Island Discs
Running off the back of the immensely popular BBC Radio 4 programme that first aired in 1942, Desert Island Discs is another easy-going listen to brighten up your day. Each episode features a celebrity guest (known as a castaway) and they are asked to choose eight recordings (usually musical ones), a book and a luxury item that they would take with them if they were cast away on a desert island. The castaways then describe the reasoning behind each of their choices. Originally hosted by Roy Plomley, and now with its fifth presenter Lauren Laverne, the series interviews guests including Simon Cowell, David Attenborough and even HRH Princess Margaret. An interesting and eye-opening listen that remains popular and entertaining despite its long-running format.
Bedtime stories for grownups
This podcast does exactly what it says on the tin. Providing adults with a bed-time story in which nothing much happens, but you finish listening feeling relaxed and ready for a well-rested night. There are many articles that warn us of the detrimental effects engaging with our smart phones can have on our quality of sleep, so why not listen to something before you drift off instead. The stories are around half an hour long and are designed to soothe and relax us before bedtime. This series by Curious Cast is a perfect way to switch off from the outside world and just listen to a simple tale just before drifting off to sleep.
There are podcasts out there for just about anyone, and with so many of us having access to our phones at the drop of a hat, we should use our time wisely and engage with the information we have at our fingertips. In the same way that talking to a friend can ease loneliness and encourage us to take in the world around us, popping in your earphones and listening to a podcast can do just the same! In light of this year’s International Podcast Day we are encouraging you to use apps such as Spotify, Pocketcasts and the iOS Podcast apps to get listening and start learning!
Image: Mohamed Hassan via pxhere