I was a little late to the game with podcasts. I was the kind of luddite technophobe who wasn’t entirely sure about connecting to wifi in case it cost them too much, or because they could never turn it off and the banks stole all their information and charged them fees (I’ve still not used my phone abroad).
So podcasts, the downloading of audio content onto my phone only to be listened to and purposefully deleted to make room for more in such a transient way, that was lost on me.
However, I’m now bang up to date with podcasts. These refreshing bursts of energy, information and fun keep me going on my long weekend walks through the city, and my workday tube commutes.
Maybe I’m wrong, but after a flurry of excitement with the early Ricky Gervais podcasts, I think the podcast was really propelled into the mainstream with the 2014 hit show Serial.
For those who don’t know, Serial followed a journalist who was trying to solve conclusively a murder. It was made ever so much more grotesque by the fact that the murder did take place, and that someone has already served around 15 years after being found guilty. Serial for many was the original white/gold or blue/black dress – everyone thought they had an answer, but with each day it changed.
As with any democratisation of the media, you have to watch for quality. I think the world of podcasting is pretty well self-regulated though as it takes a reasonable amount of commitment to produce, record and publish a podcast. This puts off those who don’t really have the right skills needed to do it properly.
I recently went to the Soho Theatre to watch a recording of No Such Thing As a Fish. This Chortle award winning podcast is immense – always factual, hilarious, and its four regular presenters are the kind of people that the word ‘cool’ should always have represented.
The live recording of a podcast is special, like going to a gig is special. You’re the only ones who experience it as it was, in that moment, and everyone else gets a recording. I’d recommend going to one if you’re lucky enough that any of your favourite podcasts record in your area. I’ve been to see No Such Thing As a Fish live twice now, the first time I met someone who’d travelled up from Plymouth to see them – so they do have appeal.
Here are some of my favourite podcasts:
No Such Thing As a Fish – http://qi.com/podcast -This quirky fact based funny podcast really has become the first and last word in audible entertainment. If you love humour and facts, or facts and humour, then No Such Thing As a Fish is for you. They’ve been sweeping up comedy and broadcasting awards and rightly so, never has clever been quite as sexy as Dan, Anna, James and Andy (in no particular order)
Scroobious Pip – Distraction Pieces – http://www.scroobiuspip.co.uk/distraction-pieces-podcast/ – Distraction Pieces is a series of interviews conducted by spoken word and hip-hop artist Scoobious Pip. He is a real fan of music, art, literature, politics and he rightly covers what he likes, sometimes shining a light on emerging artists like people shone a light on him a while back. In each interview you can sense just how excited Pip is about the people he is speaking to, and that really takes the listener to a whole new kind of intimacy with the subject and the host.
Wireless Nights with Jarvis Cocker – http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/jcwn – Jarvis Cocker has a caramel voice at the best of times, but imagine that voice talking you to sleep…Cocker considers different ‘night time’ subjects, from the solitude on the isle of Lundy, to the dating rituals of young men in Hull. He does it with immense skill, bringing in music and effects to really bring the subjects to life. It’s exploratory and fascinating and sure to have you fighting back the heavy eyelids to finish each episode when you’re listening in bed.
Londonist Out Loud – http://londonist.com/podcasts – N Quentin Woolf takes you on a weekly journey through London with just his microphone and a guest in tow. He explore the crevices of the city, the museums you’ve probably never been to, and the podcast shines a much needed spotlight on some of London’s gems that are hidden because of a lack of marketing budget.
The High Tea Cast – http://www.thehighteacast.co.uk – Sam and Leanne present this mainstay of the British podcasting circuit. With their thousands of monthly downloads ever increasing there seems to be no stopping the women who care not for the traditional boundaries of public broadcast. Instead Sam, Leanne and their guests use their voices powerfully, pulling no punches, representing the people that matter to them and showing truly that someone gives a toss. Plus, they love cake and tea, and what is ever not to like about cake and tea?
What are your own favourite podcasts? Let us know at @After_Nyne