Listers, let’s talk podcasts. The much loved, bite-size snippets of audio indulgence have revolutionised how information gets into our brains, opening up a world of fascinating new topics and hilarious stories that we would never have dreamed we’d be interested in a decade ago. I mean, can you even remember life before podcasts?! Here are no less than FOURTEEN incredible series that you need in your life and in your earbuds, right this very second. And no, none of them is This American Life.
#1: Stuff You Should Know
Essentially a go-to for primers on how stuff works, from mosquitoes to street gangs (yes, really), Stuff You Should Know delves into topics that most of us encounter at some point in life but have never really thought about. Not sure where to start? We’ll bet a few of you will be keen to find out how junk food works. Pass the Doritos…
#2: Radio Lab
Radio Lab was made for you Listers who love asking, ‘Why?’ – the podcast explores questions like why Slinkys defy gravity, and how Amazon.com gets stuff to you so damn fast. With over 100 episodes, you know what you’ll be doing with your weekend.
#3: Science Vs.
Supported by our very own ABC, Science Vs. dissects popular beliefs (that men and women have different brains, that the Paleo diet is infinitely better for you) through the lens of science. A must for all you big-thinkers out there.
Did you keep a journal that you filled with heartfelt ramblings about your crush on the pink Power Ranger? Maybe you had an extra-hard summer at camp and poured your heart out into unsent letter to your parents? If any of this rings true, you’ll love Mortified, which features live readings of childhood and teenage relics (diaries, journals, letters, a Jurassic Park re-write) with a focus on the cringe-worthy. Definite ‘laughing out loud on the tram’ stuff.
#5: The Talkhouse Music Podcast
Firstly, The Talkhouse is a genius yet simple concept that invites established musicians to talk about their favourite new releases. What first started out as a blog (one that published a cracking review of Kanye’s Yeezus by Lou Reed) is now an audio series featuring everyone from The Pogues to Courtney Barnett. What’s that, you’re a film buff?! Check out The Talkhouse’s film section too!
#6: Microphone Check
If you love your hip-hop, Microphone Check NEEDS to be on your podcast list, stat. Hosted by Ali Shaheed Muhammad, producer and founding member of A Tribe Called Quest (so know this is legit), the show talks to up-and-coming hip-hop artists about their craft. Look out for the commemorative episodes, such as the Notorious BIG feature, for awesome first-hand insights into the industry’s legends.
#7: Freakonomics Radio
You’ve read the book, skimmed the blog, but ain’t nobody got time for all those words! Get downloading Freakonomics radio for musings on the systems at work in today’s society, from an eating champion's tactics to thinking like a kid.
#8: WTF with Marc Maron
Marc Maron is a funny guy, which, when combined with a list of every celebrity you’d want to meet ever, makes for great listening. Hear him interview Sir Ian McKellen, Jason Schwartzman, Tim & Eric, Robin Williams and more in his WTF series.
#9: Reply All
Reply All describes itself as, ‘a show about the internet,’ which really should be updated to, ‘a show about the most interesting corners of the internet you never knew existed.’ As well as talking to digital pioneers in each episode, the podcast also includes a handy segment called, ‘Yes Yes No,’ where the presenters explain a hot topic on the web to their oblivious producer. Our favourites are the one about the dude who created an email bot to simulate his anxiety, and the one about the kid who started a fake corporate office Facebook group.
#10: 99% Invisible
Design geeks, if you’re in need of a new topic to obsess over, we can guarantee that you’ll find it in an episode of 99% Invisible, which uncovers the stories behind objects and buildings. Want to know who invented the wacky waving-arm inflatable tube man, and why they invented him in the first place? You’re welcome.
#11: Death, Sex & Money
Focusing on the three most important things in life—other than Nutella doughnuts, obviously—Death, Sex and Money tackles tricky issues that relate to at least one of its title subjects. While not always easy listening (check out the episode about a burnt out funeral director who battled depression), this series always gets our brains ticking.
#12: The New Yorker: Fiction
If you’re a book nut, get downloading The New Yorker’s Fiction series produced by WNYC, which sees authors read works by the writers they admire. Perfect Sunday morning listening.
#13: A Way With Words
Ever wondered where ridiculous phrases come from? A Way With Words decodes the evolution of language, with some heartfelt and hilarious stories along the way.
#14: Welcome To Night Vale
Weird stories from a fictional town called Night Vale, including weather updates, community announcements, and UFO sightings. A must if your cultural leanings are more Twin Peaks than Olsen Twins.
Know of another cracking series that we should be listening to? Let me know about it here.
Image credit: Dump FM