Already binge-listened to the whole of NPR’s S-Town? Never fear! We've reached out to popular podcasters for tips on all the shows you need to hear…
See that guy giggling on the train there? Or that lady deep in thought? Chances are they’re listening to a podcast, and they’re not the only ones.
Despite being around for a fair few years now, podcast popularity is currently enjoying a huge rise, with more shows than ever finding record-breaking audiences while unearthing amazing niches and stories. But what do seasoned podcasters listen to when they’re not in the studio themselves? Read on for recommendations from some of the podcasters we love…
Sofie Hagen – Made of Human Podcast
As co-creator and former co-host of The Guilty Feminist, and host of her own show Made of Human Podcast, Danish comedian Sofie Hagen is no stranger to a good poddie. In fact, she enthusiastically describes podcasting as “my favourite thing ever”, but we’ll let her tell you more herself:
“I have 50 or so that I’m subscribed too – and a few of those I listen to religiously, as soon as they come out,” Sofie says. “I turn up the volume and listen to them – usually while I clean my house, travel to gigs or lie in the sun. Ha ha, just joking, I live in the UK.
“My absolute favourite podcast is The Parapod with Ian Boldsworth and Barry Dodds. Two comedians discuss the paranormal (in season 1), mysteries (in season 2) and conspiracy theories (in season 3). Ian is the level-headed sceptic and Barry is the (some would say) gullible optimist. Apart from making me laugh out loud on all sorts of public transport, it also makes me feel so much joy – and it makes me want to believe in the goodness of people. And it makes me wish I was the best of friends with both the hosts.
“Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams are probably the biggest queens of podcasting at the moment.”
“Straight after that, I listen to 2 Dope Queens whenever I can. Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams are probably the biggest queens of podcasting at the moment. 2 Dope Queens is so incredibly funny, feminist, poignant and entertaining. They can riff better than most comedians alive today. And in each episode you get to know three comedians you probably haven’t heard of before.
“My podcast is called Made of Human Podcast and it’s about being human. I started doing it because I wanted advice – I wanted to talk to people and figure out how exactly to do life. I soon realised that no one has any idea. We’re all just bumbling along, attempting to figure out what’s normal. So, the podcast quickly just became about connection. And I love it. I love that I get to control it all myself – no one can tell me what to do or who to interview. It’s my favourite thing ever.”
We have to admit, Sofie, we’re pretty into it as well. You’ll find all the latest episodes over on Sofie’s site.
Liam Edwards – Final Games Podcast
Ex-Rockstar Games employee and host of Final Games Liam Edwards knows his stuff when it comes to video games. But it’s not his only passion, as we found out when we asked for his recommendations:
“My favourite podcast in the entire world is The Football Ramble,” Liam says. “I’m known for video games, but my second love in life is football.
“When I was working at Rockstar and looking for podcasts to listen to, I stumbled across this random football podcast. It’s a show that runs through all of the football highlights from the Premier League and across the various leagues in the UK, as well as the world, for that week. Pretty standard stuff, but what makes it special and stand out above other football shows are the four hosts, Marcus Speller, Jim Campbell, Luke Moore and Pete Donaldson. They are some of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to and their energy and chemistry as a team is just unrivalled. The Football Ramble is an absolute delight even if you aren’t that keen on football.”
When it does come to video game podcasts, however, 8-4 is Liam’s go-to:
“Listening to previous episodes of 8-4 really got me through some long hours at Rockstar Games, and I’ve been listening to every episode ever since. It’s a superb podcast that highlights Japanese games specifically (but always deviates towards whatever is happening in the wider games industry at the time too) which, as someone who lives in Japan, is perfect for me. The hosts of the show are some of the most knowledgeable in the industry and are always a pleasure to listen to. If you have an interest in games, Japan, or just like listening to some really smart and funny people talk about all matter of things, I highly recommend it.”
“If you have an interest in games, Japan, or just like listening to some really smart and funny people talk about all matter of things, I highly recommend it.”
Liam’s final recommendation? Desert Island Discs:
“It’s a bit of a cliché answer really, but Desert Island Discs (DID) is one of Britain’s classics when it comes to radio – and also as a podcast,” Liam says.
“I’m sure most of you know about Desert Island Discs and have probably even listened to it before, but if you haven’t you really should check it out. I believe it’s one of the only shows out there that really gets celebrities and interesting people to come out of their shells and talk about stuff that maybe they keep held back in other interviews. Music is a powerful tool, and we all have deep connections to songs and artists, DID uses that, almost in a manipulative way, to get some incredibly interesting stories out of the world’s most famous and interesting people. It was also a huge influence for me when it came to creating Final Games – it has definitely been said on multiple occasions that, Final Games is the video game equivalent of Desert Island Discs. I’m okay with that.”
It is a great comparison, but don’t take us at our word. Tune into Final Games on Soundcloud to hear Liam chat to game developers, game journalists and industry veterans about the games they would play for life.
Jonathan Harden – Honest Actors’ Podcast
Host of the UK’s #1 acting podcast, The Honest Actors’ Podcast, Jonathan Harden has made a name for himself through open and honest discussions. And, as an actor, perhaps it’s no surprise that he’s in it for the narrative:
“The stuff NPR (National Public Radio) puts out in the US tends to be really great in every sense, and a solid place to start looking for new listens. I tend to turn to podcasts most when I’m out running though, and I find that I can’t focus on complex narratives if I’m also thinking about pace, traffic and just how tired I am. The more conversational tone of shows like The Adam Buxton Podcast, Wittertainment or An Irishman Abroad are much better suited to listening on the move.
“The stuff NPR (National Public Radio) puts out in the US tends to be really great in every sense.”
“Podcasts are great for information too. To get a better handle on what’s going on the world, I’ve recently started listening to political digests from NPR and The Guardian. I’m always keen to find new shows – my playlist evolves according to what I’m doing in my life and whether I need information or entertainment. That changes on a daily basis, so I don’t really have any shows that I’ll listen to every week. I subscribe to loads and pick what I’m in the mood for. I never feel bad about missing an episode or two,” he says.
You can catch Jonathan in action as he interviews actors over on The Honest Actors’ website. The insights are refreshing and entertaining. Key message? The struggle is real, but shared.
Linda Martin – The Indie Travel Podcast
Despite being a podcaster, and a veteran one at that, Linda from The Indie Travel Podcast says she doesn’t listen all that often – just when she’s on the road:
“I love sitting on a bus or train in some crazy place, listening to people talk about travel in some other exciting location,” Linda says. “Obviously, I have to recommend my own podcast, The Indie Travel Podcast, but I also love Travel Commons, Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase, and The Thoughtful Travel Podcast. For more destination-focussed episodes, the Amateur Traveler is pretty awesome too.”
More than nine years after Kiwi couple Linda and Craig Martin started The Indie Travel Podcast back in 2006, the pair’s fortnightly audio show is still providing valuable travel tips and tales from the road. Tune in via Linda and Craig’s website to fuel your wanderlust.
WIRED UK – The Wired Podcast
James Temperton and the team at WIRED UK record a business, tech, science and culture podcast every week – not to mention the feature-length WIRED Stories podcast about people, companies and ideas. When we asked the team for recommendations, they didn’t come up short. We cherry-picked our favourites, but you can find the full list here.
According to WIRED UK’s Amelia Heathman, the average UK adult spends 56 minutes a day commuting. That’s plenty of time to boost your knowledge with the likes of Stephen Dubner’s Tell Me Something I Didn’t Know:
“Sort of like a game show, the live audience says something they don’t know and a panel of celebrities and experts interrogate the guest presenter about the ‘IDK,’” Amelia says.
“As a weekly reminder to ‘question everything’, Manoush talks to everyone from techies to teachers.”
Another insightful option comes in the form of comedian Chris Gethard:
“Every week, comedian Chris Gethard opens the phone line to one anonymous caller – and he can’t hang up first, no matter what the subject is. This is Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, full of shocking confessions and philosophical discussions. A recent episode saw Gethard talking about the current state of policing in the US with a small-town police officer,” she says.
Our final pick from WIRED UK is Note to Self, hosted by Manoush Zomorodi. As a weekly reminder to ‘question everything’, Manoush talks to everyone from techies to teachers in the quest to live and think better.
Seeking further entertainment? Check out our April wrap-up of top TV, music and sports.