Podcasts came to me like an ear infection. Overnight. From nowhere. All at once. And like an ear infection, I just can’t seem to shake the damn things…
Up until a couple of months ago I was blissfully unaware of Podcasts as an art form. Since the fateful day I downloaded the podcast app to my phone however, they have taken over my life. I no longer listen to music. I podcast in the shower. I dream about podcasts. In short, I’ve gone a little mad. What follows is a list of my favourites in the short time I have been listening:
The Adam Buxton Podcast
The one that started it all for me. Adam Buxton is known as being one half of Adam and Joe, as well as his popular Bug series and many other eclectic and interesting concepts. I love Adam Buxton. His podcast is funny, touching and familiar, it often makes you feel like you are sat in the pub with Adam and guest rather than listening on the bus. With guests as varied as Louis Theroux, Johnny Marr and Kathy Burke, the AB podcast really does have something for everyone.
The recurring jokes ensure that Adam and I already feel like old friends, something that will probably come as a shock to him if I ever run into him in real life, and the trademark Buckles jingles keep everything running along smoothly. There is nothing here not to love.
The Butterfly Effect with Jon Ronson
Jon Ronson is a seal of approval in terms of quality. Everything he lends his name to is always worth seeking out and the author of The Psychopath Test, and The Men Who Stare At Goats is on top form with his seven part podcast The Butterfly Effect.
The concept is a simple one. The first flap of the butterflies wing was German businessman Fabian Thylmann founding PornHub. This podcast examines the effect that that momentous event had on the porn industry, mental health and the world at large. It is a fascinating and unexpectedly moving example of how one event can have incredible repercussions on the lives of millions. Vital listening.
You have probably heard of Serial (more on that later) but S-Town is the jewel in the crown of the true crime genre. In truth, despite being produced by the same people as Serial, S-Town transcends both the medium and the genre to become a watershed series. S-Town marks the moment when podcasts stopped being entertainment and started being art.
Journalist Brian Reed is called on to solve a murder case in Woodstock, Alabama, or Shit Town as it is more affectionately known. What he finds when he arrives there however is a confounding hedge maze of sadness, betrayal and broken dreams. S-Town is probably my favourite thing of 2017 so far. If you only listen to one podcast, make it this one.
Quickly Kevin, Will He Score?
If ever a podcast felt like it was tailor made just for me, Quickly Kevin is it. Host Josh Widdecombe discusses the finer points of 90s football, mainly focusing on just how sodding weird it was. With guests including Paul Merson, Matt Le Tissier and Football Manager spokesman Miles Jacobson, this is sure to delight anyone roughly my age.
Not only is Quickly Kevin hilarious but it brought back a multitude of glorious childhood memories for me and recalled many a happy evening sleeping over at a mates house playing FIFA and talking about Chris Bart-Williams all night. As I find myself feeling more and more disconnected from the sanitised, bland, modern day game, Quickly Kevin reminds of my why I fell in love with football in the first place.
You can’t talk about podcasts without mentioning Serial. It has been surpassed by such outrageous stories as Making a Murderer and The Jinx in recent years, but Serial is as responsible as anything for the current obsession with true crime.
Journalist Sarah Koenig finds more questions than answers in the murder case of 18 year old Hae Min Lee and the case becomes more engrossing the further down the rabbit home one tumbles. A good starting point for anyone new to podcasts.
The Best of the Rest
Under the Skin with Russell Brand: More of the same from the political activist and comedian. Not quite as compelling as the best of his Trews series but still worth a listen.
WTF with Marc Marron: One of the most long running and famous podcasts there is. You know when you have had the president of the goddamn United States on your show that you are pretty big. As well as Barack Obama, host Marc Marron has welcomed some of the biggest names in entertainment, sport and film. He also has lots of other lesser known lights and Marron knows how to get the best out of his guests.
Nerdist: Chris Hardwick is an American comedian and lover of geek culture. Nerdist is in a similar vein to both WTF and The Adam Buxton Podcast but Hardwick digs a little deeper on the detail, the nerdy stuff. The episode with South Park‘s Trey Parker is particularly strong.
That’s all folks. I appreciate that most of this list will be familiar to anyone with a basic grasp of podcasts so think of this as more of a beginners guide. Thanks for reading!