World Radio Day (Podcast Edition)

Do you walk places? Do you do dishes? Do you tidy your room or clean your flat? Do you catch public transport? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you have time to listen to podcasts.

First up, quick definition: podcasts are radio shows available on the internet.

I was brought up on a diet of audiobooks. I assume my parents couldn’t keep up with my voracious appetite to be read to – although it may have also been to do with trying to entertain me whilst not having a TV. By the time I was twelve I had listened to every audiobook in regular circulation in both the children’s and young adult section of my local library

If there was a movie of my life, the other half of the soundtrack would be Radio New Zealand National. It’s probably the only station the radio at home has ever been tuned to.

But, the Canterbury earthquake thinned out my aural landscape. My local library was ‘red-stickered’ and my only audiobook dispensary was the irregular Mobile Library truck. I was stuck without the reassuring voice of Hugh Laurie (who narrates so many young adult/children’s books that watching House is strangely nostalgic) to balance out news stories of earthquake damage and insurance nightmares at home, and war damage and terrorist nightmares overseas.

Then I discovered podcasts.

Finally, I could keep being read to in a socially acceptable way, and keep up to date with current events with a fresh and engaging lens. My friends will all tell you that most stories I bring up in conversation are prefaced by; “I heard this thing in a podcast”. But there’s good reason for that. This is radio that exposes you to stories you wouldn’t hear otherwise. Listening to these stories has broadened my perspective on politics, science, relationships, life, the world. There’s so many different podcasts out there, so just start somewhere.

Episode Recommendations

Reply All – #56: Zardulu

Two guys, PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, shine a light into the strange, funny, political and sometimes creepy corners of the internet. In this episode they meet mythmaker Zardulu who claims to engineer viral videos. They also do a segment called Yes, Yes, No which deciphers weird memes found on Twitter. A+.

Mystery Show – Case #2: Britney

Starlee Kine delves into small mysteries. The kind that seem inconsequential, but still bug you. In this episode she finds out for a little-known author whether Britney Spears has read her book. Wide-ranging and real, plus, she has a really nice voice.

Another Round – U mad? (with Margaret Cho)

Most successful podcasts have either been going for a while, or have famous hosts. Another Round with Heben & Tracey started relatively recently and was an immediate success. Heben & Travey cover everything from race, gender, and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes and their honest and empathetic interview style really lends itself to the format of the show. (Explicit Language Warning)

The Mortified Podcast – #06 Adam: Rhyme or Reason

People read their childhood or adolescent diaries in front of a live audience. In this episode a budding poet shows of his prowess. Comedy gold.

This American Life – #599: Seriously?

Each week This American Life chooses a theme and puts together different kinds of stories on that theme. In this episode host Ira Glass and contributors try to understand the post-truth politics of Donald Trump. Their recent episodes around US politics and migration have been amazing at illuminating the realities of these events by interviewing and getting to know people from all sides of the issue.   (episode link)

*Editor’s note: a couple of the above recommendations are from me too (Bhen) – I’m also a massive podcast fan and couldn’t resist the opportunity to push a few of my favourites too!

Other good shows

NPR Politics Podcast



The Moth Podcast



99% Invisible


Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review


Love + Radio

How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black


Desert Island Discs