9 quality podcasts you should definitely check out

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Ah, radio, nothing to beat it.  Entertaining like telly, only less vacuous and more intimate.   Improving like reading, only easier, and you can manipulate graphics, check twitter, do admin, fold laundry, peel vegetables – whatever – at the same time as having all the lovely stories poured into your brain.

Here are some of my favourite podcasts, in no particular order.  Links in the titles.

1. Shortcuts with Josie Long

There’s something about this podcast that feels like being tucked up in bed, under a super-comfy, warm duvet, with a big cup of tea, after a long hard day building something awkward, or else shifting something heavy, in the wind and the rain.  Like that, and also like there’s this really nice friend to chat with you while you snuggle under the duvet and drink your tea.  Oh, and the friend has got biscuits.

2. Radiolab

Any of my friends and relations who’ve ever wondered about my various fleeting obsessions with intestinal parasites, behaviour-changing viruses, foetal stem cells, bizarre biological coincidences, and so on… well, look no further.

3. This American Life

I got into this off the back of Radiolab.   In a parallel life (one of several) I am married to Ira Glass and live in a – I don’t know – a loft? – in NYC.  We have deep conversations about wide-ranging topics, I wear stylish clothes and teach – erm – Creative Writing and Philosophy (or something) at Columbia.  And I write like Siri Hustvedt, but without having to suffer the migraines.

4. Serial

A spin-off from This American Life, fronted by long-term TAL producer Sarah Koenig.   It’s a documentary series about a possible miscarriage of justice, and the twist is that the entire series covers this one story in enormous detail.  Crime-writers should love this, cos it’s chock-full of procedural detail, timelines, mobile phone tower pings and the like, and the best thing is that (at the moment anyway) I’ve got no idea how it’s going to turn out. Oh, you need to start at the beginning.

5. Adam & Joe

So okay, they’ve not actually been making this for years, ever since Joe swanned off to LA to make movies and Adam stomped off to the shed at the end of his garden, but you can download the archive from iTunes and laugh your happy little socks off.

6. The Moth

Spoken word stories, some great, some not so great.  Like a big ol’ spoken word tombola.  Or a box of Forrest Gump’s metaphorical chocolates.  Or a radio podcast.

7. Welcome to Night Vale

I don’t listen to every episode of this – only so much I can take to be honest – but dipping in and out for a bit of atmosphere is usually rewarding and there are some great gags.  I wish more of my friends were into this so I could spend more time riffing about my allegiance to the almighty Glow Cloud.

8. The News Quiz

Why get your news-related comedy fix from sexist and/or right-wing telly programmes when Sandy Toksvig is chairing the news quiz?  No really, why?

9. Here Be Monsters

I’ve been getting into this one recently.  Early doors, but I’m already intrigued.  Their tagline is: A podcast about the unknown.  Mwah-ha-ha-ha!

Featured image by Allen, Roadsidepictures.


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