Wednesday, December 13The Voice of London

Everyone’s a Storyteller: A guide to some of the best podcasts out there

Words: Joanne Clark | Subbing: Bella Dawe

On the average journey around London, whether you’re on a tube, a train or a bus, you’ll see people distracting themselves from their travels. Some may be reading a book or magazine, or the latest issue of the Metro or Evening Standard, depending on the time of day. Others will have their headphones in, either listening to music, an audiobook, or even a podcast.

The choice of podcasts is immense. You can listen to someone investigating a murder in Serial; two YouTubers talking about their careers and misadventures in an apartment in LA; or try to conceal your laughter in public listening to My Dad Wrote a Porno.

Podcasts aren’t entirely new, but they have become more and more mainstream over the past couple of years. The annual report from Edison Research and Triton Digital, The Podcast Consumer 2017, carried out research with 2,000 participants. Of the 2,000 people, 48% had listened to a podcast, up from 36% last year. 24% of participants listened to a podcast in the last month (up from 21%) and 15% listened in the last week (up from 13% the previous year).

Podcast popularity is growing, with people delving into them as a way to talk about something that matters or interests them, or as an outlet of creativity. At one point, YouTube seemed like the new and interesting thing. But now, maybe podcasts are the new YouTube?

We’re spoilt for choice. No doubt there is probably a podcast for any genre you can think of. Factual or educational, comedy or lifestyle, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the best podcasts we think you should check out (and separated them by genre so you know what you’re getting):

Factual and Educational

TED Talks Daily
Most people will have heard of TED talks. Their videos are wildly popular, and the topics range from business, global issues and entertainment, to technology, science and design.

The subjects are extremely varied, and include talks from journalists, directors, businessmen and women, scientists and so many more important and influential people. The podcasts are the audio versions of the talks, so you can get your daily dose of TED Talks on the go without having to hop on YouTube and use all your data. Not only are they hugely informative, but inspirational.

The latest talk is from Amel Karboul, called ‘The global learning crisis – and what to do about it”.

Blue Planet II
Currently number one on the audio podcast charts, the podcast comes out weekly, after Blue Planet II is broadcast on TV. The idea of the podcast is to give you more of an insight into the science behind the program.

The hype for Blue Planet II was huge – with a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Radiohead, and the reputation of David Attenborough’s programs as both factual, entertaining and deeply interesting, it’s not hard to understand why.

This week’s podcast is about Trevallies and Tuskfish and presented by Emily Knight and Becky Ripley.

Dan Snow’s History Hit
Dan Snow is a television presenter, who’s work revolves around history, a subject he studied at university. This podcast is no different. Not only does it cover some of the biggest historical events that have occurred over time, but Snow also interviews other historians who are writing in the present day, as well as people with a great deal of knowledge in their field.

A particular favourite of mine was the podcast from the end of August, where Snow spoke to Philippa Gregory, the author of many historical novels, set during the period of the Plantagenets and the Tudors. Her works include ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, ‘The Red Queen’, ‘The White Queen’, and ‘The Last Tudor’, which was published in August.

The latest edition is called ‘The Balfour Declaration’ and includes an interview with historian Avi Shlaim, an Israeli scholar who discusses the history of Zionism and Israel.

Comedy

My Dad Wrote a Porno
What you see (or hear) is what you get, as Jamie Morton takes on the task of reading a chapter a week of a book his dad wrote. But it’s not just any book – it’s a porno. Having begun in September 2015, the podcast is now in its third series, with Morton reading his dad’s third book.

Along with friends Alice Levine and James Cooper, Morton reads chapter after chapter of book series ‘Belinda Blinked’ written by Rocky Flintstone (the pen name his father used), while all three provide commentary throughout.

Another great part of the podcast – as if listening to a son read his father’s endeavours into writing erotic novels wasn’t enough – is the ‘Footnotes’ feature episodes that include guest appearances from well-known people, including Elijah Wood, Michael Sheen, Charlotte Crosby and Daisy Ridley.

The latest is episode 15 of series three, so if you want to catch up, you’d better start now.

Views with David Dobrik and Jason Nash
YouTubers David Dobrik and Jason Nash already work together on their YouTube videos, and they’ve joined forces again for their podcast ‘Views’.

David Dobrik is a 21-year-old YouTuber, who currently has upward of five million subscribers (with around three million on his second channel, David Dobrik Too). Jason Nash is a 44-year-old YouTuber, with almost a million subscribers. Nash is a friend of Dobrik’s and each are a massive part of the others vlogs.

Dobrik’s vlogs have scripted elements, but this doesn’t mean they’re not hilarious. A large number of his videos revolve around pranks and doing things ‘for the vlog’. He’s also known for surprising his friends with animals while they’re blindfolded, whether it be a puppy or an alligator.

The podcast is on the same comedic wavelength, but instead of pranks, they talk about their lives, their careers and things that they’ve experienced. They also talk about current events, for example, when Dobrik spoke about how he may get deported, being a ‘dreamer’ supported by DACA, the program President Donald Trump would like to repeal.

This podcast has cheered me up and made me (discreetly) laugh whilst on boring train journeys home. Sometimes it gets serious, but the partnership of Dobrik and Nash is bound to produce some funny moments.

Their latest episode is called ‘David Just Spent a Million Dollars on This’ and is available here.

Lifestyle, Fashion and Beauty 

At Home With… Lily Pebbles and The Anna Edit
For those who may already be a fan of YouTubers Lily Pebbles and Anna Gardner (otherwise known as The Anna Edit), or for people who are curious about how other people live, this one is for you.

Lily and Anna step inside the homes of some of the biggest beauty, lifestyle and YouTube names. Their interviewees take them on a tour of their homes whilst talking about their lives, which gives Lily, Anna and listeners and insight into the personal lives of these well-known people.

Guests include Jo Elvin, Editor of Glamour UK; Liz Earle of Liz Earle Wellbeing and Beauty, and Zoe Sugg, otherwise known as Zoella. Check it out here.

Hey it’s OK… – Glamour UK
Produced by Glamour UK and presented by Editor Jo Elvin (mentioned above), this podcast is the audio version of the ‘Hey it’s OK…’ feature that is present in every issue of the magazine. Every week, Elvin is joined by a guest to talk about different topics and important issues, often related to that week’s guest.

The series is 60 episodes in, having hosted an assortment of guests including YouTubers, actors, directors, musicians, authors, as well as TV and radio presenters. The good thing about this podcast is that it can be so varied in subjects, depending on who the guest is. As a reader of Glamour, I enjoy listening and asking “Hey is it OK…”

The latest episode features Scarlett Moffatt, where they discuss slogan tees, Halloween and proposal stories.

Happy Mum Happy Baby – Giovanna Fletcher
Giovanna Fletcher is an author, blogger, vlogger and mum. Having recently released her new book of the same name, ‘Happy Mum Happy Baby: My Adventures in Motherhood’, her podcast follows alongside with the same honesty and candour as her book.

Fletcher talks with other well-known mums, about anything and everything to do with motherhood. There has been discussion about the pressure mothers feel when their child is born to be a perfect parent. The ‘Happy Mum Happy Baby’ podcast works to dispel this myth that mothers should act a certain way, or not say certain things. Fletcher wants people to realise that everyone does things differently, and instead of putting pressure on yourself, to recognise when you have been the best Mum you can be.

The podcast is currently on it’s ninth episode, and has featured Fearne Cotton, Jo Elvin, Frankie Bridge, Rochelle Humes and fellow McFly mum Izzy Judd, as well as a few others.

Investigation 

Serial
From the creators of ‘This American Life’ and hosted by Sarah Koenig, the first season of Serial focuses on the true story of the disappearance and subsequent murder of 18-year-old student Hae Min Lee in a town in Baltimore in 1999.

Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Masud Syed was arrested and charged with first degree murder. He was found guilty in February 2000 and given a life sentence, but maintains that he is innocent. This season investigates what happened the day Hae Min Lee died and includes interviews with a number of people involved.

The second season is slightly different, and focuses less on mystery, as it tells the story of American soldier Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was held for five years by the Taliban, and when released, was charged with desertion. Download numbers for this season reached 50 million at one point.

Season three is set to be released in 2018, and is said to be different from the previous two seasons.

Serial is one of the most popular podcasts ever made. As of February 2016, the episodes of season one were downloaded over 80 million times. The mystery of season one specifically, is so gripping that it is hard to tear yourself away. If you had nothing to do, it’d be very easy to binge the whole season in one day.

Serial didn’t just attract the attention of listeners. In June 2016, a Baltimore Judge called for a new trial for Adnan Syed. Serial released three updates to coincide with the trial.

S-Town
Another podcast from Serial and This American Life, this podcast follows the story of a man named John B. McLemore. McLemore got in contact with the show This American Life, and asked if they could investigate a murder that supposedly happened in his hometown of Woodstock in Alabama.

Presenter and producer Brian Reed arrived at the town to discover that the murder never happened. Reed decides to make McLemore the topic of the podcast instead. But it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. It may not be a murder mystery podcast, but McLemore is a mysterious character.

Both interesting and intriguing, S-Town (short for ‘shit-town’, the term McLemore uses to describe Woodstock) was downloaded 10 million times in four days.

There is such a variation of podcasts available, that trying to choose favourites is difficult. The amount of genres available means that there is something that everyone can enjoy. The statistics of Serial and S-Town speak for themselves – when something is gripping and intriguing, it shows.

As of 2013, Apple stated that there were a quarter of a million podcasts available on iTunes. That was four years ago, and there are also many more people delving into the world of podcasts, either to create or listen.

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