Podcasts have killed what was left of the radio star. What started off as a niche market exploded in 2014 when the investigative true crime caper sensation, Serial became an overnight sensation and reintroduced millions of curious listeners to the format — which you should totally listen to if you haven’t already. Thanks to that wave of interest we have now peaked with a plethora of incredible shows that are begging for your listening pleasure.
When Tim Harford, an English economist and journalist, calls one of Britain’s leading betting shops to try and place a bet on his own possibly imminent death, they refuse him saying it was “a negative bet”, however, a coffee house in London’s Tower Street in 1687 and present day life insurance policies would be game to take those odds. BBC World Service’s 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy, follows the odd origins of the strange practices that have since gone on to shape our modern economic life — such as insurance, the barcode, concrete and Africa’s own M-Pesa — in handy 8-minute tiny bite sized chunks, every week.
Buzzfeed, it turns out, isn’t just a giant quiz forum where you discover what type of potato chip you are but a place where interesting podcast voices are gathering. When not being accused by Donald Trump of spreading fake news, Buzzfeed along with the Panoply Network brings you See Something, Say Something, an interview-driven podcast whereby American-born Ahmed Ali Akbar attempts to break down the stereotypes of being Muslim and what the community of a billion people face today. Akbar is able to make the podcast positive and fun yet insightful and necessary listening in a time when people really need to hear it.
As many people as there are in the world who call themselves foodies (on purpose) so there are podcast about food, unfortunately most of those opinions are American and as nice as the food culture of Drive-ins, Diners and Dives can be, when it comes to culinary explorations sometimes more is more. Savor “locally sourced” stories, as chefs, makers and experts from across the world chat to Monocle 24: The Menu about the food culture in their region — the Food Neighborhoods specials are a real treat in particular. Who wouldn’t want to learn about the controversial new blue wine, Gik from the Spanish winemaker himself?
LISTEN & LEARN
As much as everyone raves about Serial (well, season one — season two wasn’t great), one of the best serialized investigative true crime dramas is that of a story that many may vaguely know but can’t quite place the Helter Skelter. Every season “old Hollywood” biographer, Karina Longworth guides you through a single aspect of tinsel towns history in You Must Remember This. In the Charles Manson’s Hollywood season she clocks almost 10 hours of suspenseful detail covering everything connected to the infamous crimes, from Charlie’s own abusive history to the financial state of Doris Day’s bank account. In the end when she ties up every string of narrative you will be left with the overwhelming sense that truth is most certainly stranger than fiction.
The earnest shaky voice of acclaimed actress Catherine Keener guides you through the mysterious disjointed tale of Homecoming, an experimental military programme where a therapist gets in over her head (Keener) after she becomes too sympathetic towards one of her patients, a traumatized veteran played by Star Wars’s Oscar Isaac, much to the chagrin of her boss, Friends star, David Shwimmer. Heralded as a ground-breaking triumph in podcast fiction, relatively new kids on the podcast producing lot, Gimlet Media has created an eerie yet believable suspenseful radio drama that investigates the murky territory between blame and consequences.