For the love of pod

A serious side effect of finding a new I can’t stop listening kind of podcast is wanting to tell the world about it. I’ve gone for a more manageable approach and I’m just sharing with you lovely lot instead. Oh, and I’ve tasked my colleagues Tom and Katy to tell you about theirs too. But be warned, if you find your New Favourite Podcast from this bijou roundup, you’re contractually obliged to share the knowledge with everyone you know.

Katy’s listening to The High Low

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You know that friend you always message when you're looking for your next great read? That friend you trust innately — checking out her latest recommendations with one click before you've even read the blurb? Imagine if that friend had a weekly podcast which not only serviced all of your straight fiction needs but acted as a curation of every article, biography and podcast you wish you'd had time to get an opinion on over the previous seven days. The High Low is your thirty-something compendium of news, pop-culture and life advice, co-hosted by journalist besties Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes.

The format is generally the same each week: the biggest political stories of the moment are covered off briefly and precisely, with an emphasis on issues of female equality (or lack thereof), before we hear what content the pair have been devouring. Persevere through the ads and you'll find no paid-for editorial or endorsements anywhere else in The High Low — just those articles and happenings that they've loathed, loved or LOLed over.

From a single episode, I got myself a reading list, booked a talk and sounded at least 60% more intelligent in general conversation. I also smiled, cried and felt way better about my life decisions to date — a comforting, confident, self-deprecating, silly, happy, serious, intelligent shot that gets me and never judges me. Listen here (KD)


Tom’s listening to Blackout

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If a podcast can be a page-turner, and it can't, then this is it. Hot-fresh off his Oscar-winning turn as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek stars as Simon Itani, a radio DJ trying to keep his listeners' hopes alive after the US power grid mysteriously goes down. Yep, we're in post-apocalyptic territory, people.

Set against the backdrop of small town New Hampshire, you'll buckle in from the get-go, semi-literally as the opening sequence puts you in the cockpit of a doomed fighter jet. From second one you can tell Blackout boasts audio thwack unlike any other pod, as the F22-Raptor tumbles from the sky, into a mountainside. What follows is quiet. A goosebump-inducing silence that punctuates the show both literally and thematically. Quiet that lingers long in the ears after Malek delivers his prescient monologues with his now trademark mumble. "The funny thing about silence," he says. "If you sit with it long enough, you might hear something that was there all along,"

As the show progresses, its pillars of commentary become obvious. Maybe too 'on the nail' at times, but heck, hard work podcasts are hard work. We areobsessed with technology and maybe it is driving us apart. It has made our lives more convenient but not necessarily better. And maybe if we were all forced to talk, and not text and not tweet, we might just look out for each other that little bit more. Listen here (TC)


Laurie’s listening to Ctrl Alt Delete

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Often the internet can feel like a scary, unsafe space. I blame Cambridge Analytica and those darn Russian bots. And maybe my recent Netflix indulgences for making me more than a bit paranoid. But for most of us, a large portion of our lives are played out online. It facilitates relationships, jobs, day to day communication, not to mention the dog videos. The internet ain’t all bad. But no-one taught us how to navigate this sh*t at school.

Emma Gannon’s interview-based podcast, Ctrl Alt Delete is about manoeuvring through online life, for those of us that remember late nights on MSN Messenger and MySpace pages, and now live our lives through the internet⁠. In every episode Emma’s joined by another guest in a long list of ‘Who’s Who’ creative types well known for their online presence, like Jameela Jamil, Poorna Bell and Rachel Cargle. I didn't know I needed to hear a podcast about money and my mental health, but the episode with Otegha Uwagba and Polly MacKenzie taught me otherwise. Another week, Jess Pan, a self-diagnosed introvert discusses how she lived life for a year as an extrovert, holidaying solo, public speaking and talking to strangers on the tube.

They tackle awkward subjects from careers, to the internet, relationships and everything else in between. Ctrl Alt Delete is a how-to on life for that strange generation that grew up online, discussing all the topics you want to talk about, without having to broadcast any of your own soul searching. Listen here (LP)