Books are cool, but have you heard about podcasts? Of course you have. It’s 2019 and, as the digital landscape continues to evolve, we’re becoming even more obsessed. Where the first podcasts tended to mimic radio (see: short, snappy and segmented), lately there’s been seriously explosive growth in the long form variety. Chalk it up to the continuing global interest in the first series of Serial, but it appears that despite our love for GIFs and our dwindling attention spans, we’ve still got an appetite for well-crafted stories. Of course, not all podcasts need to be an in-depth exploration or aural odyssey that tugs at your heart strings. (#TeamAdnan) There’s certainly room for intimate, conversational chats and real-talk amongst every demographic. In fact, it seems most of us have a fairly eclectic pod diet, made up of all manner of niche subscriptions. And while this can sometimes make it difficult to discover something new to obsess over, it also means there’s a tremendous amount of content out there to consume – you’ve just got to go digging.
And that’s where we come in. Ahead you’ll discover the 7 best podcasts we’ve listened to lately – the ones we’re talking about at the office coffee machine and in-between circuits at the gym. An edit for all interests, you’re bound to find something you’ll enjoy in the list below. Happy listening!
Pegged as a podcast for smart women who love dumb stuff, Shameless is the brilliant brainchild of Melbourne-based journalists Zara McDonald and Michelle Andrews. Like listening in on a conversation with your best pals (except IRL that would be weird), it’s a safe space for dissecting everything from how women are portrayed in the media to whether baby names have become a marker of social status. The duo also drop an In Conversation episode each Thursday where they sit down with someone inspiring for an interesting chat.
This incredibly charming listen is part slow radio, part landscaping advice and part conversation with creative thinkers and makers. Host Andrew O’Brien, gardener and blogger, leads the listener through his guest’s musings on what the natural world means to our modern lives, set to a lush soundtrack of banjo, birdsong and the meditative snip of secateurs. Artists, writers and poets chat about living with the seasons, and why humans make gardens at all. You don’t need to be a green thumb to get amongst – O’Brien’s way with words is universal.
A celebration of “female firebrands and maverick outsiders”, The Last Bohemians shares the incredible stories of pioneering women you may not have heard of. With guests like Pamela Des Barres (a rock ’n’ roll groupie who spent the ‘60s hanging out with Mick Jagger and was the inspiration for Almost Famous’ Penny Lane) and countess, LSD campaigner and trepanation proponent Amanda Feilding (Google it), it’s proof truth is more astonishing than fiction. The best bit? Each episode is presented, produced and photographed by a woman.
If you’re a word nerd, you’ll love embarking on these linguistic adventures with Helen Zaltzman, an English broadcaster and writer. In each short and snappy episode you’ll learn about word history (like, did you know Thomas Edison brought “hello” into common usage after recommending it as the thing to say upon answering a telephone?), and pick up lots of other interesting titbits like how banning puns can affect an entire language and the amount of work that goes into inventing real-sounding fictional languages like Klingon and Dothraki.
Perfect for your commute, this micropod (see: podcast with snackable episodes less than twenty minutes long) has an extensive backlog of mini interviews with guests who hold “cool jobs”. A pervy look into all manner of industries, you can get a glimpse at the day-to-day of working as a porn star, then follow up with what it’s like to lead the team at Marvel Comics. The most recent eps, titled Hey, Cool Life! form a daily check in with the host Mary H.K. Choi, New York Times bestselling author, on all things mental health and creativity.
A nonfiction series that documents the adventures of a group of six volunteers who lived in an imitation Mars habitat in Hawaii for an entire year, working as imitation astronauts. Their aim was to help NASA understand what life might be like on the red planet in an attempt to prepare for the day it might actually happen. Through audio diaries, host Lynn Levy stitches together what it’s like to live inside the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation experiment, from freeze-dried food, and wearing a spacesuit every time you go outside.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story of Theranos, get ready to settle in. (Maybe cancel your weekend plans while you’re at it, too.) The Drop Out follows the decade-long scam Elizabeth Holmes allegedly pulled off by convincing the world she’d invented technology so incredible it was able to test for a whole host of diseases using a single drop of blood. The problem? It didn’t work. Holmes’ story, from being the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire to the plaintiff in an 11-count indictment from the US federal government, is fascinating.