I’ve been listening to podcasts pretty frequently for some years now, but I wouldn’t say I’m an avid consumer of them. I can’t listen to music or podcasts while working (unless it is really mechanical stuff) so I mostly do it while running or driving. I use my phone for this and from the beginning I was a happy user of Podcatcher Deluxe as it was simple and did exactly what I needed from it: allowed to add new podcasts via RSS, download episodes on the device and remembered the point when I last stopped listening. Sadly it looks like is no longer maintained but the app still works fine so I’ll stick with it until it stops working.
Some well-known podcasts that I’ve listened in the past and enjoyed included the BBC’s Soul Music and World Service Documentaries, Seasons 1 and 2 of Serial (and its spin-off S-Town) and 99% Invisible.
But here are three more I’ve really enjoyed recently:
If you are into comics, then there’s a good chance you will enjoy this one. Cartoonist Kayfabe was created by Ed Piskor (Hip Hop Family Tree) and Jim Rugg (Street Angel) about a year ago and their channel and audience have been growing steadily among the comics crowd.
Originally they started the long term project of reviewing every single issue of a long-running comics magazine (Wizard magazine) but they have expanded to release episodes covering detailed reviews of classic titles, interviews with artists and shop owners and live drawing sessions.
I personally really enjoy the detailed reviews of works like Akira or Dark Knight Returns, where they put the whole book or books under the microscope and they spend three or four one-hour episodes going through all pages, context about the author, influences from other artists etc. The interviews with people like Jaime Hernandez, Katie Skelly or Eric Reynolds from Fantagraphics are also great because of all the new stuff you learn about them.
Ed and Jim are obviously passionate about comics and are committed to the series, and their consistency and the DIY feel gives it a really good vibe.
One of the good things about working with an award-winning podcast producer like my colleague Jo Barratt is that you get tipped off about lots of good stuff that you might have missed otherwise.
This includes RE:COGNITION, a podcast presented by artist Nick Ryan, centered around conversations around language with experts from different fields. Ryan is apparently building a machine that translates spoken concepts and words into sounds, and the conversations revolve around topics like origin of language, anthropology, semiotics, etc. The first episode was pretty far out, Dan Hoffman, a professor of Cognitive Sciences basically argued that the reality we perceive is essentially a simulation that evolution modeled to ensure our survival. I remained unconvinced but it was a really interesting perspective.
The episodes I enjoyed more were 2 and 4, where Angela Terrill and Jerome Lewis talked about Papuan communities in the Russell Islands and the Bayaka people of the Congo Basin respectively. These were super informative and touched really fascinating points.
This series was a pretty wild ride, and I was hooked up from very early on. It tells the story of the rise and fall of Ruja Ignatova and OneCoin, the company she created riding the cryptocurrency wave to “revolutionize the financial sector”. Spoiler alert: yes, it was one big scam. The series follows the authors (journalists Jamie Bartlett and Georgia Catt) quest to track Ignatova after her disappearance at the peak of One Coin’s popularity while digging deeper on how it worked and how it grew so fast. It does a great job of gradually conveying the mind-boggling scale of the operation and how people suffered from it while others were profiting. Really recommended!