I consider myself a
encapsulated digital audio radio show prelistening podcast connoisseur; I estimate I’ve listened to over one thousand hours worth. It’s an estimate because AntennaPod likes to crash often and lose statistics. The 1st time is crashed, it didn’t have the stats feature. The second time I was at ~500 hours. Now in ~3 months, I’m at 361.3 hours. You may find this quite astonishing but I don’t spend much time doing nothing but listening podcasts, i.e. I’m doing something else most of the time. Whether it’s driving, shaving, cooking, being bored at work, running or using it as a bedtime story there’s a podcast for every situation. Hell I like podcasts so much, I upgraded the car radio so I could listen to them during driving.
I was quite late to the game. As you well know, I wasn’t too keen on smartphones which is probably the best way to listen to them apart from mp3 players with wifi of course. So initially, I tried listening to BrainStuff (which are typically 5 minutes) and then having to close a bunch of browser tabs when they were done. It wasn’t very practical. I also used to download them and put them manually onto my Zen Micro ®, which I remember being a real pain as I couldn’t tell which files needed to be transferred and which had been already. Using Sync would have helped here.
Fast forward to ~2013 and here we have the long podcasts which didn’t have the faff of being too short and I could listen to whilst laying in bed. Casts like The Biggest Problem and No Such thing as a Fish were the pioneers and represented a watershed moment that really got me into this medium. Anyway, here’s my list. You can also utilize this OMPL file, to import my currently subscribed pods automatically.
My favorite podcasts
- Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (RHLSTP) – I’ve known of Richard (The Podfather) for about 8 years but never really found him that funny or got what he was on about. My initial encounter of him was when he was sporting a Hitler Mustache on HIGNFY. I just didn’t get it. Then I reluctantly listened to him on Adam Buxton’s podcast and liked the sound of him. They mentioned RHLSTP, so I thought I’d check out like two episodes and then unsubscribe. After to listening to a few, I was hooked. What I liked about this was, you’d have the factual interview backstory coupled with Rich’s surreal/silly sense of humour. Rich does not discriminate between his guests and will bravely ask them, regardless of stature, if they have ever tried to suck their own cock or who they would be sandwiched in a human centipede with, if they had to. These are of course his “Emergency Questions” which have spawned a book. RHLSTP has its own memes and lore which is probably one of the recipes of a great show. I should mention that this is the child of Rich’s Edinburgh Fringe podcast which has lower profile guests and poorer sound quality (not that you can complain too much about a free show). I even saw and met Rich in Edinburgh, he signed my program and gave a witty retort to one of my playful heckles after the show. I am in the process of listening to every show. Favourite episode would have to be the one with Tourette’s Hero or Stephen Merchant.
- No Such Thing as a Fish (NSTAAF )– I didn’t get this when it first came out. The QI podcast was nothing like the QI program I was used to. In time I would consider it better. So after taking a break from listening for two months, I gave it another shot and loved it. The four panellists have excellent chemistry and banter. The premise is simple, they talk about four facts they have learned that week. It is largely unscripted and even spawned a spin off TV show. I really want to buy their book of the year too. I have listened to every episode.
- BrainStuff – minute physics but five times longer (with a minute advert either side). It embodies “How does stuff work?” I prefer Christian Sager’s soothing voice to Lauren Vogelbaum’s quick pace.
- The Adam Buxton Podcast – successor to Adam and Joe’s podcast. Nothing could match the magnificence of the original but this comes close. I have listened to every episode so you know it is good! Even the people I have never heard of, tend to be much better than expected.
- Pessimist’s Archive – In the information age, we’re used to new inventions coming out and changing the way we live our lives. Inevitably you have naysayers, who will badmouth anything new, because they’re frightened of it. From umbrellas to chess (wide spectrum I know), you wouldn’t believe the things people were worried about, that have now become a staple of our society. This podcast shows that we do not have much to fear from new technology and to keep a sense of perspective. I have probably listened to every episode. Recommended by NSTAAF’s Anna Ptaszynski no less.
- Serial – The guys at NSTAAF followed Serial on soundcloud and I wondered what it was. After the first episode I was hooked. Serial holds records for number of subscribers/downloads. Season 1 was incredible. Though I still don’t know whether Adnan did it or not. Initially I was in the innocent camp but then I seem to have become persuaded by arguments on reddit, which sounds dubious I know. It does worry me why Adnan refuses to have evidence tested for DNA which may exonerate him. Unless of course he is worried about incrimination. Currently a retrial is in process so watch this space. I didn’t care too much for season 2. Although I enjoyed it, it just didn’t have the same captivation and enthrallment that season 1 did. Many blame Koenig for not doing a good job, others say nothing could beat season 1. Then there’s the spin off S-Town, which is an interesting one. I probably enjoyed it more than season 2 of serial but again it wasn’t quite as good as season 1. The narrator’s voice was very whiny, almost as if he were about to burst into tears at any moment. The story also took an abrupt turn which made me feel like, what I was expecting the story to be would have been better. I hope Koenig reports on the retrial, supposedly season 3 is going to be something totally different. Hope it’s good.
- Sawbones – Either recommended to or by NSTAAF. “A marital tour of misguided medicine” – they discuss diseases and other medical paraphernalia with Justin providing the comic relief and Sydney her knowledge. With an interest in medical history this is nice to listen to, though sometimes it gets a bit samey. As cure-alls tend to crop up again and again, as does Pliny the Elder and Galen.
- David Baddiel Tries to Understand – As alluded to above, I have a thirst for knowledge. This podcast explains things to you in a way you’ll understand, by having a layperson do it, after learning about it himself. A novel and useful approach. I have listened to every episode.
- Frankie Boyle’s Promethiad – I’m a big fan of Frankie’s humour, even though some of the stuff he says is a bit too near the knuckle for me. This podcast is an audiobook of eight volumes. So far it is a combination of his stand up and Guardian columns. His political commentary and satire is excellent and a deadly combination for those it is aimed at. I hope the next volume won’t be 5+ hours long. Otherwise I cannot fault this one.
- Stuff to Blow Your Mind – Cool stuff from science. Sometimes they seem to drag topics out a little too much and also they do shows with tenuous scientific connections.
- Stuff You Should Know – A general version of Stuff to Blow Your Mind. Sometimes I wonder why they pick mundane topics but overall, worth a listen.
- The Comedian’s Comedian – The sunday version of RHLSTP but not as funny with lower profile guests. Ok, that’s a bit mean. They’re different shows, this is more like Parkinson, analysing the nitty girtty of comedy. I do find Goldsmith’s ten minute advert in the middle quite annoying.
- Five Thirty Eight Politics – Tells you what the hell is happening in the US.
- The Late Night Alternative with Iain Lee – I’ve actually rang the show up a couple of times but not quite made it on the podcast. It’s my 15 minutes of fame. This phone in show is like another world, with its own memes and lore. It’s nice to see the regulars phone in even if they’re crazy. Flippin Kath decided to shorten the podcast to 30 minutes which made it less appealing and to force you to listen to the whole 3 hours. Also over the year, I’ve concentrated on other knowledge giving shows. It’s still good for the occasional listen. My highlights would include, some guy getting caught lying about visiting North Korea and talking to a soundboard for 5 minutes confusedly, the Lindsey Lohorn remix and the Babcock song.
- The Bugle – It was better with Andy and John but I sometimes still listen to it. Largely I find Nish Kumar very annoying on it, which puts me off.
- Adam and Joe – The greatest podcast of all time. It’s a shame Joe’s film making career took off because he doesn’t have the time to make these anymore. The brief stint of Adam and Edith didn’t live up to scrutiny.
- The Biggest Problem in the Universe -When I heard the first episode I didn’t really understand what it was all about. So I stopped listening to it for a month or so. Then out of curiosity I picked it up again when Episode 10 – Indignant Co-hosts got released. The arguing back and forth/entrapment was hilarious and got me hooked. 12 (Anti Cyclists segment) was good. 13 (Monkey Copyrights) is my all time favourite partly because they read out my email but also because this is the first time Dick is enraged to the point of exploding. Episode 21- Nut-hugging Android Fanboys Dick tries out Android after being convinced it’s better than iOS but doesn’t like it. Great arguing again. Episode 31 Sean deletes the podcast. Episode 57 – Social justice Warriors, another good episode. Towards the end of this podcast’s tenure though, they seemed to bring in shitter problems and the quality degraded to the point where it became a chore to listen to them both ranting about something I didn’t find funny, interesting or cared about. When they announced the end I was shocked but not overly disappointed. I didn’t listen to the clip shows~
Worse than expected
- The Dick Show and The best Debate in the Universe – successors of The Biggest Problem in the Universe. Gestalt principles are at work here, namely that the sum of the parts are not equal to the whole. I don’t understand the format of The Dick Show and didn’t stick around too much to find out. I also find Masterson’s flagrant support of Trump quite problematic. Maddox’s podcast is nothing special either. Maybe I don’t like these podcasts because I’m comparing them to the Biggest Problem. I may have liked them otherwise.
- Cum Town – A show about memes and chan culture (I think). I’m not really sure what this is supposed to be about. I found the episode about Chris Chan interesting but the rest I can’t really relate to.
- Smart Enough to Know Better – A dull science podcast. I might give it another shot.
- Good Job Brain! – Mentioned by NSTAAF’s Ptaszynski. This appears to be an American quiz show. I didn’t like the format nor their accents.
- Hello Internet – I find most of the stuff they talk about quite mundane. Their opinions on the new Star Wars films are also quite strange. They argue bizarrely that, a A New Hope reboot (Episode VII) is better than Rogue 1.
The following are Podcasts which, I expect to listen to a lot in the future.
- Rex Factor – Chronological history of the Kings and Queens of England. Very dense and so very difficult to listen to whilst doing something else. I highly enjoy this one but I have only listened to a few episodes.
- My Dad wrote a Porno – self explanatory. Heard it’s very funny. Yet to listen to an episode.
- As it Occurs to me– Rich’s sketch comedy show. I listened to the first episode and liked it, though the sound quality is a little dodgy. With Pocket Casts I shouldn’t have this problem, whose “Volume Boost” option will hopefully fix this.
- Reason’s to be cheerful – Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd talk about big ideas to change the country.
- Presidential – Chronological history of US presidents. I didn’t like the first episode too much but will persevere, it may be an exception to the style of the rest of the show.
- Mythology – As you can tell, history is an area which I want to learn more about. What better way than podcasts?! I’m subscribed to about 3 different mythology podcasts and have high hopes for them. I’m not sure which is my favorite yet.
- Answer me this – The hosts answer audiences questions (I think).