Being obsessed with audio, last year I continued my search for great podcasts.
I never stop looking for new programmes, which is why this month, #trypod month, is so apt. Currently, my RSS feed is bursting with great content, but that isn’t enough. There must and shall be more!
Here’s another 10 for the pleasure of your podcasting ears.
The Big Listen
The Big Listen is a bit meta, as it’s a podcast about podcasts. Each week, host Lauren Ober rounds up her selections of the best she’s found on the Net. There are so many pods out there, that the value of having someone seek out and curate good listening for you can’t be underestimated.
Ober’s presenting style is cool and approachable. If you’ve found a pod you love, you can call the show and share it with her – she will check it out.
The Creative Penn
Joanna Penn has built a reputation in the publishing world as an authority on writing and self-publishing, and in a comparatively short period of time. Her website for authors is one of the go-to places on the web for information, courses and writing community, and her podcast extends that offer into audio.
Penn interviews big names in creative and entrepreneurial thought, such as Steven Pressfield and John Lee Dumas, and covers practical topics from e-book production, self-publishing and merchandising, to the deep-dive issues behind authorship: crafting a story, creating memorable characters and self-editing.
If you want to gen up on the business and craft of writing, this is for you.
These days, the world, his/her wife and their family pet knows about Radiotopia‘s excellent 99% Invisible – and, of course, people rave about it for good reason. If you’re into cities and everything about them, you’ll also enjoy Monocle’s The Urbanist.
Episodes cover architecture and urban design, the use of technology in cities and industry topics of note. The show also presents individual stories, such as how the White House is redecorated, the history of Ellis Island, as well as quirky cultural marginalia: drinking fountains in Zurich, and why working gas lamps still exist in London more than 200 years after they were first installed.
The Writer Files
Host Kelton Reid introduces each episode of this pod as a ‘tour of the habits, habitats, and brains of renowned writers’. Part of the Rainmaker.fm stable of pods, the shows divide up interviews with big names in fiction, journalism, screenwriting and non-fiction into two parts, just to make them nicely bite-sized.
It’s a fascinating look into the diverse creative processes of successful writers, and how they’ve tackled the emotional and practical issues affecting them: fear of failure, the value of connecting with other authors, fact-checking, influences, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and more.
No Such Thing as a Fish
Everyone needs downtime as a creative (and some fun), and No Such Thing As A Fish delivers in spades. The big difference between this and your ordinary comedy pod is that this one actually makes you think – and want to learn more.
Each week, the researchers behind the BBC TV show QI gather round to share four favourite facts from their delve into trivia and all facts fantastic. The team is lively, often ribald and, above all, deeply smart: never have nerdgasms been so entertaining.
The QI team have produced current affairs versions of the show, also available on YouTube. All highly recommended.
If you’re a language geek, writer, editor, grammarian or into anything to do with words, this is your home in podland. Sony Award-winning podcaster and writer, Helen Zaltzman, presents this show – another quality production from the Radiotopia stable – about all things etymology and more.
Want to know why the word ‘cataract’ represents an eye condition as well as a waterfall? Want to know the story behind Mary Shelley’s authoring of Frankenstein? Want to know why ‘sexicon’ is a neologism? The answers are here.
Put down your pen, put on your cans, and luxuriate in all things lexicographical.
The Lonely Palette
The notion of a podcast discussing artworks is, admittedly, somewhat counterintuitive. Talking paintings without actually being able to see them? Yes, the idea is a bit out there – but it works. The great thing about this pod is that it opens up art to the public, makes it accessible. Its message is: art is for everyone to enjoy.
At the beginning of each show Lonely Palette‘s presenter and art historian, Tamar Avishai, shows a work to members of the public and asks them to describe what they see, before discussing it. The production style is similar to that of 99% Invisible – mellifluous, beautifully paced.
To see the artworks, just go to the Palette’s website on your device. (It’s actually a good idea to do this before you start listening.) There aren’t nearly enough good podcasts out there about art or, indeed, art history, so this is a fine addition to a growing interest topic.
Monocle 24: Culture with Robert Bound
Years after Tyler Brulé started up his magazine empire at Monocle, the move into radio and podcasting was a completely logical step. As with the FT’s Everything Else pod, which is basically an audio weekend supplement, Culture discusses the best new films, books, art and events. However, it also examines different forms of creative media, asking how and why they work, and why we’re so fascinated with them.
This is a particularly good pod for writers, but anyone who is interested in the creative world, whether audio or visual, will find engaging content here. Bound is an affable and polished presenter, and it’s an entertaining way to spend a half-hour while learning something new.
Jay Acunzo’s podcast is aimed at content creators and marketers, but it isn’t about how to come up with great hooks and lines, or avoiding sinkers.
Unthinkable is refreshingly off-piste. It doesn’t go into the usual obvious stuff: creating ‘compelling content’, audience engagement, driving action. What it does do, in its interviews, is to open up the metaphorical hood and examine the motivations and processes behind creating that content: the notion of brilliance, what creatives love, and what it takes to come up with amazing work time and again.
Unthinkable’s production values are high, and Acunzo is very listenable. If you’re a copywriter, content marketer or social media maven, this will appeal to you. And if you’re interested in unpacking what it means to be creative, this pod has something for you too.
So You Want to be a Writer
Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait of the Australian Writers’ Centre present this pod on the craft and business of authoring.
Like The Creative Penn, it provides the practical stuff that writers want to know: how to write cover blurb, whether you need an agent, how to do a structural edit, and so forth. Khoo and Tait test out resources such as apps and programs that can help writing productivity and creativity. They also interview names in fiction, business writing and non-fiction.
The show offers a wealth of information, whether you’re new to writing or an experienced wordsmith. If you put words on a page and want people to read them, this pod will show you how.