Often, I’m just not in the mood to listen to music. I might be getting in the car for a 5 hour drive to South Wales, sat on the 147 bus to Sackville Street, walking to University Place from North Campus, or doing some repetitive data analysis, and I can’t find just the right song to play. I know you’ve been there – scrolling through Spotify or Apple Music or YouTube for the right tune before you can carry on with whatever it was you were trying to do in the first place.
That’s how I discovered podcasts way back in 2009 when I stumbled upon The Ricky Gervais Show on iTunes while looking for something new to listen to (back then I was downloading podcasts onto my iPod Nano through iTunes)! I can’t tell you how many times I laughed out loud in public listening to that show, it was so often.
Since then, I’ve steadily increased my podcast consumption and am enjoying more shows now than ever. And, it seems, so is the rest of the UK with about one in five 15 to 24 year olds listening to podcasts at least once a week. And I get it. The fact that they’re downloadable make them really convenient to listen to, there’s a large range of topics and genres, it’s easy enough to skip ads if you want, and they’re free.
There’s no way of accurately measuring how many podcasts are out there but the current estimate is at least 750,000 (and rising). That’s a lot to choose from, which can be overwhelming, but it also means there’s very likely that just right podcast for you.
I’ve put together (in no particular order) a variety pack of podcasts below. My not-so-secret goal here is for you to leave this page having found at least one that piques your interest enough that you might give it a listen…
1. Stuff You Should Know – This podcast strikes a nice balance between easy to listen to and educational. A personal favourite for road trips, and a great one to listen to with other people. Hear about how the Coconut Cult, the Spanish Flu, Sleep Paralysis, Amityville Horror and more work.
2. More or Less: Behind the Statistics – What is a statistic without the context? Listen to the presenters make sense of the numbers and share what it actually means, whether it’s deforestation in Brazil or the connection between day light saving time and heart attacks.
3. The GaryVee Audio Experience – If you have any interest at all in business, this is a podcast to subscribe to. Through a mixture of vlog-like episodes, meetings, motivational monologues, keynote speeches and more is an education on marketing, leadership, entrepreneurship, and good old hard work.
4. Welcome to Night Vale – Immerse yourself in the fictional town of Night Vale, and listen to the local radio station’s reports. It’s part comedy, part drama, part mystery, part bizarre and sometimes just downright creepy. Start from episode 1 or pick at random, either way you’ll probably end up binge listening to it.
5. That Creative Life – Hosted by Sara Dietschy, this podcast gives a behind the scenes listen to the lives and careers of creatives, artists, entrepreneurs and more. Get a glimpse of what it’s like to be someone who creates for a living.
6. RedHanded – This show got me hooked from the first episode! And whilst I’ve become slightly more paranoid about maybe becoming the next victim of a serial killer, I keep coming back for more stories that will probably keep me up at night.
7. Ologies – Cnidariology, cucurbitology, gelotology, teuthology. Mean anything to you? Listen to Alie Ward speak to the people who study these -ologies and learn about what got them obsessed. Expect wolves, bats, brains and many more.
8. Global News Podcast – Stay up to date with current events and listen to the BBC World Service bring you, as the name suggests, news from across the globe.
9. Hardcore History – Fair warning, these episodes are lengthy. I’m talking up to 5 hours and 49 minutes long. They’re detailed, well-researched and very nicely presented. What is lacking in brevity is more than made up for in detail, presentation and theatrics. It is hardcore history, after all. Episodes include Blueprint for Armageddon, The Celtic Holocaust, and The Destroyer of Worlds.
10. 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy – Short (up to 10 minutes) episodes on the story behind the 50 things that made the modern economy including the barcode, air conditioning, department stores, Santa Claus, recycling and more. My personal favourite? The episode on QWERTY.
11. How I Built This – Curious about how Instagram, Kate Spade, Five Guys, Airbnb or Ben & Jerry’s were started and built? Give this podcast a listen. Guy Raz meets with the people behind some of the most recognisable brands in the world, and they share what it takes to start a movement.
12. The Receipts Podcast – It’s a little like your friends coming over, and listening to them chat about what’s going on in their lives – relationships, careers, mishaps and everything in between. There’s some pretty scandalous receipts, but mostly the stories are relatable. There’s over 130 episodes so lots to choose from!
13. The Ricky Gervais Show Podcast – And the podcast that started it all for me… Whilst Ricky Gervais has his name in the show title, the true star is Karl Pilkington who never fails to come out with some really hilarious one-liners. Stephen Merchant completes the trio in the show that will get you laughing out loud in the supermarket.