As we sail, if slightly unsteadily, into 2022 I can’t help but notice the inevitable tidal wave of new year’s resolutions and vows of self improvement. Whilst dry January may be going a step too far for many of us students, one easy way to improve your life is with podcasts. For the past few years I have turned to podcasts as an alternative to listening to music when travelling, walking, cooking or cleaning. Plunging yourself into these auditory worlds can offer a unique sensory experience; podcasts can be more active than music, more personal than radio. And it’s not just about entertainment, there are many educational podcasts too, which offer a great way to enrich your studies. From celebrity interviews to literature to history to comedy, podcasts give you the opportunity to learn about the European Witch Craze or hear some Beat poetry whilst doing your food shopping or walking to a tutorial. Get ready to set sail and explore new lands with these podcast recommendations.
Today in Focus This daily news podcast, brought to you by The Guardian, promises to take you “behind the headlines” for a more in depth look at the current issues. Hosts Nosheen Iqbal and Michael Safi combine human storytelling with perceptive investigation to give you half an hour of easily-digestible news every weekday; perfect for getting up-to- date whilst on your morning commute.
Frank Skinner’s Poetry Podcast
Comedian Frank Skinner gives his own vibrant and thoughtful take on some famous poetry as well as some lesser known works. As he goes from reciting his favourite lines to giving historical background to his own personal connection to the writing, his enthusiasm is apparent and highly infectious. Premiering in April 2020, Skinner has so far covered a terrific plethora of poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Robert Frost and Denise Levertov.
You’re Dead to Me Author and public historian Greg Jenner presents this delightfully informative yet entertaining history podcast accompanied by a different historian and comedian each episode. Described as “the history podcast for people who don’t like history... and those who do” this podcast is straightforward in its historical content and amusing in its delivery. Perfect for those looking to improve their general knowledge. Especially enjoyable episodes include “Lord Byron” and “Blackbeard”.
In Our Time For the more scholarly among us is Melvyn Bragg’s polymath of a podcast which covers everything from states of matter to the Polish- Lithuanian Commonwealth. Each episode Bragg is accompanied by a range of experts who work together to give a nuanced and diverse view of the topic. Bragg’s no- nonsense presenting allows the podcast to cover topics extensively and efficiently which makes for a highly educational listen. In Our Time is a perfect way to supplement your studies, especially for students of English or History.
Grounded with Louis Theroux Documentary filmmaker and journalist Louis Theroux used his months spent in lockdown to sit down and chat on Zoom with celebrities such as Michaela Coel, Miriam Margolyes and Ruby Wax. Theroux is characteristically open and self- reflective as he discusses the trials and joys of life at home with his high- profile guests as well as delving into their upbringings and careers. The podcast is effortlessly human and interesting; it sometimes even feels like you are in the room with Theroux, ears pricked as you sip a cup of tea and listen to Margolyes reveal that she once “mooned” Warren Beatty.
The Apology Line For the true crime lovers and viewers of Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, this podcast ticks all the boxes and then some. Centering on the 1980 New York conceptual art project, The Apology Project, the podcast traces the life of Allan Bridge aka Mr. Apology who urged callers to “apologise their wrongs against people without jeopardising themselves” by leaving anonymous confessions on a phone line. The podcast is presented by Allan Bridge’s wife, Marissa, who gives a first hand account of the sinister phenomenon as well as her husband’s descent into obsession.
Doing It Right with Pandora Sykes This interview series podcast attempts to find the right answer to life and, of course, fails. In each episode, journalist and broadcaster Pandora Sykes invites a new expert guest to discuss modern life’s fears and fallacies. So far, podcast interviewees have included author Naoise Dolan on the misconceptions about autism, historian Rutger Bregman on the innate goodness of human beings, and philosopher Alain de Botton on the paradox of choice.
If I Were You For some light-hearted hilarity to distract you from coursework deadlines soon to loom, look to Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld’s agony aunt style podcast. The two comedians give mostly unqualified advice to anonymous audience members who find themselves in a variety of sticky situations, including online dating dilemmas, financial predicaments and workplace feuds.