Podcasts have swallowed a fair amount of my reading time this year, and I’ve found many new ones since I uploaded my last set of mini-reviews. Here are a few of my favourites. In light of 2016’s 2016ishness, most of the podcasts I have been listening to are political or political satire, but there are a few others too.
- The New Statesman Podcast. This is the only UK-based news podcast I listen to regularly. It’s normally hosted by the journalists Helen Lewis and Stephen Bush, who write for the New Statesman magazine. In light of all the unexpected developments in world politics this year, I’ve really appreciated having access to such clear and insightful analysis—with a left-wing bent. Also, one of the hosts follows me on Twitter and occasionally replies to my tweets, which makes me feel extremely famous. Finally, this podcast introduced me to Hamilton, so I owe it a debt of gratitude.
- Wolf 359. Ahh, I love this podcast! This is a science fiction drama set on a small ship orbiting the star system Wolf 359. It starts off, as the name would rather imply, coming off as an affectionate Star Trek parody–though I don’t think any prior Trek experience would be necessary to enjoy it. However, after the first season, it rapidly takes a serious of unexpected turns and becomes something altogether darker and more original, though it stays very funny. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It kept me company during many hours of tedious SPSS number-crunching.
- The Bugle. As far as I am concerned, this podcast makes up for the fact that Have I Got News for You is boring now. It’s a news podcast with a satirical bent, hosted by Andy Zaltzman (who does the Now Show periodically) and various other guests. It focuses on the UK and US, but has also presented stories about Turkey, India, and South Africa within the past few weeks. They’ve covered everything from the ongoing Southern rail strikes to the recent abolishing of Rs500 and Rs1000 notes in India.
- Women at Warp. This delightful Star Trek podcast features four female Trekkies talking in depth about the show. Sometimes their focus is explicitly feminist analysis, whereas other episodes look at a particular trope or character–for example, their Valentine’s Day episode about all of Picard’s love interests made me laugh. Some of my favourite female characters on television can be found in Star Trek—notably Captain Janeway and B’Elanna Torres—and, because of the way the geek world is, women have sometimes felt sidelined in the Trek fandom. That’s pretty strange given the significant number of fascinating, well-written women in the Trek universe, and the number of female fans I know*–I think shows like this are going some way towards redressing the balance. Also, it’s just fun.
- Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! This podcast by NPR is a current affairs quiz show. It’s aired more-or-less weekly, and features the hosts of NPR Politics (which I also really love) in a less heavy role. It’s both interesting and funny, and it’s nice to hear the hosts being allowed to be a little bit more opinionated than they are in their main show. They’ve had some pretty famous guests on to play lately, including Bernie Sanders, and it’s well worth a listen. Deals with big news stories, but also “oddly enough” type events.
That’s it for this particular installment, but I am sure I will be back with more podcast reviews in a few months. I do really, really like them, after all.
*My sample is biased because I am a professional geek, but even so.