Because I am now someone who commutes daily, and because I find it difficult to read in noisy environments, I now listen to even more podcasts than I did before. Here is a round-up of a few new favourites:

  1. Friendshipping! This podcast is just the loveliest show. It is hosted by two friends, Jenn and Trin, who answer questions from listeners and give advice about friendship-related issues and drama. They seem to spend half their time complimenting each other, and occasionally the question-askers, about how great everyone is at being friends. It is very cheesy and extremely American (I don’t think a group of British friends would ever be this sincerely, extravagantly nice to each other), so I can’t listen to it for long stretches the way that I have done with some other shows. However, it is utterly delightful, and I really recommend it. (A small note: one of the hosts is also involved in running Cards Against Humanity, so if you have delicate sensibilities around language or adult humour, this might not be for you).
  2. Ear HustleI care a lot about prison conditions and quality of life for ex-offenders, because my mum used to teach maths in a men’s prison (also I watched a lot of Porridge at an impressionable age). Ear Hustle is a new podcast about life in San Quentin State Prison, jointly hosted by a visual artist working there and two of the inmates. It has been very eye-opening for me. The UK prison system is relatively liberal in comparison, though nowhere near as much as that of continental Europe, and I’ve found it incredibly interesting. Definitely worth a listen.
  3. Dear Hank and John. I am a long-time fan and watcher of Hank and John Green’s Youtube channel Vlogbrothers, but for some reason I didn’t start listening to Dear Hank and John when it first launched. I can’t remember why I eventually did, but I have listened to the entire backlog of ~100 episodes, and several episodes twice or thrice. This is another listener question-style podcast, but the “advice” dispensed is often heavy on comedy and extremely light on common sense. It’s one of those podcasts that I go back and listen to when I am feeling blue, because there is always a good joke that I missed the first time around. I have some particular episode recommendations for this one: episode 62, Pumpkins and Penguins (and Fiddles); episode 75, The Nutrient Coconut Milk of Sin (which is hosted by Hank with his wife Katherine, not John); and episode 28, John’s Top Ten Probable Apocalypse List. 
  4. The Private Eye PodcastPrivate Eye is a UK-based news/current affairs magazine that is very strong on investigative journalism and policy analysis, especially on issues that are not frequently covered in national newspapers. There’s a very good column on corruption in local councils, for example. Their podcast is sporadic and the audio quality is a bit patchy, but it is fascinating. In keeping with the nature of their magazine, each podcast dives into extremely detailed analysis of one or two issues. I really enjoyed their episode on the new Homelessness bill, for example. This is probably a podcast that will only be enjoyed by policy nerds, but that is a thing that I am, so I like it a lot.
  5. Pantsuit PoliticsThe goal of this show is bipartisan political analysis by two American women, Sarah and Beth, who live (I think) in Kentucky. The former is a Democrat and activist, and the latter describes herself as “from the right”, though she no longer considers herself a Republican. It is really interesting to hear these two women, who clearly like and respect each other, having thoughtful and detail-orientated disagreements about policy and process. Like most people, I don’t wholescale agree with the policy positions of any one party, though I skew pretty left-wing, and I am increasingly frustrated by online discussion of policy. Sarah and Beth have put a lot of thought into how to make their show nuanced and respectful of differing opinions, which is something that is definitely missing in a lot of the other shows that I love.