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:
- 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).
- Ear Hustle. I 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.
- 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.
- The Private Eye Podcast. Private 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.
- Pantsuit Politics. The 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.