Given the circumstances, I am not currently in the company of Men, Cheerful Ladies, Wolves, Strangers, or Others. This is a shame, as all those things sound great (except maybe the wolves). Instead, one of the things I have noticed is that my podcast consumption has shifted in tone, so that the podcasts I am listening to are chatty, friendly ones which feel a lot like having people over. I’ve been relistening to a couple of old favourites, have ditched a few others for failing to provide the required level of escapism, and have even acquired a few new ones. I know I’m not the only person who is alone a lot or always right now, so I thought I’d share the podcasts I’ve been especially enjoying in case you want some nice talkative company too.
- The Hitch. I love this podcast, which was recorded in the summers of 2018 and 2019. Dan and Janice, the couple who host it, took two long road trips across the States with their kids, dog, and caravan. Every day, they recorded an episode about their experiences that day, and then uploaded them in bunches whenever they had reliable internet. The episodes are mostly around 10 minutes long, and it’s so interesting to hear their stories. I’ve just started revisiting the second series of episodes (starting with Hitching Up Again), and it is a delight. This is the rare podcast where it’s important to start in the right place – either with the very first episode, or at Hitching Up Again – so that you can follow the progress of their journey. I hope that they return next summer with a new series.
- The BBC Good Food Podcast. The BBC Good Food team are currently recording a lot of podcast episodes – I assume because they can’t go into the office. It makes for great listening. The recent episodes are all about cooking in lockdown and dealing with the assorted issues that come with that, so they’ve had episodes about baking without common ingredients, food gifts that can be sent in the post, using up leftovers – all that kind of thing. There are different guests and hosts in every episode, and it’s nice to hear something that addresses the logistics of living in lockdown without the side order of doom and gloom that comes with following the news cycle.
- Game Show! from the Incomparable. I love many of The Incomparable’s podcasts, but Game Show! is proving to be a particularly silly source of joy at the moment. It even gave me ideas for how to run a games night remotely for friends. The hosts play variations on Trivial Pursuit, Balderdash, text-based adventure games, and sundry other games, including some that they’ve made up – all adapted to be entertaining in podcast form. Listening to back episodes of this feels like hanging out with friends in person.
- Strong Sense of Place. Obviously, there are approximately 43000 book podcasts (at least) out there, and I try to diversify my listening material so that it isn’t all book stuff – but Strong Sense of Place is just lovely. This is a relatively new podcast (it started in January), hosted by husband and wife team David and Melissa. In each episode, they look at a different place and discuss books that are set there, often talking to someone from that place about their experiences. “Place” is defined in a relatively woolly way – restaurants, Japan, the circus, and Chicago have all featured as the focus of different episodes. When discussing specific geographical locations, the hosts try to have a good mix of books from both authors native to the area, and those written from an outsider’s perspective. The podcast covers a wide range of genres, both fiction and non-fiction, classics and new releases. This is a bit more scripted than the other podcasts I’ve mentioned, but it still feels chatty and informal. It’s also a lovely escape for those of us who haven’t left our immediate neighbourhoods since March.
I hope that these recommendations might make you feel a bit like you are in the company of entertaining and interesting people. If you are listening to podcasts a lot right now, please feel free to leave recommendations in the comments!