I’ve found lots of new and wonderful podcasts recently as well as enjoying some of my old favourites returning with new seasons, so I thought I’d do a run down of my favourite podcasts and episodes from the past few weeks. There’s a lot to get through, so I’ll try and keep the rambling to a minimum!
Homo Sapiens came back for season 4 with a new guest cohost alongside Chris Sweeney and it’s only the darling and fellow Scot, Alan Cumming. They make an excellent pair and it’s probably one of the podcasts I’m most excited to listen to every week, it’s always entertaining and hilarious (I could hear Alan Cumming saying ‘hilarious’ in my head as I typed it). This season the focus has been “icons” and boy let me tell you there have been some brilliant guests including Stephen Fry, Jeremy O.Harris, Justin Vivian Bond, Sadiq Khan and Munroe Bergdorf, and speaking of, Munroe has announced her new book out July next year titled Transitional which I’ll be preordering. The podcast is honest, fun, informative and with the help of Alan Cumming, just a little bit outrageous, what more could anyone ask for? I love the agony uncles section and anecdote roulette, especially since Alan has a story about everyone it seems, even the Obamas.
The Wind of Change podcast is an eight part series by the journalist Patrick Radden Keefe, who’s voice and tone reminded me a lot of Ronan Farrow’s so I’m wondering if it’s a pre requisite for writing for the New Yorker. The podcast takes on a rumour that Patrick heard from a friend many years ago that the power ballad Wind of Change by the (often cheesy) 80s metal band from Hanover in Germany, the Scorpions, was actually written by the CIA. And as if that wasn’t crazy enough, that it was written as an attempt to bring about the fall of the Soviet Union. Although it all seems very far fetched to begin with, the more the story goes on the more it seems like it would be even more insane if the CIA weren’t involved somehow, possibly not quite as directly as sitting down to write a heavy metal power ballad, but still. It’s a fun and mystifying little series that takes you on a trip through the Cold War, a rock festival in Moscow, a rather large scale drugs bust, a plane journey in which Ozzy Osborn knocks a toilet door down he’s that desperate and there’s even an appearance from young Vladimir Putin. I realised there was a lot I had to learn about that time period, and particularly the strange facts about what on Earth was going on. I’d definitely recommend it for some weird and yet wonderful escapism.
Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw is probably the most informative podcast I listen to and should really be used in schools. As I’m sure many people will know, Crenshaw developed the theory of intersectionality and as well as all her other work around critical race theory and activism she’s now gone and made an easily accessible podcast for us all. I mean, there’s really no excuse for not educating ourselves with all the free content available these days. Every episode blows me away, but one in particular from last month that has been stuck in my mind ever since is episode 20, titled “India Kager: A Mother’s Story of Loss & Erasure”. The episode is heartbreaking and particularly hard to listen to and made me furious to no end. It’s important we hear about devastating stories like these as finding empathy will be the way through for many in seeing the problem for what it is and finding a way into anti racism work but also most importantly, so we don’t forget. This is even more of a problem when it comes to Black women who are killed by the police and then seen as merely “collateral damage”, which is what the Say Her Name movement hopes to challenge. The movement is talked about in this episode but is gone into in more depth in the next episode where Crenshaw is joined by multiple of the mothers and sisters of the movement. Hopefully people keep sharing these podcasts episodes and the stories within them so that they get the attention and outrage they deserve.
Doing It Right with Pandora Sykes is a new podcast from The High Low cohost that goes along with her new book How do we know we’re doing it right? Which I’m going to continue reading as soon as I finish writing this post. The podcast centres around what makes a good life and explores all sorts of things both big and small as, in the words of Pandora, a good life is made up of both. I really enjoyed the most recent episode with Rutger Bregman, who’s book Humankind I’m hoping to read soon, it was extremely hopeful and uplifting (his book is billed as the same) and takes on the myth of human beings being selfish savages at heart- I see you Dawkins, and I still agree with you on some things but not this- the most prominent example being Lord of the Flies, which I may be one of the few not to have read it in high school. The other guests so far have been Joe Lycett, Sinead Burke and Dotty Charles (Dotty’s episode on the Fortunately podcast was excellent as well) and all have covered completely different and wide ranging topics just like the book does. The book and podcast look to be an interesting and comforting duo and a lovely calm way in which to dissect our thoughts and just really have a good think about things and why we do them.
I found out about Hot Take when the podcast hosts, Mary Heglar and Amy Westervelt, were guests on the So Hot Right Now podcast (another climate podcast I’d recommend) and absolutely loved their energy around the topic and the lens through which they look at the climate crisis, that is, through intersectional feminism (no surprises there ay). They look at all the current developments in the media and in politics but most importantly, the way in which we talk about these types of issues, as in their words, we don’t make time to talk about the storytelling and in doing so are often missing out on the chance to take these conversations further and make sure they are helpful, productive and doing the most they can for the movement. With such a worrying subject matter, one often centred around the sadness of what is lost and what will be, it’s helpful to listen to all the thoughts, criticisms and suggestions the hosts have, making it much easier and more motivating through their enthusiasm and outrage. I absolutely adore their take no shit attitude and inclusive approach, as climate change is of course a problem for everyone that seeps into everything from racial injustice to gender inequality and the hunger crisis, and we need to tackle them all for true justice.
Might Delete Later is a new podcast from the sisters Gina and Stevie Martin all about our relationship with social media. Gina Martin- the activist and campaigner who made up skirting illegal- loves social media and Stevie Martin- the comedian who as she says, has had one viral tweet about bread- hates it. They bring interesting new guests on each week, such as Phil Wang, Nish Kumar and Jamie Windust, to talk about their first post, a post they regret and one that makes them proud. I’m really enjoying the nuanced conversations around social media and all the good and the bad as someone who is still trying to work out my own relationship with it and for a few months now have been taking a break from the likes of Twitter and Instagram. Twitter I feel I might not ever go back on, but Instagram I do kind of miss partly because I love to look at all the pretty things from bookstagrams to interior and plant photos but also as it makes it easier to keep up with the work by some of the wonderful people I follow and to show my support. But anyway, the podcast is funny and excellent entertainment while also being thought provoking and I’d say really important right now where it seems a lot of people are starting to rethink their relationship with social media and the divide between reality and our online selves.
How to Fail by Elizabeth Day is of course an extremely popular podcast but I’m going to talk about it anyway because I’ve loved series 8 that’s only just came to an end with a spectacular interview with Bernardine Evaristo. The podcast is structured around a guests three failures, which I’ve seen to be anything from the very darkest to the lightest, and goes into much much more. As many guests have said, it seems to turn into more of a therapy session. The podcasts whole mantra is that there is no such thing as a failure, just something to learn from and to put you on the right path and it makes for excellent listening, particularly with a woman like Bernardine Evaristo- who talks about her failure to become an actor, to drive from London to Australia and to be a lesbian. Some of my other favourite guests have been Samantha Irby, Julia Samuel, Marian Keyes, Andrew Scott, Jane Garvey, Lemn Sissay, Alain De Botton, and well, I could go on and on. There’s quite literally something for everyone.
We’re Having a Moment is the only podcast on this list that came out of, as the title implies, this moment in history surrounding the global pandemic and the mass outrage and protests that arose after the murder of George Floyd in America. The podcast is hosted by Baratunde Thurston (author of How to Be Black, and also I’d really recommend his ted talk), and at just 6 episodes long still manages to cover a hell of a lot and should be essential listening for all. Thurston looks at all different aspects of this current movement and gives his thoughts and analysis, which I could gobble up to no end, and provides a real place for learning and grounding when there’s already so much to take in. The first episode takes a look at Amy Cooper’s apology and her lack of recognition for the fact that, whether or not she had always seen the police as her protectors, Christian Cooper was not a threat, and then dives further into the use of her power and how that power could have and should have been used for something good and impactful. The look into how we use our power and privilege was something I hadn’t seen as much of in such depth and left me with a lot to think about. The other episodes go into the idea that there is a “right way” to protest, defunding the police, white solidarity and what we need to do moving forward. Gets to the point, is short and covers a broad spectrum of the different things going on during this ever changing time where we need to stay awake and observant to not let things fall back to how they were before.
So much for keeping the rambling to a minimum. And to think I was gonna talk about even more podcasts, it’s a good thing I managed to cut it down to 8. Anyway, as usual, I’m sure there will be another post filled with podcast recommendations soon because I’ve just got too many to talk about.
What podcasts are you enjoying at the moment? I know I don’t need anymore, but well, I’m still always looking for more.