The Decade of the Podcast

Amy Knowles discusses the growing popularity of podcasts and offers her top picks as recommendations.

By Amy Knowles

In an age where we can get news at the click of a button, information from a quick google search, and enjoy most forms of artistic and cultural expression by simply scrolling on social media, the podcast has emerged as a platform that manages to collate these small snippets of daily life and express them through our headphones (or airpods… it is 2020, after all).

During an age in which current affairs seem more overwhelming than ever, the podcast is the perfect option for people seeking bite-sized nuggets of information at a time. The podcast, being a solely audiological form, is perfectly compatible with multitasking (for men or women) – users are able to listen and learn whilst performing everyday tasks such as cooking, walking or exercising. Personally, and I’m certain many will agree, I am a lover of ubiquitous sound – I find it difficult to sit in a café or cook without some form of ambient, background noise, to which the podcast lends itself perfectly. I can complete menial, usually mundane tasks whilst learning and sat in silence? Perfect.

Music today is everywhere: in the gym, restaurants, stores, and on adverts. Rarely do you walk into a public setting where no music is playing – then you may actually have to talk to other people! Being audibly stimulated seems necessary in daily life. Silence is uncomfortable. Music covers this. But, often the music you do like, you overplay, and the music you don’t like you don’t want to listen to, and the radio’s dying years (adverts, I blame you!), the podcast is the ultimate amalgamation between the radio and music. Also, a podcast you can choose, pause and have readily available at a time that suits you.

As someone who listens to one, if not four hours of podcasts a day, I have some recommendations for everyone and anyone. Whether you want to be educated, challenged, made to laugh or cry, I have the podcast for you.

1. Shameless Media.

The show for ‘smart women who like dumb stuff’. Melbourne journalists Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald have created a podcast which explores pop culture from all perspectives. The two women discuss headlines, celebrity stories, current affairs and their own experiences under a feminist and beautifully scrutinizing lens. Further, they also do ‘In Conversation’ episodes featuring inspiring women. I can highly recommend the conversation with Emma Carey, who ‘fell from the sky’ aged 20 in a freak skydiving accident. Not only do you feel educated and informed after listening to their hour-long weekly show, you feel empowered and have probably laughed out loud a few times in public (the Australian accents also make it that little bit easier to listen to).

2. Shagged, Married, Annoyed.

Geordie comedian Chris Ramsey and his equally hilarious wife Rosie Ramsay, host what I would coin the funniest podcast around. They answer questions from the public, discuss funny stories from the public. My favourite segment is ‘What’s your beef?’ in which they hash out their arguments and annoyances of the previous week. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have laughed out loud in a public place listening to this podcast. A feel-good podcast with enough toilet humour to make your stomach hurt.

3. Squiz Today /The Daily (New York Times)/ Today in Focus (The Guardian).

These three podcasts give you the run-down of the news cycle. The Daily and Today in Focus produce around 30 minutes a day, discussing relevant stories in the news of the previous day. Both are informative and interesting with a deeper dialogue of world issues.

Squiz Today does a daily episode which is usually under the 10-minute mark, which is perfect for when you’re in a rush but want to stay up to date with the current affairs. The stories are explained in enough depth to understand, but not enough to bore you.

4. Happy Place

A podcast to help you find joy every day. Fearne interviews celebrities and non-celebrities alike on how they find their ‘Happy Place’ and all the trials and tribulations along the way. Her voice is the personification of sunshine and you can’t help but smile when listening to her humble words of wisdom. A particularly good episode is with Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black, Tom’s husband and co-father of their child. If you can’t get enough of this podcast, read her books also, particularly if you’re perhaps not having the best time in your personal life.

5. George Ezra and Friends

I might be George Ezra’s biggest fan, but objectively his podcast is a great listen. He interviews musicians and discusses their careers, their goals and their journey to success. George speaks in such a gentle manner, which in turn makes you feel as if you’re listening in to a pair of great friends talking – there’s no hierarchy of interviewer and interviewee in this podcast. Start with episode 023, in which he interviews Lewis Capaldi, discussing anxiety, panic attacks and the ways in which Capaldi is trying to change the accessibility of his concerts: if you didn’t love Lewis Capaldi already, you’ll love him even more after hearing this episode.

6. Love etc.

Love etc. (made by the creators of Shameless Media), is presented by Bumble Australia and is ‘proof that love comes in many colourful shapes, sizes, and stories.’ Lov etc. has a rating of 4.8/5 starts on and deservedly so. The episodes discuss the often tricky conversations we try not to discuss on issues surrounding love, whether that be platonic love, cheating (from every side of the story), and “the ick”. Stories which are real, raw and relatable, this is a podcast to really get your teeth into.

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Amy Knowles discusses the growing popularity of podcasts and offers her top picks as recommendations.