Five great podcasts that you shouldn’t miss
- From climate change to music, here are some great podcasts to enrich your mind
- Innovative formats and great storytelling make these podcasts a must-hear
The podcast turned 15 this year. Back in 2004, when broadcaster Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code became a hit, the idea of the podcast was intriguing—radio for the digital age, as it were. But as formats and business models have stabilized, the podcast is today a booming business. According to a 2018 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the industry generated business worth $479.1 million (around ₹3,440 crore now) in the US, and this is slated to grow to about $1 billion by 2021. Podcasts are great business, but that’s primarily because of their varied and excellent content. I have been a late adopter, but these five great podcasts on subjects as varied as science, music, football and climate change have me hooked. Check them out, and free your mind:
There are plenty of great podcasts on the subject of climate change, but Warm Regards is the best. Primarily hosted by scientist Jacquelyn Gill, a paleoecologist, and journalist Andy Revkin, Warm Regards tackles various issues related to climate change in great depth and with great variety. From episodes on how to counter climate deniers to those on using faith to raise climate awareness, the hosts and their specialist guests take us deep into the science but keep it fairly simple for the layperson. The easy conversational tone complements the gravitas of the subject well. Each episode also gives you a wealth of bibliography and links on the subject under discussion.
Available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Soundcloud
Tiny Desk Concerts
NPR (National Public Radio) Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts is an institution. The format is pretty simple: Musicians from across genres play live 15-20 minute sets in front of a small audience in the NPR office. You can watch the videos online, but I prefer the audio podcast of the shows. Here, you can hear musicians of the calibre of Wilco, Big Boi, George Clinton and Adele play cracking sets with a minimum of fuss. It’s a great way to discover new music as well. It makes for the perfect soundtrack to your work commute.
Available on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Pocket Casts
Think Again is the multimedia web portal Big Think’s podcast. In keeping with the portal’s modus operandi of deep, thoughtful and analytical content, Think Again confronts some of the world’s brightest intellectuals with deep questions on time, mortality, authoritarianism, the homeostatic imperative and a host of other subjects. The engaging Jason Gots hosts the show, and these roughly hour-long episodes feature interviews with authors like Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Robert Macfarlane, Neil Gaiman and a veritable who’s who of people who like to think deeply. An absolute delight.
Available on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher
Another NPR show—yes, NPR has brilliant podcasts—Invisibilia is one of the most intriguing science podcasts out there. In fact, it’s more than just science, it’s narrative storytelling at its finest. It talks about subjects as varied as empathy, mental illness or the daily uncertainty faced by meteorologists. In every episode, the show takes a personal story to elucidate on the subject, jumping in and out of recordings, ambient sound, change in formats to keep the listening experience a riveting one. The show is an endlessly self-referential and meta analysis of the “invisible" forces that affect human behaviour, things that we never really stop to think about. Invisibilia is a classic.
Available on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Spotify
The Guardian’s Football Weekly is one of the best football podcasts out there. Each episode is about an hour long and features the very simple but effective format of a bunch of football writers from The Guardian sitting around in the studio and discussing the week’s football news. The show mostly deals with English football, but there are digressions to other European leagues and the occasional deeply informed chat about classic games and players. The warm conviviality of the presenters gives listeners the distinct feeling that they are in a room with fellow fans of the game. Can’t get better than that!
Available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and Soundcloud