Podcasts give us something semi-productive to listen to on exercise walks or runs (fair play if you can listen to podcasts whilst running, I personally need old school Basement Jaxx blasting for me to even think about slightly fast walk). They can ease us into current affairs, throw us into the deep end of extremely niche topics, or just be a lovely hour or so of escapism…
Either way, here are some nice ones for this month.
Busy Philipps is Doing Her Best
If you don’t already follow Busy Philipps on Instagram then please see this moment as the universe telling you to get on it. She is so fun and funny and relatable and joyous and that attitude absolutely comes across in her podcast which she presents with friends Caissie St. Onge and Shantira Jackson.
On it, the women talk to celebrity guests about how they are doing their best in this global shit storm, but the best part of the episode is the long, rambling conversation at the beginning where we get to listen to Busy and her friends vibe off each other. It is less self-satisfied than Marc Maron’s monologuing openings and less clique-y than Dax and Monica’s armchair fact checks but it has the same glimpse-of-another-life mood.
You’re Wrong About…
Covering topics as diverse and divisive as Yoko Ono, Courtney Love and The Stanford Prison Experiment, this podcast is absolutely not afraid to ask millions of tricky questions and it comes up with some genuinely surprising answers. Evidently, it is incredibly well researched and thoughtfully curated but man, it is an addictive show! The premise is to re-frame an event or series of events that exist in the public consciousness and to challenge existing preconceptions and understandings of them. Completely fascinating, and totally bingeable.
Owen Jones Podcast
I follow Owen Jones on Instagram too, although for different reasons than why I follow Busy Phillips. Owen Jones is a modern socialist. Completely crystal clear in his values and expectations and willing to expose any mistreatment, misappropriation and malpractice he sees as problematic. I love him and I loved his book about the demonisation of the working class, CHAVS, which he published when he was barely out of school (it came out a decade ago, Jones is still in his thirties. I exaggerated a tiny bit, but still…)
His podcast makes politics and political theory palatable and accessible to people like me. Jones gets to interview amazing historical heavyweights like Yanis Yaroufakis and (drum roll) Noam Chomsky and their discussions are genuinely riveting.
The Apology Line
This podcast comes from the gold mine which is Wondery and it details the incredible social experiment, or the gift if you like, of The Apology Line. This podcast narrates the invention, which existed in Manhattan for 15 years — a phone line you could call to speak to a stranger and apologise for anything anonymously. The apologies were recorded on an answering machine, but they were still anonymous. This mini-series of 6 episodes exposes this amazing phenomena and questions the ethical dilemmas with this public confessional system.
Another Guardian-related podcast here (Owen Jones writes a column for the paper, and I’m always banging on about Today in Focus). Reverberate tells the stories of the musical moments that shook history. It’s almost brand new — the first episode was broadcast in January, so there’s not too much of a back catalogue yet — but the move from print to audio of some brilliant music journalism is a welcome one. Chris Michael does a fabulous job of discussing these groundbreaking historical musical moments.