The airwaves are seemingly awash with more and more and more new podcasts daily. I know I always talk about how many choices there are and how hard it is to narrow them all down, but the problem remains. So, this month, an eclectic collection. It’s definitely helpful to have a few episodes downloaded for the inevitable traffic jams on the M5 headed south and for the delays at the train stations up and down the country.
You’re Dead To Me
This podcast calls itself “the history podcast for people who don’t like history” and it fully lives up to that proclamation. It’s not that I don’t like history, it’s that I can’t ever remember it. Dates don’t stay in my head and I find it really hard to understand the concept of two things happening at once for some reason… it’s a frustrating problem.
This podcast de-intellectualises a series of important, engaging and bizarre historical events and figures, using comedy and reasonably short (less than an hour) episodes (the radio edits are just half an hour) to provide a series of swift but valuable lessons. As interesting and useful to a GCSE student as to a thirty-year-old woman who can’t remember things properly.
The Guardian veteran restaurant reviewer, and one of Masterchef’s judges, Grace Dent, has made a podcast that launched mid-June. On it, she talks to a diverse range of guests about their own comfort eating- what food makes them feel genuinely good. What brings them joy. Grace is such a brilliant presenter because although her job involves lots of reductions and coulis and deconstructed things, in fact, she is really down to earth, speaking at length in the newspaper about the dangers of food snobbery and her own comfort eating: ‘yes, as a restaurant critic, I spend an excessive amount of time in posh restaurants, eating fancy, ornate tasting menus. But a real treat for me is crisp, vinegary chips with plenty of salt and, in full acknowledgment of the northern English stereotype, lots of gravy.’ The podcast is a brilliant outlet for this relatable attitude and makes for compelling audio.
The Tight Rope
This dialogue-based series, which consists of discussions between academic phenoms Cornel West and Tricia Rose is a valuable resource for anyone puzzling over issues of race, social justice and African American arts and culture. Far from being exclusive or difficult to intellectually access, as these complex topics sometimes are, The Tight Rope is totally comprehensible and engaging, shining a light on a range of issues and ideas that might otherwise not occur to some listeners. Certainly, it’s a very Americanised broadcast, but it is hugely topical, honest, and up-to-the-minute. An episode in February discussed Cornel West’s ‘ridiculous situation at Harvard’ (his place of work) demonstrating that really and truly, nothing is off the table on this podcast.
Are You Michelle From Skins?
Listen, I know I bang on about being from Bristol too much, but I am from there so I have this innate connection with Skins. Especially seasons 1 and 2 because I was the same age as the kids on there when the show came out. It felt so relevant, if a little farfetched, at the time. Knowing that the majority of the characters from that first series went on to be minor characters in Game of Thrones, I’m much more interested in the Sid’s and Michelle’s of this world. And so, this podcast is right up my strasse. April Pearson talks about being known specifically for a particular period of her life, and she talks to other people about their comparable experiences. This was started following a very successful series on IGTV so if you caught that, you’ll want to hear this too.