Podcasts Explained and Reviewed

I’ll spare you my own podcast journey (even though I think it’s truly fascinating) and get straight to business. Today I’m talking podcast basics and my top recommendations.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a digital audio file. Very much like a song, in the way you access and download it. Kind of like a film in terms of quality. And a bit like a YouTube clip in the way you can ‘subscribe’ to stay up to date on the content.

If you like a podcast, you should subscribe and leave a 5 star review. These are two steps which take under a minute and make a huge difference to a podcast’s success (it pushes the podcast up in the rankings on Apple Podcast, allowing other people to discover it when they ‘Search’). It’s amazing the impact a review OR A COMMENT (hint, hint) can have!

How do I listen to a podcast?

Exactly the same way you listen to a song. But instead of using iTunes, you might prefer Apple Podcast. You can stream and download. Listen on your phone, tablet or computer.

If you are listening on your iPhone, go to the Podcast app. It comes built in to iPhones nowadays, so you shouldn’t need to download it. Press ‘search’ (bottom right hand corner), type in the name of one of my recommendations below, scroll down to the listed episodes and click on the + symbol to the right of the episode. If you click it a second time (when it is a little cloud symbol) it will download. I suggest you download eps when you have wi-fi, so you can then listen to them later without a) draining your data and b) when you don’t have an internet connection.

Some of the more popular platforms are:

·       Apple Podcast

·       Stitcher

·       Spotify

·       Soundcloud

I used Soundcloud when I created my podcast (loyal fans don’t despair! I have not forgotten the podcast. It’s just super time-consuming and I have been otherwise occupied. Listen to it here.) Soundcloud enabled me to embed the eps on this blog and allowed me to view the traffic, so I could see if people were actually listening.

Why are podcasts so good?

Intimate
Podcasts are one of the most intimate forms of communication. You literally have another person’s voice in your ear. While all my favourite podcasters have never heard of me, I think of them as friends. This is called a parasocial relationship and it can actually be good for you. And yes, I did learn that term on a podcast. That’s because podcasts are so…

Informative
Podcasts are bursting with interesting information. Not only can you gain new perspectives but you can learn point blank. If you want to be more informed about world issues or simply up your conversational game, listen to a podcast. There are even podcasts on how to have better conversations. That’s because podcasts get super…

Niche
There is a podcast for everyone and everything. While podcasts do cover many mainstream topics, they span a whole range of subjects. Fashion and tech. World War II art. Pen adjacent accessories. I am not even joking on that last one. No matter your interest, you will find a podcast to suit and satisfy you.

Entertaining
Podcasts make dead time feel less dead. Some are hilarious, some are gripping. And all make me less conscious of the fact that the car ahead of me hasn’t moved in the last ten minutes. If I arrive at a cafe early, I’m ok. I’ll just listen to the latest in entrepreneurship or body positivity. Then when my friend arrives, I have lots to share about the Cosmopolitan cover saga and the truth about sidezooming.

Passive
In a similar vein, podcasts allow for passive consumption. Turn mundane tasks into thought-provoking sessions. Look forward to traffic build up on the freeway exit. Just kidding. But seriously, podcasts have an edge here. Books and movies need your eyes. Podcasts make no such demands.

Well crafted

Like a good film, podcasts are usually planned, scripted, recorded and edited. As opposed to broadcast radio, podcasts feel more prepared and intentional. Radio might make a journey sufferable; I am genuinely excited if I have to duck up the street and continue my podcast listening. I’m also excited when my smoothie turns out really pink, but that’s besides the point.

What podcast should I start with?

Serial

Firstly, let me tell you that I can not stand horror. I have seen one horror film to date and I don’t see that count increasing in the coming years. (It was Paranormal Activity, in case you’re dying to know). I don’t like murder, darkness or anything that enhances my feelings of the world isn’t safe. Yet I was gripped by Serial.

A popular high school senior is murdered. Her ex-boyfriend is convicted. 19 years later, the case is re-visited.

After Serial, I listened to two more mysteries - S Town and The Message. Give them a shot if you enjoy Serial. But not Serial season 2. Don’t touch that.

What are your 5 recommendations?

The Heart

Taboo topics, like multiple sex partners, homelessness and STIs, are explored through personal stories, which have some of the most ASMR spinge-tingly soundscapes I’ve ever listened to. Wish they’d do shopping lists. I could listen for days.

Start Up

Fairly meta. A podcast about a guy starting a podcast empire. In this case, it’s Alex Blumberg, and spoiler alert: Things go pretty well for him. He takes listeners from early stage development, through name choosing, investor pitching and more right through to the perils of expansion and how to foster good workplace culture. Start Up was my entry into the world of entrepreneurship. Subsequent seasons are also good. Notorious American Apparel ex CEO Dov Charney features in one of the seasons.

Freakonomics

There are some who denigrate Freakonomics as “economics for dummies”. I subscribe to a more flattering line of thinking: Freakonomics is economic made interesting. A journalist and an economist apply economic theory to a huge range of situations, ranging from sumo wrestlers, to abortion to traffic jams. The critical thinking is worth a listen but it’s the range of topics and the incredible guests they have on the show (Pepsi Co CEO, happiness experts) that have me keep coming back.

The Moth

True stories told live. And recorded. People from all walks of life stand in front of an audience and share their personal and unbelievable experiences. On their website, they say The Moth “celebrate[s] the diversity and commonality of human experience.” My favourite story is about a bee sting. Listen here.

Shameless

Described as the podcast for smart women who really (really) love dumb stuff, Shameless is intelligent conversation about all things pop culture. For such seemingly frivolous topics, the two co-hosts go surprisingly deep. While I don’t always agree with their remarks (ahem, the whole Sarah’s Day episode), I love that they critically approach news headlines. They cover verything from Instagram celebrity steroid use to the excess of pre-marital prep and, of course, plenty of The Bachelor.

Honourable mentions:

This American Life, Health Code, The Slow Home, The Melissa Ambrosini Show, The Pitch, Lady Startup, Masters of Scale, Mixergy, ProBlogger, Second Life, Spirit of 608, The Skinny Confidential, Women of the Hour.

Where do I go to find new podcasts to listen to?

There is a Browse section that you can use if you’re on Apple podcasts. This the Featured and Top Charts sections are very reliant on user reviews. So that podcast with a few thousand listens that is going to change your life may not appear there. I prefer word of mouth recommendations and curated lists on the internet. Google ‘real life romance podcasts’ or ‘best female podcasts’ and you’ll be presented with stacks of well thought out suggestions.


If you need more recommendations, message me or comment below! As you may have gathered from this post, I love recommending podcasts.