Podcasts have been around for almost 15 years and yet it still requires a bit of effort to find a good one to listen to. Some services may use fancy algorithms to provide recommendations, but word of mouth still remains the best way of discovering your next favourite show.
So with that in mind, here are three podcasts that I think you should listen and subscribe to. These shows will inform, entertain and hopefully leave you a little smarter at the end of each episode.
Twenty Thousand Hertz
I have a penchant for podcasts that expose things that are often unseen or overlooked, and so my favourite show at the moment is Twenty Thousand Hertz, which reveals the stories behind some of the most recognisable sounds we hear.
Episodes are only 15 minutes long, making them easy to digest and devoid of fluff and filler content. Topics covered so far include the voice of Apple’s personal assistant Siri and the iconic 8-bit audio that defined a generation through video game sounds and music.
My favourite episodes, however, have been the fascinating insight into film and television audio descriptions, and how car manufacturers ensure modern vehicles produce sounds that meet customers’ expectations.
We humans hate change, mostly because we fear the unknown. Cars, for example, were initially met with widespread pessimism, and even the humble Walkman created headphone hysteria to the point it was even banned in parts of America.
These instances of protectionism and technophobia have recently been covered on the Pessimists Archive, a podcast that claims “the best antidote to fear of the new is looking back at fear of the old,” which concisely explains what it is about.
Each topic is well researched, explained and supported by expert opinions. The best episode so far? The one about the musicians’ strike in America during the 1940s, which seems bonkers in retrospect.
Basically, if you wanted to play a band’s song on the radio back then, the entire band – every single member – had to be present in the studio while it was being broadcast. Why? Because musician’s feared the dawn of recordings as they were no longer being paid to perform live.
The Week Unwrapped
Podcasts that discuss current affairs are ten-a-penny, and it would have been incredibly easy for news magazine The Week to produce something in a similar vein. Well it has… sort of.
What makes The Week Unwrapped slightly different, however, is that instead of offering commentary and analysis on the main news stories of the week, it focuses on the non-headline grabbing ones instead.
Presented by Olly Mann – possibly podcasting’s most ubiquitous host – each half-hour episode features three of The Week’s writers, who kick-off their discussions with an audio clip before delving into an entertaining and informative debate.
All these podcasts are available on iTunes, Pocket Casts or wherever else you listen to your favourite shows. Speaking of which, if you have any podcasts you are currently into and think are worth checking out, then share them in the comments below.