Friday, 4 December 2015

Podcasts I love

I've been running quite a bit recently, which you probably already know because I keep banging on about it. It's quite a turn around for me because although I've been running since I was a teenager, I've always harboured a secret hatred for it and only forced myself out onto the pavements as a means to keep my weight in check. Upon deciding to sign up for a half marathon in October, I felt sure that my relationship with running wouldn't get any better and I'd continue to see it as a chore.

That wasn't quite the case. In fact, I've become quite a convert, planning my runs in advance and getting a little angsty if I don't manage to get out regularly. I've even enjoyed the runs which have lasted longer than an hour. That's unheard of for me. 

A big part of this change has definitely been my discovery of a few key podcasts which have kept me company on those longer runs. I now look forward to getting outside because it means I can pop my earphones in and catch up with the stories I've been following.

Thanks to a comment on yesterday's post by Katy, I was prompted to write a post today sharing some of my favourites with you.

The first podcast I ever came across was Serial. This is an absolute must listen to. The production quality is top notch, as is the story telling. It's a journalistic exploration of a real life murder case in Baltimore just before the turn of the millennium. I won't give too much more away, because the podcast does such a stellar job of telling the story and I wouldn't want to give away any spoilers in case you haven't listened to it. 

My obsession with Serial led me on to the Undisclosed podcast. This continues on with the story that Serial focuses on. It's worth noting that you shouldn't jump straight into this without listening to Serial first as it definitely assumes that you have knowledge of the case and so the hosts often reference certain things which are explained more fully in Serial.

Undisclosed is produced by three lawyers so it's a lot more technical and less about telling a story than Serial is, but it's just as fascinating, if not more. When training for the half marathon, this was the main podcast I would listen to as each episode is quite long and there are quite a few to get through. It can be a little difficult to keep up with all the legal jargon and the complexity of the story. I found that quite useful though as it meant that I was so busy concentrating on the podcast that I didn't even notice how tough the run was!

There's a clear thread throughout this post because Serial is actually a spin off from the next podcast I'll mention which is This American Life. This is a weekly podcast which tends to have a few stories loosely based around the same topic, although the format varies a little from time to time. As with Serial, the production quality and story telling are top quality and so it's a really good listen. I also have quite a strong crush on the main host, Ira Glass. Give it a few episodes and you'll totally be with me on that! This American Life has a huge back catalogue and publishes a new episode each week so you'd have to be a really obsessive listener to run out of episodes. 

With such a wide variety of episodes to choose from, I'll highlight a few of my favourite ones for you to get started with.

The Night in Question  - This explores the assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, the resulting consequences and the conspiracy theories which have circulated ever since. I'm an international relations geek so I love diving into these sort of topics and this was excellently done.

Abdi and the Golden Ticket -A really touching and eye opening look into the life of a Somalian man facing many obstacles on his way to fulfil his dream of emigrating to the United States. It's highly likely that I cried at this one, which was a little bit awkward when out running in public.

Cops See it Differently: Part One - This is a two episode exploration of the issue of race and American policing. I liked it because it took the time to explore both sides of the issue and was really quite thought provoking.

Batman - I won't tell you anything about this one. Just listen to it. It's incredible.

These are the main podcasts that take up a most of my time but I dip in and out of a few others such as 

Dear Sugar - an advice podcast featuring Cheryl Strayed who wrote the wonderful Wild. 

Invisibilia - this is actually the podcast on which Batman was originally featured and it focuses on more of the same type of thing. Overall, the podcast is a look at the forces that shape human behaviour and is an interesting mix of science reporting and story telling. 

Radio Lab - Another podcast weaving science and storytelling together.

Hopefully there's something new there to pique your interest. If you fall in love with any of the podcasts (or Ira Glass) then do let me know. 

Also, I realise that this list is quite USA focused so if you know of any good British podcasts then please tell me because I'm desperate to find one.

Have you listened to any of these? What's your favourite podcast?

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