Podcasts are taking over the world. In fact, it might have already happened. In the previous decade, The Ricky Gervais Show ruled the airwaves breaking records left, right and centre in what was considered the first commercially successful podcast. In 2016, Serial reigns supreme with millions of listeners hanging on host Sarah Koenig’s every word.
Not got involved yet? That’s okay, there’s still time to get into Serial and all the other amazing podcasts we’ve rounded up for you below. Film and pop culture? Got it. Songwriting? You betcha. The X-Files? Yep, there’s even a podcast for that. Feast your ears on the deluge of content below and spruce up your gloomy morning commute with these must-hear podcasts.
What is it? OK – so you’ve probably heard of this one but if not, it’s simply investigative journalism at its finest. Sarah Koenig and crew investigate shady going-ons, including a murder trial from 2000 in the first series and the fallout following an US soldier’s ‘desertion’ in Afghanistan in 2009. It’s had over 100 million downloads so far over less than 20 episodes, so feel free to hop on the bandwagon.
For fans of: Making A Murderer, Spotlight, gasping on the tube
Where to listen: www.serialpodcast.org
What is it? After moving from the now-defunct Grantland website (RIP), Andy Greenwald, Chris Ryan and Juliet Litman talk pop culture, and break down the finest television and films on show. In Game of Thrones season (arriving April), Greenwald and Ryan host a fantastic recap of the dragon drama, too.
For fans of: Game Of Thrones, award shows, fan theories.
Where to listen: www.soundcloud.com/channel33
You Must Remember This
What is it? Similar in format to Serial, but a little more niche, shall we say. You Must Remember This exclusively focuses on the ‘secret and/or forgotten histories of 20th century Hollywood’, detailing the rise of the film industry on the West Coast and the fascinating stars that helped build the institution. In particular, the series focused on musician-turned-cult-leader Charles Manson and the build up, execution and fall-out from his grisly crimes, will likely go down in podcast history.
For fans of: L.A. Confidential, Birdman, Hollywood
Where to listen: www.youmustrememberthispodcast.com
This American Life
What is it? This American Life is a weekly American radio show and podcast that focuses on non-fiction journalistic reports around a broad scope of topics. In fact, it’s this show that spawned the hugely successful Serial as a spin-off series. TAL is considerably wider in its scope, and in the past has featured first-hand stories of men with long-hair, plumbers and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A diverse bunch, then.
For Fans Of: Serial, documentaries, compilations
Where To Listen: www.thisamericanlife.org
On The Media
What is it? “Our weekly podcast explores how the media ‘sausage’ is made” claim the team behind the incisive and complex show. The most recent episodes include an interview with a journalist who refused a meeting with cartel kingpin El Chapo, and the reaction to the latest mass-shooting in the States. Nothing passes by this inquisitive and switched-on bunch.
For fans of: Newsnight, The Daily Show, Question Time
Where to listen: www.onthemedia.org
Sodajerker on Songwriting
What is it? Songwriting duo Sodajerker have turned their hand to podcasting with the Sodajerker on Songwriting show. It’s pretty self-explanatory: they discuss the songwriting process with outrageously talented musicians. That’s about it. In the past, The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, Rufus Wainwright and Billy Bragg have all been guests, so well worth a listen.
For fans Of: The Beatles, songwriting, Radio 4
Where to listen: www.sodajerker.com/podcast
The Bugle with John Oliver
What is it? The podcasting prequel to Oliver’s successful HBO satirical news show, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. It’s much of the same with witty and brutally honest takes on big news stories, except this time he has a sidekick in Andy Zaltzman. Production halted recently due to Oliver’s commitment to television, but it appears that 2016 could see a return from a duo.
For fans of: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Have I Got News For You, Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe
Where to listen: www.thebuglepodcast.com
The X Files Files
What is it? In the lead up to the new series of The X-Files which premieres on Channel 5 in February, comedian and star of Silicon Valley, Kumail Nanjiani, has taken upon himself to revisit and reassess every case from the original run of The X Files. To help him debunk some of the cases he’s roped in help from mythology experts, show writers and even Mulder & Scully for their expertise on weird happenings.
For fans of: The X-Files, duh.
Where to listen: www.feralaudio.com/show/x-files-files/
What is it? The podcast invites esteemed musicians to break down one of their most successful songs, beat-by-beat. Just this week, MGMT were on the show to detail the insightful and bizarre stories behind ‘Time To Pretend’.
For fans of: NME’s Soundtrack Of My Life, 6 Music
What is it?: An audio spinoff of the world beating Freaknomoics books by authors economics professor Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner. It’s not your usual convoluted discussions though, instead the pair discuss topics like the gender pay gap, why everyone should be in a rock band and the woman who ate smarter by devouring the best cheeseburgers across the country.
For fans of: Feeling smart, Malcolm Gladwell, The Wolf Of Wall Street
Where to listen: www.freakonomics.com/radio/
Adam Buxton Podcast
What is it? British funny man Adam Buxton found fame when broadcasting on 6 Music with co-presenter Joe Cornish. The latter has since moved into filmmaking and Buxton now hosts his own podcast, with guests like Scroobius Pip, Rob Delaney and Louis Theroux bringing anecdotes aplenty.
For fans of: Laughing, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Vic & Bob
Where to listen: www.adam-buxton.co.uk/ad/
A History Of The World In 100 Objects
What is it? From former British Museum director Neil MacGregor is the serialised audio version of his book A History Of The World In 100 Objects. It does what it says on the tin, really. Retelling the story of humankind through 100 key objects including the solar lamp, the Mummy of Hornedjitef and various hunting instruments. The series ran on the BBC Radio 4 throughout 2010, but well worth a revisit for those who missed it.
For fans of: Time Team, ancient history, Rome
Where to listen: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nrtd2/episodes/downloads