I first discovered podcasts in 2006. Following the birth of my first child I was spending more nights awake than I would have liked. I distracted myself from clock-watching, and my annoyance at being up at 3am, by listening to Kermode & Mayo’s Film Reviews from the BBC.
Since then I’ve become immersed in the world of the podcast, so much so that I decided to start my own, which you can find here. I’ve gone through lots of podcasts since 2006 and the following list contains the ones I’m currently listening to regularly.
Kermode & Mayo’s Film Reviews
As the hosts constantly remind us, this show is the flagship podcast of the BBC. As the name suggests it’s a review of the latest releases, as well as interviews, and podcast extras such as best DVD releases and movies about to be shown on TV. Most episodes last between 1hr 25mins and 1hr 45mins with occasional episodes running longer.
The banter, or ‘wittertainment,’ between the hosts is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the show as Mayo often prods Kermode into a rant, see one of his most famous rants below. Even if you’re not a big fan of movies the show is worth a listen as the guests and interviews are often insightful and thought provoking.
Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast
I first heard ol’ Billy Boy about 2 years ago but he’s now one of the staples of my listening. Bill’s show is just him and a microphone as he gives us a tour of what’s happened in his life since the last episode. The show usually about an hour. The podcast usually comes out on Mondays as the name suggests but when its late he often opens the show with an apology that ends up becoming an angry tirade: “What the fuck you want from me?, it’s free for fucks sake!.”
Bill is consistently funny, and I mean consistently. Many of his shows contain a section where he goes off about various American sports. Even though my knowledge of these sports is nil I still find these sections unmissable.
One of the best parts of the show is where Bill reads listener’s problems and then attempts to give them advice. These problems often involve ethics and sex and Bill’s advice, while hilarious, is compassionate, thoughtful, and free from politically correctness.
Bill’s wife, whom he refers to as The Lovely Nia, occasionally joins him to deal with a listener’s query and the dynamic of their relationship makes for golden listening. In these sections Bill comes across as the lovable but foolish husband with Nia as the patient, loving parent. What makes these exchanges most enjoyable is that Bill is clearly aware of this dynamic and often rebels against Nia’s contributions, even when they’re clearly on the money.
Co-hosted by Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds, this is the show I’d recommend for those of you who are new to podcasts or haven’t much time to listen. These fortnightly shows usually run between 15-21mins and each episode involves an interview with an expert in philosophy.
Each episode covers one philosophical idea. These ideas are aimed at the intelligent listener who has no knowledge of philosophy. While the interviewers ask the simple questions the ideas covered are often complex and it’s amazing the depth of knowledge you can take from single episodes.
The Joe Rogan Experience
This is the daddy of podcasts and while it’s not to everyone’s taste is well worth the occasional listen. Rogan’s shows last anywhere between 1hr 30mins and 4hrs. Rogan has a huge following and this show pushes the limits of what podcasts can achieve when the brakes are left off.
Rogan’s guests vary wildly. He has had international drug dealers, lots of MMA fighters, psychedelic self experimenters, and many more counter-cultural style interviewees. Many times I’ll only hear the first hour of his show but that doesn’t stop me coming back to the next episode.
Rogan releases shows at a massive rate, often 2 a week, and they’re more hit than miss.
The Drunken Taoist
Daniele Bolelli’s podcast is my current favourite. If you want to hear an interview with the man himself you can check out when I spoke to him here. This fortnightly show alternates between guest and segment base, with both formats equally enjoyable. The shows last between 1 and 2 hrs
Bolelli tackles all sorts of issues related to the human condition throughout his shows. He is charming, generous, and thoughtful when discussing both his lives and the lives of others. Of the podcasts listed here the one that has made the most lasting impression on how I live my life was The Drunken Taoist.
Super Bonus episode
I can’t leave this one out as Dan Carlin does modern political issues better than anyone else. Carlin is best know for his Hardcore History series but this show is every bit as good.
Common Sense is so good that it sounds like you’re listening to a brilliantly orated essay as Carlin riffs on one of the many aspects of American, or world political culture that interests/upsets him. His thoughts are insightful, concise, and frequently brilliantly original. By the end of each show you’re left wondering how you hadn’t had that idea yourself before, it’s so blindingly obvious.