Since starting my course in new media and digital culture at the university in Amsterdam, I have been noticing more and more people talking about their various favourite podcasts. I guess one of the reasons why they are so popular here is because when you have to cycle for 30 minutes to and from the city center, you might want to use that time to learn something new or at least laugh a little bit. And so the social pressure got me and I started franticly searching for not a podcast but the podcast that I could dedicate a part of my day to. I am not going to lie. It was a rough couple of weeks during which I thought that I would never find the one that would suit my taste. If you think you are the same, do not give up. Because if I can find not one, not two, but even three podcasts that I am now fairly enjoying, then you can too.
Desert Island Discs - BBC Radio 4 - The title says it pretty much all - eight tracks, a book and a luxury - what would you take to a desert island? This is the core of each episode of the podcast that has been here since 1977 and lasts on average 40 minutes. The interviews with people who have completely different jobs and social backgrounds (ranging from Tom Hanks, David Beckham or Stella McCartney to the director of the London School of Economics, Dame Minouche Shafik; chief foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times, Christina Lamb; or Paul Greengrass, the director of three Jason Bourne films) are usually done by brilliant Kirsty Young and are interwoven with eight songs or compositions that are somehow important to the guests, nicely adding up to the atmosphere. I love the variety of topics that get covered, never being the same. So far my favourite episode is definitely the one with Christina Lamb who talks about her press trips to the Middle East, from where she sometimes barely made it back.
Happy Place - This podcast is relatively new and it is just about to release its second series. Fearne Cotton talks to some pretty interesting people (including the presenter from the above mentioned podcast, Kirsty Young, which is how I came across Desert Island Discs!) about their lives, loves, loss and about what happiness means to them. You get to know Alexandra Shulman, the former editor-in-chief of British Vogue for 25 years; or Lena Headey, yes, the one and only Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones, but you might be surprised to hear about her visit to Syrian refugee camp. This podcast will keep you for its originality and soon you will be counting down days till the launch of the next series since right now it has only ten episodes.
The Sunday Social - This was actually the very first podcast that made me take a break in my search. Lucy Moon is a London-based YouTuber, who is not afraid to openly talk about topics such as sex, anxiety or money situation (which to me is rather refreshing). Because she started her podcast in the mid of September 2018, it has only five episodes so far. But it is already bringing up engaging discussions on online activism, the question of dying blogging (so far my favourite one) or on the portray of femininity in the recent hit, A Star Is Born. I cannot wait to hear who will be interviewed by Moon next Sunday!
The High Low - It seems that all the podcasts I have been listening to are made by Brits. This one is no exception. Dolly Alderton (about whose book I am talking here) and Pandora Sykes are currently on the rise to the podcasting heaven, with their episodes regularly being on the top of the charts. I do not follow them regularly but rather when they have 'An Author Special' with some fascinating writers such as the author of my favourite psychological novel Lullaby, Leïla Slimani; or the more recent one with Lindsey Hilsum who remembers her friend and journalist Marie Colvie and her work in the field of war journalism. Compare to the rest of the podcasts that I mentioned above, The High Low offers more than interviews. Dolly and Pandora also talk about the current world situation, reflecting on politics as well as celebrities or even on moving their houses and giving birth.
Something to reflect on... I must admit that I am still working on the idea of listening to the above listed podcasts while cycling, walking or being on tube. Pretty much all of my friends always tell me that they feel completely lost when they forget their headphones and cannot listen to music. In my case, I listen to music either when I am trying to study and successfully failing to do so, or when I am in car. When it comes to podcasts, I usually play one before going to bed, however, I really cannot imagine myself on a bike, trying not to kill anyone and still being able to fallow the interviews. Oh well, hopefully I will slowly get there. Maybe it would be good to try it when I am not in rush to get to uni or to work on time, but when I am on my way back home and I don't have to hurry. How about you?