One of my favourite discoveries of recent times is the podcast. Fran, one of my hiking friends, first introduced me to Radio 4 podcasts (namely the Friday Night Comedy: The News Quiz) during our trip in Iceland. Previously I always thought Radio 4 was for middle aged, middle class people – and I guess it is, but they really do produce some really good radio programmes – a few of which made my shortlist below. On my return from Iceland I started researching what type of podcast shows were out there, I stumbled across Serial and firmly became addicted.
I started listening to podcasts during train journeys and occasionally on power walks during the rehabilitation of my knee. These days I listen to them when I am doing housework, to relax just before bed, during exercise, long solo car journeys and during camping/hiking trips. In fact, podcasts have become a daily part of my life and I am now just as likely to be listening to a podcast as reading a book.
There is a podcast for pretty much whatever you want, and the vast majority is free to download. I have never paid for a podcast so my shortlisted 5 are all free! So in no particular order….
Serial – This award winning podcast series has been termed as an ‘audio game-changer’, and with over 5 million downloads has become one of the most successful podcasts of all time. This enthralling documentary follows Sarah Koenig investigating a 1999 murder of a high school girl, her high school boyfriend was convicted of her murder, but did he do it? Throughout the series you can’t help but swing your opinions from a ‘Yes!’ to a ‘No!’ to a “arghhh, I just don’t know!’.
Season 2 is currently being aired.
The Black Tapes – This supernatural story is completely addictive – I would recommend listening to this ‘box set’ style – i.e. a few episodes every evening over a period of a few days. It’s a story narrated by Alex Readon who delves into the paranormal world through the individual examination of Dr. Richard Strand’s ‘black tapes’. Dr. Strand is a paranormal investigator and nothing is at it seems, including Dr Strand….
I took this one with me when hiking at the Picos de Europa, and bored Fran and Shelley for the whole week raving about this amazing podcast. Call me gullible, but the storytelling is so convincing I thought it was actually real (until my more worldly friend corrected me). If you liked the x-files you will LOVE this – it’s exciting, creepy and a little unnerving. Listen to this at night in a darkened room.
Season 2 is currently being aired
A History of the World in 100 Objects – This is a whopping 100-part Radio 4 production presented by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, although each episode is less than 15 minutes long. It’s an enthralling documentary series that draws you into the history of humans from the very beginnings of civilization up to modern day living. Neil MacGregor has a great storytelling voice and the dialogue really brings history to life, I could honestly listen to this man all day.
I am currently about 2/3 of the way through the series, but will probably go back to the beginning as soon as I have finished. A true masterpiece.
Desert Island Discs – This Radio 4 show barely needs an introduction – it’s been going for years…since 1942 in fact! The format is an intimate interview with the most influential/famous people of our time telling the story of their life whilst selecting 8 musical tracks that they would take with them onto a desert island.
Basically I am a nosy person, I love talking to people finding out what makes them tick – so listening to people chat about their lives and their choices of music is right up my street. The current presenter, Kirsty Young, is a great interviewer that uses a perfect blend of professional journalism and meeting a friend for a cup of tea and a chat.
If you only listen to two (which will then make you want to listen to a hundred more): –
- Kathy Burke – very honest interview and a testament that no matter how tough your upbringing was you can succeed in life. What a woman.
- Dr Bill Frankland – a man that has rammed a dozen lives into his one. A life that if you watched in a film, couldn’t possibly be true. A man that would definitely have a place at my fantasy dinner party
NHS Coach to 5K – Admittedly this is a bit of an odd choice. However, as part of my recovery from surgery a Physiotherapist recommended this to me. It’s a 9-week program that starts you (week 1) with a mixture of brisk walking (90 seconds) with gentle jogging (60 seconds) for a total of 20 minutes to (week 9) a 30-minute continuous run.
You repeat each week 3 times this allows you to progress steadily as well get you into a regular running regime.
Laura, whose voice you will get to know well over the 9 weeks, will let you know exactly what to do and when, as well as giving you some useful tips on running technique. The music isn’t too bad and the podcast lets you know when you are half way through so you can turn around.
I really enjoyed following a set program, as I would have no doubt gone too hard too quickly and injured my knee again. I have recently downloaded the NHS 5K+ podcasts and hope to start these soon.
There are other podcasts that I absolutely adore that I left out (lists longer than 5 become a drag). So look out for a podcast update later on in the year. Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions for listening opportunities, then just let me know, happy to try them out.