It’s rare for me to take my headphones off, whether I’m travelling on the bus, walking across campus, or sitting in a coffee shop. The background noise of music, an audiobook, or a podcast can make it easier for me to navigate daily life — otherwise, I end up feeling understimulated and lose focus. My need for constant stimulation and love of the medium combined makes me part of the 31% of young people in the UK that listens to podcasts every week.
I try to catch up whenever I’m on the go
If you love podcasts, it’s likely you fall into the majority of people that cite comedy as their favourite genre (and there’s no shame in that). But if you’re looking for something else to listen to this week, I’m here to share what I listen to every week, as someone who’s been enjoying podcasts for over seven years now.
1) The New Statesman Podcast
Keeping up with politics can often seem daunting, especially when you’re already trying to balance your degree and personal life, so I try to catch up whenever I’m on the go. Listening to a podcast on the bus is an easy way to make sure you know what’s going on in the world without taking any extra time out of your day.
The New Statesman Podcast puts out two episodes a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, so I always keep an eye out for topics I might find interesting. They cover one current issue in British politics each week, so you can become an expert in a topic quickly and without doing any extra work on your part. One of my Comment articles was inspired by an episode of The New Statesman I listened to and found particularly interesting.
Recommended episode: ‘Inside Westminster’s warped workplace’.
2) Stuff You Should Know
If you’re like me and always looking to learn about something new, Stuff You Should Know covers an incredibly wide range of topics and makes it easy for anyone to understand. Information is delivered in an interesting, conversational way that feels more like chatting with a group of friends than your average university lecture.
If you have a question about anything, the odds are high they’ll have talked about it
Co-hosts Josh Clark and Charles Wayne “Chuck” Bryant cover everything you could ever want to know about: from science to true crime, from pop culture to great inventions, from famous historical figures to how everyday things work. If you have a question about anything, the odds are high they’ll have talked about it at some point on the show.
My favourite episodes are those covering hoarding, the human gut, horror movies that changed the genre, toast, and the radium girls.
Recommended episode: ‘Your gut is also a brain’.
3) The Magnus Archives
People who’ve listened to podcasts for a long time will remember the impact Welcome To Night Vale had when it was first released in 2017, introducing many of us to the concept of the fictional podcast. If you enjoyed the quirky and queer stories of Night Vale, (I’ve seen them perform live twice!), the odds are high you’ll enjoy The Magnus Archives.
Based in the UK, it tells the story of an archivist that documents stories of supernatural phenomena and slowly begins to unravel what connects the seemingly unrelated reports. My American partner is a big fan of The Magnus Archives and wouldn’t give up until I listened to it, (annoyingly they were right about me liking it). Amusingly, it’s also where most of their knowledge of what the UK is like comes from — thanks, Magnus!
There are also rumours of an upcoming sequel, so now is a great time to listen to the finished show.
Recommended episode: ‘MAG 1 Angler Fish’.
4) Times news briefing
If you’re really short on time, one of the reasons I listen to the Times podcast every week is because it’s only three minutes long and reels off the top headlines of the day. While I like listening to the Global News Podcast (from the BBC), sometimes you don’t have half an hour to spare to find out what’s happening around the world.
With an episode being released every morning and afternoon, Times news briefing makes it easy to learn what the biggest news stories are throughout the day and can be digested along with your coffee. But if you’re interested in learning more about a specific news story, Today in Focus by The Guardian goes into more depth about bigger stories.
5) No Such Thing As A Fish
When I promised to offer alternatives to comedy podcasts, I might have lied. However, it wouldn’t be fair to write about the podcasts I listen to each week without mentioning the one I listen to multiple times a day. I once told No Such Thing As A Fish how much time I spent listening to their podcast at a meet-and-greet and James Harkin replied “we spend a lot of time making it”, in what has to be one of the nerdiest crossovers in history.
No Such Thing As A Fish is produced by the QI Elves and has the four members share an interesting fact that they learned that week, followed by a discussion of related facts. It sounds boring when stripped down to the basics, but it’s incredibly entertaining and (unfortunately) makes me laugh out loud in public. It’s also the reason I have incredible knowledge of unusual animal genitalia, much to the chagrin of everyone else at The Boar.
Recommended: ‘463: No Such Thing As An Especially Attractive Barge’.