Podcast Picks: December 2021
by Andrew Hughes and Graham Caplin – 21st December, 2021
We’ve always been lovers of podcasts, probably because of our history as radio producers, and now they’re incredibly popular both to listen to and to record. So with a wealth of choices availilable, we thought it was time to recommend just a few of the amazing stories we’ve been listening to of late.
You can find all of these choices by searching wherever you get your podcasts.
The first choice comes from Andrew, and it’s Sweet Bobby from Tortoise Media.
This story hooked me instantly; starting with an innocent message on Facebook in 2010, a woman called Kirat was successfully catfished for over ten years (catfishing is when someone creates a fake identity on social media to target their victim). The sheer scale of the deception gradually becomes clear, as does the impact it has on Kirat. Told by Alexi Mostrous, Sweet Bobby is a gripping piece of investigative journalism which will leave you questioning your assumptions about how we communicate, and desperate for the next episode!
I started listening at first with the view that nobody can be so convincing over such a long time period. How could Kirat be taken in? I don’t think I would be! If you want to see for yourself whether or not it’s possible, if the catfish kept their story straight, and whether Kirat ever discovers who’s behind it then search for Sweet Bobby wherever you get your podcasts.
You can find out more here: https://www.tortoisemedia.com/listen/sweet-bobby/
Graham’s first choice is Americast from the BBC.
If you’ve ever seen a news story about America and thought “Why do they do that?”, then this is then podcast for you. BBC presenters Jon Sopel, Emily Maitlis and Anthony Zurcher unravel the mysteries of the American political system and it’s wider context, highlighting the differences between the UK and the US. This isn’t a heavy news programme, and although the topics discussed are often deep they are handled in an accessible way that makes it easier to understand how America has become the country it is.
The reason why I like Americast so much is because the presenters clearly have a love and respect for the country (Anthony Zurcher was born in California and grew up in Texas) and they discuss issues about which we Brits simply have no concept. The main focus is politics, but this spreads into every aspect of life in a country that has such a huge influence on the UK and the rest of the world. The camaraderie between the three presenters also helps to make this an engaging and entertaining listen each week.
The next pick is from Andrew: Escaping NXIVM, a CBC Investigative Podcast.
I’m a big fan of true crime podcasts so this one is vaguely related to the genre. NXIVM (pronounced ‘Nexium’) calls itself a self-help group while others prefer the term ‘cult’, and this is the story of one woman, Sarah Edmonson, trying to escape from it and the attempts to keep her involved. The series begins with a description of the pain Sarah experiences whilst being branded with a cauterising iron during an initiation ritual, so it’s one to avoid if you’re squeamish! I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology of multi-level marketing schemes, which this series explores in considerable detail.
Lastly, the sound design is of a very high standard. Coming from a sound-engineering background, this is something that my ears tend to pick up on very quickly; indeed it outshines the production values of most radio stations.
Graham’s next choice is The Horne Section Podcast, series 1 through Deezer, series 2 onwards via Patreon.
Things are pretty tough for most of us right now, so I chose this podcast because it’s just stupidly fun! The Horne Section Podcast is a musical comedy show featuring Alex Horne, comedian, creator and star of Taskmaster (it’s ‘Little Alex Horne’). The ‘Section’ part is made up of five incredibly talented musicians who play a wide array of instruments and write and perform some hilarious, catchy and often downright rude songs. Every week there’s a one-person special guest audience who is interviewed (after a fashion) by Horne, takes part in silly games and forms the basis for that week’s episode.
I love this podcast because it never fails to make me laugh out loud, which can be embarrassing on the tube! The Horne Section are clearly all good friends, and this comes across in the banter they have together. But it’s handled well, and you never feel like an outsider. In fact the more you listen the more you feel like you’re part of the gang. The comedy is clever and the music is superb. If you like either then you’ll enjoy this podcast, and if you like both then you’re in for a treat!
Our final pick is Not Your Grandma’s Cancer Show for Shine Cancer Support.
We need to declare a personal interest on this one: we make it! Hosted by Tatum de Roeck, this is the podcast of Shine Cancer Support, a charity supporting people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who have received a cancer diagnosis. We first met Tatum a few years ago when she booked our studio, and we were immediately intrigued by the name of the podcast that she intended to make. As you can probably tell from its title, it’s pretty upbeat and has looked at aspects of life following a cancer diagnosis, which is something we’d never even considered.
A couple of years ago we decided that we wanted to support Shine, so we now record and produce the podcast for free. Along the way, we have learned a lot: how cancer can affect dating, how it affects work, how to live with fatigue. The list goes on.
During lockdown, many of the contributors were shielding and unable to travel to the studio. We had tremendous fun showing everyone how to create ‘duvet studios’ at home, with near perfect sound conditions!
That’s our pick of the wide array of podcasts available right now, and you can find all of these by searching wherever you get your podcasts. Do let us know if you enjoy them, and tell us about the ones you love too. We also record podcasts, so if you have a show you’re desperate to get out there then talk to us and see if we can help. To enquire or tell us about the shows you love email [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you.