Seven great podcasts that help make time fly

Author: Mrs A

If you’ve been a long-time follower of our adventures you’ll know that podcasts are an essential part of our road trips, particularly when faced with a boring six hours in the car. While music is great, podcasts can help transport you to a different place, educate and entertain you. Often topics are quite unfamiliar and unexpected, helping wake up the brain and keep you alert. Occasionally other outcomes eventuate, eliciting tears – either of laughter or sadness when confronted by stories.

What is a podcast? Well for those of you who have not yet discovered them, they are (usually) free entertainment which is downloadable via a ‘free podcast app’ to your phone/mobile device. Normally there is a series you can subscribe to, and every week there is an update which is downloaded via wifi or your data plan, depending on your settings.

We’re often asked about our favourites, and it’s difficult to recall them out of context, so we’ve thought long and hard about what to include here. Hopefully these podcasts will delight you as they have us.

Dr Karl

Super smart and famous for wearing crazy shirts, Dr Karl appears on an Australian radio show on Thursday mornings, TripleJ. This program condenses all his segments within that hour in to a 30 minute podcast, answering callers’ bizarre science-related questions.

We listen with equal amazement at the questions asked and the interesting answers. If someone asks a dumb question, there’s sure to be an interesting one just around the corner…after all, how often have you wondered how many colours dogs can see? So many questions you never knew you just needed to know the answer to!

We’ve learned that Hawaiian Volcanoes are the highest mountains on earth, when measured from base (which is under water) to the tip…and when rats yawn they have an erection…where else would you get such an education? Definitely worth a listen!

Conversations

We have to admit we were somewhat latecomers to this one, but we have binged on it ever since! Richard Fidler and Sarah Kanowski interview some absolutely fascinating people about their lives. Often it is a particular event or series of events covered, frequently linked to a book the interviewee has just launched.

Richard is by far our favourite interviewer, asking probing questions and demonstrating he has done his research prior to the discussion. Sarah less so, seemingly just going through a list of questions without delving deeper beyond these (we skip through a few of her interviews as she frustrates us so much!).

These podcasts last about an indulgent hour, and are likely to elicit laughter and tears alike, as well as educating. We’ve purchased more than one book online after listening to a great interview.

Malcolm Gladwell – Revisionist History

An academic from Canada, Malcolm Gladwell offers fabulous insight into events and situations from the past, often recent history. Much of it is USA focused (we skipped past a couple of the overly basketball or American football based ones), but also touches on relevant global events, such as Toyota’s recall of cars after a failure of brakes in 2006, or the treatment of female politicians. He revisits events, shedding new light and often turning stories completely on their head.

Pretty much every podcast has left us thinking differently, understanding more about the world and feeling like we have learnt something.

The Documentary

A podcast that transports you to a busy marketplace in the south of France, a transformed desert in Northern Africa, or the biggest solar farm in China? Yes please. This show from the BBC World Service covers some fascinating topics that we probably would never otherwise be exposed to.

It takes on a documentary style (you’ll be surprised to learn!) and includes interviews with a range of relevant parties in each show, often recorded in situ. Topics are incredibly diverse – from Bollywood actors through to technology use in Ghana.

Caliphate

From the New York Times, this was absolutely fascinating, crossing the lines between journalism and documentary. We often listened to two or three episodes in succession (there are 10 in total), following the investigations of a brave journalist looking into the activities of ISIS.

On at least one occasion this left us in tears, and we needed a few days off listening, but overall this offered a real insight into the brainwashing and horror behind the terrorist group, their recruitment from the west and what life is like on the ground. Definitely worth downloading. Confronting, but highly educational.

(Side note: I read the best seller ‘The last girl’ (a story of a Yazidi girl who was enslaved for sex by ISIS) simultaneously – the two complimented each other.)

99% Invisible

On a lighter note, 99% invisible is a collection of historical documentary podcasts, detailing how things we walk past every day and rarely give a second thought to came about.

What is the history of movie titles? How did those little slopes on pavements by the traffic lights get invented? Have you heard about the hospital that improved its services by modelling itself on a Toyota factory? So much to learn in this 20-30 minute podcast.

And finally… on a much lighter note…

My dad wrote a porno

This podcast we left towards the end of our day, for that final hour of our journey where we needed less education and more entertainment. Essentially this is a bunch of three friends reading out (and critiquing) a chapter of a very bad porn ‘novel’.

Although the chapters are short, the podcast lasts around 20-30 minutes as the three friends hilariously pick apart the shocking storyline, full of inconsistencies and poor grammar, and often going nowhere fast. We regularly found ourselves crying with laughter at this one.

The first series was definitely best – after this it became a little more commercial with the inclusion of advertising and the humour sometimes ‘trying too hard’, but still worth a listen!

Do you listen to any podcasts we haven’t mentioned here? We’re always keen to try out new ones, and would welcome your recommendations!

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