I knew podcasts were addictive, but hadn’t realised quite how much until I asked some friends for recommendations. “I love the British History podcast,” one announced. “I’m on episode 323 and we’re only up to the 9th century.” At an average of 25 minutes per episode, that’s 135 hours of listening (or five and a half solid days). “I’ll probably be dead before we reach the modern day,” she added happily.
To be honest, I’m not quite ready for that kind of commitment right now, but the beauty of podcasts is that there are so many you can dip in and out of. The best, though, reward regular listening.
Tune in to Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales’ Chat 10 Looks 3 or The High Low (with fashion journalists and friends Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, above) and over time you get to know the personality quirks of the presenters, and their conversation starts to feel like you’re eavesdropping on your friends. How else to explain the fearsomely engaged audience of Chat 10, who help out each other IRL and happily identify themselves as ‘chatters’?
So in the spirit of chatterly sharing, Anna and I (ok, mainly Anna) have compiled a few of our favourite podcasts (plus some recommendations we’ve been given). Let us know what you think – and tell us your favourites too. What are we missing? Is there anything else (apart from British History) that deserves a week-long listening binge?
Although Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb (or Sales and Crabb as they refer to each other on the podcast) are both journalists and current affairs presenters, Chat 10 Looks 3 is virtually politics and current affairs-free. Instead, the pair apply their sharp intellect and sense of humour to observations about the latest books, podcasts, art exhibitions and (weirdly) chef Yotam Ottolenghi. There’s a reason these two have attracted a closed Facebook group full of 11,000 “chatters”.
Hosts Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton (who writes a weekly column for The Sunday Times) cover a range of issues each week, from wellness and Meghan Markle to US abortion laws and prison reform. At an hour and 20 minutes, these episodes are long but they’re absorbing, too.
The High Low may have a global following, but for a more local point of view (compete with one fairly strong Kiwi accent) there’s After Work Drinks. Hosted by 20-something magazine writers Isabelle Truman and Grace O’Neill, After Work Drinks has a knack for identifying the stories and trends that everyone’s talking about. Both hosts literally do have a glass of wine while they’re talking, so it really is a bit like having a drink with a friend (although we are admittedly biased as Anna used to work with Isabelle).
Here’s one more power podcast duo to add to your list: author and commentator Jane Caro and journalist Catherine Fox are the women behind interview series Women With Clout, which interviews accomplished and interesting women. You won’t find any vacuous celebrities or social media types here – in this podcast, Caro and Fox focus on everyone from academics and campaigners to journalists and lawyers, from award-winning investigative journalist Kate McClymont to Shivani Gopal, founder of The Remarkable Woman. A great deep dive.
Hosted by comedian and mother-of-two Claire Hooper, The Pineapple Project tackles all those work issues that threaten to send you over the edge/derail your career. How to tell your boss you’re pregnant (and then return successfully to paid work after leave), how to deal with harassment, ways to cope with a shocking job interview… it’s basically a 20-minute guide to navigating the highs and lows of work, delivered in a clever, fun way. Thanks to my friend Bel for this recommendation!
Every Wednesday, author and fashion activist Clare Press drops a new episode of her brilliant podcast, which looks at how we can make fashion more sustainable and ethical. It’s never dry, always entertaining. This week’s episode looks at ways initiatives to make denim circular, reusing and recycling denim to cut waste. Apparently we wear denim 3.5 times a week. Who knew?
In its first series, Slow Burn took an in-depth look at Watergate, while for the second host Leon Neyfakh embarked on a forensic consideration of the impeachment scandal of President Bill Clinton and his relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky. With another presidency consumed by lurid headlines (although way, way worse), it’s fascinating to look back at the Clinton years and realise, yet again, that the past really is a foreign country. Bel highly recommends this. Next up? The unsolved murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.
UPDATE: We asked you – or at least our Instagram followers – which podcasts they liked, and here’s what they recommended…
Where Do We Begin (3 votes)
Famed US therapist takes you inside real-life couples therapy sessions
The Fairfax podcast that goes behind the news with top journalists. Hosted by Tory Maguire
The daily news podcast from the publisher of The Monthly and Saturday Paper’s podcast, hosted by journalist Elizabeth Kulas
A podcast for women by women (specifically Yumi Stynes) that delves into the tricky topics women often avoid talking about.
Follows the journey of a 25-year-old sexual abuse survivor as she confronts her family and her past.
Host Jonathan Goldstein leads people back to a moment in their lives that they wish they could rewrite. (The episode with his friend Gregor is excellent)
Aims to brighten up the stale world of finance
A good one for book lovers
Interviews with creative, ambitious types (like, erm, Anna who has been interviewed on it) Hosted by Felicity Loughrey
How to find happiness and balance at work
Successful artists reveal how they marry creativity and finances
Intersectional feminism meets sex and lifestyle in this Aussie podcast
How to be better at what you do everyday, hosted by author Todd Henry
Two friends who talk beauty, anxiety and wellness.
Want to live a plant-based lifestyle? This one’s for you. Hosted by Simon Mills.
Aussie comedian Wil Anderson interviews a range of famous Aussies.