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I’ve given my podcast recommendations a couple of times – mostly on social media, as a rushed aside, communicated on my commute home from work – but it’s about time I commit to print (or, at least, digital publication) my top podcasts (and why).
To the uninitiated, a podcast is essentially like a radio documentary – and you can listen from your smartphone, using an app. I use Pocket Casts; it’s €2.99 but I’m happy to pay for my content, to a certain extent. On iOS, the Podcasts app is free; on Android, Stitcher is a good option.
Podcast recommendations – the Irish
These podcast recommendations are, crucially, listed in no particular order, but due to my intense sense of patriotism I’m starting with the homegrown.
How to be Sound
Well, you couldn’t expect me not to include my own, could you? It’s a podcast where I sit down with people I admire and talk about, among other things, how to be better at life. We’ve covered topics such as the environment, body positivity, endometriosis and Tinder – so you never know what you’ll get. I also transcribe each and every episode, so that people who are hard of hearing can follow along too. (And it helps me take not of just how many times I say “like”.)
Mother of Pod
Sophie White and Jennifer O’Dwyer are the mothers behind this parenthood podcast. I love this an extraordinary amount, given that I am – as Sophie and Jen put it – a non-breeder. They tell you all of the things you’ve been dying to know about reproducing (but are too polite to ask about). It’s funny and irreverent and honest, which y’all know I’m all about.
Girls with Goals
This is her.ie’s “women’s” podcast, covering a whole host of different topics, from women in sport to the future of robotics and even an interview with Made in Chelsea alum Millie Mackintosh. I’m biased because I’ve been on Girls with Goals three whole times now (it’s a record!), but my contributions aside, they have had really great guests and there are loads of episodes to catch up on.
The 80% with Esther O’Moore Donoghue
This podcast has a gas premise; Esther speaks to people she’s 80% happy for (but 20% jealous of) about their “success”. That’s in inverted commas because she spoke to me, and I’m not sure I’d necessarily talk about my current career trajectory as being especially successful. I’ve particularly enjoyed episodes with author Sarah Griffin, journalist and beauty columnist Triona McCarthy and TV and radio presenter Muireann O’Connell.
Here’s another media company podcast – this one belonging to the Lovin Group (formerly owned by Niall Harbison). It’s presented by Megan Cassidy and Cassie Delaney and released every Sunday, “before brunch”, aiming to bring up and discuss all of the topics you’ll be chatting about over brunch. Because I never go for brunch, I listen to it while I clean the kitchen. #glamlife
Podcast recommendations – feminism
This is a loose definition because not all of these podcasts are, strictly speaking, about feminism, but they kind of are, too. (This is a bit like when someone says, “well, I’m not really a feminist”… and you’re all, “well, you advocate for equal pay and write about domestic violence so yeah, you are”.)
The Guilty Feminist
This one is, unsurprisingly, about feminism. It features comedians talking about a whole variety of different topics and it’s even branched out to support and launch a musical, Sufrageddon. AMAZING. What I love about this one, beyond the LOLs and the thought-provoking content, is the emphasis on philanthropy; every episode aims to raise funds for a different cause and presenter Deborah Frances-White is really passionate on the refugee crisis. It’s really inspiring.
Call Your Girlfriend
Okay, so this one is pretty overtly feminist, too. It features two US journalists, Aminatou So and Ann Friedman, and they are terrifyingly smart. They discuss body positivity, “reverse sexism”, intersectionality, scammers… everything. It’s so enlightening. Aminatou is currently undergoing treatment for cancer and they’ve used her experience to organise blood drives around the US – and every single time I listen, it reminds me that I really, really need to go give blood.
Made of Human with Sofie Hagen
Sofie Hagen is a comedian and bopo activist whose podcast features her speaking to a load of different interviewees about their experiences – with prejudice, with fat acceptance (or lack thereof), with racism… It’s really interesting and what I love most about it is that you can hear Sofie learning, too. There are moments where she realises that she’s been assuming something about someone and is blown away by her revelations.
Podcast recommendations – murder
I don’t know where this love of true crime came from, but I have got quite the murder podcasts habit. I listen to loads of them. I might leave the rest in the comments below, but for now here are my top 3…
My Favorite Murder
This is the first true crime podcast I started listening to, so it deserves to go in there first. Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark present this chatty, fun, totally irreverent comedy-slash-true-crime podcast that discusses two different murders (or murderers) per episode. They’re now a phenomenon, doing sold-out tours (yes, reader, I went to a show), selling merch, operating a fan cult (club) and basically rolling it in. And I am there for it.
I don’t know where you’ve been if you’ve lived through the past year and not heard about this Audible-only podcast, but it’s amazing. It deals with the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in, er, West Cork in 1996 and talks to an astounding array of characters, including suspects and police officers, many of whom you wouldn’t think would be interested in talking to two journalists.
Someone Knows Something
This is a Canadian production by CBC Radio, examining cold cases on the premise that someone must know something. If you’re expecting answers, it might not be the podcast for you, but it is really gripping and each series (there are four) is very different while being just as interesting as the last.
Podcast recommendations – kinda niche
I mean, are these all niche? Who knows; I feel as if we owe it to ourselves to have a clue about ISIS, for example, while perhaps you could live your life without ever watching an episode of Buffy (although I wouldn’t recommend it). These won’t be for everyone (but they’re definitely for me).
Buffering the Vampire Slayer
If there was an award for best podcast name ever, this should win it. It goes through each and every episode of Buffy in chronological order, spoiler-free, and discusses and dissects the goings-on. It’s funny and fun and the presenters – Kristin Russo and Jenny Owens-Young – are really likeable. It’s one of the podcasts I fork out to support on Patreon.
I recommended this on Instagram Stories during the week and a load of people messaged me to say they’d downloaded and loved it. It’s a New York Times production described as an audio series following journalist Rukmini Callimachi as she reports on the Islamic State and the fall of Mosul. We’re up to chapter eight, during which Rukmini and the documentary crew are in Mosul, stepping over dead bodies in search of answers. Yes, really.
Meet Your Maker
This podcast is one of the few I listen to that’s presented by a man (I make a concerted effort to listen to female-led podcasts because we’re so underrepresented on radio), and it’s produced and presented by Liam Geraghty, who produces my podcast (and is also my best friend). It’s a podcast about the people who make the things we love, and each episode is charming and insightful and really heartwarming.