Looking for some inspiration for nice and enlightening podcasts in these troubling times?
We at Meow Production consume a couple of podcast episodes per day and we are always looking for new favourites. What makes a great podcast from our point of view is an original idea followed by in-depth research, great sound design, and then, the right host or voice artist to present the story.
Too many podcasts today are chitter-chatter among comedians or famous people, which is not our cup of tea. Having said that, there are some good panel-based ones out there. We have collected our all time favourites in this top ten.
1. Heavyweight by Gimlet
Host Jonathan Goldstein takes us through an array of origin stories – from the annoying guy who inspired Moby by lending him some African beats, to Goldstein’s dad reuniting with his estranged brother. It never fails; a mix of wry humour combined with a great understanding of human frailty. Thumbs up for Gimlet.
2. My Dad Wrote A Porno
Jamie Morton tapes ‘My Dad Wrote A Porno’ with his friends in his kitchen. This podcast is a look into a rather clumsily written erotic novel by Jamie’s father. Nowadays Morton’s dad, the porn writer Rocky Flintstone, has learned to do a plot and is somewhat more attuned to the female body. On this podcast series, we follow Belinda, the marketing executive, working at a pots and pans company in her unintentionally hilarious sexual adventures.
3. S-town from the creators of Serial and This American Life
S-town was the podcast that followed Serial, a tremendous blockbuster hit with the investigative piece about the convicted Adnan Sayd. Bryan Reed hosts this podcast which has fewer twists and turns but is foremost a portrait of rural America. John, the main character, is a guy who despises his hometown in Alabama. We will say no more.
4. Dear Sugars from Wbur
This podcast is radically empathic advice from Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, who excel in reading letters from and giving excellent advice to heartbroken readers. Interestingly, we often find out what happened next, with updates from the unlucky lovers.
5. Kongerækken (The Royals) from Politiken
The Danish podcast duo Anders Olling and Hans Erik Havsteen started this podcast as a labour of love many years ago. The concept was both simple and effective: each Danish king or queen gets an episode of 20-30 minutes. The journalist and historian speak about past events through modern eyes and help make history cool again. Since humble beginnings, the two are now producing a long series of history podcasts.
6. NPR Ted Radio Hour
Manoush Zomorodi took over from Guy Raz and it takes some time getting used to Zomorodi “nasal voice overs”. The show combines the best of science journalism with excellent TED talkers featuring talks and interviews with the scientists. One of our favourites, out of many amazing shows, is “Reframing Anger”.
7. The Lady with the Heavy Suitcase
Kvinden med den tunge kuffert (The Lady with the Heavy Suitcase) by Danish podcast veterans Third Ear. This is a modern classic show. Journalist and host Krister Moltze go on a hunt for a known female swindler, a Norwegian woman who pretends to have cancer and lives on benefits and kind-hearted people.
8. Winds of Change
Winds of Change is a new co-production from Pineapple Street Studios and Crooked Media. The premise of this podcast is great. Did the CIA write the Scorpion hit “Winds of Change” in order to exercise soft power in Eastern Europe? Just before the end of the Cold War? SPOILER ALERT. We never really get an answer but we are informed, entertained and puzzled along the way. The host is journalist Patrick Radden Keefe, who takes us on a journey to find the truth.
9. Where should we begin?
A podcast for anyone who has ever loved. Step into iconic couples therapist Esther Perel’s office and listen as real couples anonymously bare the raw, intimate, and profound details of their story. From infidelity to abstinence, to loss, it’s a space for people to be heard and understood. This podcast is often heartbreaking and enlightening to listen to.
This is an investigative true-crime podcast from Black Mountain Media and Tenderfoot TV. Culpable explores unsettled cases where those deserving of blame have somehow eluded justice. The series we are listening to right now is the apparent suicide of Christian Andreacchio. The family believes it was a premeditated murder and the research and amount of audio are truly impressive.
So this was our list of best podcasts, at least for now. Do you have a favourite podcast you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments section below.