I find that I'm listening to more and more podcasts. Some of them are very well known and others I discover by accident or through personal recommendation. There's little doubt that listening to audio, as opposed to music, is on the cincrease, whether it's live speech radio, podcasts, or audiobooks. Some of the podcasts we listen to might have only a few hundred listeners, others hundreds of thousands. But we know what we like.
Last year I chose my top ten podcast recommendations and this year I have expanded the list to thirty. I listen to all of them. With some of them, I never miss an episode. With others, I'll dip in and out. I was going to rank them, but in some ways that would be invidious. I don't pretend these are the best thirty podcasts on the internet; they're just the ones that I enjoy and happily recommend you to try...
And excuse the self-indulgence of including the four podcasts I happen to host!
RADIO & MEDIA
Fortunately with Fi Glover & Jane Garvey
Still my favourite podcast and I never miss an episode. They start with 15 minutes of banter between themselves about their week, which is invariably hilariously funny and completely unrehearsed. It can sometimes be a bit emotional and they sail very close to the wind in their comments about the BBC. Some of their guests are outstanding although others you sometimes feel are only booked because their BBC masters have said they have to appeal to a 'yoof' audience.
Media Masters with Paul Blanchard
Presented by former New Labour advisor turned PR guru Paul Blanchard this podcast is one of my favourites. Each fortnight he interviews a leading media figure about their careers and how they got to where they are. He’s got a real knack of getting things out of people, and the one to one lengthy format allows him to do that. His guests range from very famous media legends like John Humphrys, Jeremy Vine and Alan Rusbridger to the people who run media companies that you’ve probably never heard of. To my mind there are too many of the latter, nowadays. But even when I listen to an episode I don’t think I’ll be interested in, I am often surprised. You can listen to his interview with me HERE.
The Chris Moyles Show Podcast
This is much more than a 'best of the week' podcast, as it usually contains at least half an hour of extra material. Chris Moyles is joined by Pippa Taylor, Dominic Byrne, Matt Parkes-Smith and James Robinson who are all a brilliant foil for Chris. I had never listened to him before he came to Radio X, but I've become a big fan. He also knows his politics and loves a good political debate. He also does some brilliant LBC skits.
Steve Penk's Radio Nightmares
Master of the prank phone-call this is a brilliant little weekly podcast lasting around 15 minutes of all the things that can go wrong on a live radio show. Laugh out loud funny, it usually leaves me thinking 'there but for the grace of God go I'.
Radio Moments Conversations
David Lloyd provides the trip down memory lane on the Radio Today podcast with his Radio Moments series. He's expanded this to do hour long radio conversations with radio personalities about their careers in the industry. The curious thing is that the interviews are edited to take all of David Lloyd's words out, so in some ways it is like a conversational monologue. But it works.
A weekly roundup of what’s going on in the world of radio. This podcast has developed from a 20 minute effort into something that usually lasts around an hour. Apart from delivering the radio industry news of the week, they also have a lengthy guest interview and once a week industry veteran Trevor Dann (formerly the main presenter of the podcast) hosts a round table with three industry figures. Stuart Clarkson is the genial host, with his boss Roy Martin, the creator of the Radio Today website alongside him for the news section. It's a shame they've lost James Cridland's weekly thoughts.
The Media Show with Amol Rajan
This podcast has changed a lot since the days of the legendary Steve Hewlett. It’s now more of a panel based discussion led by Amol Rajan with a much more 5 Live tone to it than Radio 4. The podcast usually contains extra material too. It’s very fleet of foot and reacts to breaking media stories and doesn’t shy away from issues which are difficult for the BBC. Rajan is also quite opinionated on the show, without always appearing to be so. Often has extra content, so it's not just the podcast of the radio show.
I don’t really listen to many Radio 4 programmes, but I do listen to the podcast of Feedback, mainly because I find it so unintentionally hilarious. The BBC loves nothing better to beat itself up about its own activities, and Feedback is only too happy to help. Essentially, it’s mainly about Radio 4 programmes, although they sometimes make an effort to widen their coverage. They really need to drop the 'taking radio 4 listeners out of their comfort zone' feature. Dire.
Media Podcast with Olly Mann
A fortnightly media panel show hosted by Olly Mann, which discusses all aspects of the media from radio to TV, from the internet to the business of the media. Guests are encourage to show their sense of humour. A lot of them are not household names, even in the media but in some ways that's an advantage. It ends with a media quiz, which is sometimes a little cringy.
FOOTBALL & SPORT
Moore than just a podcast
If you're not a West Ham fan, this is probably not for you, but it gives me a weekly fix of Hammers banter and gossip. Hosted by West Ham blogger Sean Whetstone, he tries (not often with success) to control the other three contributors, Nigel Kahn (Shedman) and John and George Bucci.
A Pint with Eamonn & the Gaffers
Another one for football fans, and this is my best find of the last year. Eamonn Holmes is such a great interviewer, partly because he has such a relaxing, smooth style. It really is a conversation. Among his interviewees have been Martin O'Neill, Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew, Stuart Pearce and Steve McClaren. They open up in a way you don't often see and it's entirely down to the approach Eamonn takes.
Matt Forde's Political Party
Matt Forde is one of the funniest people in the media. I love his impressions, especially those of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, who he does better than anyone else. His podcast has now gone weekly and as well his live events he also does pre-recorded interviews with people in the world of politics, current affairs and the media. A bit like Eamonn Holmes, he's great at dragging things out of people without appearing to do so.
For the Many
Every weekend Jacqui Smith sit down in our respective houses, power up our laptops and record an hour of political banter via the delights of IPDTL technology. As the podcast goes on we tend to degenerate a little into laughs and filth. Sometimes too much… The podcast is normally uploaded on a Sunday,
Nick Robinson's Political Thinking
This is exactly what podcasts should be all about - going beyond what you can do on a normal radio show. Nick's interviews with prominent politicos are usually around half an hour long and he also incudes some commentary of what's happened in the week. Given a lot of people won't listen to the podcast in the week it's published I wonder whether that part of it couldn't be dropped in favour of a longer interview. It's rare that the interviews don't commit news.
Each Wednesday evening at 8pm on LBC I host a new political debate show, ‘CROSS QUESTION’. Our panel usually consists of two politicians and two commentators, with questions coming from LBC listeners. The podcast is usually uploaded by midnight that day. It's like 'Any Questions' but more informal.
Acting Prime Minister with Paul Brand
Another one of those formats I wish I'd thought of. ITV News political correspondent Paul Brand interviews politicians and asks what they would do if they were Prime Minister. A sort of Desert Island Discs for politicos.
Never Mind the Bar Charts
If you're a LibDem this podcast is for you. Hosted by LibDem President (and acting co-leader) Mark Pack, he delves into all thinks associated with the yellow peril. Not quite sure what's happened to his co-presenter Stephen Tall.
Tory Radio with Jonathan Sheppard
Recently resurrected, Jonathan Sheppard started this podcast way back in 2005. He's got an easy style and gets the guests - not all of them Tories. His interview with John Mann recently (who he fought for Bassetlaw in 2005) was a perfect example of what he can do.
Rule Britannia with Tom Swarbrick
A comparatively new podcast, Rule Britannia fills a gaping hole in the political podcast market, and concentrates on analysing developments in foreign policy. Tom Swarbrick uses his skills as an interviewer and his experience working within government to put is subjects at their ease and educate the listener. Well worth a try, if you've not heard of it before.
Hosted by comedians Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster, Triggernometry really gets into the meat of an issue and has a single guest on each weekly podcast. Some of them are famous, some of them you've never heard of. It's not a comedy podcast, although there are funny moments. In the last few weeks they've covered the Middle East, Wokeness (Kisin's speciality subject), the Hong Kong protests, why Labour lost the election and Trans activism. Also available on video on Youtube.
Women with Balls
Katy Balls interviews female politicians and personalities about their lives and careers. Never fails to inform and entertain but it could be a bit more regular.
Confessions with Giles Fraser
A fabulous hour long podcast with the effervescent Giles Fraser. He turns out to be a fantastic interviewer and really gets into people's souls. I did his podcast last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, and revealed far more than I had intended to. Even when he has people on who you like or rate, he makes it an enjoyable experience to listen to.
Politics of Sound
A brilliant idea for a podcast, the interviewee talks about their life and career to Ian Carnegie and then has to pick their favourite three albums and then discuss them. He certainly does his research and it's a very mellow and comfortable conversation. I've listened to all his podcasts so far and he never fails to engage the listener and draw things out of the subject.
Iain Dale’s Book Club
Another weekly podcast, but unlike CROSS QUESTION this doesn’t go out on air on LBC. It’s a Global Original podcast. It does what it says on the tin, and showcases the best new books and authors. I don’t just concentrate on political authors - we have June, Giles and Mary from Gogglebox on, for example! The podcast is usually released on a Friday but there are also be lots of midweek bonus episodes, some from the LBC archives.
James Delingpole is a self confessed controversialist and his views will no doubt appall and shock many, but I must confess that when I went on his podcast I really enjoyed it, even if he thinks I am a 'cuck Conservative'. It prompted me to start listening to some of his back catalogue, which I have really enjoyed.
Full Disclosure with James O'Brien
A weekly podcast from my colleague at LBC, James O'Brien. The interviews last 45-60 minutes and are both insightful and entertaining, with some being laugh out loud funny. He's not afraid to explore deeply personal and emotional issues. He tackles politicians, comedians, actors and celebrities and seems equally comfortable with all of them.
Iain Dale All Talk
This podcast is a series of interviews I did at the 2019 Edinburgh fringe, plus a series of bonus content from interviews on my LBC show. Each one an hour long, quite personal and uploaded each Wednesday.
How to fail with Elizabeth Day
This is such a British podcast. We love talking about our own failures, and I wish I had had the idea for this podcast. I started listening to it for the Jane Garvey episode but I now listen to each edition. You actually learn things from it too. If Elizabeth ever invites me on, I could probably fill three editions...
Desert Island Dicks
The show that sees you marooned on a desert island with the worst people and the worst things imaginable’ - that’s what the PR blurb says, and it’s very accurate! It’s the antithesis of Desert Island Discs and gives the guest the opportunity to vent their spleen against the people and things they hate in life. I appeared on the podcast a few months ago, and had an absolute ball. Listen HERE. Hosted by James Deacon, it’s a very entertaining 40 or 50 minutes of entertainment and laughs.
Asking for a friend with Mark Dolan
Union Jack Radio is embarking on several great comedy shows which they've turned into podcasts. This is a bit like James O'Brien's Mystery Hour and includes a panel of three guests plus the host, the irrepressible Mark Dolan. I've been on it twice and apparently surprised them at how funny I was!