Dan Snow’s History Hit podcast
Over the last twenty years there has been an explosion of interest in history, not just British history, but all sorts of different kinds of history. The podcast genre is absolutely ideal to capitalise on this. I’ve already reviewed the daily History Hack podcast in a previous column, so I thought I’d turn my attention to Dan Snow’s History Hit this week. This podcast is also more or less daily, and it covers a huge range of subjects. It’s unashamedly the antithesis of a Radio 4 style podcast and sometimes almost overly informal. Snow is a populist and he wants every ‘ep’ of his ‘pod’, as he refers to them, to appeal to the widest possible audience. His tigerish enthusiasm draws you in, even on a subject which you think you might not be especially interested in.
I’ve listened to two very contrasting podcasts this week, one on the history of Eurovision, in which he interviewed Eurovision afficionado Scott Bryan about where the contest came from and what it means. And then a few days later I had the pleasure of listening to a 50 minute podcast titled ‘Hunting the Bismarck’, which detailed the events that led up to the Royal Navy sinking the German Battleship, the Bismarck in 1941. He used archive interview footage from those involved nd witnessed it live as well as telling the story in his own words. Fascinating stuff and I learned a huge amount that I didn’t know before. Other subjects covered this week were the military in Rome, the palaeontologist Mary Anning, an interview with top diplomat Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Martin Luther and the Israel-Palestine conflict. You don’t get much wider variety than that.
I wonder how many listeners listen to every episode and how many dip in from time to time when something catches their eye. I appeared on the podcast a couple of months ago, talking about prime ministers. When we were talking off air, Dan told me it’s the podcast that he enjoys more than anything else he does. It clearly works financially for him. Each episode is sponsored and he does live sponsored reads too. It made me wonder if the history podcast is about to usurp the TV history documentary at some stage.
A Gay and a Non Gay podcast
This podcast ought not to work. It’s a weekly 15-30 minute chat between two friends, one of whom is gay (James Barr) and one of whom isn’t (Dan Hudson). They are both comedians. Their raison d’etre is to challenge preconceptions of the gay world by straights and to a lesser extent vice versa. All sound a bit, well, boring? No, it’s the very opposite. They usually have a good laugh along the way and it’s very conversational. The latest episode is all about the Eurovision Song Contest, which, needless to say James loves and Dan doesn’t. And there’s no convincing him that it has any allure, even despite Italy winning with a rock song. They don’t come to blows, but it gets all quite heated, just staying on the right side on #awks. This has become a very popular podcast indeed, although I do wonder what proportion of its listeners are straight. They are now doing live events and the podcast has created its own little cottage industry. I’m not surprised. The two hosts are incredibly likeable and it’s always got a little frisson about it where the deviant inside your head wonders if Dan has ever been tempted to, well, you know. Perhaps they’ve discussed this in an episode I’ve missed. Another reason to delve into their back catalogue. And that’s not a double entendre. Well, it is, but not an intentional one. Believe that and you’ll believe anything.