If you haven’t gotten into podcasts, you’re missing out. We’ve rounded up some of our top podcasts as well as some basic podcast know-how to get you started…
So what is a podcast?
A podcast is an audio show that can be streamed from a website or app on your computer or mobile device. These shows often form part of a series that delves into a specific topic or idea. One of the reasons people get hooked on them is because you can listen to a podcast on just about any topic. There’s everything from people talking about The X Files to pen addict discussions – no really, just click on the link. No matter your interest, there’s a podcast for you.
But how do I listen to podcasts?
One of the most common ways to listen to podcasts is to use an app, which is available on most mobile devices. Simply install and open your chosen podcast app, and start looking up some of the podcasts in our list below. Then, select the podcast and episode you want to listen to – there’s usually a play or download icon you’ll need to click. If you like what you hear, then be sure to subscribe – this way you’ll be able to easily find your favourite podcasts, as well as all of their latest episodes.
We love: Apple’s Podcasts, which is available on all Apple devices, gives you access to over 450 000 shows. The app is also great at recommending new shows based on what you like, so you’ll never run out of podcasts to listen to.
CastBox is a great free podcast app for both iOS and Android users. You can type in the name of a show into the search box on the home screen or browse 17 different categories including, art, comedy and humour as well as news and politics.
Pocketcasts is another great choice for Android users with a wide variety of shows, plus you can sync your account across multiple devices. However, you do have to pay a once-off fee when you first install the app.
Be honest. How much does it cost?
In most cases nothing. If you want to learn all about the history of the internet in the 90s or want to find out how musicians wrote their biggest hits, you can without having to pay a cent. Most podcasts are free, but there are one or two where you’ll need to pay the creator for their content.
So what should podcasts I be listening to?
If you’re into talk shows, try…
Remember that blonde judge on Idols SA? Where is he now? Well, Gareth Cliff is running his own internet radio station, CliffCentral.com. The website has a whole host of uniquely South African content that you can choose from, but if we had to single out one to download, Gareth’s Guests is worth a listen. At the end of his three-hour morning show on CliffCentral.com, Gareth interviews a guest or two for a full hour. He’s had the likes of Johnny Clegg, Thuli Madonsela and Marc Lottering in the studio.
Comedian and UFC fanatic Joe Rogan hosts a great three-hour podcast with guests from all walks of life. During that time, he really gets to know his guests and gets stuck into some rather unusual topics – anywhere the conversation takes them. He’s had everyone from director Guy Richie talking about his love of suits and comedian Russel Brand to biology professor Bret Weinstein to holistic psychiatrist Kelly Brogan.
Need to know what’s going on in the world? Give these shows a listen…
Readers of local long-form news site The Daily Maverick can get their extra fill with a weekly hour-long podcast on everything making news locally and internationally. The show is currently hosted by Daily Maverick reporter Greg Nicolson, and guests include other local journalists, professors as well as experts in various fields who discuss what’s making headlines that week.
Journalist Kelly McEvers takes a newsworthy topic and gives you the latest and so much more. Her podcast Embedded investigates these topics in their entirety to give you the big picture. Previous episodes include US President Donald Trump, Medicins Sans Frontier and the NBA.
Fancy yourself a history buff? You’ll enjoy these…
Dan Carlin is an American broadcaster and amateur historian. His podcast Hardcore History spends time investigating various stages in history including the Achaemenid Persian empire, the Nuclear Age and Julius Caesar. If you simply can’t get enough, you can also download his series on Genghis Khan, Wrath of the Khans, as well as Death Throes of the Republic, which covers the rise and fall of the Roman empire, from his website.
Putting this podcast under the ‘History’ subtitle might be pigeonholing it too much, because this show does so much more than look back into the past. Award-winning journalist Malcolm Gladwell returns to events in time that have, in his words, ‘been overlooked or misunderstood’. He’ll take you to the border of a Los Angeles’ golf course, make you crave a McDonald’s french fry and even walk you through the triumphs and failures of education in America. It’s a fascinating and highly addictive podcast.
Discovery channel fans will love these know-it-all science podcasts…
The clever writers (aka QI Elves) behind the hit BBC show QI have their very own podcast. Each episode, they revisit some interesting facts that they’ve come across that week. The show has been known to cover topics like why you shouldn’t put Skittles up your nose, non-flammable newspapers and Britain’s 17th-century space programme. Yes, this podcast series is as silly and factual as its TV counterpart.
Hosts Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark pick a subject each episode and present all their findings on it. They’ve spent nearly an hour talking about body language and have dedicated an entire episode to global warming. They’ve also recently taken a look at lab-grown meat as well as the dark origins of fairy tales.
For the whole family…
Because podcasts are free from the restrictions of conventional radio, you’ll find that the topics discussed and language used might not be for all ages. However, Wow in the World is a great podcast for adults and kids alike. Each episode is set against the backdrop of the latest developments in science and technology with a focus on a specific topic like the power of a dog’s nose, 3D printing or the Great Barrier Reef.
Written and voiced by primary school students, The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel is a children’s fiction podcast. The show is a fun and entertaining mystery that follows the story of disappearing students with teachers who don’t seem to care. Mars Patel and his friends, however, are on the case.
But, this one’s definitely not for the kids…
Each episode is bound to make you laugh out loud. Writer Jamie Morton found out a few years ago that his dad had written a piece of erotic literature called Belinda Blinked (which you can find on Amazon). Unsure of what to do with this piece of fiction he decided to gather his two friends, James Cooper and Alice Levine, around his kitchen table and read them a chapter each week.
The podcast even caught the attention of some notable celebs like of Elijah Wood, Geroge Ezra, Nicholas Hoult and Daisy Ridley to name a few. The writing is cringe-worthy at best, but the comments of the three friends breaking down Jamie’s dad’s writing skill is what makes this a hilariously entertaining podcast.
Calling all crime junkies…
If you’re a true crimes addict you need to download the first season of This American Life’s Serial. Sarah Koenig and her team head back to 1999 when high school student Hae Min Lee was murdered. Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syad was convicted of the crime and is currently serving time in prison. Something about Adnan’s conviction doesn’t sit well with Sarah and she begins to investigate. It’s an enthralling series, so download every episode and line them up for a binge session.
Thirty years on the people responsible for private investigator Daniel Morgan’s murder have not been brought to book. Journalist Peter Jukes and Daniel’s brother Alistair Morgan revisit the case. The two walk the listener through events leading up to Daniel’s death and the aftermath. It’s a chilling tale that still doesn’t have a conclusion.