September 30th is International Podcast Day, and with over half a million podcasts out there, and some estimated 18 million episodes to sift through, it’s sometimes a little hard to know what shows to dig into. So, to help you celebrate International Podcast Day in style, I’ve crafted a list of podcasts that are worthwhile filling your ears with.
Before Tonightly came, and then left, Tom Ballard ran a show about politics, culture, and the people behind the changes in society. It was called Like I’m a Six-Year-Old, and each show opened with the line of dialogue from Denzel Washington’s character in Phildalephia, ‘I want you explain this to me like I’m a six-year-old’. Ballard – a comedian, turned radio presenter, turned podcaster, turned all round good guy – runs each episode (all 123 of them) with a profound sense of understanding for how society works, and respect for his guests – yep, even Lyle Shelton. Ballard presents them with questions that make them question themselves, and what they stand for, while opening up the listeners minds to social issues that they may not be aware of. This is essential listening. It will challenge you. It will entertain you. It will inform you. While Tonightly was solid, I felt that Ballard worked best with this podcast, and we’re lucky to have 123 episodes full of brilliant discussions.
Ok, this one is a bit of a cheat as it’s not just one show, but many. The Criterion Cast feed is one that will provide you with an eternity (almost, given how many episodes there are) of great entertainment, all focused around the boutique film label Criterion. With film scholar luminaries like Ryan Gallagher, Aaron West, David Blaskslee, Keith Enright, and many, many more, providing a huge array of episodes that deliver a wealth of engaging, informative discussions, the Criterion Cast feed is one you need to subscribe to. Even if you’ve never bought a Criterion disc or watched a Criterion adjacent film, then fear not as discussions are never exclusionary, always making listeners feel welcome and part of the conversation.
Hosted by two great voices (Patricia Karvelas and Fran Kelly) who love and engage with Australian politics on a weekly basis and provide deep, analytical explorations into what’s going on in Australian politics that week. Each episode has Fran and Patricia inviting a guest into ‘The Party Room’ to explore issues raging in Australian politics, and hypothesising about what will come in the future. Entertaining, fascinating, and eternally engaging, The Party Room is one show I have on auto-download and make sure to listen to as soon as it becomes available. It’s also great to hear the politicised songs at the end of each episode.
A film review podcast with married couple Dave White and Alonso Duralde, Linoleum Knife is never not entertaining. A purely brilliant film review show (possibly the best out there, really) that has two people who love cinema talking about it with all the infectious enthusiasm you could want. It never fails to bring a smile to my face when I hear Dave say the name ‘Apichatpong Weerasethakul’ with verve, relishing every consonant and vowel and enjoying the way the name rolls off his tongue. See, there’s a love for the obscure, the unknown, from both hosts, with each encouraging listeners to seek out the good and the bad that cinema has to offer. It’s not all high-brow stuff, with the blockbusters getting a fair run as well. The show has been running since 2011, providing a huge wealth of entertainment. (And, if you fall for this show, then you can get even more by joining their Patreon.)
Pretty for an Aboriginal is eleven episodes of brilliance from co-hosts Nakkiah Lui and Miranda Tapsell (with huge hopes that there are more to come). It’s an extremely entertaining show about growing up aboriginal in Australia, about what being a woman in the world means to be, and how racism raises its ugly head in the world. All that sounds dark, but the joyous friendship between Nakkiah and Miranda is infectious – it’s hard not to leave each episode feeling like you can actually make a change in the world. Discussions are candid and open, and most importantly, informative. With only a handful of episodes, it’s an easy show to dig into. (And, when you’re finished, head over and give Beverly Wang’s equally essential It’s Not a Racea listen.)
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