Give me 5... Podcasts This April
By Phoebe Green
The way I see it, podcasts are the perfect mixture between reading a book and talking to your friends. If you haven’t yet delved into this beautiful world, then here’s a bunch that will get you on your way. Likewise, if you are already knee-deep and are feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the Pandora’s box of podcasts that you’ve opened up, then these gems are just what you need.
1. Gurls Talk
This is an essential listen. In each episode, Adwoa Aboah chats to highly inspirational women who are breaking records and breaking down barriers. The podcast runs alongside her online community, which is spreading an important open conversation for young women to talk about mental health, relationships and self-care. Through the podcast’s “fierce female chat”, you truly get to know these women; their wit, confidence and drive.
The Ramla Ali episode was highly emotional and it really stuck with me. As the current British boxing champion, she discusses her issues with the label by which she’s defined: “first female Muslim (boxing champion)”. She shares her experiences as a Somali refugee and how, like many refugees, she doesn’t know her birth date. She is self-assured and yet so modest about her achievements, perhaps because she had to keep boxing a secret from her mum. I love that every episode of this series ends with a take-home message on how to “take control” of your life and future. So, if you haven’t yet, I implore you to listen to Gurls Talk right from the start, with the Jorja Smith pilot episode.
One to get you hooked: Ramla Ali talks religion, refugees and fighting stereotypes with every boxing medal.
2. Women with Balls
In this new fiery fortnightly podcast, Katy Balls, The Spectator’s political correspondent, speaks to trailblazing women “with balls”. Her guests are big names in the worlds of politics, journalism and finance, like Andrea Leadsom, Liz Truss, Jess Philips and Dame Helena Morrissey. It’s refreshing and exciting to get a peep into the lives of these women, away from the cameras and heat of politics. They share their stories about how they got to where they are today, whilst giving advice to women entering into these male-dominated spheres.
I particularly enjoyed the episode with Emma Barnett, BBC Radio 5 Live broadcaster, as she offers interesting insights into workplace sexism. She discusses the invisible barriers which lead to women losing control of their own ambition, such as the ‘nice guy misogynists’. I love that Katy is always on her guests’ side, in that she doesn’t try to squeeze out any newsworthy or scandalous information. It is also great to see such a representation across the political spectrum. Go on and give this podcast a go!
One to get you hooked: The Emma Barnett Edition
3. The Economist asks
Now for some overt education. In attractively manageable lengths, The Economist asks has a huge range of content, from “How can America fix its problem with gun violence?” to “Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokno” and “How to tax the rich”. You will find endless topics of interest and some that you didn’t even know you were interested in; I thoroughly enjoyed “John McCain’s last word”. I definitely recommend giving it a listen, and… learning something new. “What’s behind the new anti-Semitism?” really stuck with me:
Deborah Lipstadt, an outspoken Jewish historian, discusses the return of the “oldest hatred” and talks about her experiences of being sued for slander by David Irving, an outright Holocaust denier, for characterising his statements as denial in her book. She also discusses the boundaries when joking about Jewishness, praising “The Marvellous Miss Maisel” for getting the balance just right.
One to get you hooked: 'What does it mean to be educated'
4. Queer as Fiction
Let’s hop over to a more light-hearted podcast. Hosted by three queer women, Queer as Fiction began à la My Dad Wrote a Porno. They would read out, pick apart and cackle at queer erotica, like Rackula.
After this didn’t get the best reception, they now write their own fan fiction based on themes requested by listeners and read out fan fiction about themselves written by their listeners. In between the fan fiction, they chat about experiences as queer women, from intensely straight sex dreams during ovulation, to their coming out stories and uncomfortable first hand-jobs.
Whilst creating an important safe-space for the queer audience, it also almost feels like you’re listening in on a group of girls chatting. They have only recorded one season so far, but the existing nineteen episodes make for the perfect podcast binge.
5. Love Stories
Onto the finale. I’m sure everyone is acquainted with Dolly Alderton by now; apparently, she’s “the queen of millennials”. Aside from The High Low, she runs Love Stories, a beautiful podcast in which she talks to inspirational and important individuals about the love stories that have formed who they are today.
Every episode is raw, emotional and uplifting. For some reason I’ve listened to the Ruth Jones episode three times now, it is so heart-warming. Dolly wrote a feature piece (“Dolly Alderton: Six inspiring lessons I learnt from Love Stories”) in which she reflects on the snippets of wisdom she’s collected from everyone on the podcast, “not just on love, but the messy business of being human”. As well as melting into the guest’s love stories, I love getting to know Dolly more too.
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