These days, if I’m not reading, I’m probably listening to a podcast. In fact, my love for podcasts is probably the reason that my yearly books-read total has taken a bit of a dive, because I can’t get enough of podcasts, and sadly, as good as I am at multi-tasking, I can’t listen and read at the same time.
So I thought I’d do a semi-regular series (all of my series are semi-regular) in which I simply round up what I’ve been listening to. If I can pull my finger out enough to make this a weekly thing, I will. If not, it will be as often as I can find the time to write it.
Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year is a brand new podcast that has been established to replace the Radio 2 Book Club, that used to make up part of Mayo’s Drivetime show. With the advent of a scheduling change, the book club was dropped, so Mayo and his former co-host, Matt Williams, have started this new podcast to fill that gap. The first episode features a fiction and a non-fiction pick: Widows by Lynda La Plante and Reveal by Robbie Williams respectively. The episode includes a chat with each author, both of which are illuminating and interesting (even for a major non-Williams fan like me), and the chemistry between Mayo and Williams that worked so well on the Radio 2 show is here in abundance. There’s also a section for unpublished work, with this week’s episode featuring a story from a ten-year-old that was sent in by his mum. It’s a tried and tested format that works, and while it’s a shame that literary coverage has been dropped from primetime radio, this is a great replacement.
Now into their fifth season, this week The West Wing Weekly covers the fifth episode of the fifth season of The West Wing – Constituency of One. The fifth season is a problematic one for many West Wing fans, as it was the first without the Messianic figure of Aaron Sorkin, and at the end of the last season of this podcast, we learnt that one of our co-hosts, Hrishikesh Hirway, had only watched up to the end of the Sorkin era, and is watching most of the episodes from here on out for the first time. This episode features an interview Jennifer Palmieri, the former White House communications director for Obama, and was communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. As ever, this is a podcast that pays very close attention to the details of the episode, and gives what amounts to a close textual analysis. It’s really rather wonderful (though probably less appealing to those who aren’t West Wing fans).
If you’re following and enjoying the World Cup, I recommend the Guardian’s World Cup Football Daily. Unsurprisingly, given its name, there’s a new episode every day, and it simply takes a look at the football action of the day. There’s a lot of technical talk about the games; tactics, players and statistics are all discussed, but as it’s a Guardian production, they aim go a little deeper, and they have erudite correspondents who really know what they are talking about. Definitely recommended for anyone who’s following the football.
Finally, for all you true crime fans, I’ve just started listening to an Australian podcast called The Teacher’s Pet, about Lyn Dawson, a woman who went missing in 1982. It’s widely believed that she was murdered, and two coronial inquests have found that her death was caused by her husband, though there’s no body, and the police don’t seem to have investigated too thoroughly in the early days of her disappearance. I’m only two episodes in, but like all great true crime podcasts, it appears to be well-produced, well-researched, and draws you in from the get-go.