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The Top 5 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To This Year

I’m a really big podcasts guy. I get my fix where I can – while I work during the day, when I go out for a run in the evening (okay, sitting the couch relaxing, whatever), and often when I’m drifting off to sleep at night. There is a never ending supply of interesting subjects, and people to learn about. Now that my confession is out of the way (and boy do I feel unencumbered) I have to share some of my favourites with you. My podcast tastes tend to be eclectic so I’ll cast as wide a net as I possibly can, covering everything from sports to erotica.

Hardcore History

History buffs look no further, because this is the podcast for you. Hardcore History, presented by Dan Carlin, gives an in-depth analysis of historical events. His passion for the subjects he is covering is clear as soon as you hear his voice. The podcast is very low on production values, instead relying solely on Carlin’s voice to take you away to another place and time. He has a terrific capacity to speak at great length about a subject, forming a narrative thread which keeps you hooked for hours on end.

My favourite topic covered is the Mongol Empire (not because of all the talk of harems, I swear) titled “The Wrath of the Khans.” You might think that listening to a single voice talk about the Mongol Empire for around eight hours would be hard going, and you’d be wrong. Definitely not one for the faint of heart, though.

Second Captains Live

If you need your sporting fix, then Second Captains is where you need to be. The irreverent team of Eoin McDevitt, Ken Early, Mark Horgan, Ciarán Murphy and Simon Hick bring a compelling mix of sporting discussion and light relief.

The former Newstalk crew created a stir in the Irish media world in 2013 when they left the station and struck out on their own, and they’ve never looked back.

Recognised for its excellence – it’s been voted one of the top 10 podcasts in the UK and Ireland of all time by iTunes – and it’s well deserved, as these Irish boys provide sporting analysis of the highest standard.

What I love particularly about the show is its willingness to poke fun at itself and its members; Early, in particular has a talent for this. Recently dismissed on a rival podcast as not being a “Football Man” by Johnny Giles, the “Second Captains” team spent an entire episode mocking their teammate mercilessly. It is this level of camaraderie that sets it apart from its competitors.

My Dad Wrote a Porno

Most people, on discovering that their father has written an erotic novel that makes your average Mills and Boon novel look Shakespearean, would do the respectful thing and ask the ground to swallow them up.

Jamie Morton, the presenter of “My Dad Wrote a Porno” has embraced this occurrence. Every week, Jamie and his friends do a read-through of a chapter of his father’s erotic novel – Belinda Blinked. The read-through breaks down in laughter regularly, how could it not with lines like this:

“The now devastated Belinda was immediately led to a hosepipe near the stables where the Duchess stripped her of her torn skirt and tennis shirt and hosed her down. She roughly fondled Belinda’s tits and ass in the washing process with a long handled brush and pushed her, still naked, into a horsebox.”

What’s clear, if you hadn’t guessed from the above, is that the presenter’s father has a very tenuous grasp of what erotica actually is. He is the everyman, who upon seeing the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, said “I could do that” and he really really couldn’t.

An Irishman Abroad

An Irishman Abroad is a weekly podcast hosted and created by Irish stand-up Jarlath O’Regan. It takes the format of a long-form interview between the comedian and a different Irish person every week, each with a story to tell. Some are from the world of comedy, some are from the world of sports, some are from the world of literature, but all have the common ground of having been Irish people living abroad at some point in their lives. Some guests of note include Dylan Moran, Ronan O’Gara, Fergal Devitt, Louise O’Neill and David McWilliams. The result is spellbinding.

One of the most profound episodes is with Paul McGrath: it is an audio portrait of a man who has achieved a lot at the highest sporting level, but who has also seen the bottom of the well; it is an intimate conversation about drowning in addiction, depression, fear of abandonment, and ultimately trying to get above all of that, and managing to take a breath.

The softly-spoken Jarlath knows the right questions to ask, sometimes prodding the guests gently, but never trying to lead them down the garden path. He gives them space and time to tell their story. It’s a podcast which is real, heartfelt and the perfect insight into the Irish psyche – as beautiful and broken as we sometimes are.

Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know has been around for a long time – over eight years. Twice a week, episodes are released which educates listeners about a wide variety of subjects. The episodes typically last about 45 minutes, with subjects covered including “science, history, urban legends, and pop culture, with the occasional conspiracy theory thrown in for good measure.” It owes much of its longevity, and success, to the cordial, laid-back chemistry of the two hosts – Josh Clark and Charles “Chuck” Bryant. They both have a wide-eyed, innocent fascination with the world and how it works. What makes this show so charming is the hosts are not experts on the issues they are talking about, they have just researched subjects to a level where they can speak confidently about it. With the massive back catalog of episodes, you will never run out of fun subjects to learn about.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

– This American Life

– The Stand

– 99% Invisible

– Into the Dark

– Revisionist History

– OSW Review

– Joe Rogan Experience

– Monday Morning Podcast with Bill Burr

– Serial

– How I Built This