My Top 20 Podcasts

I walk to work, and in addition to the great BBC iPlayer app and some audiobooks, I rely on a selection of podcasts to power me across Manchester and into Salford. I’ve had tips from Catherine Sloan, Emma Grey and Paddy Hoey, and love finding a great new podcast to get excited about. Here are my favourites, all of which are available for free on iTunes. Tweet me yours, I’m always looking for ways to brighten up the morning dander.


  1. Another Round: easily the best of the bunch, Heben and Tracy talk politics and pop culture while being so funny you might not be able to catch your breath on your commute. Brilliant guests, from Valerie Jarrett  to Ta-Nehisi Coates, and I need to know their exact take on #Formation this week.
  2. The Women’s Podcast: a great Irish podcast, which veers from laugh out loud hilarious to breaking your heart in one episode. The episode on ‘The Craic’ is highly recommended.
  3. The Guardian Long Read: If you don’t buy a paper, and don’t like to scroll through long articles online, let someone read them to you.
  4. The Allusionist: For anyone interested in etymology, language or communication.
  5. Pop Culture Happy Hour: I don’t massively have a clue what they are talking about half the time (US pop culture and TV-centric) but I never failed to be charmed by the host Linda Holmes and, especially, her love of women’s fiction.
  6. Seriously… : Mostly because the David Bowie Verbatim episode last week nearly made me miss meeting a friend for coffee, and for the great one on Herland this week.
  7. This American Life: A classic, but that doesn’t mean they don’t keep digging up stories (especially the recent focus on schools, and the police). It also spawned Serial, which is not on here because everyone knows it and season 2 is a bit, well, you know.
  8. All Songs Considered: A bit too dude heavy (especially since Carrie Brownstein isn’t such a regular guest) but still often a good source of new music, and Tiny Desk Concerts.
  9. Call Your Girlfriend: While the tagline (‘For long distance besties everywhere’) might make anyone over 25 involuntary side-eye so hard they pull a muscle, this podcast is generally socially engaged, feminist and quite funny.
  10. RTÉ’s The Book Show: Such an array of voices from Ireland and abroad, and wonderfully presented by Sinead Gleeson, who can get the most churlish of writers to open up.
  11. The Guilty Feminist: A new one, but mostly included for the ‘I’m a feminist but…’ dialogue that opens the show, and for the easy conversation from the hosts. I’m excited to see a live taping of this in a few weeks.
  12. You Must Remember This: Classic old and newer Hollywood tales with just the right amount of scurrilous gossip. Recent episodes on Liz Taylor’s staged love affairs were gorgeous.
  13. An Irishman Abroad: Great long interviews and a nice loose interpretation of both Irishness and Abroad, this podcast always tells me something I didn’t know about someone I thought I did. Favourite recent episodes were Una Mullally, Tim Wheeler and Robert McLiam Wilson.
  14. Modern Love: Another newcomer, and really sweet and simple. A short piece is read out by an (often famous) actor about love, relationships and sex, and then the author discusses the writing of it with their editor.
  15. Rolling Stone Music Now: A good way into music news and recent albums, with some good exclusives.
  16. Savage Lovecast: Mostly for trying to convey the scandalous calls in emoji to friends and giggling when Dan Savage is actually stumped by someone’s relationship pickle.
  17. NPR’s Fresh Air: Every once and a while this old stalwart will throw up a truly wonderful interview with Terry Gross, or share wonderful archival material.
  18. Death, Sex and Money: If only for exposing me to Ellen Burstyn’s ‘Shouldless Days’, but also for having a remarkably gentle touch on some pretty complex issues. The phone-ins from listeners are always illuminating.
  19. Song Exploder: Just listen to the episode on Bjork’s Stonemilker, which is possibly my favourite podcast episode of all time.
  20. The Heart: Short, silly, possibly slightly irksome and self indulgent tales of intimacy with occasional flashes of acute honesty.