The Top 5 Podcasts to Download Today

Thursday 16 January 2014 by

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I love a good podcast. I listen to loads of them every week – from daily updates, to weekly and sometimes monthly. Podcasts are a great way to keep up with your favourite radio shows, as well as discover new programmes you had never imagined. But will the thousands of podcasts to choose from, where do you even begin!?

To help you get started, here are my top five podcasts to download:

TED Talks

As you may well know, TED Talks (“ideas worth spreading”) is a non-profit organisation designed to share people’s stories – from business models to life experience, politics to health – at the TED conferences all around the world. You can keep up with their videos on their website, but they also run a podcast that is the audio version. I must warn you – you will end up listening to some and having to watch the video as well because they are so good. I’ve heard about everything from why Mexico drug cartels are good business models to how to play Massively Multi-Player Thumb Wars. It’s fascinating, funny and just a little bit different.

BBC History Hour

In much the same vein as TED, this is all about learning stuff. And what stuff you learn! I’ve heard about Nelson Mandela, WWII in China, the first appearance of Grand Theft Auto, a mass cult suicide in South America, and even about the life and times of Albert Camus. Each podcast centres around what happened that week in history. Plus, Max Pearson has one of the most dulcet-toned voices out there.

Writing Excuses

“Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.”

I discovered this Hugo Award-winning podcast from another blog a few months ago and I’m hooked. Hosted by novelists Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson (yes, THAT Brandon Sanderson), and Dan Wells, and cartoonist Howard Taylor, these are snapshot 15-minute podcasts discussing all manner of writerly pursuits – from advice on getting published to the best way to write a believable antagonist. There are usually special guests (previous guests have included Scott Lynch and Wesley Chu), and each week provides you with a book of the week – the audio version is always available on – and a writing prompt. If you are a writer of any kind, this is a brilliant podcast to download. Prepare to feel inspired.

The Guardian Books Podcast

This was a hard one to make a choice between. It’s another books/writing one, but it was a toss-up between this and the Radio 4 Books and Authors podcast. What pipped it to the post was the fact that the last episode was all about the best books coming this year, and I got so excited I pre-ordered at least three they mentioned! Plus, they host the John Crace Digested Read features.

The Empire Podcast

From the biggest movie magazine “on the planet” comes a podcast that is the “last word” on film and TV. If you don’t like spoilers, you might want to avoid, but otherwise this is a sizzling podcast that sits hot on the heels of the latest screen wonder. If you’re a film buff, or just want to learn more, this is the podcast for you.

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