We’re all weird and we like to know about weird things. The best place to indulge this weirdness? Podcasts. Over the past few years, podcasts have become the outlet for people to rant about unique topics that are just too intriguing for the television.
So if you’re looking to lose yourself in a juicy murder mystery or get nostalgic over retro video games, check out these 15 selects and plug in your headphones (or turn the volume right up so your neighbours can hear, they’ll not want to miss this).
Malcolm Gladwell, the mega-brain behind The Tipping Point, gets in on the pod game with this 10-part series. Revisionist History reappraises a significant moment in time – think a mysterious Californian car crash, or forgotten Victorian artist – and forms a whispery link between the past and the present. So esoteric it borders on parody? Yes. Addictive? God yes.
Pure footie joy
The Football Ramble, fronted by infectiously daft quartet Jim Campbell, Marcus Speller, Luke Moore and Pete Donaldson, is an enjoyably ramshackle show offering a genuinely funny antidote to some of the stiffer football podcasts around. Not that the team – who upload shows twice a week – don’t know their registers from their false nines. There’s lots of tactical nous to complement the Alan Pardew mockery and Nineties nostalgia.
The retro-gaming blowout
If the thought of blowing an N64 cartridge like a harmonica tickles your nostalgia synapses, you’ll love this gaming pod. Retronauts eschews the modern release schedule for giddy, thorough examinations of set texts such as Pac-Man and The Legend Of Zelda, while also leaving room for disastrous curios like The Virtual Boy.
Bad movies, good podcast
American comedians Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas celebrate terrible movies in this hilarious podcast, where subject matter consists of Jean-Claude Van Damme punching everyone in the balls in Bloodsport. You know, the really deep stuff.
There’s more than a whiff of Hail, Caesar! to this exquisite episodic look at notorious Old Hollywood stories. You Must Remember This features atmospheric sound beds, film clips and host Karina Longworth’s breathy tones drag you back in time to tour everything from the Charles Manson murders to Frank Sinatra failing to enlist for the Second World War. Bound to help with pub quizzes.
Pop culture vultures
Notionally a TV discussion show, The Watch is a weekly talk between friends Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald that’s as likely to touch on pop culture gems such as Kanye’s endless album amendments and Tom Hiddleston’s suitability to play Bond. It’s laden with shrewd critical judgements.
Blending Lovecraftian horror with a Fox Mulder-ish eye for the spooky, Lore is a fortnightly series that sees author Aaron Mahnke relate true tales that feature everything from folkloric gremlins to impossible natural disasters. Its chilling alt history is now being turned into a TV show.
The new Serial
Another helping of Serial? Taking direct influence from Sarah Koenig’s landmark cold case, Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder is a British newcomer from TV scriptwriter Peter Jukes, on the murder of private investigator Morgan in 1987 and the alleged police cover-up. Gripping, grisly and thorough.
For fiction fanboys
An audio mystery entry, Alice Isn’t Dead is a follow-up to acclaimed Twin Peaks-alike Welcome To Night Vale – a work of fiction divided into 10 20-minute portions. Told from the perspective of an unnamed female narrator, it’s the story of a truck driver searching for her wife. High-calibre, off-kilter noir.
Serial podcasters Helen Zaltzman (check out her etymological walkabout The Allusionist) and Olly Mann (of wry men’s pod The Modern Mann) barrel into a range of listeners’ questions in effortlessly entertaining series Answer Me This. Its deep dives into loyalty card etiquette, what qualifies a puppet as a Muppet and chicken-flavoured crisps are irresistible.
A podcast evaluating various American chain restaurants may not sound like much, but with Doughboys the ketchup-smeared hands of improv comedians Nick Wiger and Mike Mitchell make it oddly compelling. Each week they’re joined by a guest for supersized discussions on deep-fried abominations. Warning: will make you hungry.
Mega-length history lessons
While other shows tackle the glut of podcasts by slimming down to 20-minute episodes, Hardcore History from political commentator Dan Carlin goes the other way. Often running for as long as four hours, each instalment sees Carlin explore Spartan armies, conquerors and other moments in time with a savage wit. Like plugging a historical doorstopper directly into your brain.
The thinky one
Longform is the online writing hub’s spin-off audio series, with quality guests – such as Lena Dunham, Jon Ronson and lit don Gay Talese – and an unstuffy yet accomplished interview style. It’s packed with insight into the writing process and tales behind Pulitzer-winning stories.
The My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast sees Jamie Morton reading out different chapters from erotic books his 60 year old father has written. Some episode descriptions are golden: "Belinda makes her first trip to Europe to secure a lucrative deal with Peter Rouse. Before she meets him, she encounters some new, interesting characters with their own sexual agendas..."
When you have the President of the United States on your podcast, you know you've hit the big time. WTF Podcast host Marc Maron has had an array of big named guests on his show, including Billy Crystal, Jeff Goldblum and Neil Young.
(Image: The White House - Pete Souza)