An August list of podcasts

Amrita V Nair | Updated on August 27, 2020 Published on August 27, 2020

It takes two: The Michelle Obama Podcast on Spotify began with an interview with Barack Obam   -  REUTERS

Podcasts are finally making more monies and shows. Here’s this month’s round-up of what to plug into

* This month’s round-up from the slew of shows out there includes one that will educate you on the history of fashion, an interview podcast from a beloved former First Lady, and a supernatural thriller that is becoming a fan favourite among audio drama enthusiasts.

Once considered a somewhat obscure hobby, podcasting has now truly arrived. With soaring listenership, it is slowly but surely becoming mainstream, drawing the attention and investment of media companies.

For example, international media conglomerate Bertelsmann recently launched its own podcasting division named Storyglass. Many fans of the medium have greeted this news with excitement and expectation that podcasts under the Storyglass label will draw from other divisions of the Berterlsmann group, such as publishing giant Penguin Random House. Streaming platform Spotify has also bet big on podcasts, as reflected in its recent app overhaul that highlights the genre more prominently as well as the launch of Spotify-exclusive podcasts that can only be streamed through its app.

Many creators hope that these investments will enable them to monetise their podcasts through new channels and reach wider audiences. Others have expressed concern that the commercialisation might take away the independence and charm of the medium. While it is difficult to predict which way things will go, the popularity of the medium and the number of new podcasts being released each month continue to soar.

This month’s round-up from the slew of shows out there includes one that will educate you on the history of fashion, an interview podcast from a beloved former First Lady, and a supernatural thriller that is becoming a fan favourite among audio drama enthusiasts.

Dressed: The History of Fashion

Produced by iHeartRadio and hosted by fashion historians Cassidy Zachary and April Calahan, Dressed, according to the episode introductions, is a podcast that “explores the who, what, when of why we wear”. Delving into the complex social, cultural and economic journeys of the clothes and accessories we wear today, each episode is wide ranging and provides fascinating insights into the world around us from a thoroughly unique perspective. From time to time, Zachary and Calahan also discuss important ethical questions about fashion in a bid to encourage listeners to make conscious and responsible choices while making purchasing decisions. Listen here

The Michelle Obama Podcast

If the success of her memoir, Becoming, is anything to go by, former US First Lady Michelle Obama is someone that everyone wants to hear and learn from. You can do just that on the newly launched Michelle Obama Podcast where she discusses important issues through candid (and vulnerable) conversations with her friends, loved ones and former colleagues. In an introductory episode, she states that episodes of the podcast will discuss topics and issues that we are dealing with no matter what is going on around us — such as relationships with the people who matter to us, the challenges and joys of parenthood or marriage, or the value of friendship in helping us navigate through difficult times. Produced by the Obamas’ own podcasting platform Higher Ground and launched on Spotify, the podcast kicked off with an interview with former President Barack Obama and their wide-ranging conversation on family, community, and how idealistic young people are making a difference in the world is fascinating and inspiring. Listen here

The Harrowing

Produced by Storyglass and featuring Golden Globe-winning actor Joanne Froggatt in the lead role, The Harrowing is an edge-of-your-seat supernatural thriller set in a remote Scottish island. Froggatt, who is best known for her role in Downton Abbey, stars as Sergeant Jackie O’Hara who recounts the happenings of a stormy Easter weekend on the island which led to the death of every inhabitant there. Deeply riveting and perfectly plotted, The Harrowing creates an unsettling and creepy atmosphere with stellar sound effects. Aside from Froggatt, Sorcha Groundsell as Twig and Stewart Scudamore who plays the role of a mysterious stranger suspected of a heinous crime also shine in their roles. Make sure you have enough time to binge listen because the nail-biting twists will have you playing the episodes in quick succession. Listen here

Twenty Thousand Hertz

Twenty Thousand Hertz recounts the stories of the world’s most recognisable and interesting sounds — from the iconic Netflix ta-dum sound to the memorable music of the sitcom Seinfeld. Hosted by writer and sound designer Dallas Taylor, the podcast is truly delightful — featuring conversations with musicians and sound designers you may not have heard of but whose works provide some of the melodies that make up the soundtrack of your life. As you would expect from a podcast created by a sound designer, Twenty Thousand Hertz also boasts incredible sound design and original background scores that bring each episode to life. Besides exploring the history of easily recognisable sounds, the podcast also features episodes on numerous other aspects of sound. For instance, a 2019 episode discusses recent advancements in cochlear implant technology and the debates surrounding their use. The most recent episode features a conversation with writer Paige Towers who talks about noise pollution and its adverse impact on our mental health. Listen here

Amrita V Nair is a freelance writer, public policy specialist and podcast enthusiast

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Published on August 27, 2020
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