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Keep working-from-home fatigue at bay with these 6 podcasts

Amrita V Nair | Updated on May 22, 2020 Published on May 22, 2020

From ‘Dolly Parton’s America’ to NASA’s official podcast channel, here are six new podcasts to keep you sane and relaxed during the lockdown

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to what media company Bloomberg described as “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment”. We are now spending more time in front of our computers than ever — as meetings move online and emails and instant messages become the primary mode of communication.

Personally, I find that after a long day spent staring at a screen, ocular fatigue tends to set in, and the things that used to help me unwind after work such as watching shows on TV or YouTube are no longer as relaxing.

From the reported spurt in popularity of podcasts over the past few weeks, it looks as though more people than ever are tuning into them as a way to relax. To help you make the best of your downtime, here is a list of podcasts that we recommend to keep you afloat.

Dolly Parton’s America

A celebrated country singer-songwriter, actress, savvy businesswoman and a generous humanitarian, Dolly Parton is one of the most beloved public figures in the US. In this podcast, veteran radio host Jad Abumrad tries to understand why Parton has received such widespread adulation. Abumrad notes that her enduring and unanimous appeal is even more mystifying considering the fact that that present-day America is deeply divided and there are few things that everyone can agree on. Through a meticulous exploration of Parton’s oeuvre, interviews with fans whose lives were impacted by her music, discussions with country music experts, and conversations with the singer herself, the podcast takes an intimate look into what Abumrad describes as the “Dollyverse”. Keep a box of tissues handy and listen at https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/dolly-partons-america.

Deadly Manners

If you like Agatha Christie and old-timey radio plays, Deadly Manners will be right up your alley. This murder-mystery podcast takes place in 1954, and is set against a dinner party hosted by the wealthy Billings family. As the Billings host their equally wealthy and somewhat eccentric guests, a sudden snowstorm and a power outage provide the perfect setting for a murderer in their midst, who starts picking them off one by one. With a stellar cast featuring actors such as LeVar Burton, Kristen Bell, RuPaul and Anna Chlumsky among others, Deadly Manners makes for nail-biting and edge-of-your-seat listening as the guests race against time to find the murderer in 10 episodes. Listen at https://deadlymanners.libsyn.com/.

Every Little Thing

Hosted by Flora Lichtman and produced by podcasting powerhouse Gimlet, Every Little Thing is a podcast that takes in listener queries through their helpline and answers them through interviews with scientists, historians, and other experts. The questions that the podcast addresses are often things that you might have wondered about yourself, but never quite got around to googling. Questions come in from listeners around the world and cover a wide range of topics. For instance, in 2019, the podcast answered questions about the invention of the hair tie, pay hierarchy in orchestras, and the origins of nail polish colour names. Listen at https://gimletmedia.com/shows/every-little-thing.

Houston, We Have a Podcast

Nearly everyone declares, at some point in their childhood, that their ambition in life is to become an astronaut. If you, like me, never quite gave up on your love for space, you need to listen to Houston, We Have a Podcast, the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Hosted by NASA employee Gary Jordan, the podcast features conversations with scientists, engineers, and astronauts about the world of spaceflight. Past episodes have discussed topics such as the mechanics of crash testing spaceships, the evolution of spacesuit design, and even provided answers to oft-asked questions about space hygiene. There are rare instances where the discussion can call for some specialised knowledge but, for the most part, the show remains accessible, informative, and entertaining. Listen at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP.

What Should I Read Next?

Under the lockdown, many of us are rediscovering our love for reading. What Should I Read Next?, hosted by writer and bibliophile Anne Bogel, features conversations between Bogel and a fellow book-lover (usually writers themselves) about the books that have influenced their work. At the end of each episode, Bogel recommends a list of books that the interviewee might enjoy based on their tastes and reading history. Bogel and her guests usually have diverse and eclectic tastes and the podcast is a wonderful way to discover books and genres that you might never have chanced upon otherwise. Listen at https://modernmrsdarcy.com/what-should-i-read-next/.

Coronavirus Global Update

If you would like to get a quick rundown of updates relating to the coronavirus and its global spread without trawling through multiple news sources, the BBC’s Coronavirus Global Update is the perfect podcast to listen to. Each episode of the podcast is five minutes or shorter and includes updates on the pandemic, reports on its socioeconomic impact in affected countries, as well as health advice from experts based on the latest findings about the virus. Listen at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p085r789.

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

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Published on May 22, 2020
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