Below is a list of a few podcasts that we at Somatic [Oliver and Sam] enjoy. Some of these podcasts were particularly influential in helping us decide to pursue our own podcast series. In general, these are simply brilliant podcasts in terms of their content, production, and/or intent. Within recent years, there has been an explosion in the sheer number of podcasts available online. The list below omits the more “mainstream” podcast series – particularly sports podcasts produced by ESPN journalists and the like – and instead highlights some of the more critical / interesting podcasts out there, particularly in terms of their content and form / intent.
Also, it goes without saying that one can find brilliant examples of well produced, “storytelling” podcasts by checking out a few of the popular, influential podcasts to have emerged from the realm of public radio – This American Life, Serial, Radiolab, Snap Judgment. If you have not listened to them before, they are well worth a listen.
We are in no way affiliated or have agreements with any of these podcasts. We just want to share some of our favorite podcasts on Somatic’s website, and do our small part to promote and support podcast culture. We hope you enjoy these podcasts as much as we do.
12/02/18 Update: a few years ago, the excellent architecture and design podcast 99% Invisible produced an episode on “The Sounds of Sports.” Definitely worth a listen for those interested in learning more about the various ways sound shapes the experience of sports.
6/30/18 Update: the British news outlet The Guardian just published a great list of what they consider the “50 best podcasts of 2018.” Worth a read!
Our (Forever Incomplete) List of Interesting Podcasts:
- SAM: In many ways, MediaSport has been an profound influence on our Somatic Podcast, particularly in terms of our impetus and development as a product in digital audio. Created and administered by Dr. Brett Hutchins of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, the podcast includes interviews by world-renowned academics and scholars on topics related to the social, cultural, political, economic, and technological dimensions of sport. Moreover, the informal style of the podcast interview results in fascinating episodes, as the scholars discuss topics and ideas in a way that’s often more engaging than published textual works. MediaSport is just one of the key podcast series that are helping to introduce the importance or podcasting and digital audio to the sport studies field.
- SAM: I love the concept of this podcast. First of all, it is wonderfully utilitarian and useful in form: a podcast designed to help among us who struggle with falling asleep. The host, “Dearest Scooter,” tells brilliantly discursive, mundane bedtime stories in a way that helps distract listeners from their thoughts and fall asleep. Second, Sleep With Me opened my eyes to the possibilities in using the podcast form, and the ways one can use digital audio in new, creative, discursive ways. Podcasts don’t have to be strictly informative or chained to the interview mode: they can be mobilized in a multitude of ways. Plus, if you think about it, Sleep With Me is quite somatic in its intent: it’s a podcast series that seeks to have a positive impact on our bodies by helping people have restful, recuperative nights.
- OLIVER: Backstory has just been re-invented in early 2017 bringing a slight change in format, but keeps all the engaging historical perspective on contemporary issues that it offered before. This show really does help develop the idea that today is best understood when framed by the long historical processes that led us here! Good interaction between hosts, unusual and intriguing stories, and insight into the present that gives you the comfort of understanding the various processes of history.
- OLIVER: Okay so this one may be for audio nerds, but I think the appeal can be taken much more broadly. The show creates engrossing sound experiences, while taking audio as a point through which to dive into much further reaching topics and issues. Find some time to put on the headphones, switch off, and immerse yourself.
- OLIVER: Although not currently in production, the back catalog of this show with comedians W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu is a must listen. Engaging guests that challenge the audience to think more critically and deeply about a range of political issues (political in the small ‘p’ and broadest sense). The show also brings a high quality of production and an often needed levity that helps everyone that comes to the podcast to process some tough issues.
- OLIVER: This is a podcast in which Irish comedian Maeve Higgins tackles a timely issue today: immigration. Whilst not a new concept or experience to interrogate, the current intensification of flows of people around the world today and the powerful rhetoric that is often driven by attempts to frame the immigrant experience, make a podcast like this more relevant than ever. Also, as an immigrant living in the U.S., this show speaks to me and the set of issues that are often at the forefront of my mind. And Maeve Higgins is hilarious.
- SAM: I must admit, I have long been fascinated with the history of anti-humor and anti-comedy. Not that this podcast should necessarily be considered “anti-comedy,” because it’s hilarious. It’s a podcast hosted by a character named Brian Gittins, the alter-ego of British comedian David Earl. It is difficult to describe this character: according to one previous review of a Brian Gittins comedy show, “It’s a pleasing but not entirely convincing persona. Buttoned into an ill-fitting tux, Gittins is leering and physically uncomfortable, with…’a knack for making people feel awkward’.” What is so interesting about this podcast, though, is the way each episode effortlessly meanders, in a way that blurs the boundaries between intent and content. The humor comes not just from the actual discussions, but from the host’s (Gittins) seeming awkwardness and lack of comfort with the form of the show. The form is as much a part of the show’s humor as the content itself. I’m fascinated by such podcasts, with creative producers deliberately toying with normative understandings of the podcast’s understood functionality.
The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air
If you have suggestions of other great podcasts/shows, especially those that take a critical look at sport and “our bodies in motion,” please drop us a line and let us know.
Oliver and Sam