Podcast Recommendations- Coronavirus Global Update

When you care about the welfare of the world!

Granted, news on the Coronavirus pandemic should not become a form of entertainment for us- which podcasts and TV shows ought to be. However when you just want to know more about what is going on around the world, in a quick, no fuss, no effort manner- BBC World Services’ Coronavirus Global Update is maybe what you’re looking for?

The BBC’s latest podcast is a twice daily feed, lasting for no more than 6-8 minutes at-a-time. Delivered as a handful of short reports, updating you on the latest global Coronavirus breaking news in the past 12 hours.

Yes, admittedly at the moment we’re already being bombarded with news on the deadly outbreak each time we turn on our socials or TV, however in most cases the chatter that we hear are highly localised or only focused on the major countries with the highest number of infections. But what about all the other 200 odd countries around the world?

Sure, you can pick a country and Google the heck out of it, learning what is going on in that region of the world to find out how they’re handling the contagion- but isn’t it easier if it could be spoon-fed to you via a twice daily podcast which automatically drops into your podcast player?

From the Coronavirus Global Update, I’ve  learnt of the impact of the virus on India and its people when a lockdown was announced only 24 hours ahead of time – leaving thousands stranded away from home; or the impact of the virus on Kenyans, where the government and military enforce ‘social distancing’ measures – resulting in beatings, shootings and deaths; or the impact of the virus spreading on a US naval aircraft carrier – leading to the captain of the ship pleading for help as ‘it isn’t war time, there is no need for young men to be dying at this time’; or the impact of the virus on the people of Panama as ‘social distancing’ measures separate the genders by forcing men and women to leave their homes on alternative days – bringing a swift end to developing romance for unmarried couples…… All of which are interesting topics to know, which would never find its way onto our main stream news cycles- as we’re too caught up on our own domestic issues.

So if you still want to keep yourself outward focused during these unusual times, check out the Coronavirus Global Update, click HERE to start listening.

Podcast recommendations- Monocle 24: the Menu

When you’re not travelling nor eating out.

It’s pretty crazy at the present time, with Coronavirus and fear of Coronavirus shutting down schools/businesses, cities and countries. So if you’re finding yourself spending more and more time at home, why not do everything virtually?

With ‘Monocle 24: The Menu’, and its sister program ‘Food Neighbourhoods’, you can travel the world and savour its delights from the safety of your own home!

Both The Menu and Food Neighbourhoods are weekly podcast extracts from the Monocle 24 radio station. The menu is a longer program (upwards of 30 mins) where host Markus Hippi takes you on a food journey, interviewing chefs, restaurateurs, producers, and people behind the scenes of the dining industry. The program comes out of the UK, but its stories and guests are from all over the world. Literally all over the world! So even though I’m based in little old Sydney Australia, I feel as if I’m better connected with the goings on in the wider global dining scene! For example, I’ve learnt of the craze of South Koreans wanting to try North Korean food, to hearing about one UK woman’s start-up where she’s producing cannabis based soft drinks? And all of this was in one single episode!

On the other hand, Food Neighbourhoods is a quick wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am program no longer than 8 mins in length. FN takes you on an actual food journey – a different journalist each episode takes you on a virtual walking tour of a literal neighbourhood, describing the sights, sounds and smells of the place, and sharing with you their favourite dining and entertainment spots. It’s both informative, appetising and it’s super interesting when you hear them feature a neighbourhood you’re familiar with! As you can see how accurately (or not) they’ve depicted one of your favourite haunts.

So in the next couple of months, where global travel is unadvisable and eating out is a risky affair, why not just close your eyes and sit back and do your journeying virtually- thanks to Monocle 24: The Menu and Food Neighbourhoods, to start listening, click HERE!

Podcast Recommendation- ESPN Longforms

When you need to go deeper!

Here is a pair of podcasts that dive deep, deep down into the depths of a sports story, leaving no stone unturned and leaving you enlightened by the experience.

The Sterling Affair- 30 For 30

Similar to ESPN’s 30 For 30 Longform deep dive into the Bikram Yoga scandals, Season 5 of 30 For 30 was devoted entirely to the Donald Sterling V. Stiviano debacle.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Donald Sterling V. Stiviano debacle, essentially it was an old rich white man getting in some serious trouble after he went on a racist rant in the privacy of his own home with his much younger mistress, with that mistress recording the rant and then leaking it to a sports news outlet when relations with her ‘old man’ and his wife Shelly Sterling  got ugly, when Shelly was suing said Mistress for the return of gifts which were given to her by the Billionaire cheating husband (gifts including a million dollar plus home, and a fleet of exotic sports cars). And when the damning audio tapes were made public…… It all looked pretty bad for this old rich white guy- and to make things much much worse, was that said old rich white guy, was the owner of the LA Clippers, a NBA team whose players and coach were African American – the race which was the target of his racist rant. Awkward!

I remember back in 2014 when this first broke, I had heard about this as all the American Sport talk shows were chatting about it, and I remember going to Youtube to listen to the infamous recording in mention. But aside for the 2 day bleep in my consciousness, I hadn’t thought about it anymore since then, until I listened to this 5 part episode.

The ‘Sterling Affair’ is reported by Ramona Shelburne, and over 5 episodes she takes you on a journey to understand what really happened; who was this Donald Sterling guy, leading up to this scandalous affair; how if you actually knew Donald, it wouldn’t have been a surprise; and the fall-out and conclusion, right up to the present day- important for people like me who didn’t follow the Sterling debacle at the time right to its dramatic end.

The real-life story of Donald Sterling was about a quite vile character- a life of greed, the chase of fame, cheapness, racist undertones, and womanising – but it was the reporting, and Ramona’s ability to weave a compelling story, and 30 for 30’s polished productions, that grabbed my attention right from the first episode and sucked me in ’til the end! And although the affair occurred more than 5 years ago, and the world has moved on from Donald Sterling – I think I’m still better off for knowing this tale about an important piece of basketball history and a piece of modern US history. And I think it’s worth your listen.

ESPN Daily, ESPN.com

And over the past weeks I’ve developed a new habit – that being coming home from work and having my Google Home play me the latest episode of ‘ESPN Daily’ as I go about unwinding from a day of work.

ESPN Daily is a daily (Mon-Fri) podcast hosted by the one and only Mina Kimes, a highly respected sports journalist. Where in most cases sports news is reduced to a 30 second video clip highlighting the top plays from the match, ESPN Daily elects one trending Sport story and then goes deep – interviewing a journalist close to that particular sport story and chatting about it for 15-20 minutes. ESPN Daily isn’t focused on a single sport, but is sport agnostic – covering all types of sports from the big four (basketball, football, baseball, and hockey), to motor racing, soccer and more!

Even after only a week, I’d like to think that I’m better educated about sports, particularly on the ones which I don’t usually follow, i.e. baseball (now I know all there is to know about the Astros and Sign stealing). And I’m now aware of Alex Ovechkin – the first time I’ve ever heard of the man, although he’s been a living legend for the past decade. So I think I’m way more informed now, a week on, compared to who I was a few weeks back. And you too can be like me, a wealth of knowledge thanks to the hard work of others!

Long live the sport podcast longform!

Podcast Recommendations- The Mysterious Mr. Epstein

A modern day classic in the true crime podcast genre.

With my true crime fandom piqued by our experience with Michael Connelly’s ‘Murder Book’, I went on a true crime pod frenzy- searching for the next gripping pod and on the top of that list was Wondery’s ‘The Mysterious Mr. Epstein’.

Sure I have a vague idea who Jeffery Epstein was…….. although to be honest with you, half of the time I was confusing him with Harvey Weinstein…….but obviously Epstein has been more at the forefront of our minds now since Prince Andrew’s car crash of a TV interview.

But if you’re like me, vaguely aware of Jeffery Epstein and curious to know a little more about what was going on there, but not THAT interested to be trawling the web in your own time for articles about a vile character like him – then you might consider listening to the podcast instead?

The Mysterious Mr. Epstein pod is hosted by acclaimed New York Times journalist Lindsay Graham. Over 6 episodes the series walks you through Jeffery Epstein’s life – from days as a high school mathematics and physics teacher, then as a financial advisor, before sinking into depravity where his criminality takes over his life.

The podcast is well researched and produced, using primary sources (snippets from real news and interview recordings), re-enactments, and a nice weaving together of the strands of the story – which leaves you on a slight cliff’s edge at the end of every episode. The series dropped a load of bombshells, casting shade over a multitude of prominent and influential personalities through their association with Epstein alone, and with the latest twist in this true story – with revelations that Epstein was most likely murdered in his jail cell……… The conspiracies keep swirling.

If you’re interested to learn more about the mysterious Mr. Epstein and be entertained in its retelling of this true crime? Then check it out HERE

Podcast Recommendations- Murder Book

Will Pierre Romain, romain free?

If you’re into true crime pods, then you have to listen to Murder Book Podcast, where bestselling crime fiction author Michael Connelly tries his hand at hosting a true crime pod!

The first season of ‘Murder Book: The Tell-tale Bullet’ is a 14 part deep dive into a case of a 1987 LA carjacking gone wrong, resulting in the death of a 21 year old, and the lingering unresolved justice for over 30 years! The tale and the nature of the crime isn’t unique, i.e. black-on-black killing with gang undertones, but the delays and the lead-time to justice is unique though.

The podcast provides us, the listener, access to interviews and commentary with the police and prosecutors involved in the case; real-life audio recordings from the court; wiretap recordings of the accused; and answers to some listener questions to help you further understand the case – all riveting stuff!

The series might be deemed as being long and somewhat drawn-out, however the 10 hour ordeal is still worthwhile to sit through, when at the end of the day you’re guaranteed closure when the jury hands in its verdict to a case which has been open for more than 30 years.

The highlight of the experience for me was actually hearing Michael Connelly’s voice for the first time. After listening to his Harry Bosch and Micky Haller books across a span of almost 20 years, I was surprised to actually hear the man speak (talk about a gravelly voice?). But after a while Michael’s hoarse tones became a welcome sound in my ears, as he translated the legal and police jargon, and summarised and interpreted the court and wiretap recordings, to ensure that you’re able to follow the case and the sometimes unexpected turns it takes.

Meanwhile, the negatives against the podcast experience were the poor audio quality of courtroom recordings (which Michael apologises profusely for), and the unpolished and sometimes hard to follow courtroom arguments….. Not to mention how uneventful much of the courtroom activity actually is? I guess from listening to Michael’s books and when watching fictional courtroom dramas on TV, you’re spoon-fed perfectly delivered and crafted arguments from the lawyers and perfectly clear responses from witnesses. However in reality, what I found was that courtroom proceedings was actually quite boring, that it required quite a bit of concentration to follow and absorb lawyer’s arguments and witness testimonies, and it wasn’t until halfway through the court case did I understand that if an objection was ‘sustained’ by the judge, was the question allowed to be answered or not by the person on the stand. Therefore we greatly welcomed Michael’s interruptions into the court proceedings, to explain what we were listening to, and why the lawyers were presenting elements when they were.

But for one who isn’t really into true crime pods, I enjoyed it; and this was the first podcast series my wife listened to from start to finish, and she really enjoyed it as well! So yeah, check out Murder book if you haven’t already – it’s an intriguing listen.

Podcast Recommendations- Audible Original Podcasts

Now your Audible membership gives you more!

In the past I used to laugh when I had a think about the ‘Member benefits’ for Audible subscribers – as they used to say that you have access to the entire audiobook library at a discounted “members’ only” price and you had one free credit to spend each month on books. But in reality, who was actually purchasing a second book per month for the ‘discounted members’ rate’? Aren’t we all just waiting until the new month swings around before we use our next credit on our next audiobook? So in reality Audible membership really meant that you were basically paying $16.95 for a book a month. But not anymore!…

…as your Audible membership now gives you more!!

When thumbing through the Audible app I was surprised to see a heading “Free for Members. Audible Original Podcasts”. Not believing my eyes, I slowly scrolled through the list of titles and I was in disbelief that these podcasts (each a couple hours long) were actually FREE? FREE? But there’s nothing FREE in this world!? And I didn’t know anything about this new introduction as my wife’s email is attached to the account and she receives all the Audible email updates. Yay for her! So the first time I decided to give it a go, I made sure I selected a podcast which was upwards of 2 hours, my thought process was: “if I get charged a credit for this, at least I spent it on a longer podcast.” And hurray! It was for FREE afterall! And in the past weeks I’ve listened to the following titles:

A Grown Up Guide to Dinosaurs

Narrator: Ben Garrod; Length: 2 hrs, 50 mins; Episodes: 6.

And the scriptwriters for this pod were correct! As kids, we were fascinated by dinosaurs, but as we grew up, we kind of got over them, like how we grew out of cartoons and grew out of our toys. But there is something fascinating about digging deeper into a topic which you loved as a kid, like dinosaurs, but now seeing them in a whole new light as a fully knowing, fully aware adult. This podcast debunks some lies we’ve been fed over the years – like how the Velociraptor is probably more like a 2 foot chicken, than an 8 foot pack hunter (like it was depicted in Jurassic Park); having it explained in unequivocal terms what ultimately caused the extinction of the dinosaurs – by pinpointing the exact time and place in which it occurred, through core samples; and how birds, yes birds which we see in our backyards all the time, are more likely to be descendants of dinosaurs than say a lizard – fossils have shown that perhaps dinosaurs were feathered creatures much like birds.

If you want to learn these interesting revelations for yourself, click HERE to start listening!  

Artificial Intelligence

Narrator: Geoff White; Length: 2 hrs, 10 mins; Episodes: 6.

If you’re lazy like me and love using your Smart assistants like Siri and Google Assistant, then you’ll probably find this podcast very interesting as well! Geoff White, a Technology journalist for the BBC, takes you through the history of AI, what it means for us in terms of robots taking over our jobs, and he explores the limitations or the limitless bounds of artificial learning and creativity. Well, look on the bright side, at least we still have another 10 years of being the dominant race! Before our creation surpasses us as the most intelligent being………?

If you want to check out Artificial Intelligence – Friend or Foe? For yourself! Click HERE!

The Dark Web

Narrator: Geoff White; Length: 4 hrs, 10 mins; Episodes: 10

And if you’re like me and you’ve heard all sorts of tech pods referring to the Dark Web, but you don’t really know what it really is – then take this dark path to enlightenment! Or is it a path into the murky shadows of the underworld? After the 4 hour duration of the pod, you’ll be more aware, but sometimes being more aware isn’t a good thing, as you’ll learn that the world around us is a pretty dark place after all; where people indulge in whatever they feel like, when they feel safe being behind their invisibility cloak on the web. Learn exactly what is the dark web, how to access it’s dark portals, learn what is and what isn’t going on in this shadowy enclave of the Internet, and learn a little about yourself as well – now that you know how to access the super-human ability of invisibility – how would you use your superpowers of anonymity?

To follow this spiralling staircase into the depths of the dark web, click HERE! If you dare. Moohhaha!

End comment, if you’re thinking…… I already have access to enough free podcasts, and I already have too much stuff to listen to! Therefore I don’t need Audible podcasts….. But Audible Original Podcasts are truly next level stuff! The level of research, production, and post-production is on par with a TV documentary series – leaving in its dust the regular run-of-the-mill podcasts with their meager budgets. So if you want to be entertained/educated at a level usually reserved for TV documentaries, while having the freedom to listen to them while on the train or driving to work? Try out the Audible Original Podcasts! And the great thing is that they’re one-off discrete series, so you can binge and then move on, not ever feeling overwhelmed by over-subscribing to too many podcasts!  And aside from documentary style pods, Audible Original Podcasts have live recordings of stand-up comedy, and dramatized fictional stories! So heaps and heaps of stuff to feast on!