In a week that can only be described as “ughgghhgghg” (the only uplifting moment was when a cake bust of Sir David Attenborough fell over on Bake Off), I thought to mention some podcasts are doing a lot of other great things, and that might provide some useful distraction.

Firstly, the London Podcast Festival has become a hybrid event – both in person and online – and there’s still some events that you can get tickets for. Tonight (that’s Sunday night!) there’s a special online stream of No Such Thing As A Fish followed by the British Podcast Awards ‘Podcast of the Year’ Brown Girls Do It Too. For a price of a ticket, you can also watch on-demand recordings for popular podcasts such as talk ART and Empire Film.

Next, The Poetry Exchange (a British Podcast Awards Silver winner) and a podcast where contributors share their favourite poems, has an interesting idea coinciding with National Poetry Day 2020 (1st October). They are inviting members of the public to have one-to-one sessions with a member of their team to talk about your favourite poems and its themes. By taking part (it’s free!) you’ll also receive as a gift a special recording of your favourite poem. Sessions are likely to sell out, so head to their website for more information. 

Finally, to mark the 25th year of the release of the War Child Album HELP, there’s a special podcast series telling how the iconic record was put together. The podcast series, narrated by Matt Everitt, features interviews of some of the artists who made the album, including members of BlurRadioheadThe CharlatansManic Street Preachers and Portishead. Yes that’s right, the album crammed the whole of the 90s in. All income from the project will be going to War Child.

OTHER BIG GUESTS ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK INCLUDE:

  • MalalaThandie Newton and Julia Roberts are involved in a new series called Nations United ​​​​by the United Nations (see what they did there!). The series tries to find solutions to the world’s pressing problems (and as you can imagine, there’s many).
  • Slay in Your Lane ​​​​has Love Island favourite Ovie Soko as a guest this week.
  • The band IDLES are the first guest in the new series of the music conversations podcast Midnight Chats. Upcoming guests in the series hosted by Greg Cochrane include Tim BurgessFemi Koleoso from Ezra Collective and The National’s Matt Berginger.
  • Emma Barnett, who has recently been announced as the new presenter of Women’s Hour, was on How Do You Cope? …with Elis and John talking about her experiences with endometriosis, a painful condition that affects roughly one in ten women.

If you have heard a good guest, or know of an interesting podcast initiative or event, let us know by filling in this form and it might get featured in an upcoming edition of this newsletter.

Our podcast picks for the week ahead:

The Secret Life of Teachers – Schools continuing to be open appear to be the only predictable thing in the next few months, but that doesn’t mean that teaching is in any way back to normal. This new podcast by BBC Radio 4 tries to work out what teaching is really like in this unusual time, simply by recording conversations between Mehreen Baig and teachers who (for sometimes quite obvious reasons) have decided to remain anonymous. What you’ll learn is that the last few months have thrown unexpected obstacles, from having to protect your learning ‘bubble’ (one anonymous contributor said“added to all of our other jobs: counsellor, first-aider, mother, nurturer … we’re now security guards”) to how first day anxiety was not necessarily caused by the students themselves (“I don’t think it helped how anxious all of the parents were about the students coming back in”). 

The biggest outcome I got from listening? How the return to schooling makes you realise how we took so much for granted before (“I think lockdown and online teaching and the horror of it made me rekindle the love I had for the class I’m teaching.”)

Witness from Amnesty International – Storytelling is vital in letting us know the work and differences that charities are making around the world, stories that might have been otherwise left out of the news agenda (especially right now). This new podcast by the charity Amnesty International UK and produced by Cathy FitzGerald (behind the Listening Project Symphony) gets to the heart of those stories. It examines the work of researchers trying to get justice in notoriously difficult places: from compiling human rights abuses in Myanmar when the military deny any have taken place, to seeking justice in Syria following the US-led coalition.
It is a difficult podcast to listen to at times, but it also needs to be. The world can’t always be seen through rose tinted glasses.

Spotify has launched its first playlist featuring timely news podcasts and personalised music all in one place. Whatever your daily routine, Spotify’s Your Daily Drive offers perfectly curated playlists to listen to throughout the day that combine relevant timely world updates from reputable news sources alongside the music you love – all put together in a seamless and unified listening experience that means no flipping between tracks and episodes. Short-form podcast news updates from a handful of curated news sources including The Times, FT, TalkSPORT, The Economist, Evening Standard, The Smart 7 and the music included is a personalised mix of users’ favourite songs and artists interspersed with tracks they have yet to discover!

What Is This Behaviour? – Finally, a podcast worth mentioning that has really started to build momentum. At its heart, the podcast features “Conversations with South Asian people going against the grain.” And in case you are wondering about the name, it’s based on a meme that came about from Indian Big Brother. The chemistry between the presenters (ReubenAlmass and Aaron) is delightful, but what is also interesting is how transparent they are with their audiences on what is and what is not working out with the pod as they go along. Not every podcast works from the first episode and it’s so lovely to know that a show cares about what their audiences think about them, and incorporates their feedback.

Finally… a podcast for the kids. We have received messages that podcasts aimed at children have been a blessing during lockdown, and there’s now another big new one to keep on your radar. It’s called The Adventures of Captain Bobo, which celebrates our coastal towns (Liverpool! London! The beauty of the North West of Scotland!). At a time when international travel is off the cards, it’s well worth a time to celebrate where we can get and explore (hopefully) in under a day. It’ll be on the Storyquest feed.

This newsletter would be nothing without your suggestions. Let us know what you are loving at the moment by filling in this simple form.

If you watch Bake Off, I leave you with this meme.

That’s all for this week. Thanks so much for reading.

Scotty / @scottygb

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