People talk about 2016 like it was the end of days. But if I were last year, I’d be talking to my lawyers right now, because it doesn’t have a patch on 2017. I’ve lost count how many times my stomach has turned this year: the thought of civil rights being rolled back in America; the sheer man-made horror of Grenfell Tower; terrorism back in the UK big-time; and now, this week, a nuclear fuelled stand-off between the US and North Korea. My appetite for consuming the news is somewhat waning.
If, like me, you’re looking for some escapism, here are four great podcasts guaranteed to lift your mood and forget the world for a while.
James O’Brien is omnipresent at the moment. The talk show presenter is marking himself out as a bit of a liberal lion, whose LBC show is a thorn in the side of right wing politicians and press alike. Therefore this seems like an odd place to start on the quest for happy podcasts.
However, there is an hour a week of James’ show that is fenced off – sacred almost – in its intention to get away from the day’s news agenda. Mystery Hour is a phone-in dedicated to solving mysteries. Not murder mysteries or conspiracy theory mysteries. But the most mundane mysteries like:
How is it that we hold our pee until we can see the toilet bowl?
Why do you throw salt over your shoulder for luck?
and, Why don’t dolphins get the bends?
You ask the question, and either James or his listeners will answer it.
However, the bar is high. If the question is deemed boring, pointless or has been asked and answered before, you’ll be treated with the ire normally reserved for right-wing nut jobs (albeit with tongue firmly in cheek). Meanwhile, in order to get a much coveted, canned round of applause, you must state your qualifications for answering the question – “I googled it” really does not cut the mustard. At the start of each episode, James promises that you will almost certainly learn something new and there will be at least one belly laugh every week. The show delivers on both counts.
There are plenty of belly laughs in the BBC’s new bespoke podcast of the best of its radio shows. Now, admittedly, I’m a little smitten with Fortunately‘s two presenters, Jane Garvey and Fi Glover. They were my era of 5Live presenters, when listening to the BBC’s news and sport network was not only essential for my job (as a junior researcher in the BBC Wales newsroom) but also a real joy. Jane was brilliant at keeping the acerbic Peter Allen in line on 5Live Drive. Fi was essential listening both late at night and afterwards in the slightly more civil mid-morning slot.
Before long, both headed off to join the grown-ups on Radio 4. But this podcast allows them to let their hair down and embody that cheeky, intelligent but fun spirit that 5Live had in its hey day. Check out the episode with Jeremy Vine to see what I mean.
Fortunately is a bit like Radio 4’s Pick of the Week. That is if Pick of the Week was presented by two of your best friends over a glass of wine (it’s actually recorded in the BBC cafe so no wine is actually imbibed, but roll with me here). Imagine Pick of the Week without a script and with little reference to the audio clips it plays, other than to fuel a wonderously ponderous conversation. So, actually, it’s nothing like Pick of the Week at all. But oh my god, it’s brilliant.
He earns £1.7 million a year for presenting Match of the Day, so you’d expect Gary Lineker to have someone to walk his dog for him – and certainly to clean up the poo. But, no; residents living around south west London are used to seeing England’s greatest living centre-forward take his Yellow Labrador for a walk around the local park, poo-bags in hand. And its just as well, because it seems Snoop (dog, geddit?) isn’t fazed by the presence of a microphone when doing his business, thus leaving his very famous owner clearing up one almighty bowel movement.
You’ll be pleased to know Walking The Dog is not predominantly a podcast about dog-mess. Instead, it’s a lovely, simple and effective interview format where host, Emily Dean, interviews people about their lives while taking their dogs out for a stroll. It’s effective because the point of a good interview format is to make the interviewee relax and feel comfortable sharing. And here Gary shares a lot about his childhood, home-life, even the end of his second marriage. In fact, the only thing Emily fails to get out of him is how he voted in the 2017 Election: which probably disappointed the Daily Mail more than it disappointed me.
And talking of great interview formats with a twist, check out this brilliantly silly podcast where Steven Davidson interviews fellow comedians about their life and career. The twist? The questions Steven poses refer to a life that he has completely made up for his guests and they are learning about for the first time. In the latest episode, former Scottish Comedian of the Year, Mark Nelson, has to improvise his way through questions such as how it felt growing up as the youngest of Prince Rogers Nelson and Margaret Thatcher’s three children; and whether he still get a hard time for accidentally killing Ronnie Corbett at a trampolining competition. It’s certainly surreal but also laugh out loud funny at times. Perfect escapism stuff, in fact.
Steve Austins is the Founder and Director of Bengo Media. Talk to us about creating a podcast to help cheer the world up a bit.
Tom Price and Jason Smith, CEO of Blurrt, start this week’s podcast reflecting on the tragic events in Manchester, which paused general election campaigning temporarily.
They then move on to talk about the stories that were making the news before Monday night’s terrorist attack. This included Twitter’s lukewarm verdict on the Conservative manifesto and particularly the introduction of a so-called ‘Dementia Tax’.
By Monday, the manifesto pledge had – at least in part – been U-turned, much to the confusion and derision of those taking to social media. Theresa May’s blurrt score took a huge tumble during the period.
The Lib Dems manifesto launch was also under discussion, including how the pledge for a second Brexit referendum is failing to capture the imagination of voters. More successful are the policies in the Labour manifesto, but again Jason thinks this is not translating into faith in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership skills.
Tom and Jason also discussed last week’s ITV Leaders Debate – with lots of Twitter love for Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Caroline Lucas – and the collapse of UKIP in the polls.
Blurrt Out The Vote – the podcast which analyses what social media is doing during the 2017 General Election – returns for episode 2. You can listen using the player at the bottom of this page.
Recorded live at Tramshed Tech in Cardiff, Tom Price is joined by CEO of social media insights platform, Blurrt, Jason Smith and Valerie Livingston, Director of political consultants News Direct Wales, to talk about a week of policy pledges, cyber attacks and, er, fish fingers.
On the agenda, Twitter’s love fest with the policies in Labour’s heavily leaked manifesto – and what that has done for the party and Jeremy Corbyn.
Also, when Theresa May did a Facebook Live Q&A with Robert Peston, angry emoticons flowed across the screen. Blurrt’s analysis found that this was replicated on Twitter, although there was some love and happiness too.
Social media brought little good news for either UKIP leader Paul Nuttall after he appeared to walk on the spot in a party election broadcast, nor Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, who will have to fight off a fish finger to keep his seat in Cumbria.
Blurrt Out The Vote is published every week during the election campaign on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, and the other main podcast platforms. You can also listen on this page in the link below and find out about the series here. Blurrt’s election hub is available on their website, blurrt.co.uk and you can find out more about the company’s political work here.
To find out how Bengo Media could help create a podcast for your business, email us at email@example.com
And the polls think it’s a foregone conclusion – the latest polls have the Tories ahead of Labour between 14 to 18 percentage points.
But is it?
Analysing social media for clues is central to Bengo Media‘s newest podcast production. We’ve been commissioned by social media insights company Blurrt to produce Blurrt Out The Vote, which intends to give listeners a real grasp of how Twitter responds to the big moments of this election campaign.
The plan is to publish an episode every Wednesday, discussing what the big trending topics are, how they affect the parties and leaders; along with thoughts on what they should be doing about it.
Blurrt is a social media insights platform which uses Natural Language Processing to read posts and understand them as a human would do. And Chief Executive of Blurrt, Jason Smith, and his team have a pretty sophisticated piece of kit on their hands, capable of instantaneous feedback on people’s sentiments towards a speech, a gaffe, a TV appearance. Last year, Blurrt analysed 55 million tweets for the EU Referendum and, hours before the result, they accurately predicted the 52-48 Leave outcome.
It’s been fun playing around with Blurrt’s election analysis. It’s a data lovers’ paradise. As Tom Price, Blurrt Out The Vote presenter described it, “it’s like being let inside The Matrix”. In fact, I was half expecting him to turn up to the recording in Keanu’s leather jacket and shades. Disappointingly, shirts and jeans were the order of the day for everyone.
Using Bengo Media’s pop-up studio, Blurrt Out The Vote is recorded on location at the Blurrt offices in London or Cardiff. The first recording followed on from a very busy Tuesday on the election trail. Jason Smith – who is joining Tom every week on the podcast to crunch the stats – noted a lot of activity around Labour’s campaign launch, with a general sense that, outside of his loyal band of supporters, Twitter was relatively receptive to the policies, but would struggle to get behind the idea of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.
And if Labour want to make this about policies not personalities, the Tories are absolutely making this campaign as presidential as possible. Theresa May is front and centre of this campaign. And her ‘strong and stable leadership’ of the May household was on display on The One Show in a joint appearance with her husband Philip. But did it work? “It’s fair to say it was a mixed response” says Jason: engagement about May was through the roof but there was a lot of anger that the interview was the soft option, after turning down a leaders debate. There was anger too at her unfortunate, off the cuff, remark about ‘girl jobs and boy jobs’.
But, love it or hate it, moments like these provide talkability. People want to take to social media platforms and express their emotions about May, Corbyn – and Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland – in a way that they don’t about Tim Farron. And no one seems to like Paul Nuttal. Honestly, no one.
There is no doubt in Jason’s reading of the data that the Tories are going to win this election, but not by the margin that the polls are predicted. The majority? “About 50 seats”, Jason says, after being pushed for a figure by Tom. We’ll check in with Jason on that prediction at the end of every episode. After Blurrt‘s success with Brexit, we’re hoping you can say you heard it here first.
Blurrt Out The Vote is published every week during the election campaign on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, and the other main podcast platforms. Blurrt’s election hub is available on their website, blurrt.co.uk. To find out how Bengo Media could help create a podcast for your business, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
So as Theresa May’s husband puts the bins out, Blurrt Out The Vote begins with its study of how this election is playing out on Twitter.
You can listen to the episode by pressing play on the media player at the bottom of the page.
Presenter Tom Price and Blurrt CEO Jason Smith discuss Theresa and Philip’s appearance on The One Show, Labour’s campaign launch and early Twitter reaction to the prospect of a vote on the foxhunting ban.
Blurrt Out The Vote is published every week during the election campaign on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, and the other main podcast platforms. You can also listen on this page in the link below. Blurrt’s election hub is available on their website, blurrt.co.uk .
To find out how Bengo Media could help create a podcast for your business, email us at email@example.com
It’s all about finding the wedding dress of your dreams this week, as Zoë speaks to wedding dress shop owner, Aoife O’Gorman, about styles of dresses, fabrics, designers and accessories. Plus, what should you be wary of if you buy your dress online.
What do you want your big day to look like? Feel like? Everything from colours to table names will say something about you as a couple, so in this episode, Zoë and her business partner, Hannah Bousouf, give you ideas on how could add some real style to your wedding. Plus there are some words of warning about getting your inspiration solely from Pinterest.