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Podcast Prescription



Podcasts are one of the few things that force me to slow down, quiet the white noise of everyday stresses and suppress the continual buzz of notifications demanding our attention every few minutes. Almost a kind of meditation. I find I turn to particular shows depending on where I’m listening and how I’m feeling. So, this post is my prescription of a podcast for whatever mood or situation you may find yourself in, in the hope it soothes, entertains or inspires.



FOR A SUNDAY AFTERNOON...


Love Stories by Dolly Alderton

Twinned with the release of Dolly’s book, Everything I Know About Love - this podcast is filled with candid, heartwarming interviews with individuals about the role love - in all of its forms - has played in their life. From Emma Freud describing the joy and fulfilment of the everyday routine of long-term love, to Ruth Jones on the restorative comfort of Gavin & Stacey, and Marian Keyes’ reflections on her tumultuous twenties. Eye opening, endlessly reassuring and cosy, best listened to in a bath, surrounded by candles, whilst the rain taps on the window.


TO TAKE THE WEIGHT OFF YOUR SHOULDERS...


Happy Place by Fearne Cotton Stephen Fry, Alexandra Shulman, Kirsty Young and Matt Haig are among the incredible guests featured on this podcast. But my favourite episode is when she visits Dawn French at her home in Cornwall - I’ve listened to it numerous times, particularly when feeling homesick and overwhelmed. Dawn talks about the infectious pull to return to the South West and live by the sea, the want to slow down, the breakdown of her marriage, marriage after divorce and being a parent. Perceptively self aware and wise, this will cheer and comfort a weary mind. 


Desert Island Discs Within the DID archive I think lies the answer to every human dilemma and emotion. From socialites and scientists to olympians, actors and writers - guests are asked to pick their eight desert island tracks. Sounds basic, but through revealing their tracks guests discuss life as they know it and what they’ve learnt in their time here. My top picks: Tom Hanks, David Attenborough, James Corden, Sheryl Sandberg, Fran Landesman, A. A. Gill, Stephen Fry, Dawn French but topping them all, Emma Thompson. I’ve listened to her episode a number of times, discussing her experience of pregnancy and motherhood to her childhood and life as a woman - she is just brilliant.



FOR THE ROAD TRIP...


S-Town

This is a marathon of a show. I listened to this last year whilst on a couple of very long coach journeys through rural America - perfectly apt as the backdrop for this podcast. Born from Serial and This American Life, S-Town begins as an investigation into an alleged murder in Woodstock, Alabama, reported by John B. McLemore, or ‘shit-town’ as he refers to it, morphs into an astounding and riveting portrait of the turbulent and often painful life of this man in the context of the town he has resentfully lived his whole life. However, despite its overwhelming success, conversations surrounding the ethical nature of investigative journalism of this nature have arisen. (I will link below two articles examining this in more detail.) Nevertheless, this is an incredible story exploring the intricacies and identities of human nature, that resonate with us all.


FOR THE COMMUTE...


The High Low This was one of the first podcasts I started listening to and I’ve religiously stuck with it. Hosted by journalists Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes - they discuss books, tv, films and articles, dissecting weekly pop-culture and news stories, with the occasional ‘Author Special’ interviewing writers from various backgrounds and genres. Choose this for insightful and thought-provoking discussion with excellent reading recommendations - expect your book list to double in size very quickly. 


WHEN IT FEELS LIKE NOTHING IS GOING RIGHT...


How to Fail by Elizabeth Day

If you feel as though you’re getting rejection after rejection in work or life, or both - this podcast will soothe your battered soul. The brilliant journalist and writer, Elizabeth Day interviews people who have experienced huge successes about the failures of their lives. Sounds slightly mopey but it’s reassuringly honest, particularly to those of us who often feel like everyone else is succeeding in ways we are not - no thanks to social media. Although Day is usually the interviewer, my favourite episode is the Season 1 finale, in which Dolly Alderton interviews Elizabeth. For someone who has achieved a tremendous amount in her life, Day discusses areas where things haven’t gone as she imagined. She candidly reflects on marriage, divorce, infertility, grief and the personal battles that single women face as they grow older. This is an abundantly heart-warming conversation between two friends that you feel privileged to be let in to - and something I’m sure all women can relate to. This podcast will serve as your important reminder that where there is failure, there is also success and one cannot have meaning without the other. 

Title Image: Untitled (Wireless), 2018, Michael Craig-Martin

TATE GRONOW

 freelance writer