2015 has been a huge year for Podcasts. After the success of Serial (season 2 out now!), more and more people are spending their idle-time opening their ears to the interviews, debates and story-telling that is available for audio download. Podcasts have become the perfect background noise for your summer road trip, to wind down your day or when cooking up a storm.
Here are just some of the mind-expanding, heartbreaking and world-changing conversations that happened in 2015.
Intelligence Squared – The World of Debate
This weekly debate format explores current affairs with the help of experts and enthusiast to hash-out topics such as “The war on terror was the right response to 9/11” to “The World Would Be Better Off Without Religion”. This podcast is sure to broaden your understanding of some of the worlds biggest issues, as you come to understand both sides of already sensitive arguments.
A recent debate “A better Way to Live an Ethical Life” between William McAskill – founder of the Effective Altruism movement with priest and philosopher Giles Fraser discusses the effectiveness of our giving behaviours. Diving into harsh comments made by McAskill, from “buying sweatshop produced goods is a positive”, “choosing a career in charity is not the most effective way to care for the world” to having the hypothetical of – a building is burning, there is a baby and one room and a Picasso in the other, which do you save? The argument McAskill puts forwards is that choosing the Picasso is the more altruistic option.
Women of the Hour – Lena Dunham
The podcast arena has become flooded with celebrities trying their hand at adding broadcaster to their list of side-projects. Lena Dunham released her podcast series in the peak of this trend, enlisting the help of A-lister friends such as regular Emma Stone and co-worker Jemima Kirke.
Lena had already achieved world-wide accolades in her mid twenties, from directing and staring in the award-winning tv-series Girls to becoming a best-selling author – did we really NEED Lena in this space? Would this be the tipping point to place Lena’s life work on a pedestal too high to relate to anymore? Fortunately, after Lena finds her groove around episode 3, it was clear this podcast had much more substance than mere celebrity chit-chat.
Once adjusted to Lena’s signature style of narration, which is erratic, unedited, intimate and child-like in curiosity, we are provided with an insight into the fascinating mind of such an overachiever. The audio medium allows Lena to bare herself to an audience in a new way, and bare she does, as she questions her work, the world and the marvellous ways in which we all manage our way through it.
The goal of the podcast is for Lena to “celebrate the women who blow my mind”, and with her charming giggle and her passion for exploring taboo topics, she is able to celebrate everything from life, death, feminism, work, friendship to sex, body image and mental health.
Better off Dead – Andrew Denton
This brand new podcast is well overdue. Andrew Denton, much-loved Australian producer, comedian and presenter has switched his focus to a more controversial conversation – voluntary euthanasia. Andrew watched his father die a long and painful death here under Australian hospice care 18-years ago, despite the best that they could do. Shocked by the failing system, Andrew started to enquire into death practices around the world for a better solution. Andrew is now sharing the knowledge he has gained, as he tries to understand why it is good people are dying such bad deaths in Australia.
It is a heavy podcast, filled with moral arguments that arise from assisted dying, but by far one of the most important to be released in recent years. Andrew is able to use his compassionate and careful interview style to weave together individual stories of persons going through unimaginable grief as they await the death of a loved one, or themselves. Luckily, Andrew is able to bring about humour and hope amongst these stories, and although your heart breaks as you hear fear and anger in the voices of the suffering, you will also hear strength and courage like you have never heard shared before.
The series is suppose to kick off in 2016, but you can view the first 2 episodes already on iTunes.