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Opinion: Food For Thought, Podcast Recommendations

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  1.  Intercepted

Investigative reporting on global issues,

Intercepted is a weekly podcast derived from the  investigative news publication, The Intercept. It examines topics that typically  fly under the radar, offering in-depth explorations of geopolitical issues such as the 2019 coup in Bolivia, and the prosecution of Julian Assange, or the cover-up of CIA torture. Analysis is suffused with a critical appraisal of America’s role in global politics and presents refreshingly new and thought-provoking perspectives as a result.

Image: Kaleidico Source: Unsplash

2. Bombshell

This podcast offers an analysis of national security and global events from real experts in defence policy.

Politically-inclined podcasts in the UK and US are so often obsessed with the insular goings-on of Westminster and Washington. Bombshell does include aspects of this yes, but the chat is far more centred on national security and whatever the international crisis is that fortnight – the Middle East, Venezuela, US trade with China. On the mics, “the ladies” are Radha Iyengar Plumb and Loren DeJonge Schulman, both ex-National Security Council and Department of Defense bods, together with ex-academic and defence industry exec Erin Simpson.

3. The Tip Off

Behind the scenes, skilled investigative journalism. 

The Tip Off asks journalists to explain how they got the leads for their biggest stories. This  podcast gives a tense and often theatrical look at the detective work behind journalism. There will be car chases, slammed doors, terrorist cells, meetings in dimly lit bars and close shaves with despotic regimes. However, while all of these are worth a listen, what you should really stay for is the episode on the Panama Papers. Hosted by investigative journalist Maeve McClenaghan, she asks the journalists who led the investigation how they managed to keep the biggest data leak in history a secret for so long.

Image: Iias Chebi Source: Unsplash

4. The Projection Booth

This is podcast is a slice of heaven for folk who REALLY know and love their films. This renowned podcast has garnered fame for its wonderful analyses of cult cinema and the movies time forgot.

5. The Allusionist

For the owners of rich vocabularies who are eager to expand them even more. Appealing to your inner word nerd, Helen Zaltzmen explores the depths of the English language – everything from etymology to the ‘emoji’.

6. The Vinyl Me ,Please Podcast

 Hosted by Tyler Barstow, this podcast from the record-of-the-month club Vinyl Me, Please scours out the best new music , as well as asking the bigger questions about today’s music industry – and frequent discussions such as the best rap stars to have ever lived.

7. Caliphate

This podcast offers a profoundly, in-depth series on the origins of Isis. 

Isis has rarely stayed out of headlines since the terrorist group declared a caliphate in June 2014, before claiming responsibility for a long string of attacks that have killed hundreds of people outside of Iraq and Syria. But,  how much do we truly know about who we’re fighting in the war on terror? 

In this podcast, The New York Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi gets behind Isis’ mask in this 12-part series. After speaking to a Canadian Isis recruit who made his way to Syria to join the group, Callimachi dissects the rubble in Mosul to trace Isis’ financial machinery before exploring how they systematised the horrific abuse off Yazidi women in Iraq. Fearless and unrelenting, Caliphate is investigative journalism at its most urgent.

8. The Last Voyage of the Pong Su

In this 10-part podcast series released in 2019, Richard Baker, an Australian investigative reporter re-examines the events surrounding the dramatic seizure of the North Korean ship Pong Su in 2003, in what was then the largest drug bust in Australian history. Most of the headline facts of the case — including a botched and deadly attempt to smuggle over $100 million-worth of heroin into a rocky Australian cove — were documented in widespread mass media news coverage. But this podcast recasts the original “good guys versus bad guys” narrative into a far more complex tale, in which the crew and even the smugglers are revealed as almost helpless pawns far more sinister forces than was originally believed. Baker discovers surveillance tapes which unearth the actions of the people on board, their on-shore customers, and the police, as well as details of the peculiar course taken by the ship.

9. File on 4

This multi-award-winning current affairs show has been airing on Radio 4 since early 1977. The show has not only highlighted the injustices and scandals that are ever present in society, but its thorough, relentless reporting has changed lives significantly. In this podcast we hear of the investigation into sudden infant death syndrome that led to the release of Sally Clark, a mother who had been wrongfully convicted of the murder of her two infant sons. This programme has tackled a vast variety of subjects such as the Post Office IT scandal, county lines drugs gangs, radicalism and climate change.

10. Script Apart

Movie nerd chats with screenwriters on their first film drafts

Stephen Merchant’s back and forth on salty language in Fighting With My Family, Joe Cornish getting teen dialogue right for Attack The Block, Kelly O’ Sullivan, Barry Jenkins, Iannucci… this film interview podcast from British journalist Al Horner gets into the nitty gritty of screenwriting with obsessive detail, care and attention. Doubling up as a ‘how this got made’ for some incredible films (who approached who, character arcs, what was improvised), it’s a lovely deep dive into some recent classics for those of us who are heavily Covid-rationing cinema visits or not going at all.

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