SINGAPORE - It is the golden age of podcasts today. For an outlay of zero dollars a month, users on laptops, iPhones and Android phones can access a wealth of high-quality audio entertainment and information.
Big names, among them talk show hosts Conan O'Brien and Graham Norton, restaurateur David Chang and husband-and-wife comedians Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon have their own podcasts, but this list will stick to lesser-known producers who deserve a wider audience.
The podcasts listed here can be found in the usual Apple and Android apps, as well through streaming services such as Spotify and podcatchers such as iTunes.
Comedy Of The Week from BBC Radio 4
The BBC has roughly a bajillion podcasts on tap, but this revolving buffet of delights is a personal favourite. Rising British comedians whose names will likely not ring any bells with Singaporeans (Salma Shah, Tim Key, Ellie Taylor) are given a space to showcase standup and sketches. Not all of it works, but it is clear that hard work has been put in to select guests for their ability to tell jokes in an audio-only format.
Judge John Hodgeman
Actor and writer John Hodgeman has amassed a fervent following for this podcast and related column in The New York Times. Taking on a personality that is only a slightly exaggerated version of his charmingly pedantic self, he invites combatants to his show to air trivial grievances, such as whether disposable sandwich bags can be washed and reused or whether a wearer of bedroom slippers is allowed to wear them in bed. Hodgeman and co-host Jesse Thorn take the mickey out of the litigants, and they love it.
Why Won't You Date Me? with Nicole Byer
Nicole Byer is the host of the Netflix baking competition Nailed It!, on which she reveals only a fraction of her madcap energy. On her podcast, she and a guest, usually a comedian, focus on the topic of the title, taking into account her Tinder profile, extroverted personality and larger body shape. The sessions are both funny, often painfully naked and also braver than anything a hundred edgy male podcasters could ever create.
NEWS AND INFORMATION
Terry Gross, the public radio broadcaster who has helmed this interview show since the 1970s, is an institution. Sometimes, guests, among them actors, politicians and authors become awestruck in her presence. She is at once commanding, warm and well-researched, and does not do puff pieces - guests, including conservative television host Bill O'Reilly have stormed off, mid-interview.
Where Should We Begin? With Esther Perel
Stuck at home with a partner, and nerves are fraying? Is being under the gaze of a parent all day too much to handle? Psychotherapist Esther Perel takes listeners into her consultation room (with identities of patients obscured, of course). Raised in Belgium, trained in Israel and now based in New York, she counsels couples with qualities not associated with celebrity doctors and therapists: She actually listens, never bullies, nor does she dish out one-size-fits-all "common sense" advice.
The Weekly Mix
Non-profit broadcaster KEXP, which operates a radio station in Seattle, Washington, produces several excellent music podcasts. The Weekly Mix is like being friends with a gang of people with flawless taste and bottomless record collection. There is no chatter, only quick introductions followed by an hour of non-stop, advertising-free music that leans towards indie rock, R&B and folk from around the world.
Online radio station NTS, based in Hackney, London has since 2011 become a bastion of free independent music. Guests have included British rapper M.I.A. and Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. There is a mind-boggling number of streams available, categorised by show and genre, which ranges from Australian Indigenous Music to Chanson to Detroit House to Post-Punk and New Wave. Find the streams here.
ST AND BT PODCASTS
Love listening to podcasts on the go? Find up to 10 podcast series by The Straits Times and Business Times at ST Podcasts or on Spotify, and Apple and Google podcast apps.
Hosted by Chris Lim and Ernest Luis, The Business Times breaks down actionable financial tips with expert guests.
Hosted by Joyce Teo and Ernest Luis, The Straits Times (ST) guides you to healthier living and clears up coronavirus medical issues with expert guests.
Hosted by Audrey Tan and David Fogarty, ST analyses the beat of the changing environment, from biodiversity conservation to climate change.
Perfect for this stay-at-home period, as hosts Olivia Ho and Toh Wen Li talk about books in the headlines and sizzling reads for ST.
Hosted by Jan Lee and Yeo Sam Jo, ST dissects pop culture, be it Asian entertainment or Hollywood.
Join Money FM 89.3's Bernard Lim and the ST sports desk as they discuss every week's big sports issues.