I listen to a lot of them, but which ones do I recommend?
Let’s begin with a blanket comment of “I recommend most BBC content”, because otherwise I’d list a ton of them here, and that wouldn’t be a dull list for everyone. If you only listen to one BBC thing, grab the Friday Night Comedy–both The Now Show and The News Quiz are absolutely hilarious.
The rest, I can break down into two broad categories, so here we go.
For anyone who doesn’t know it, Writing Excuses is a weekly podcast hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Dan Wells about writing. Many of their episodes are about the craft of writing, but they also go into the most business side of things, too. Each episode is fifteen minutes, so the generally stick to one small topic in each episode and really break it down. It’s broken down into yearly seasons, and lately they’ve had a running theme through each season. Last year took us through the nuts and bolts of getting from initial idea to a finished story or novel. This year is exploring the concept of Elemental Genre. I’ve learned so much from them and it’s worth digging through the archives, because they’ve tackled some really fascinating things. I credit Writing Excuses for getting better at writing cliffhangers, among other things.
Hosted by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace, this podcast is more focused on the business side of writing, but they do have episodes on craft sometimes, too. I just listened to the one on writing humour and took away a dozen notes plus a couple of book recommendations. While Writing Excuses is great for beginning writers as well as more experienced writers, Ditch Diggers is definitely aimed more at writers in the early stages of their pro careers. They talk about contracts, convention behaviour, the tough side of writing, and everything else that a writer breaking in might want to know. Plus, they get some really great guests in to talk about that, too. I recommend hunting down the episode with Gail Carriger, because she’s both entertaining and incredibly informative.
Six women talk about Doctor Who. Yup, that’s the core of this show. It’s so refreshing to hear women talking about Doctor Who, because so many geeky podcasts are mostly by men, and these women know their stuff. They have different backgrounds, different perspectives, and always make me think. This year’s theme is Firsts: first episodes, first appearances, first companions, and any other first they can find. Last year’s theme was Companions. And when Doctor Who is airing, all themes go out of the window as they discuss each new episode in beautiful geeky detail.
Several women talk about Star Trek. There may be a theme here. It’s Star Trek from a feminist perspective and they talk about everything. One of the things that’s surprised me is how positive they can be about certain parts of Star Trek. We all know that it isn’t always a feminist paradise, but they’re reminding me of characters and episodes that I’d forgotten about that have fantastic stuff for women. They also talk about spin-off media, including an entire podcast talking to Diane Duane about her work. And it’s not just the on-screen elements they discuss: I learned so much from their episode on D.C. Fontana.
It’s billed as the podcast about fandom, by fandom. And that’s what it does. One of the things that I really enjoy about it is that it’s discussing and explaining many aspects of fandom from the perspective of people inside fandom, but in a way that feels accessible to those who are outside or fandom-adjacent. After reading so many media articles about fandom that are wildly inaccurate and unhelpful, this podcast is a breath of fresh air and one I’d recommend to anyone inside fandom and anyone who just wants to know more so they’re informed. After all, if we’re writing in the SFF genre, it’s a good idea to understand the fandom!
Ana (of The Book Smugglers) and Renay (of Lady Business) talk about all things media and fannishness, and it’s delightful. They talk about books, comics, movies and TV. They squee about the great stuff. And they’ll rant about the bad stuff. They also talk about the wider issues inside fandom, including the awards controversies, so the rants can get a little sweary. And they warn if they’re going to be discussing something so new that many people won’t have seen it yet, so that we can skip forward or over.
Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Malina (yes, that one, the Will Bailey actor) rewatch and discuss every episode of The West Wing. It’s great, because Hrishi is such a big fan and Joshua can add background due to his role on the show and his long-standing professional relationship with Aaron Sorkin–he read for a role before the pilot was shot, but couldn’t work on the show due to his existing role on another Sorkin show. They’re a fun and knowledgeable combo, and they’re able to pull in some good guest starts, too. Last week, they discussed “A Proportional Response” and got Dulé Hill on the show.
After many years of just using the native app on my iPod, I recently switched to using Downcast as my podcast manager and it’s terrific. The best part is that it gives me access to podcasts that aren’t on iTunes, such as Fansplaining, which makes my life much easier. Plus, it doesn’t crash on the BBC podcasts, which is also important.
So, what do you listen to and recommend?