Northern Powerhouse Podcast Episode 6

Learn Armenian with Stephen and Jake!

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Download link here:

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What Podcasts would I recommend?

People often ask me what sort of stuff I listen to so I thought I drop a couple of recommendations here:

This American Life

TAL is basically required listening for everyone in the world. A friend of mine once referred to it as “just a bunch of really nice stories”, which they are, but also provide funny, touching and surprisingly detailed viewpoints on all aspects of the human condition on a weekly basis. A must listen.

Radiolab

Similar to the above but with a more scientific/techy bent. Released on a less regular basis to TAL but with spectacular production values.

Serial

Another documentary style ‘cast, this time telling a story in fascinating detail over 10 episodes. Again, amazing production values. Unfortunately only two series exist so far, but both are gripping and left me gagging for the next episode (thankfully now they are all out you can just binge listen).

The Giant Bombcast

Basically a one-stop-shop for videogame nerds looking for news, opinions and critical analysis in one hugely entertaining package. I have been listening to these guys for years and feel like they are close friends. If you listen to this every week you basically don’t need to look anywhere else for your videogame news.

The GiantBeastcast

Ignore the last sentence. I also listen every week to Giant Bomb’s East Coast podcast offering. I started listening because of my love of Vinny Caravella, but this offers a sufficiently different outlook with some hilarious characters to make it totally worth the time of investment. Tends to be a little more ‘inside-baseball’ than the Bombcast thanks to Austin Walker’s regularly fascinating insight, but I dig that.

The Art of Charm

This one comes with a bit of a disclaimer – I do listen on a regular basis, but the host Jordan Harbinger comes off as a douchebag in nearly every episode and the whole show is fairly America-centric. Having said that, the interviews tend to be with very high caliber personalities and gaining insight from successful people is handy for anyone trying to make their way in the big bad world.

Your Life: Unplugged

(Or The Lost Art Of Self Reflection)

I’m a lover of audio. I can hardly move from one room in my flat to another without listening to music or a podcast (my favourites can be found here). My commute has a permanent soundtrack, piped straight into my head through a handy bluetooth headset. The ever-expanding world of podcasts gives us a view into worlds and ideas in an amazing and engaging way. We’re privileged to live at a time where all this content is so widely available and easily accessible.

And yet, increasingly I’ve become anxious about what I’m missing out on, what this convenient musical overlay is drowning out. Almost exclusively on the occasions when my phone has been out of battery and I have been forced to face up to the actual soundscape around me, I have found value in what I heard.

At 3:30am on Saturday morning on an obscure London nightbus an overheard conversation from a production company employee informed me that a major upcoming film (about which I am personally excited) has been ‘fucked up’ and is undergoing massive reshoots. Interesting.

On several other occasions I have been approached by interesting strangers (theatre directors, foreign students, attractive people) who just wanted to start conversations. Other times I’ve just enjoyed listening to birdsong, an alternative soundtrack of sorts.

The other thing we miss out on by utilising this constant sensory input is a bit of quiet time to think about the day. The day that is coming or has been, the night ahead. Time to think about ourselves, where we want to go, the bigger picture. Of course, sometimes we have things we don’t want to think about and would appreciate the distraction – but aren’t those the things that deserve a little thought the most?

This all ties in with some larger ideas I have about living in the moment and seeing beauty in the world around us. In general I am a fan of disconnecting, having very little social media presence for example (excluding this article!). Though I often fail to live out my ideals, I am an advocate of a simple and minimalistic lifestyle. Removing the constant thirst for entertainment of some form fits in nicely with that world view.

So from now on I’m going to resolve to spend one day a week audio free. Use that quiet, none-work time to contemplate the world around me, practice mindfulness or just think about what a good time I had at the weekend.Taking out those earbuds now and then seems like an achievable goal that could bring a bit of benefit everybody.