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Summer Podcasts

Wondering what to listen to as you relax on that sunbed? Academics and alumni share their recommendations.

  • Words
    Pamela Evans
- 5 minute read
  • The Spin podcast cover art

    Dr Hugh Grant

    Senior Lecturer, Department of Engineering

    If you’re concerned about climate change but feel the need for some optimism, try Christiana Figueres’s Outrage and Optimism – Figueres headed up the UN Climate Conference where the Paris agreement was signed. But for more summer-orientated listening, I’ve recently discovered the wine-making podcast Bâtonnage, which discusses all kinds of amazing stuff you’ve never thought about: everything from how France’s problem with climate change might benefit English wines to how corks are chosen. As England is currently favourite to win the World Cup and the Ashes, I’m also looking forward to the Guardian’s new cricket podcast, The Spin. I think it’s going to be a great and funny alternative to the straight-down-the-line BBC coverage.

  • In our time podcast cover art

    Professor Helen Thompson

    Professor of Political Economy

    One of my favourite podcasts, Macro Voices, is aimed at serious financial investors. However, while I’m not a financial investor (and never will be), it’s great for financial market analysis, the big picture of what’s going on in the world, and what that means for markets. One week they might talk about populism and its long-term consequences, the next they’ll be going into technical stuff about what’s happening to the dollar. And my other essential is In Our Time from Radio 4. I’ll either pick a topic about which I know nothing – Roger Bacon, for example – or something that I do know about but connected to something that’s going on now, like the Corn Laws and Brexit. Professor Thompson is a regular panellist on the University’s Talking Politics podcast, hosted by Professor David Runciman.

  • Unnecessary Detail podcast cover art

    Bobby Seagull (Hughes Hall 2014)

    Presenter and maths teacher

    I love BBC Radio 5 Live’s That Peter Crouch Podcast. Crouch is a very tall footballer, renowned for his charm, wit – and height. I’m a big sports fan, but what I love about this is that although footballers are often seen as inaccessible, Crouch is very down to earth, happy to laugh at himself and a great storyteller. It shows how elite sportspeople can just be normal people. And I’m very excited about a new show, A Podcast of Unnecessary Detail, from three great science communicators: Matt Parker, Steve Mould and Helen Arney. From setting up a 3D printer to the sounds that your stomach makes, no detail will be too obscure. Seagull is author of The Life-Changing Magic of Numbers, co-host of the Maths Appeal podcast and a PhD student at Emmanuel.

  • NPR politics podcast cover art

    Annie Vernon (Downing 2001)

    Olympic rower

    BBC presenters Fi Glover and Jane Garvey have created a podcast called Fortunately… and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever listened to. It’s the way I talk to my friends, it’s the way women talk to each other – and it’s a bit of a cult. I love meeting people who have never heard it, because I can be the one who introduces them to it. On the flip side, I’m also an American politics nut, so my other top listen is National Public Radio’s (NPR) Politics Podcast. It’s bright and breezy, but it also gives you lots of sides of the argument and a real in-depth insight into US politics from the perspective of America, rather than relying on the British media. Vernon is the author of Mind Games – Determination, Doubt and Lucky Socks: an insider’s guide to the psychology of elite athletes.

  • Overdue podcast cover art

    Tyler Shores (Queens’ 2015)

    Author and researcher

    My favourites, I’ve realised, are like different meals. Curiosity Daily is the amuse-bouche of podcasts: bite-sized, five- or 10- minute collections of facts. Whereas Invisibilia is the main course: 60 minutes of cultural, historical and psychological stories. I like to be drawn into a topic I’ve never heard of – the first one I listened to was ‘How do blind people see?’, which ended up being about echolocation, and how people can use sounds to navigate around. And for dessert, I like Overdue. It’s a books podcast with a nice book club feel to it, and a great mix of literary classics and recent releases. Shores’ is a contributing author to Lego and Philosophy: Constructing Reality Brick by Brick.

  • Only Artists podcast cover art

    Dr Victoria Bateman

    Director of Studies in Economics, Caius

    Trade is no longer a specialist issue: these days, we’re all talking about negotiation and tariffs. Trade Talk is hosted by journalist Soumaya Keynes (The Economist) and Chad Bown (Peterson Institute for International Economics), and they do a great job of talking about the latest issues in trade in the real world, rather than theoretical issues. Tim Harford’s 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy from the BBC World Service is great if you have 10 minutes to spare: they’re engaging, funny and don’t assume any economic knowledge. For something completely different, Radio 4’s Only Artists is fascinating: two people from the arts world talk about the overlaps between their work and their careers. It always goes in interesting directions.

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