7 podcasts to try in 2020

The grand tradition of radio has been brought into the 21st Century over the past few years, with radio shows both iconic and brand new making their way into the relatively new podcast format.

Audiences have embraced podcasts, with all the classic tenants of radio - warm voices, thoughtful discussion, comforting stories - making their way into people’s ears and homes in the way that has been familiar for nearly a century.

Now, a wide selection of podcasts means audiences can easily get their fix of everything from motivation, self-improvement and mental health to true crime and the latest tech innovations. Here are seven of our favourite podcasts, all of which will pique your curiosity, make your life easier, and help you think a little bit more clearly in 2020.

TED Talks Daily

TED (Technology, Education, Design) is a media company and conference series that commissions notable and influential people to give talks that reflect its central “Ideas Worth Sharing” mission.

TED has a few different podcasts that share its various stories, but if you’re new to the company it’s probably the original, TED Talks Daily, that you want to click download on. Whether you choose a podcast on space travel, the impact of public shaming, zoology or contemporary feminism, you’re guaranteed to end it feeling a little (or a lot) more clever. Recent episodes have covered the perks of being a pirate, thinking like a coder, the psychology of why we collect things, where we are in the search for dark matter, the future of nicotine addiction, and a call to arms for “dangerous” women. Yes, we told you it was varied.

Stuff You Should Know

With new episodes three times a week, the people behind the Stuff You Should Know podcast are nothing if not prolific. It’s something that their bold and far-reaching aim, “to explain absolutely everything there is on planet earth and beyond”, probably needs them to be.

So, what sort of stuff should we know about? In the past year hosts Josh and Chuck have attempted to explain subjects including (deep breath) the importance of the Mona Lisa, the disappearance of flight MH370, transdermal implants, corduroy, safe-cracking, wine fraud, the collapse of the Maya, how amnesia works, how conversion therapy doesn’t, the use of psychedelics in treating mental illness, Cockney rhyming slang, blackboxes, MSG, subpoenas, Lyme disease, what it would be like to live without a refrigerator… and that’s only going back a few months. You should probably start listening now, because it turns out that there’s a LOT we didn’t know we needed to catch up on.

Happy Place

As society as a whole becomes more and more aware of the importance of mental health, the Happy Place podcast, created by former Radio 1 DJ and familiar TV face Fearne Cotton, is there to gently guide the way.

Now on series five and recently discussing the challenges faced by national treasures including Olympian Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, The Great British Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain, campaigner Katie Piper and singer Ellie Goulding, this is a sensitive yet still no-holds-barred look into the interior lives of some of our most visible celebrities. Anxiety, panic attacks, failure and learning who you really are just some of the topics covered. Recent non-Brit guests have included Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness.

Ear Hustle

Ear Hustle is a podcast created by ex-prisoners, that gives us a rarely-seen insight into life both inside a prison and what happens to prisoners once they’re released back into their communities. Founded by former residents of San Quentin State Prison in northern California, subjects covered include death sentences and gang life, and setting out to find a job or start dating after release. It’s the first ever podcast to be created entirely inside the US prison system and its name, if you were wondering, is taken from prison slang for eavesdropping.

A truly eye-opening podcast, Ear Hustle is a rare opportunity to hear content that’s been created by some of the most marginalised people in Trump’s America. A vital piece of broadcasting.

Who the Hell is Hamish?

 From the creators of The Teacher’s Pet, the podcast that delved into the probable murder of Sydney mother Lyn Dawson in 1982, comes an equally intriguing tale: that of Hamish Walton, a serial conman who scammed victims from Australia to Canada via Hong Kong, the UK and the US.

How did he do it, and why? Why did it take so long to catch him? And where’s the money that he conned his many victims out of? These are all questions that the team at The Australian newspaper, led by podcast host Greg Bearup, are determined to unravel.

That Peter Crouch Podcast

He’s relatively new to podcasting, but Peter Crouch’s eponymous series has been a hit with fans of football (and maybe fans of robot dancing too). The former England striker launched his pod in autumn 2018, with the aim of revealing how to become a top-flight footballer. Since then he’s covered subjects including what goes on in a Premier League dressing room, the tension of Transfer Deadline Day, how to beat the world’s best goalkeepers, and why top footballers wear sports bras. Fascinating stuff for anyone who has ever wondered what the reality of being a Premier League star is really like.

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

A podcast that interviews celebrities about the biggest failures of their lives, and works to uncover what these failures taught them about themselves, How to Fail has spawned a book of the same name and had received over 200,000 downloads by the time its first eight episodes had been released in 2018.

A large part of that is down to the encouraging voice of author and former Observer journalist Elizabeth Day, who is as open as it’s possible to be whilst discussing her own failures, from driving tests to marriages and pregnancies. With guests as diverse as writer Sebastian Faulks, poet Lemn Sissay and Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Elizabeth’s chats are warm, heartening, and guaranteed to make you feel more than a little bit better about yourself - whatever your own failures might be.