October, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

I confess that I feel left behind by Marvel’s Cinematic Universe these days. The films come thick and fast, and I’ve not seen them all by any means. That has begun to instill in me a fear that I won’t actually fully understand a new film because I’ve missed things that happened in the last film.

I’ve not seen Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 or Spiderman Homecoming. It’s like stopping watching Lost on TV after three seasons, suddenly realising they’re up to season seven, and not really wanting to watch 60 episodes to get caught up.

But I’d heard enough good things about Thor: Ragnarok to mean that I was happy to give it a watch. In any event, I’d seen Doctor Strange on TV, and that didn’t seem to require much previous knowledge.

Of course, a Marvel film is likely to be very popular. And that means lots of “code violations.” People just can’t keep off their phones (probably not helped by every superhero film being more than two hours meaning in places they can drag).

I had to go and tell one person sitting near the front, and therefore in full view of the entire auditorium, to turn off their phone which they’d been on a full five minutes into the film, on full brightness. Others felt they could WhatsApp with impunity throughout just because they’d turned their brightness down.

And then there were the younger kids. Now I get it. It’s a Marvel film, and lots of 7 and 8 year olds will want to see it. But the certificate is 12A. The BBFC says: “Frequent scenes of fantasy violence include fistfights, aerial dogfights, and use of lasers and bladed weapons. There are brief impalings, but with minimal blood and injury detail. In one comic sequence an alien is melted into liquid, but the scene does not dwell on detail.

“There are occasional mild sex references and innuendo, and occasional use of mild bad language.”

But the point is that it’s a 12A.

The BBFC says of 12A films: “Films classified 12A and video works classified 12 contain material that is not generally suitable for children aged under 12. No one younger than 12 may see a 12A film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult. Adults planning to take a child under 12 to view a 12A film should consider whether the film is suitable for that child. To help them decide, we recommend that they check the BBFCinsight for that film in advance.” (My emphasis)

Some adults had definitely brought kids who found the film slightly too perilous. The clues are in things like trips to the loo, or shifting in seats.

But one mother and father had brought a toddler so young that the child still had a dummy in its mouth. I’d have said it was a maximum of three. The opening scene of Thor takes place with Thor captured by a hellish fire demon. The child instantly found this scary. It only got worse after that. At first the mother took the child to a seat well away from others at the front – I assume to minimise the disruption. But eventually she left the cinema.

I do think the BBFC needs to legislate that 12A films should not be seen by children under the age of, say 8, in any circumstances.

As for the film? Well it’s pretty decent. The film is directed by Taika Waititi, and it’s probably the funniest Marvel film I’ve seen (Waititi keeping many of the best gags for himself as Korg, a creature made of stones). Cate Blanchett is suitably villainous as Hela, Thor and Loki’s sister (although the costume designers seem a little too “inspired” by Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent). And Tessa Thompson is great as Valkyrie who manages to make a spectacular and very funny entrance. I’m unsure how much of The Hulk is actually motion capture of Mark Ruffalo and how much is simply animation, but Ruffalo’s few scenes are fine.

There’s just enough (but not too much) of Jeff Goldblum, while Tom Hiddlestone hams it up once more as Loki against Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. They too manage to play the comic moments very well.

You don’t really have to think too hard about the plot, but the film keeps up the pace despite its 130 minute runtime.

Obviously it’s full of CGI, and while there’s vast quantities of destruction at the end as is requisite in all superhero films, it’s less overt, and does somehow push the story forward a bit.

Overall, this is easily one of the better superhero films I’ve seen in a long time, and certainly the funniest. It also reminds me that I need to catch up with Hunt for the Wilderpeople (it’s on Netflix in the UK), Waititi’s last film as director. His sensibility really does carry through here.

U-Turns in Pancras Road

Note: This is aimed particularly at anyone who cycles in central London and travels near either King’s Cross or St Pancras stations. Everyone else? As you were. Unless you work for Camden Council…

While tube maps show King’s Cross St Pancras as a single station, anyone who visits will know that there are actually two different stations served by that tube. King’s Cross serves trains to the north and Scotland, as well as Hull, Cambridge, King’s Lynn and suburban stations to the north of London. Over in St Pancras, there are Eurostar services to the continent, services towards the midlands, and trains running north-south between Bedford and Brighton.

Between the two stations is Pancras road. While you can travel through towards Camden, it’s mostly used by black cabs, minicabs and a few buses dropping people off and picking passengers up from the station. There are dropoff points for both stations along the road, and King’s Cross’s taxi rank is set back from the road too (St Pancras’s taxi rank is on the other side of the station).

These are busy places, and there is always lots of traffic.

However, Pancras Road is also used by a large number of cyclists who are entering or leaving either mainline station. And that’s where the trouble comes, because the road can be positively chaotic. On the St Pancras side, is a long area for setting down and picking up, but at busy times double parking is pervasive. So minicabs in particular will crawl along the road waiting for a spot to open up to safely discharge their passengers. They tend not to worry about other traffic users.

Then there is the real problem – vehicles conducting three point turns. I understand that once you’ve set down, vehicles want to return into central London, but vast numbers conduct three point turns. I took this video on Friday with separate vehicles all trying to do the manoeuvre in very busy surroundings.

It would be safer for all in the vicinity if three point turns or u-turns were made illegal on this section of road. Particularly for cyclists, this can be dangerous as there is so much movement in the area, that cyclist can become invisible.

Instead, such turns should be further up Pancras Road, where there is already taxi-waiting space for those cabs queuing to pick up passengers at King’s Cross. For others, it’s easy to loop around St Pancras station via Goods Way and Midland Road, from where drivers can head off in any direction again. Let’s just keep the horrible 150m section between Euston Road and the passenger entrances of King’s Cross and St Pancras Stations clear of u-turning traffic can we?

RAJAR Q3 2017

RAJAR

As ever, this post is brought to you in association with RALF from DP Software and Services. I’ve used RALF for the past 9 years, and it’s my favourite RAJAR analysis tool. So I am delighted that I continue to be able to bring you this RAJAR analysis in association with RALF. For more details on the product, contact Deryck Pritchard via this link or phone 07545 425677.

RAJAR comes around again, hot on the heals of last week’s ARIAS. These are largely the summer months, and end on the 17th September. Summers during even years are “quiet” in that there are no major (men’s) football tournaments or Olympic games to disrupt normality. But it’s not unusual for stations to see slight dips in audiences with their listeners going away, or spending more time outside and less time listening.

First of all, a quick update on digital listening.

Last quarter, you will recall, digital listening had reached a record high of 48.7%. So what’s it done this quarter?

48.8%.

It’s slowly creeping upwards, but no real growth over the summer. I still anticipate the magic 50% being reached within the next two quarters however.

National and Digital

Radio 1 had a generally good quarter. Following on from gains last time around, they’re up another 1.2% this quarter (although down slightly on the previous year), to nearly 9.7m listeners. Hours have fallen however, down 4.3% on the previous quarter (although a more modest 0.7% fall on the previous year). As has been mentioned here regularly, the impact of hours is the bigger issue for Radio 1 as their listeners spend less time with radio and more time with other audio and video services.

Radio 2 saw growth of 3.2%, which means nearly 500,000 people. It’s up on the previous year as well. In hours, the results are even better with increases of 5.5% on the quarter and 6.0% on the year. Radio 2 accounts for 17.5% of all radio listening.

Radio 3 had a disappointing quarter, down 4.8% in reach on the quarter (although only down 0.7% on the year), while hours fell 11.9% on the quarter and 9.7% on the year. The station has had some recent changes to its schedule and presenters, but these will take time to bed in.

After some very strong performances, Radio 4 fell back a little this quarter down 2.9% on the quarter (and 3.1% on the year). Hours are much more stable however, and none of this is anything for the station to worry about.

Five Live saw its reach dip 4.7% on the quarter and 7.9% on the year. Hours remained broadly flat. The lack of major sports events over the summer is a likely contributor (although it was a different case for Talksport – see below).

Last quarter I note that 6 Music’s slight fall was likely to be a blip, and so it proved. Reach grew 8.7% on the quarter, and 3.8% on the year, to 2.43m. And what do you know? This represents a new record all time high! Hours increased on the quarter although were still slightly down on the year. The station is clearly fighting fit, and almost certainly among the beneficiaries of an ever growing digital listenership.

1Xtra and Asian Network both got quarterly increases, while the World Service fell back this quarter.

Bauer’s key national brands performed well this quarter.

The Absolute Radio Network increased in reach by 1.6% on the quarter (3.7% on the year) now reaching 4.5m people, although hours fell slightly on the quarter, but still managed 5.2% growth on the year.

Within that, the main Absolute Radio brand bounced back from last quarter with a 16.9% increase in reach (but down 6.9% on last year), while hours grew 19.0% on the quarter (and 13.1% on the year).

Absolute 80s saw some modest growth of 1.3% on the quarter (but down 1.1% on the year) in reach, while hours fell both on the quarter and on the year. It is being chased hard by Heart 80s, which saw reach increase 27.5% on the quarter while hours increased 25.2%. Absolute 80s has 1.532m listeners, while Heart 80s has just past the million mark with 1.086m. In terms of hours Absolute 80s has 7.316m v Heart 80s 4.851m. This is going to be a tight battle of the 80s stations.

The Kiss Network itself achieved a record reach of 5.7m, up 5.4% on the quarter (4.8% on the year), with hours growing a substantial 18.7% on the quarter (5.3%) on the year. Kisstory continues to do well with 1.8m reach (up 5.1% on the quarter (13.2% on the year), giving it a new record reach and solidifying its position as the biggest commercial digital-only station.

The Magic Network reach also was a record, with 3.7m listeners, up 3.2% on the quarter. Mellow Magic is the biggest sub-brand with 519,000 but essentially flat on the quarter.

Over at Global, there are some slight declines at the two biggest brands. The Heart Brand (which includes all the Heart stations including digital sub-brands) is flat, slightly falling 0.7% on the quarter (and falling 1.2%) on the year. Hours are up on the quarter however. I’ve already noted that Heart 80s is doing well, and Heart Extra is up on the quarter, but down somewhat on the year. The Heart Network represents all the local Heart stations around the country, and that’s also flat in reach (down 0.8% on the quarter and down 1.2% on the year), while hours are down 5.7% on the quarter (and down 1.2% on the year).

For the Capital Brand, the reach is again basically flat, and hours are up a fraction. Capital XTRA is doing well, up 22.6% in reach on the quarter (and 10.6% on the year), while the main local network is down a little in reach (down 3.7% on both the quarter and year), but flat in hours.

LBC has had another strong set of results, up 2.3% on the quarter (and 15.7% on the year), with hours increasing even more. The station continues to make news with its political presenters – even the stand-ins!

The Smooth Brand had a decent set of results, up across the board, while Radio X performed very well, up 9.5% in reach (20.4% on the year), and up 5.6% in hours this quarter (up 15.5% on the year).

Finally, Classic FM fell back a bit this quarter down 6.0% in reach and down 8.8% in hours. On the year it fared better.

Over at Wireless Group, Talksport had a decent quarter despite a lack of major sport. Reach was up 11.6% on the quarter, while hours were up 31.5% over the same period. The numbers weren’t quite as strong on the year, but the station is closing in on 3m again.

Sister station Talksport2 is also up a little on the quarter, up 1.8% in reach, but down 11.8% in hours.

It wasn’t a good quarter for Talkradio, which is still struggling to find its feet. Reach is down 6.9% on the quarter (and down 15.8% on the year), while hours were down 0.4% on the quarter (but down 17.8% on the year).

Virgin Radio, on the other hand, had a very strong quarter, seeing reach grow a steller 52.7% on the quarter (up 61.2% on the year), with hours up 39.6% on the quarter (and 24.8% on the year). And this all pre-dates Sam and Amy taking over breakfast from Edith Bowman.

London

As ever Radio 4 is London’s real number one. But nobody wants to know about that. How are the music stations doing?

Well Capital is number one in reach, although last quarter’s numbers have taken a bit of a hit. Reach is down 8.1% on the quarter, but up 5.6% on the year. Hours are flat on the quarter but up on the year. This was still early days for Capital’s new Roman Kemp breakfast show. However that’s not good enough to be number one in hours terms. That accolade goes to…

LBC. Their FM reach (AM is a different station) are actually down a 21.3% on the quarter, and hours down a massive 22.9%, but both are up on the year, and last quarter’s figures were massive, so a fall was on the cards. A reminder – I always say you should look at longer term trends than one off results.

As for Kiss? They are down on the quarter in terms of reach, dipping below 2m again. Down 8.7% on the quarter (although up 2.8% on the year). However hours are somewhat extraordinarily up 35.4% to 11.5m in London (that’s a 25.3% increase on the year). That’s the station’s largest hours for a couple of years.

Heart has dropped away a bit, to 1.515m reach, down 10.9% on the quarter (and down 10.0% on the year). Hours have suffered worse though, falling from 8.9m to 7.3m – a 17.8% drop on the quarter and 20.5% fall on the year. That’s not great news for the brand’s flagship station.

Magic has recently changed breakfast show too, with Ronan Keating and Harriet Scott taking charge over the summer. But they’re only partially included here. The station is flat in reach on the quarter (but down 14.6% on hte year), while hours have increased on the quarter, up 13.7%, but are still 11.3% down on the year.

Radio X is pretty flat with reach up 0.4% on the quarter (but 25.4% up on the year), and hours drifting slightly, down 2.5% on the quarter and down 3.2% on the year.

Finally BBC London, which had some record figures last quarter, has seen them fall back a bit, down 26.9% in reach (although up 7.1% on the year), while hours are down 20.6% on the quarter (although up a very similar amount on the year).

The London market is still volatile in the way it’s reported, although as I mentioned at the start, we have to be a little wary over the summer months.

Note

I seem to have written this quarter’s results without using a single chart. I’ll try to right that next time around!

Further Reading

For more RAJAR analysis, I’d recommend the following sites:

The official RAJAR site and their infographic
Radio Today for a digest of all the main news
Go to Media.Info for lots of numbers and charts
Mediatel’s Newsline will have lots of figures and analysis
Paul Easton for more lots analysis including London charts
Matt Deegan will have some great analysis
The BBC Mediacentre for BBC Radio stats and findings
Bauer Media’s corporate site
Global Radio’s corporate site

All my previous RAJAR analyses are here.

Source: RAJAR/Ipsos MORI/RSMB, period ending 17 September 2017, Adults 15+.

Disclaimer: These are my views alone and do not represent those of anyone else, including my employer. Any errors (I hope there aren’t any!) are mine alone. Drop me a note if you want clarifications on anything. Access to the RAJAR data is via RALF from DP Software as mentioned at the top of this post.

What I’m Listening To… October 2017

It feels like it has been a long time since I wrote about what I’m listening to, and I thought it might be worth just recording my current listening patterns, for my own interest at a later date, if nobody else’s.

In any event, this week I was a panellist on this month’s Radio Today round-table podcast talking about a couple of these podcasts.

This piece is more about podcasts than radio stations per se, and I am an awful podcast downloader in that I download vastly more than I can actually listen to, later spending a lot of time sweeping off the unlistened programmes in big bouts.

Podcast discovery is still a big issue for the industry, as there’s no really good way to find out and discover new podcasts. Many of the lists you see in other places name all the “usual suspects” and however much Apple tweaks its charts, the same candidates are always riding high. And of course, if you big then you can spin-off another big podcast and so on. Hence This American Life begat Serial which begat S-Town. There are hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there with more launching all the time. Right now, finding the right podcasts for you can often be down to word of mouth. Hence this piece!

You’ll note that there’s basically no music programming here. That’s sort of deliberate, but also I fear, says something about the kind of radio I’ve been listening to of late.

Incidentally, I’ve inserted a link to each of these podcasts and programmes, but this is not an easy thing to do. While many have distinct websites, or pages on larger websites, complete with lots of links to enable the visitor to subscribe, for inexplicable reasons many don’t. In particular there are major providers who consider podcasts as other “content” on a wider site and don’t point people in a direction to subscribe. Or they just embed the audio into a random page and don’t do anything beyond that.

Worse than that are those who rely solely on third party sites – an iTunes “page” often being a ubiquitous link. That’s great if I’m using an iPhone, and next to useless otherwise. I’m not a massive fan on only using something like SoundCloud as your host page either. What happens if something happens to them? Do you have any other web presence? Your own website at least means that if you ever find it necessary to move podcast hosts, you’ve got some continuity.

Make life a little easier for yourself and your potential listeners – build either a no-frills site, or a single page with details of how to access your podcast.

That all said, here’s what I’m listening to right now in no particular order:

  • The Daily. From The New York Times. I probably only listen to one of these per week (they currently published every weekday, with the output due to increase soon), but the range of subjects and the way they cover it is fascinating. Obviously it’s very US-centric, and it’s a shame that Radio 4, for example, doesn’t do something quite the same.
  • Slate Money. This might well really be called Slate Business, because what it’s not about is personal finance. The podcast addresses three stories a week, with the three presenters lead by Felix Salmon being highly opinionated on a range of things. While they can be US focused, it still makes for a great listen, and I eagerly download each Saturday morning.
  • Tweet of the Day. This is less than 90 seconds, and could therefore probably do without the double “This is the BBC” stings at beginning and end. But something that started as essentially an audio guide to the birds of Britain, is now a brief thought from a writer or commentator on a bird. It’s so short, there’s no excuse for not listening.
  • The Media Podcast, The Media Show and Broadcast: Talking TV. All my UK media in three different podcasts (although two share a producer). Between them and the Radio Today Podcast, I’ve got all my media bases covered.
  • The Adam Buxton Podcast. This is an obvious one, but worth stating nonetheless. It’s basically Adam Buxton having extended conversations with people he’s interested in. The subject matter may not always be the obvious ones, and the interviewees tend not to have something to promote. In any case, he often records the interviews some months before they’re edited and broadcast. A good example was the recent episode with Louis Theroux, where they started talking about S-Town and then got into traits of US NPR-style podcasts. Buxton and Theroux referenced an episode of This American Life, which I too had heard, where they took on the sexism of some people who don’t like the “vocal fry” of many female presenters of This American Life. As Buxton and Theroux pointed out, this isn’t necessarily sexism (although it may be in some instances), but partly as a consequence of the stylistics that many podcasts have taken on – often mimicking those of This American Life itself.
  • The Coode Street Podcast. I discovered this when I randomly attended a recording at WorldCon in London a couple of years ago. Essentially its a serious science fiction literary podcast, with the two presenters, each living on different continents, talking about recent books. To say that they’re both voracious readers would be an understatement, but if you’re interested in the genre then they will point you in worthwhile directions.
  • 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy. This has been a big hit and rightly so. Therefore, if you’ve not listened then you really should. The series is nearly over with an online poll currently being used to decide which of six items should be the “51st thing.” Each episode is only nine minutes, with presenter Tim Harford giving a little background on why Concrete, Barbed Wire or Double Entry Bookkeeping have been so important. Great audio snacks!
  • More or Less. If you’re going to listen to Fifty Things, then of course you’ll be listening to this. More or Less, also presented by Tim Harford is simply essential listening, taking apart the numbers in the news, often quite strongly. For example, when Boris Johnson recently raised the £350m a week nonsense again, More or Less explained very simply why it is very very wrong.
  • Fortunately. This is the Fi Glover and Jane Garvey podcast, two of our preeminent radio broadcasters. Fortunately is one of the BBC’s podcast-only programmes, and we’re now into the second series. The first series was mostly a rambling recommendation programme, highlighting things on BBC radio that you might have missed or not even heard. The second series is more interview led, and is as much as anything an excuse for the pair to natter on about anything that really comes to mind, perhaps with an element of how radio works. I did previously complain that the BBC-only focus was a bit of a missed opportunity, and although Fortunately is leaps and bounds better, it would seem to have replicated the service already provided by Pick of the Week. I guess the reality is that unless you’re some kind of audio-butterfly, there are only so many things you can recommend on a regular basis. So while there’s still an opportunity for someone to do a decent podcast/radio-recommendation programme, this is just great fun.
  • Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review. But of course.
  • Seriously. This is really a catch-all bucket to place many of Radio 4’s one-off documentaries. As such it can be a little hit and miss, with the emphasis on the hits. That does mean I pick and choose what I listen to on the feed. The good thing is that when you find yourself reading the review section of Sunday paper the following Thursday and see that they’ve recommended a particular Radio 4 programme, the chances are that it’s already in the Seriously podcast feed. I’m going to duck a little now and just say that the only thing I don’t like about it are the podcast-only wraparounds from Rhianna Dhillon. It’s not Dhillon herself, so much as the tone of the scripts that try hard to personalise everything. It can sometimes feel as though I’m having my hand held too much to get into something. When the programmes are broadcast, the continuity announced it likely to only have time for a couple of lines to set-up the premise of the programme. I don’t feel that I need a great deal more. Now if there’s extra material, or perhaps a chat with the producer, that’s one thing. It’s just the cosiness of it. Sometimes people think there’s a particular “way” to do podcasts, and I simply don’t agree, any more than there’s a single “way” to do any kind of artistic endeavour.
  • Strong and Stable. This political comedy podcast launched during the election, and then disappeared, only to recently start up again. David Schneider and Ayesha Hazarika have different guests each week to take apart what’s happening right now. Even if you’ve “had it up to here” with Brexit, you should still listen.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask. One of a stable of podcasts that includes the Recode Media podcast with Peter Kafka. The latter can be great when he has someone really good, but occasionally there’s an interviewee who seems more intent on pushing their business model, no matter how untried or untested it really is. So I think I prefer the former podcast which gets its hands a little dirtier with the nuts and bolts of technology. The only other technology podcast I’m listening to right now is an occasional episode of The Vergecast.
  • Slate’s Political Gabfest, Slate’s Trumpcast and the Five Thirty Eight Politics podcast. This is my triumvirate of US political podcasts (with a mention for the NPR Political Podcast which handily timestamps to the minute when it was recorded such is the fast moving nature of today’s politics). Between them, I get as much news about US politics as I need or want. They’re all slightly different in tone, with the Gabfest having a wider ranging take on the political issues of the week. Trumpcast is there to cover Trump, and publishes on a “more than once a week” basis. The Five Thirty Eight Politics podcast has expanded beyond the psephology of analysing polls, and moved into more of a “what this means” turn of its existence. All told, they offer a comprehensive look at the car crash that is US politics, and which I can’t take my eyes off.
  • The PC Pro Podcast. I feel I must be missing a UK technology podcast. I used to listen to The Guardian’s one, but it morphed into something that I became less interested in. There’s Babbage below, and the BBC World Service has its Tech Tent, but most technology podcasts seem to be American. This is an exception, and I’ve been a listener for a long time now. I do wish they’d record it in a room, altogether, but I suspect that the finances of the magazine industry being what they are, that’s a bit too much to hope for.
  • Reply All. Gimlet makes a lot of great podcasts, but Reply All is one of their best. Somehow PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman manage to maintain quality at such a high level for so much of the year. There are so many good episodes including the most recent on a video game that had disappeared, and solving the case of someone’s 800-number being filled with recorded randomness. Over the summer, when they were on a break, Reply All “rebroadcast” some of their most popular episodes. So you’ll find hits all the way in their podcast feed right now.
  • The Two Shot Podcast. This is an interview podcast from the bloke from Line of Duty. That’s rather unfair since this is a terrific listen. In each episode, actor Craig Parkinson has an extended interview with someone, usually from the entertainment and drama world. He tends to really dig into their background and how they got into the business, but does it in a really engaging manner. The episode with Neil Morrissey is absolutely fantastic. I didn’t know his background at all, but I couldn’t stop listening to this particular edition.
  • The Economist: Babbage. This is essentially The Economist’s Tech podcast. While it takes its lead from the technology section of the magazine, it digs into the issues and stories a little further.
  • Twenty Thousand Hertz. If you’re interested in sound, then you may well be interested in this. It addresses all aspects of the medium in short and punchy episodes. 20,000 Hz incidentally, is the frequency above which the human ear can no longer hear audio.
  • Reasons to be Cheerful. We’ve only had one episode of this so far, and I should point out that I’m a friend of one of the presenters. This is podcast with Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd, in which they talk about big ideas. So in the first episode they examined Universal Basic Income. This might seem to be a dry subject, but it’s addressed seriously but with a lightness of touch that makes it very accessible. Geoff Lloyd seems to be leading a one-man mission to dominate podcasting since he and Annabel Port have also recently launched their Adrift podcast, following their departure from Absolute Radio earlier in the year. Both are very much worth subscribing to.
  • The Life Scientific. I confess I pick and choose which episodes to listen to based on how interested I think I’ll be in the subject. That’s a shame, but there’s so much science that I could be listening to, along with The Guardian’s Science Podcast and the BBC’s Inside Science.
  • Between the Ears. This could be just about anything on any given week, but all the better for it. Because it goes out on-air on a Saturday night, it again lends itself well to the podcast form.
  • The Danny Baker Show. If you don’t listen on 5 Live on a Saturday morning, then this is always an entertaining listen a bit later. Baker is a natural for radio, and this is my weekly hit. He has another volume of his autobiography due soon.
  • A Twin Peaks Podcast. When David Lynch and Mark Frost brought back Twin Peaks, there was instantly a whole batch of podcasts that swung into operation, dissecting each episode of the series as it aired. For complicated reasons that I’ll get into another time, I ended up binging the first seven episodes, and so it was only after then that I looked for something to listen to. This podcast comes from Entertainment Weekly and frankly I largely picked it at random from the crowd. But it has been an intelligent discussion from the two presenters after each episode, and post- the series, we’ve also had a few interviews with stars and people involved in the series’ production.
  • A Stab in the Dark. This is funded by UKTV and is essentially there to promote the TV channels Alibi and Drama. But as much as anything. it’s actually mostly a crime book podcast with presenter (and crime writer) Mark Billingham interviewing writers of crime fiction. Sometimes there are interviews with actors too, but mostly it’s with writers. And it feels like as the podcast has progressed; the level of interviewees has really gone up a notch. Billingham is such an amiable presenter that makes you think it’s all quite effortless. It really isn’t, and this is an excellent listen.
  • The Business. A KCRW radio programme on the entertainment industry. While it’s not always perfect, and can sometimes be a little ingratiating in the way it deals with subjects, it has a robust structure, opening with a brief chat (they use the hideous term “banter”) about the big entertainment news of the week, followed by a longer-form interviews with writers/directors/talent.
  • The Bike Show. These days it is relatively occasional in its appearances, but presenter Jack Thurston is charming and it addresses elements of cycling beyond the obvious. Indeed it doesn’t really get into the kinds of racing that most media coverage of cycling seems to be.
  • Page 94: The Private Eye Podcast. This isn’t currently “on-air” as it seems to only be commissioned one series at a time. But it’s worth adding to your podcatching software if you want to know the stories behind the stories. Indeed, it has really become quite a news-focused podcast rather than addressing the comic elements of Private Eye.
  • >Wireless Nights with Jarvis Cocker. Another Radio 4 programme, but it suits the medium superbly, especially as the radio programme airs quite late at night, and can be easy to miss.
  • The Butterfly Effect with Jon Ronson. This isn’t strictly a podcast because it’s currently only available to Audible subscribers. But it’s a podcast in tone, in that it follows a story over six episodes, exploring the consequences of something. In this instance, it’s the availability of free pornography online. Indeed my only real issue with the series is that it sometimes feels that pornography gets far more coverage from documentarians than many other subjects. To be completely fair, since this is presented in audio form, there’s not the same titillation that so many TV documentaries can run the risk of (either deliberately or inadvertently), and there are certain areas this series gets into that I never knew about. Clearly there was some significant money put into this project.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, and there are plenty more I subscribe to, but they’re either really obvious podcasts that “everyone” listens to, or I really only dip in and out. Some are “off-air” right now, and therefore aren’t front of mind. Then there are the podcasts that are so occassional, it’s not worth even mentioning them.

Missing from here are plenty of news and current affairs podcasts I subscribe to, mostly actually listening to based on what the subject matter is. The same goes for some arts podcasts or things like Radio 3’s Essays.

I am looking for a good TV related podcast that deals with the industry from a viewer’s perspective (rather than the media industry side of things). I used to listen to KCRW’s The Spin-Off and Vulture’s TV Podcast, but sadly, both ceased production within a few weeks of each other earlier this year. The former did say that it was transitioning into something new, but unless I’ve missed it, that’s not happened yet. Both of those were obviously US-focused, and I wouldn’t mind something more UK-US or international in flavour, but I’ve not really found anything.

Finally, I should also mention The Cycling Podcast, but since I do a certain amount of production work for them, I am enormously biased when I say that it’s the world’s best professional cycling podcast.