Recently, I had a lot of fun working on Helen & Olly’s Required Listening, a TDC production for BBC Radio 5 live.

In it, Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann, the guys behind the Sony award-winning Answer Me This podcast, showcased some of the best English-speaking broadcasters you may never have heard of.

Here are three that we featured who are really worth a listen.

Roman Mars of 99% Invisible

Roman Mars, the man behind 99% Invisible

99% Invisible sounds a bit niche. It’s a podcast of a public radio show in San Francisco by the quite brilliant Roman Mars, whose beat is architecture, the urban envrionment and those features of our buildings and city landscapes that may otherwise pass us by without comment.

As a green badge tour guide, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing, but even if you’re not, you’ll be able to get to the passion, joy and craft with which this show is assembled.

Don’t take my word for it. Roman’s fans pay more than just lip service. It’s the best performing journalism project on the crowd-funded website Kickstarter. In other words, listeners contributed over $140k to keep hearing his work.

We’d show you a real picture of ‘Betty’. But then we’d have to kill you.

Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase is a charming podcast from a whistle-blowing, globe-trotting air hostess from America. It’s the perfect example of how the democratisation of audio production can give insight behind the scenes of other people’s lives and professions. As well as how you can find bloody good broadcasters, working away on their own projects on the web.

Betty – not her real name – tells stories from her travels and interviews colleagues to paint a fascinating picture of the aviation business, and the everyday miracle of air travel.

We’re Alive show-runner KC Wayland

If you love The Walking Dead, imagine a zombie serial in which the pictures are inhibited only by your imagination.

We’re Alive! is an episodic zombie drama now into its 33rd chapter. Producer KC Wayland explained to us that he chose audio over video for that reason that radio lovers like us already understand – the pictures are always better when you can’t see them. He can achieve the massive effects he wants,  and conjure up a sense of societal collapse in a zombie apocalypse, for less than the make-up budget if he was making it on film.

His experience as an Iraq veteran has also informed his show-running.

Here’s the Thing host, Alec Baldwin.

As a 30 Rock fan, one person I’d loved to have had on our show was the brilliant Alec Baldwin. Sadly, his people politely declined – but I wanted to make you aware of his podcast for NPR gods, WNYC.

In Here’s the Thing (great title), Baldwin interviews people from the worlds of arts and entertainment. That’s it. No bells or whistles. Sometimes people you don’t think you’d be bothered about. But his natural, conversational, wit and warmth really engage you in this simple chat format.

And, of course, he has the most beautiful voice. He could read the telephone book, and I’d hit subscribe. Maybe he’ll come on next time.

Happy listening.


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