So I’ve nailed the alliteration in the title, always a good start. It seems I’m taking this blog into new territory and continuing to branch out from just talking data visualisation. I feel like writing about podcasts so I’m going to do just that. They’re enriching my life right now and I want to share this with the internet. Hopefully it will be of use to someone somewhere looking for podcast recommendations. For anyone not familiar with the concept, comedian Deborah Frances-White defines the podcast as ‘Radio that no-one will stop you making’. I’ve been a fan of podcasts for the last few years, getting initially drawn in by Jarlath Regan’s infamous Irishman Abroad podcast. He has interviewed amazing people over several years and has a special way of bringing out their inspirational stories. My favourites include the episodes with Roisin Conaty, Sarah Millican, David McWilliams and Sean Walsh but there are currently over 280 to choose from. I find podcasts brilliant to listen to while commuting to work or doing mundane stuff around the house. There is an abundance of brilliant content on tap regardless of the time of day. I find it even more valuable right now as I’m on maternity leave. Whether I’m breastfeeding, trying (and mostly failing) to do some chores while my son is napping, going shopping or for an occasional jog, it’s amazing to be able to listen to something that will stimulate and broaden my mind or simply make me laugh. Yes, I probably look a little odd smiling away to myself or trying to stifle a laugh while perusing the special offers in Aldi, but it’s worth it.
It was international women’s day on Friday 8th March and I think it’s a good opportunity to highlight some of the amazing women who are smashing it in podcast form. It’s no secret that there is quite a lack of female voices heard on our national airwaves. The Journal reported in August 2017 that two high profile stations, Newstalk and Today FM had no women on air during peak listening times. Newstalk would always have been my ‘go to’ for radio but I find myself tuning in less frequently, favouring podcasts instead. I decided out of curiosity to look at the current presenter schedule on Newstalk from a gender balance perspective (I reviewed Monday to Friday only). I recorded the data, noting how many presenters were women and visualised the results in Tableau, see below:
The interactive version is on my profile on Tableau Public here for anyone who wants more detail. The weekday schedule currently stands at about 16% female representation. Una Mullally’s article from September 2017 highlights a finding by the Global Media Monitoring Project that women struggle to make up one third of media professionals, with ‘radio being the least inclusive of women professionals’. The National Women’s Council of Ireland have been calling for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) to monitor the airwaves for gender balance (see article from Jan 2018) and a Gender Action Plan was published by the BAI in April 2018 (see here). It’s great to know that efforts are being made. There is a community called Women on Air who are passionate about the need to hear more women’s voices on our air waves so anyone interested should check them out. It doesn’t seem like change is coming quickly but luckily we can turn to podcasts to get our fix! In no particular order, these are my favourites right now:
Taranoia is the wonderful creation of Tara Flynn who is a writer, comedian, actor and author. It gets its name from Tara’s own brand of paranoia. This podcast enables me to see the world from the perspective of others, check my privilege and laugh while doing so (not laugh at those less privileged but at Tara’s witty musings). She has interviewed some brilliant guests and discusses a wide range of topics covering human rights, racism and feminism to name a few. She certainly doesn’t claim to know it all or have all the answers but asks important questions. I love her take on life which is that ‘we’re all just eejits and we’re all just doing our best’.
The Guilty Feminist podcast is hosted by comedian and author Deborah Frances-White who is truly hilarious. This article in the Irish Times reports that as of October 2018 the podcast had over 20 million downloads in two years. It’s recorded in front of a live audience. The episodes generally have a central theme, and discussion is followed by some stand-up on the subject. The hosts open each episode confessing what they see as contradictions or hypocrisies in relation to their feminism. I find it very relatable as it can be difficult to figure out what feminism means to me in 2019 and to navigate the landscape. My current hypocrisy would be ‘I’m a feminist, but I will let my three year old daughter listen to Rapunzel over and over just to get a bit of peace, despite the fact that like most fairy tales it is problematic from a feminist perspective.
Comedians Emma Doran and Julie Jay are two incredibly funny people who I could listen to all day. They discuss random things from the 90s so there is a charming nostalgic feel to the podcast. I don’t often reflect on this decade given the fact that I was an exceptionally awkward teen and would rather forget this stage of my life, but it’s surprisingly enjoyable to listen to their banter about diverse topics such as Oasis, Saved by the Bell and Julia Roberts. Also if you’re into horoscopes (and I certainly haven’t been since said awkward teens) then you should be aware that Emma has recently discovered that she has a gift for reading the stars. This is not related to the podcast but she shares them in her Instagram stories. She has an uncanny ability to see what the week ahead has in store for us all, so do go and check it out. They are 100% bullshit but VERY funny.
I recently discovered the Motherboard podcasts which are run by Family Friendly HQ and hosted by midwife Avril Flynn. Avril is a natural and I’m loving the honest and important chats they are having about motherhood. They have discussed mental health, infertility, diversity, screen time and lots of other topics. The format tends to be a panel discussion which features mothers who share their lived experiences. They also bring in various professionals who provide expertise from their fields. Someone once said “we read to know that we are not alone” (William Nicholson). Well I feel the same holds true for podcasts. It’s refreshing to hear people talk honestly about things we go through on this journey and I find it very relatable.
This podcast is hosted by journalist Kathy Sheridan and is produced by Roisín Ingle and Jennifer Ryan. The podcast is described as a ‘ female take on Ireland and the world’ which in itself is quite far-reaching! The format seems to vary depending on the content with a mix of fascinating interviews, recordings of live events and discussions between Kathy and Roisín. It has covered an extremely broad range of topics in its 291 episodes so there is something for everyone here.
If you check out any of the podcasts above, don’t forget to download, give a five star rating and review if you enjoy. They all love that apparently!
Thanks for reading.