Listening in Earnest: let’s find your new favourite podcast

There’s no denying it – people the world over are absolutely devouring podcasts.

According to Ofcom, as of September 2019: “around 7.1 million people in the UK now listen to podcasts each week. That’s one in eight people and is an increase of 24% over the past year – and more than double over the past five years”.

The trend is mirrored in the US, where “More than half the people in the United States have listened to one” according to The New York Times.

As with any trend, everyone is piling in. This boom in content creation means it becomes harder to find the good stuff. The double-edged sword of internet abundance vs. relevance is playing out. Barriers to entry are low, enthusiasm is high and the commercial opportunities can be lucrative; Spotify generated a lot of column inches early last year when they acquired Gimlet Media and Anchor – two of the most successful podcast networks – for a combined total of $340m

But which podcasts can you really not afford to miss?
Who should be in your ears on your way to work?
How do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

You’re in luck. We’ve asked everyone in the agency, from London to New York, to share their favourite listens right now and compiled our own top ten for you to choose from:

1. 99% Invisible

“This is a wonderful podcast about design and architecture, but more specifically the unnoticed design that shapes our everyday lives. Hosted by the soothing voice of Roman Mars, 99% Invisible treats the design of everyday things like forensic science. If you’ve ever wondered about the origins of cartoon sound effects, Hawaiian shirts, or even the inflatable men at petrol stations, then this pod is for you.”
Dan Burton, Client ManagerListen here

2. Hidden Brain

“It takes the weirdest and wonderfullest quirks of the human brain and spends 45 minutes telling an empathetic, interesting and un-jargony human story about them. Plus, it’s the perfect length for my commute.”
Rahul Savadia, Strategist – Listen here

3. The Design of Business

“This podcast explores how the (often competing) worlds of business and design come together to solve complex problems. Hosted by two design heavy hitters it bridges the gap through interviews with creatives from all walks of life. Not too heavy on the business and not too heavy on the design it’s good listening for those that like to look at the world in a slightly different way.”
Chrissie Smith, Senior Strategist – Listen here

4. Desert Island Discs

“First made for radio in 1942, some 3,000 episodes later and Desert Island Discs has ridden the waves to become the perfect podcast format.

Guests as varied as David Attenborough, Kylie Minogue, Alfred Hitchcock and Princess Margaret have found themselves castaways. With them, a choice of eight tracks, a book and a luxury – each attached with insights into their remarkable careers and personal lives.”
Colin Gentry, Head of Content – Listen here

5. The Ezra Klein Show

“Ezra Klein appears to like big questions. Annoyingly he’s only a year older than me but he has: founded, written for most serious American political publications and helped promote ‘explanatory journalism’ (annoying a lot of journos in the process).

He also runs an excellent podcast, where lots of big and awkwardly shaped questions are given room to breathe. His approach to conversation and argument is fantastic: seeing dialogue as a ‘truth seeking machine’ rather than a battle of wills where the quicker tongue wins out. If you’re interested in how western politics has ended up where it is, this is a great podcast.”
Matthew Kilgour, Creative StrategistListen here

6. How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

“As a refreshing antidote to the pressure of shiny New Year’s Resolutions and our over-demanding world, Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail series celebrates the things that haven’t gone so well. Everyone fails. And that’s ok.

From Phoebe Waller-Bridge to Dame Kelly Holmes, we’re invited to hear firsthand how high profile individuals’ failures have been a key part of shaping their incredible successes.”
Katy Roe, Junior CopywriterListen here

7. Dear HBR:

“With empathy, experience, and humor, veteran Harvard Business Review editors and co-hosts Alison Beard and Dan McGinn explore solutions to your workplace dilemmas. It is a great listen for any aspiring leaders and those in search of the better way forward in their work relationships.”
George Sanders, Client DirectorListen here

8. Eat Sleep Work Repeat

“Hosted by Bruce Daisley, former VP at Twitter, Eat Sleep Work Repeat explores work culture – but not as we know it. Always interesting and often thought-provoking, Daisley’s disarming interview style and choice of subjects that make for an entertaining and insightful podcast. No surprise it frequently tops the Apple Business Podcast Chart.”
Paul Hewerdine, Strategy Partner – Listen here

9. Secret Leaders

“This makes for a great listen if you find the act of starting, growing and running a successful business fascinating. Founders of extremely successful businesses, from Huel to Shazam, talk candidly about the challenges they faced.

It’s great because it cuts through the usual industry hype about funding rounds and valuations, instead giving a much more real-world view of what it is like to go from garage band to household name.”
Tom Ewing, Senior Strategist – Listen here

10. Yeah, that’s probably an ad

“I love the “Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad” podcast from AdWeek. It’s a relevant and topical way to stay up to speed on all things marketing, advertising, comms, and tech. Plus it’s funny and honest which helps remind us all why we’re in this business…because it’s fun! Wait, is this an ad?”
Jeff Matteuzzi, SVP Strategy US
– Listen here


[Header photo: Malte Wingen on Unsplash]

Stories from the frictionless future of payments (Vocalink)


[Header photo: Malte Wingen on Unsplash]

Business Beyond Limits – Vodafone Business

Stories from the frictionless future of payments (Vocalink)


[Header photo: Malte Wingen on Unsplash]

BONUS CONTENT: You might also enjoy some of the podcasts we’ve created for our clients – 

Business Beyond Limits – Vodafone Business

Stories from the frictionless future of payments (Vocalink)


[Header photo: Malte Wingen on Unsplash]