Game of Thrones fan or WWE buff, there's a podcast just for you: Here are our top-five picks

Deven Kanal

Dec,09 2017 15:28:08 IST

Do you love to read but find that you just don't have the time? You're not alone. Between commuting to work, exercising, meeting friends for movies and dinner, playing with your four-legged friends, Facebooking, tweeting, Tinder-ing, Grindr-ing, and just plain lazing around, there simply aren't enough hours in a day to devote to the gentlemanly (or gentlewomanly) pursuit of reading.

But never fear. We at Firstpost have just the ticket: Podcasts. Or as we prefer to call it, reading with your ears. Before you get the urge to roll your eyes and shake your fists at us youth and our newfangled contraptions, hear us out (pun very much intended). Podcasting is simply the best—not to mention the sneakiest way—to get in all the goodness of reading without straining your eyes. It fits all sizes: If you happen to be taking the train to work—as so many of us do—it also helps block out the sights and smells.

If you're lucky enough to drive to work, why spend your time raging about the fools who populate the roads of your metropolis when you can be distracted by a voice that can soothe all your worries (just don't take your eyes off the road, okay?)? If you're at work or—god forbid—attending a meeting, a Bluetooth piece in your ear gives you the look of an employee very much on the go. And even better, if you're the sort who prefers to keep to yourself and avoid as much human contact as possible, nothing keeps conversationalists at bay like a vacant expression and two little earbuds sticking out of one's head.

Your next question: How do I get started? Ask and ye shall receive: There are a whole host of free podcast apps and, even better, thousands of free podcasts to choose from. My favourite podcast app is Podcast Republic. It's easy to install, the interface is clean and downloading is as easy as pie.

But where do I start, you wonder? Well, it depends on your interests. Go Podcast Republic's top charts and sort shows by category: Arts, Business, Comedy, Education, Games, Hobby, Health, Music... and select the ones that catch your fancy. But to make things easy for you first-timers, we're listing five shows you simply must give a listen to from a variety of categories.

A Storm of Spoilers

Storm of Spoilers. Image from Facebook/@StormofSpoilers

Storm of Spoilers is the pop culture nerd's dream come true. Image from Facebook/@StormofSpoilers

A podcast that began with discussing the cultural juggernaut that is Game of Thrones evolved into covering everything pop culture related: From Stranger Things to the greatest superhero and supervillian performances in history. Rick and Morty, Blade Runner, the Marvel universe, Stephen King, The Defenders, this podcast has it all

Starring Vanity Fair's Joanna Robinson, Film School Rejects's Neil Miller and Thrillist.com's David Gonzalez, these three amigos do such a deep dive into their subjects that their episodes have to be split into two sections: The Calm (where no spoilers are discussed) and The Storm (where nothing is sacred). The great thing about this podcast is that it seems very much like three people who have a genuine love and fascination for their subjects and who actually like each other. This, combined with their witty banter and extremely easy-on-the-ears voices, will have you refreshing your podcast feed on a loop, waiting for a new episode to drop.

The best part of this podcast is when the exceedingly well-informed hosts tantalisingly pull back the curtain, taking you behind the scenes of these epic shows and pop culture events in a way that's never been done before. Also, a delightful icing on the cake: Host Joanna Robinson's adorably terrible accents will have you weeping with joy. A Storm of Spoilers is a pop culture nerd's dream come true.

The History of Rome

The History of Rome. Image from Facebook/@thehistoryofrome

The History of Rome keeps even those who are not avid history lovers captivated. Image from Facebook/@thehistoryofrome

If you're an Italophile or simply a history buff, this is the podcast for you. Mike Duncan's 179-part series, which ran from 2007 to 2012, encompassed the rise and fall of the greatest empire that ever existed. Literally.

It begins with the founding of Rome (the famed story of Romulus and Remus, twins who were said to be raised by wolves) and ends with the destruction of the Republic. And in between, it profiles some of the most fascinating figures to grace the pages of history: Gaius Julius Caesar, King Pyrrhus of  Epirus, Gaius Marius and his rivalry with Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Hannibal of Carthage and his lifelong quest to destroy Rome, and of course, Caligula.

Duncan breaks down the myths, explaining how they likely took hold and what actually occurred.  Each episode is deliciously bite-sized, only 15 or 20-minutes-long so that the listener is never overwhelmed by detail. Duncan's excitement, knowledge and reverence for Italy and the Roman Empire shine through. Even those who went through school and college without an affinity for history will find themselves utterly captivated.

How Did This Get Made?

Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas of How Did It Get Made? Image from Facebook/@HDTGM

Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas' banter makes How Did It Get Made? hilarious. Image from Facebook/@HDTGM

Do you love movies? Did you ever go to a movie and found it so bad, that you wondered: How did this get made?  Well that's the premise behind this extremely amusing podcast, which looks at the worst movies in history, from The Wicker Man to Superman 3.

No matter how terrible the move, or how atrocious the acting—Nicolas Cage and his movies find repeated mentions—the hosts Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas always find something to laugh about (although one distinctly gets the feeling that sometimes they're laughing so that they don't burst into tears).

The best episodes are often the ones that are taped in front of live audiences in theaters and auditoriums around America. The hosts bring in special guest stars, interact with the audience, feed off their energy, get their opinions on the movies, as well as the best tag lines they can think of.  A warning though: Some of the jokes are extremely off-colour and the language isn't exactly family-friendly. But that's all part of the charm.

Something to Wrestle With Bruce Prichard

Bruce Prichard's Something to Wrestle with. Image from Twitter/@PrichardShow

Something to Wrestle With Bruce Prichard gives the listener an inside look into WWE. Image from Twitter/@PrichardShow

Growing up, my friends and I loved WWE. Some of the earliest and happiest moments of my life were wrestling-related. And when I exited my teens, as most teens do, I put childish things away. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered this gem of a podcast which goes back and looks at "The Attitude Era", the greatest glory period in the history of wrestling.

Hosted by longtime WWE insider Bruce Prichard, who served as the right-hand man of Vince McMahon himself, this podcast sets itself apart from all the other wrestling podcasts in the WWE Universe world through three short words: I was there. 

Prichard takes people behind the curtain, explaining the trials and tribulations of being a booker (the ones who come up with the matches and the story lines), dealing with talent, talks about his dealings with legends such as The Rock, Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker and tells the craziest stories from life on the road, many of which revolve around his boss Vince McMahon (who might actually be a crazy person).

While Prichard is often derided as a conman who tows the company line, you get the feeling that he's being as honest as he can possibly be (without burning bridges) and does the entire thing with a twinkle in the eye and a refreshing 'I know I'm full of it and I don't care' attitude that's just this side of charming.

What Really Happened?

Andrew Jen's What Really Happened. Image from Facebook/@AndrewJenksOfficial

Andrew Jenks's What Really Happened. Image from Facebook/@AndrewJenksOfficial

Did you read the story about Muhammad Ali saving a Vietnam War veteran from committing suicide? Remember the time when Britney Spears had a mental breakdown and shaved her head? How Michael Jordan retired from basketball at the peak of his career and took up baseball to honour the memory of his dead father? Or the stories of Winston Churchill overcoming depression to fight off the Nazis and help save the world through the magnificence of his oratory? Many of us are familiar with these stories, if only in passing. But how closely have we really looked at them?

Produced by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's Seven Bucks Productions’, What Really Happened? sees documentarian Andrew Jenks take a magnifying glass to these stories, pick at their seams and pull at their threads. For example, did you know that the Muhammad Ali story that was so widely circulated and which pops up without fail in newspapers and magazines almost every year on the Great One's birthday, was first reported in a trashy tabloid? Did you know that Churchill's wife was far more depressed than he ever was? That she helped him write and edit his speeches? That he sought her approval after almost every speaking engagement? Or that Britney Spears doesn't even have access to her own bank accounts? I certainly didn't.

To be clear, Jenks isn't out to debunk or cry wolf, he's simply out to offer a different point of view or recontextualise what you thought you knew. To make you ask yourself, do I know what really happened?

Updated Date: Dec 09, 2017 15:38 PM