Ever wondered what that headphone wearer opposite you is grinning/gasping about? They’re probably enjoying a podcast. The London Podcast Festival aims to open up the world of podcasts with a series of live podcast shows, beginning on 22 September. Delve deep into etymology with the Allusionist, plumb the paranormal with Unexplained, or join a dutiful son as he confronts his father’s erotic literature in My Dad Wrote a Porno.
Here are three highlights from the festival which are accessible to the uninitiated but also worthy of a podcast addict’s subscription.
The Complete Guide to Everything
This podcast is a guide in the spirit of Douglas Adams, never missing an opportunity to meander off topic into conversational cul-de-sacs. It might contain more waffle than a Brussels bakery but it is all the more compelling for it. There is a genuineness in the conversations between New York based hosts Tim Daniels and Tom Reynolds — we get the impression the conversation would happen whether the microphone was there or not.
Listening to The Complete Guide reveals how podcasts act as DIY alternatives to the increasingly bombastic and formulaic approaches seen in mainstream entertainment. Host Tom Reynolds has launched a successful career as a science fiction writer off the back of The Complete Guide, which is no surprise because he and Tim are charming storytellers. If the intimacy of this podcast translates to the stage, the audience will be amused and even moved.
Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder
‘If you haven’t heard this story, ask yourself why…’ is the portentous tagline for Untold, which over ten gripping half hour episodes re-examines the unsolved axe-murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan in 1987. The Daniel Morgan story contains levels of corruption and conspiracy that equal any whodunnit. In the same mould as internet-breaking American podcast Serial, Untold is all the more addictive because of its real-life subject matter.
It’s a story of rotten rozzers and scuzzy hacks, offering a slice of the social history of London. Untold also has important things to say about the media, the police and the political establishment even today, and has received funding from actor Hugh Grant.
Hosted by screenwriter Peter Jukes, the production values are amped by atmospheric music and dramatic pacing. The audience will have the chance to question the conspiracies or deepen them in this live event. It’ll be an entertaining afternoon watching the armchair detectives.
Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder - a Discussion and Q&A with Peter Jukes (presenter and producer), 25 September 2016 4.30pm. Tickets £12.50/£9.50
The Moth supplies good old fashioned fireside yarns, which will no doubt be enhanced when heard live at Islington’s Union Chapel. Established in New York in 1997 to cultivate story telling in its purest form — a group of people and a great tale — The Moth now hosts live shows, radio shows, a podcast, and has published a best-selling book. At its heart are offbeat stories: the lonely programmer who becomes the most eligible bachelor in Los Angeles overnight by hacking OkCupid; the bereaved daughter finding solace in letters from a Folsom Prison inmate. Some are overly syrupy but their quick-fire delivery guarantees corkers that will stay with you.
The Moth is a fitting finale for the festival. Whilst podcasts come with new-media credentials, they are really about storytelling, which is something humans have been doing about as long as anything. No reason to stop now.
The Moth, Union Chapel, 26 September 7.30pm. Tickets £20
The London Podcast Festival runs from 22 – 26 September at Kings Place, see full listings.