Michaelmas podcast picks: From Kathy Burke to Delta Work
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Wake (Sony Music Entertainment)
There’s something so comforting about Kathy Burke’s gruff, interrogative voice as she talks about death. Other podcasts might ask their guests about their favourite foods or their deserted island music must-haves. Kathy, meanwhile, dives deep into mortality by asking guests about their dream death, from the funeral to the wake to the publication they want their obituary in. Each segment is announced by a hauntingly overzealous choir that provides a strange sense of calm as the guest moves through each stage of their inevitable demise. Comedy legend Burke is there the whole time, taking on the role of a caring grim reaper making sure all the infernal arrangements are in order. The subject is, unsurprisingly, fairly untrodden ground in the world of podcasting, but that only makes Kathy’s successful navigation of it all the more endearing.
The perennial problem with getting many people to engage with poetry beyond the requirements of GCSE English Literature is its perceived inaccessibility. For a long time poetry has been considered the art form of the rich and well-educated, seemingly the only people who can afford to care about caesura and Petrarchan sonnets. The only way to shift those assumptions is to present poets and their work in an accessible manner, and comedian Frank Skinner does just that on his podcast which does exactly what it says on the tin. Taking two or three of his favourite poems by a particular poet each episode, he dives deep into personal interpretations and biographical information without veering into unfamiliar territory for the average listener. He discusses high-level poetry in practical, engaging terms that take it out of its drab classroom manifestations and push the listener to think about their own life in a poetic sense. From early modern court favourites to present-day poet laureates, Skinner covers all manner of poetry and you’re sure to find something to enjoy from his personal selections.
It’s almost scary how skilled Brittany Broski is at capturing the Gen Z mindset when it comes to her content. The TikTok star, originally known as ‘Kombucha Girl’ for the meme that started her career, has constructed such a watertight niche for herself that she spends an hour every week talking about whatever’s on her mind and hundreds of thousands of listeners tune in. The concept of the podcast is that Brittany, as Supreme Leader of Broski Nation, is speaking directly to her adoring subjects to inform them of recent developments in her mind palace. These can be anything from a new fanfiction obsession to the deep void of TikTok ASMR. The Broski Report still has space for intelligent discussion when it stumbles across it though. A viral clip from one episode shows her anger at women being forced to give birth in the wake of Roe v. Wade being struck down and her frustration with men who refuse to empathise. As a listening experience it’s a wild ride, veering in many unexpected directions over the course of a single episode, but it’s clear that Brittany’s audience loves nothing more than hearing their Supreme Leader in her echo chamber.
There are many excellent historical podcasts on the market, often fronted by prominent academics and popular historians, but you don’t have to have a PhD to be able to tell a historical narrative well. Comedian Angela Barnes, best known for her appearances on Mock the Week, and author John O’Farrell, previously the lead writer on Spitting Image and Have I Got News for You, come together to explore all manner of interesting historical stories. Though they are not academics, their research often stems from books authored by academics and their enthusiasm for the subject more than makes up for any lack of ‘professional’ historical training. They take particular interest in British political history, with O’Farrell, a former Labour campaigner and parliamentary candidate, demonstrating his expertise and lived experience. Compared to other history podcasts it’s more relaxed and jovial, with Angela’s comedy chops being served up regularly on a gold platter. If you enjoy history but don’t want the chance of one of your Oxford tutors popping up to give their academic opinion, this is the podcast for you.
Are you a lady like Delta Work? On her weekly “luxury public access podcast” the Emmy-winning Drag Race star enthrals listeners with stories of bad customer service experiences and gives her expert opinion on how to fix these problems. She also interviews a wide range of guests, from LA nightlife icons to queer music royalty, and together they answer listener questions and give advice in the segment ‘Read Me Delta!’. Very Delta is a great way to sit back, relax and not care about the big issues for an hour. There might be bigger fish to fry in the world, but here Delta fries the small fish. In fact, she recently won multipleawards for her fish-frying in the Los Angeles Times’ Best of the Southland Awards. Why not give it a taste? It’s an exciting time to tune in, because this month Very Delta transforms into Very Scary Delta, with different Halloween costumes and spooky iconography on display each week. This podcast is all treats, no tricks.
Surprise, if you hadn’t already seen our calls for hosts and editors or the numerous times we mentioned it before! After several terms of plans going unfulfilled, we’re proud to say that The Oxford Student is officially starting its own podcast. With a little help from our friends at Oxide Radio, where our episodes will be recorded, the OxStu will be bringing you regular term-time content to enjoy, from commentary on the latest Oxford news to recommendations for local entertainment. Our three hosts will feature regularly on the podcast but we want to engage with the Oxford student community more broadly as well. If you have any requests for content to cover or an idea for a segment you want to feature in, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope that you’ll tune in soon!