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The age of visual media is full of distractions. YouTube and Netflix steal copious amounts of our time and focus. While an opportunity to switch off or even to engage in documentary-style content is tempting, it also takes up a lot of our focus that we could be giving to more tactile or practical activities.

However, sometimes you can tire of listening to music during the rare times when you aren’t stuck to a screen or in traffic and you also want to be learning about the world around you. If you haven’t listened to a podcast since the early days of talk-show radio style shows, you’re in for a treat. Podcasts have seen a surge in production quality over the last ten years and now various journalists are teaming up with experts to produce something that feels almost like an audio collage. If you don’t know where to start, consider putting on one of the following next time you go for a walk or have to do the dishes.

1. The Rabbit Hole

Produced by the New York Times, columnist Kevin Roose explores how the internet is polarising us starting out with the macro-level story of one man’s YouTube viewing history as his views became more and more radically right-wing. The story then zooms out as Roose speaks to AI developers, fellow journalists and the CEO of YouTube and even the ultra-famous internet personality Pewdiepie. A fascinating podcast about some of the most relevant issues of our time, it’s well worth the listen.

2. 99% Invisible 

Hosted by Roman Mars (who has one of the most soothing voices in podcasting), 99% Invisible uses the subject matters of design, architecture, and urban planning to uncover fascinating stories about how our lives and politics are influenced by and then influence the built environment. Speaking to experts on a range of topics from the history of playgrounds to how a hand-painted postage stamp uncovered a long-forgotten historical event, these stories are bound to amaze and inspire.

3. The Daily 

Another New York Times produced podcast; Michael Barbaro brings stories about the top global news events every day. He’s covered the recent trial of Derek Chavin, how low-rent sites can hold a person’s reputation ransom due to legal loopholes, and the story of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Each half an hour episode keeps you up to date with global news in a professionally produced, innovative manner.

4. Serial

One of the best podcasts of all time and as good as what offers, investigative journalist Sarah Koenig brings you some of the most morally complex stories of our era. This multiple-award-winning show reinvented what a podcast could be and how much import one could hold. Her stories typically follow real-life courtroom dramas and explore the questionable morality of the American justice system.

If you’re looking for a way to stay in touch with the world and liven up the hours you go to sleep or devote to the more boring, admin-focussed chores of daily life, tune in to one of these unbelievable shows for an eye, or should I say ear, opening experience.

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