Need a soundtrack while you sunbathe? A diversion while you drive? Welcome to the Herald's summer podcast guide.
Our highly unscientific compilation methodology involved an all-office email, random internet searches and many hours of listening.
We considered an A-Z but had far too many recommendations. We wondered about a round 100 but ran out of time. And a putative plan to do it by category was thwarted by concerns not everyone would find discussions about death particularly amusing.
In the end we settled for an alphabetical list of 56 international productions and another nine from New Zealand. We've chosen titles that launched or were still going strong at the end of 2019.
So whether you're into self-help, science, silliness or serial killers, there's (almost certainly) something for everyone.
You can stream many of these titles via iHeart.com . Others are available through alternative podcast players.
Against The Rules
Master storyteller Michael Lewis has had three books turned into movies, including Moneyball and The Big Short. Here, he looks at what's happened to fairness in US environments as diverse as financial markets, newsrooms and sport, with the connection being the concept of the referee, in its broadest sense.
Off-kilter and long-running UK comedy series hosted by Bob Mortimer and Andy Dawson. While its foundations are in football it quickly morphed into surreal sketches lampooning everything from local politicians and observational comedians to daytime TV hosts and true crime shows.
Brought To You By …
Formerly called Household Name, this Business Insider series from the US promises "surprising stories about how the biggest, household name brands affect our lives and culture". Earlier episodes covered names such as Starbucks, KFC and Crocs. One of the most recent is on the controversy caused by the overnight arrival of e-scooters to San Diego. Sound familiar?
The Ron Burgundy Podcast
There seems to be little drop-off in the love for Will Ferrell's Anchorman character. The schtick's intact in this series, which co-stars Carolina Barlow as foil and producer. Most episodes features guests, some of them famous. The interviews are predictably obtuse.
The first narrative podcast series from The New York Times followed Rukmini Callimachi to the front lines of the war against the Islamic State. She interviewed both militants and those affected by terrorism in a bid to understand the power and pull of extremism.
The Chernobyl Podcast
Companion piece to the wildly successful show about the 1986 nuclear power plant disaster. Series creator Craig Mazin discusses how and why the series was made while being transparent about where he strayed from absolute truth. That's noble but not altogether unexpected given the overarching theme of the TV show is the lies told by authorities.
Desert Island Discs
Dubbed the greatest radio programme ever by British experts, this BBC programme has featured more than 3000 "castaways" since it began in 1942. Each has to select eight recordings (usually music), a book and a luxury item that they would take to a desert island. Guests are not necessarily celebrities, although recent shows have featured Thom Yorke from Radiohead and actors Stephen Merchant and Stephen Graham. More than 2200 episodes are available.
Dolly Parton's America
The life and times of the country star described variously as "a quivering mass of irreconcilable contradictions", a "beautiful fountain of goodness" and someone whose cultural power is "second only to Walt Disney". It examines her place in, and what she says about, American culture. Highly recommended.
Three years in the making, this is the compelling story of the downfall of the woman once heralded as the next Steve Jobs. Elizabeth Holmes was a self-made billionaire whose company Theranos seemed poised to transform the world of medical blood testing. But after claims about the company's claims, magazine Forbes revised her net worth to zero dollars and she found herself facing criminal charges and up to 20 years in jail. The case is due to begin in July.
The reality of life inside prison shared by those living it, plus post-release stories from those on the outside. The focus is San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco, where the show is part-made in the prison's media lab and supported by the authorities. The stories can be confronting but are often funny and always honest. Co-host Earlonne Woods was an inmate when the series began in 2017.
Mainstream media is far from flawless, but when it gets it right, it's still a compelling force for good. The Daily Telegraph's 2009 coverage of the UK parliamentary expenses scandal prompting resignations and sackings of MPs who cheated the system. This six-part deep dive is cleverly broken down into the main players, the reporters, the politicians, the lawyers and more.
The Food Programme
The BBC Radio show has just celebrated its 40th anniversary and shows no sign of flagging. From celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver to the debate over food additives, the menu contains something for anyone interested in what and how we eat.
Each week, a figure from comedy plays one of their jokes and breaks it down with Jesse David Fox. Not unexpectedly, it's heavily focused on US names, many of them little known here, but Taika Waititi ("gentle and a bit goofy") gets the chance to discuss a scene from Thor: Ragnarok and talk about his humour. A must-listen if you're into the mechanics of why things are funny.
Comedian and actor Cariad Lloyd's dad died of pancreatic cancer when she was 15. It took her "many, many years" to express what she went through. In an attempt to tackle what's still a restrictively taboo subject in many countries and cultures, 0er show sees her discuss personal experiences of grief with a different comedian each episode. She promises it's "not that depressing".
Life, love and the pursuit of happiness discussed by Hannahs Hart and Gelb in this frank self-help show. This year's subjects have included hypnotherapy, burnout and the lessons we can learn from Frozen II.
The Happiness Lab
Concerned by the levels of depression and anxiety she was seeing in her students, Yale professor Laurie Santos decided to start a new class on the science of happiness. This series shares the insights she gleaned and inspiring stories to "forever alter the way you think about happiness". Sample revelation: Science shows positive thinking holds us back.
Have You Heard George's Podcast?
George the Poet dominated the British Podcast Awards in the middle of 2019, winning five gold awards, including podcast of the year. The Londoner's largely uncategorisable podcast is a revelatory mix of art, entertainment and current affairs. In his own words: "Throughout this podcast I've offered different ways of presenting black voices." He does it through poetry, music and drama that's both personal and political.
Most of us are dealing with a heavy weight, something that happened at some point in our lives that we've never really dealt with. That's the starting point for faux psychologist Jonathan Goldstein's attempts to resolve some grief-laden event holding at least one party back.
The High Low
Frightfully posh English duo Dolly Alderton and Pandora "Panda" Sykes dissect the pop culture and news events of the week in their indomitable style. It's a good time, but there's often serious substance behind the smiles.
The Hurricane Tapes
We've heard the Bob Dylan song, we've watched the Denzel Washington film. This
series attempts finally to solve the Rubin "Hurricane" Carter case. Carter was twice
convicted and reprieved of a triple murder at a bar in New Jersey. So who really did
it? Sports journalists Steve Crossman and Joel Hammer attempt to find out through
enthralling new interviews and diligent research.
Impeachment: A Daily Podcast
Donald Trump, you may have heard, is in a spot of bother. This, perhaps the definitive take on his latest travails, brings togethers reporters and newsmakers to discuss the latest developments, historical context and legal states with host Brian Lehrer in a snappy bulletin each weekday.
The Infinite Monkey Cage
Maybe the ultimate pop-science experience, with boffin Brian Cox, brainbox comedian Robin Ince and their accessible guests pontificating on subjects from sleep to sexism, dinosaurs to dreaming. It's tight, punchy and all very fun.
Inside the Big Day Out
Most Kiwi music fans in their 20s or beyond went to at least one Big Day Out before its collapse. This five-part series from Australia's Double J takes you inside the touring circus that began with a search to find a band to support the Violent Femmes. (They found one. You may have heard of them. They were called Nirvana.) Interviews with key players chart the rise, the backstage shenanigans and the perhaps inevitable fall.
Judge John Hodgman
Faux judge rules on trivial disputes brought to him by real-life people who agree to abide by his decision before their case is heard. Recent cases have included a wife embarrassed by her husband's 18-year-old email address and two friends who disagreed about whether Martin Crane can be considered a character in US sitcom Cheers.
The Ezra Klein show
The co-founder of US news site Vox has a big, restless brain. This series has multiple episodes a week and they're all about really important things like climate change and moral philosophy. He's great at explaining how our world is shaped by ideas such as how we create our emotions and how we think about misogyny. The interview with wonderful British writer John Higgs is particularly enjoyable.
Land of the Giants: The Rise of Amazon
The first series of Recode's investigation of the biggest tech giants looks at Amazon's transformation from online bookshop to world's most valuable company. Host Jason Del Rey investigates how much it knows about us, its impact on physical communities and whether it's got too powerful. Painstaking, fascinating and potentially troubling.
The Last Days of August
British journalist Jon Ronson returns to the world of porn he visited for 2017 podcast The Butterfly Effect with this affecting series on the life and suicide of young actor August Ames a day after she was accused of online homophobia. The social media pile-on phenomenon is something Ronson dealt with in his book So You've Been Publicly Shamed. He treats the subject with respect throughout.
The heist of Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is something like the holy grail of art crime. This is the full story of the theft of 13 pieces, including work by Rembrandt, Manet and Degas, worth US$500m.
Listen Up - The Oasis Podcast
Lairy and contrary, the Gallaghers are far from everyone's cup of tea. But they were, for a time, rather big and influential with no little cultural sway, at least in their native Britain. This four-part series was released to mark the 25th anniversary of Oasis' 1994 debut album, Definitely Maybe. It examines its making and what happened next. Maximum rock and roll assured.
Man In The Window
Pulitzer prize-winner Paige St John investigates The Golden State Killer, a masked criminal thought to have murdered 13 people and raped 50 women in California in the 1970s and 80s. In the wake of the 2018 arrest of Joseph DeAngelo for the crimes (he has yet to face trial), St John considers mistakes made during original casework and reports on how they allowed the offender's reign of terror to continue.
The Missing Cryptoqueen
Silk and diamond-clad Dr Ruja Ignatova persuaded millions of people to invest billions of dollars into a crypto-currency she said would be bigger, better and easier to use than Bitcoin. Then she disappeared. Writer and journalist Jamie Bartlett spent six months looking for her, visiting a marina in Bulgaria, slum in Uganda, factory in Germany and mansion in the Netherlands, with the search getting weirder than he ever thought possible.
The fascinating and little-known story of mob wife Anna Genovese who was a key player in New York's drag bar scene and dished the dirt on mafia kingpin husband Vito at a public hearing in 1953.
The Modern Mann
A former child soldier, a butler to the super-rich and Britain's most prolific private sperm donor. Just some of the true stories the Olly Mann-helmed magazine show has presented since its inception in 2015. It includes a frank sex advice segment and record of the month, as well as serious stuff done with integrity. The episode "What Nobody Tells You About Rape" won the best interview prize at the 2019 British Podcast Awards.
Not everyone's happy to settle for starting the day with a trough of coffee and impending sense of doom. In each of these bite-sized chunks, Ryan and Vivie discuss a different book and the motivational messages it contains.
The Mysterious Mr. Epstein
This six-part series about sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein premiered within two months of his death. With the extent and impact of his crimes still emerging it's a raw listen. But hosted by Lindsay Graham (American Scandal), it's the definitive "story so far", uncovering significant new information about how Epstein got rich, and his financial as well as sexual offending.
Wildly popular, the fantastically named Roman Mars' 300-episode series examines the process and power of design and architecture and how they affect our lives, without us realising. Subjects this year have included Barcelona's La Sagrada Familia, the growth of bees as livestock and how libraries manage their stock.
Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations
Self-help nirvana from the queen, Oprah Winfrey, who's personally selected her interviews with best-selling authors, spiritual luminaries and wellness experts. It is, they say, "designed to light you up, guide you through life's big questions and help bring you one step closer to your best self". Think Eckhart Tolle, Malcolm Gladwell and, err, Bo Derek.
Over My Dead Body
Anthology true crime title that published two series last year. The first, Tally, is about two good-looking attorneys whose perfect marriage fell apart. A bad breakup and worse divorce were followed, perhaps not unpredictably, by murder. The second, Joe Exotic, is about a man who has devoted his life to breeding big cats and other creatures at his Oklahoma zoo. Unfortunately his feud with the owner of a big cat sanctuary in Florida got out of hand.
The Reith Lectures
Each year a significant international thinker delivers the BBC's flagship annual lecture series. In 2019 distinguished historian and former UK Supreme Court judge Jonathan Sumption argued that the law is taking over the space once occupied by politics. His brilliant expositions teach you the basics of the legal system and stretch you to think about its evolution as society's expectations change.
Malcolm Gladwell begins each episode with an inquiry about an object, concept or person and questions received wisdom about the subject. Example: McDonald's decision to stop frying fries in beef tallow and the link between saturated fats and heart disease. 2019's fourth series tackled issues such as higher education and whether you should talk to someone whose views you find appalling.
Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith
The comedian and actor is joined by chums Bridget Everett, Rachel Feinstein, and Keith Robinson for an occasionally potty-mouthed dissection of their lives, politics, pop culture and whatever else flits through their minds. They're described in the blurb as "morally bankrupt". It's broad and sassy and like eavesdropping on good friends at the adjacent table in a bar.
The Shrink Next Door
Veteran journalist Joe Nocera returned to his summer house one year to discover his neighbour, Isaac Herschkopf - a therapist to celebrities and New York's elite - had gone. Ike had never owned the place: it belonged to a patient who says Herschkopf manipulated him for personal gain. A scarcely believable true story.
In August 1619, the ship White Lion carrying more than 20 enslaved Africans arrived in the English colony of Virginia. At that point America was not yet America. The incident provides the springboard for a series of related stories that investigate why no aspect of the resulting country has been untouched by the two and a half centuries of slavery that followed. Part of a wider project for The New York Times.
This acclaimed series features musicians explaining the story behind their songs and how they were made. Wildly successful (well over 50 million streams and downloads since 2014), guests have included Lorde, Metallica, REM and Iggy Pop. The latest swag of episodes have included Slipknot, Bon Iver and, on Christmas Day, Vampire Weekend.
Stay Free: The Story of the Clash
Polished and reverential eight-part take on the band who quickly shed their punk beginnings in London to secure critical and commercial success around the world while remaining true to their political roots. Public Enemy's Chuck D is the narrator and says his band and the Clash tackled similar issues.
The Sun King
A properly heavyweight, David Dimbleby-hosted six-parter about how Rupert
Murdoch became a media mogul. With new interviews and fascinating detail about
this most polarising of press barons.
That Classical Podcast
Funny and informative, this series makes classical and orchestral music accessible and entertaining to all. Made by three twentysomethings, including one from Oz, it's peppered with historical facts that prove truth is stranger than fiction, and some damn good tunes.
13 Minutes to the Moon
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin we know about. This BBC production is the full story of the entire team who made the first moon landing happen in July 1969. It's fair to say the final stages - particularly the titular period immediately before touchdown - weren't all that smooth. Compelling new interviews breathe life in a story never fully told before.
30 For 30: The Sterling Affairs
ESPN's documentary strand had been running for almost a decade when it expanded into podcasts in 2017. This 2019 five-part series was about Donald Sterling, who bought the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team for US$12.5m in 1981 and sold them for US $2 billion in 2014 after recordings of dreadful comments about black players became public.
"History like you've never heard it before." A bold pitch from a series that promises to explain how stories from the past helped shaped the world today. Topics include how conspiracy theories helped shape the US, Nazi efforts to build a nuclear reactor and, um, zombies.
Unravel Season Four: Snowball
In each season a different Australian journalist investigates a different unsolved crime. The fourth sees New Zealand-born Ollie Wards chronicle how his brother's whirlwind romance with a charismatic Californian conwoman ultimately cost his family a million dollars. The series follows Ollie from suburban NZ on an international investigation spanning Hawaii, the UK and mainland US.
A Very Fatal Murder
Super-ripe for send-up, the true crime genre gets the parody treatment from satirical news organisation The Onion. In the first season, fictional New York reporter David Pascall travels to small-town Nebraska to investigate the murder of popular 17-year-old Hayley Price. Its well-observed execution pricks the self-importance of many examples of the genre.
Aussie celebrants Ange Anderson and Georgina Prior share everything you need to know to make your dream wedding a reality. From how to choose a photographer to whether you should send the DJ an exhaustive list of requests.
Why Won't You Date Me?
The apparently perma-single Nicole Byer and her guests explore why she's unattached, while discussing topics related to love, life and sex. In most episodes, the guest critiques Byer's online dating profiles before discussing whether they would date her - and why. Frank and fruity.
You Must Remember This: Six Degrees of Song of the South
More than 150 episodes in, Karina Longworth's passion project about the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood's first century is rooted in multi-part stories. The latest is a six-part examination of the most controversial film in Disney's history, an animation/live-action hybrid set on a post-Civil War plantation that contains portrayals of African-Americans deemed racist and offensive. Despite Disney theme park ride Splash Mountain being based on the film, it's not been officially available for more than three decades.
You're Dead to Me
Made by Greg Jenner, "chief nerd" on irreverent BBC TV kids' show Horrible Histories, this is a history podcast for grown-ups "who don't like history". Jenner brings together historians and comedians to make his subject interesting and hilarious. Subjects include The Spartans and Blackbeard.
The official podcast of The Alternative Commentary Collective. Very silly and quite rude.
Bang: Real stories told by real people. RNZ's frank and entertaining exploration of sex and relationships.
Black Sheep: William Ray showcases shady, controversial and sometimes villainous characters from Kiwi history.
Cooking the Books: Herald and ZB journalist Frances Cook tackles a different money problem each week.
Elemental: Chemistry professor Allan Blackman and Alison Balance take a journey through the periodic table.
Erebus Flight 901 - Litany of Lies?: Garry McAlpine and John Kerr investigate the truth behind New Zealand worst aviation disaster.
Just Listen: Seven-part series exploring how to support a person in serious and ongoing mental distress.
Nanogirl's Great Science Adventures: The ever-popular Michelle Dickinson's subjects in this kids' series include "Is All Bacteria Bad" and "How High Can Birds Fly?"
Trip Notes: Favourite destinations, tips for being a better traveller and much more from the Herald's travel team and guests.