Listenlog: S-Town, Brexitcast, how to fail, polarised, the drop out

S-Town aka Shit Town

Wow. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. From the team behind Serial this podcast series is a portrait of a small town in the American deep south, a story of how family is complicated and most of all the tale of an extraordinary, eccentric, passionate man with mental health challenges.

I can’t recommend this highly enough. It is beautifully and sensitively produced as it touches some very delicate and personal matters which I won’t expand on to avoid spoilers.

There has been some debate around the morality and ethics of this podcast. I think such debates are important to have, but on listening to the whole series the producers have shown themselves to be considerate and careful. I won’t say more to avoid spoilers but after listening do have a read around the debate on the ethics of producing such series which involve vulnerable people.

BBC Brexitcast

Top BBC reporters like Laura Kuenssberg, Katya Adler, Adam Fleming and Chris Mason get together late at night to review another day of Brexit developments. They are tired, punch drunk from the relentless events of the day, and full of insider insight. Don’t expect a tightly edited listen of perfection, do expect laughs and hot off the press views. I’ve found it essential listening.

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

One of the most interesting conference panels I ever participated in was at EuroCities in Nantes. A number of city Leaders and Mayors, including me, had been briefed to talk about youth participation. Naturally we all were ready to talk about our success stories. When we sat down the moderator asked us to talk about our greatest failures in boosting youth participation. It turned into a fascinating and insightful session, far better than if we had just trotted out our polished success stories.

So when I stumbled across a podcast series on learning from failure I had to give it a short. There’s a huge archive of episodes. So far I can highly recommend the interviews with Alistair Campbell and Gina Miller.

RSA Polarised

I’m a Fellow of the RSA and have collaborated with Matthew Taylor before, so perhaps I’m naturally inclined to like Polarised. Still it’s a skilfully produced series hosted by Matthew and Ian Leslie that tackles an issue of our time – the growing polarisation of our society and how to address it. A thoughtful dose of brain food.

ABC The Drop Out

The story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos has become infamous – how she portrayed herself as the next Steve Jobs, with a world-changing medical technology startup. The reality was one of bullying, fraud and patients being put at risk. This fascinating podcast goes right inside the story with fascinating interviews of those who were inside Theranos at key moments in the story.

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