When I was a young kid, I often had pretty extreme night terrors. There were evil elves who scratched at my bedroom window, a monster whispering and giggling from the closet and a whole host of shadow people who stood motionless at the end of my bed (because shadow people have a lot of free time and a lot less imagination it seems).
The way I got over these projections from my overactive childhood imagination was to take a small battery powered AM/FM radio to bed with me. Underneath the covers listening to old radio dramas and late night call-in shows, I was safe from the darkness.
And thus started my lifelong love affair with audio media.
For me, nothing beats listening to a great podcast on a long drive, walk or train journey.
Hell, I’ve purchased large Bluetooth speakers just so the folks who live above me can enjoy listening to podcasts into the early hours vibrating through the floorboards.
I hope they enjoy it more than they did my music…
Or my flute…
Needless to say, these are my favorite audio channels and they’re a mixed-up bunch, as am I. They may not be to everyone’s taste, again, like me. But I think they’re all truly great.
So here we go and in no particular order…
1. The Blood Brothers Crime Writing Podcast
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I am bias. Bias as hell. Let’s get that out of the way first.
Sean, Rob and Chris are all good mates of mine. I was also lucky enough to be on the show.
But I’ve been an avid listener since day one. They always ask the best questions, get the best mix of crime authors on, but for me, the best thing about this show is that it’s extremely informative and helpful whilst also being funny as hell. Rob Parker’s maniacal laugh is worth listening in for alone.
2. Unsolved Mysteries Podcast
Yep, the show that scared the shit out of you as a kid is now a podcast. Carrying on the dark and creepy tradition of the visual predecessor it’s a Must Listen for any crime/mystery fan. Still as awesome and as addictive as it ever was.
3. Russell Brands YouTube Channel and Podcast Under the Skin
I’ve got to be honest, this Essex guy used to annoy the hell out of me when he was just starting out, making cameo appearances in movies etc. But he is now, without a doubt, one of the wisest, open-minded, free-thinking individuals in media today. He’s asking the questions that need to be asked now more than ever and having a laugh while doing it.
4. NCS The Northern Crime Syndicate Podcast
Not from up North myself, though I like to think of myself as an honorary Northerner, because of that fifteen months I lived in Chester. Beautiful city and beautiful people.
This is another Must Listen for any Crime Lit fan or writer. Hosted by a range of extremely talented and extremely cool authors, you’ll try to scramble for an excuse to call yourself an honorary Northerner too.
5. The Truly Criminal Podcast
I’ve talked about this show before at Punk Noir Magazine. Love it. Highly researched and highly disturbing forays into modern true crime cases from around the world. The two creators deserve applause and credit for what they’ve managed to do in such a short space of time. Just make sure you free up your day because you’ll find yourself disappearing down rabbit holes and binging.
6. Strawberry Spring by Stephen King Podcast
A short story by Stephen King adapted in audio for your listening pleasure, you say? And it’s free?!
I don’t think I need to say anything more, except I listened to this whole series on a very long plane ride and loved every single minute of it.
7. Joey B vs. the World
Just one man ripping the piss out of our current narcissistic, self-obsessed, superficial culture. For the highly cynical people (like me). Not for the easily offended though.
8. The Misery Tourism YouTube Channel
A talented group of writers and editors workshopping prose and poetry together. Anyone can join. The feedback is awesome as are all involved. Go check them out!
9. MotivediaBoxing/Boxing Social/IFL TV
Not sure if anyone’s interested in boxing here, but I am, so these three make the list. Some of the best commentary, interviews and documentaries you’ll find for free anywhere. If you love boxing you’re probably already subscribed, I reckon.
10. Sammy (the Bull) Gravano’s and Michael Franzese’s YouTube Channels
Nah, I’m not going to do any Godfather quotes, I promise…
Who would have thought twenty or thirty years ago that two of the Mafia’s most instrumental and dangerous mobsters would have their own shows where they talk candidly about all the shit we could only ever read about in books before. Great for research and dialogue, if you’re a crime writer like me. Fascinating stuff if you’re interested in American History and the Mob.
11. Waxing Poetic with Scott Cumming
Talented up and Cumming poet Scott (sorry not sorry for the bad pun, Scott) performs readings of his favorite literature pieces in a relaxing Scotch accent and ever-changing all natural Scottish backgrounds.
12. Cold Case Detective YouTube Channel
Another absolute belter of a YouTube Channel for any avid follower of True Crime. The sad part being these are all still unsolved cases. The respectful, yet entertaining delivery will have you questioning the cases and playing at armchair detective before you know it.
13. The Armored Podcast
Did you dig the Mann, Pacino, DeNiro movie Heat? What am I talking about?! Of course you did.
The Armored Podcast is like the movies The Town and Heat rolled into one great non-fiction listening experience.
This podcast is another must-listen for anyone who is writing books about thieves, robbers, and heist men who don’t have any hands-on experience but want to write like they do.
14. Dark Softly Tales With Mav Skye Podcast
Been a fan of this podcast since I first found out about it. Spooky, chilling and ghostly tales all read by the beautifully and silky voiced, as well as talented writer Mav Skye.
15. The Vanished Podcast
Not heartwarming, comfortable or happy listening by a very long-shot but compelling as much as it is heartbreaking. These are the stories of people who have seemingly disappeared without a trace. It happens everyday. Shocking and sad stuff.
That’s it, folks. Those were my Top Podcasts and YouTube Channels of 2021.
I hope I could turn you on to some good audio for pleasure, entertainment or writing research.
All the best,
Stephen J. Golds