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The Best of Bristol’s student podcasts

2020 was the year of podcasting. Alice Lang examines the best student podcasts that Bristol has to offer.

By Alice Lang, Second Year Philosophy

As many Bristol students can attest, the walk up Whiteladies Road, or a solitary wait in line at the Clifton Down Sainsbury’s, never quite feels the same without some animated chatter in your ears. It’s hard to say for most of us that podcasts haven’t become an unmissable step in our current routines, caused by the consequential union between a fleeting student lifestyle, and a halt to communality brought by a global pandemic.

As we, the most curious demographic, are concerned, 2020 was undoubtably become the year for podcasting. If it’s connectivity and intimacy that makes them so attractive, then under no question can the best shows be found closer to home.

Maddy Baskerville and Anusha Vasudeva | Epigram / Let's Deep It

A whole batch of Bristol’s own have taken to the microphone, giving discussions on everything from the best music to budding entrepreneurship. Many of the creators last year had the indispensable help of Burst Radio, Bristol’s seasoned student Radio station. As is anticipated, they had to move online to continue production, forming a cottage industry by means of Zoom and Instagram Live.

As happened to 3rd year students Maddy and Anusha, co-hosts of Let’s Deep It where together they go deep on things like Social Media, Macho-Masculinity and Veganism, honouring podcast crusaders Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes with their blend of high and low brow topics. This was an art the pair had already mastered before approaching the radio station, having spent most of the early hours of first year staying up to really get deep and existential about the topics that mattered to them.

Along a similar vein, Alex and Sophie, authors of the justly named Alex and Sophie’s Podcast, see the importance of candid chats and connecting with listeners, ‘we try and offer some words of comfort, solace and maybe unsolicited advice,’ Alex said, ‘while we chat to our listeners as if they were sat there with us talking over a glass of wine’. Covering universal problems, from Uni applications to dating and budgeting, there’s a candidness that comes with creating media through the microphone – there’s no filter, meaning creators and audiences can finally relate to one another on much deeper levels.

Epigram / Alex and Sophie's Podcast

Looking back on my conversations with the hosts, there’s no doubt that this is the medium made for students. There is an alliance between the rumination the of podcast engagement, and deep-seated thinking brought about by degree-level academia.

Maddy commented, ‘With more engagement with literature and critical thinking at Uni, you get a more solidified viewpoint on things in the wider world’.

Evident from their title, theatre students Tom and Jasper use their platform to bask in their love for all music in their show Music is our Lives. During the first lockdown they saw potential in Instagram’s Live feature, being able to talk face to face from their respective isolations, with an audience, replicating the same organic feel as live radio.

Each week they cover two albums, one old and one new, going from things like Bob Dylan to Sports Team. For Tom, making these links, exploring other people’s music loves and animosities is the key to really getting to know them.

Epigram / Tom Wiles and Jasper Price

While some utilize the medium to share their innermost monologues, others use it to celebrate and bolster work from other students and lesser-known creatives.

Ines’ Happy Hour, for example, pays sophisticated homage to new and underrated musicians who may not otherwise get the airtime. With everything from House to French Afro-beats, she narrates the ethos of all the featured artists between songs with earnest passion, ‘it almost feels like a gift being able to do it. This personal relationship with the host and the listeners… you feel like you’re part of the conversation’.

With this spirit, she urges student listeners to send in their own music so it  can reach a wider audience, pushing further in her mission of defeating the brutality of the music industry.

Her Campus Bristol contributor Dulcie frames Her Podcast around the best articles to grace Her Campus, covering campus events for Black History Month and incisive conversations on faith and feminism, ‘There's so much going on in Bristol and on campus, the stuff people manage to do and create is amazing; I wanted to shed a light on at least some of it (in audio form)’.

There’s no doubt that more gracious coverage is given to future demonstrations of activism, sure to take place among students this year.

Taking a similar strike with Making it Big, masters students Maya and Harry channel their intentions for future entrepreneurship with a show that interviews young and student entrepreneurs from all across the world, mustering their advice, stories and recommended tools to prepare both themselves and their listeners for a life post-uni. It came from inspiration of conversations they were already having, and realisation that similar content from larger organisations wasn’t much useful for young people trying to enter the job market.

It’s a paradigm for togetherness and curiosity, two things we’re undoubtably craving given the uneasy and hostile state of things. ‘Our generation of students want to have and respect those honest, insightful conversations’ weighed Maya, ‘It’s a form of education’.

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Burst station manager Cissy relished on the importance of shows like these during lockdown, ‘I think they have recognised what a difference they could make to students during the pandemic and are doing everything they can to live up to that’.

Podcasting, it seems, is a viable lifeline everyone right now, acting as a channel for companionship, exploration, or simply a distraction from everything else.

Have you listened to any of these podcasts?

Featured Image: Epigram / Let's Deep It