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Quick hits

The Small Print

12:15pm Container ship karaoke Being stuck on a ship at sea for months on end, surrounded by a bunch of karaoke enthusiasts, sounds like a special version of hell! But karaoke is helping to fight homesickness and loneliness among crew members on the giant container ships crossing the world with most of the stuff we eat, use and wear. Access to these super-sized, heavily automated, vessels is tightly restricted: so it's a hidden world we hardly ever get to hear about. But 'Container Ship Karaoke' from the BBC gets us onto one, and takes great pleasure in all the noises and sounds you'll encounter there (including one memorable sequence when the whole 400 metre long ship turns into a giant musical instrument!). Presenter Nathaniel Mann's a musician and a member of the English folk band Dead Rat Orchestra: he grew up near a big container port in south-east England. And 'Container Ship Karaoke' is produced by Sara Jane Hall for BBC Radio 3 (discovered on the BBC's Between The Ears podcast).

12:25pm David Walliams' Marvellous Musical Podcast His children's books have sold more than 25 million copies. And as well as being a writer, he's an actor, comedian, talent show judge, and a long-distance swimmer- so is there anything that David Walliams can't do?! Well now he can add 'podcaster' to his CV too with 'David Walliams' Marvellous Musical Podcast' from Classic FM. We play an episode about Mozart who as well as being a musical genius and child prodigy, was apparently also a bit of a weirdo with a fondness for fart jokes!  

12:35pm Walking, no talking It all began as a bit of a joke. The writer and journalist Jon Mooalem started recording the walks he took near his home on a wooded island in the north western US. And all you'll hear on his podcast 'Walking' is the sound of his footsteps, him breathing, perhaps a distant hello when he meets someone out on the trail, and a short ad or two recorded out in the field: otherwise there's no talk at all. It's a slice of Slow Audio, an anti-podcast, the opposite of some of those crafted, tightly edited, highly produced, heavily scripted shows you'll hear. Then the influential podcast industry commentator Nicholas Quah wrote a review, more listeners discovered the show as a result, and people started looking for the meaning of what Jon was doing. Was it some kind of mindfulness tool? An antidote to the Great Busy-ness engulfing us every day? Or with Jon's interest in nature, did it have some coded environmental message?  We speak to Jon Mooalem, the host of the Walking podcast.

12:45pm Paris podcast: Paname My colleague Kim recommended a podcast she's enjoying called Paname. All about Paris, it uncovers the city's hidden histories, exploring all kinds of strange and interesting stuff about the French capital, and the people who have lived there. And it's a show with a strong sense of place- you'll often hear the traffic rumbling away in the background...birdsong...mopeds- it makes you want to visit! The show's made by Amber Minogue who's from England but who's lived in Paris for the past 18 years. She works there as an English teacher, tour guide, comedian, actor and mother- but her real passion is podcasting: she listens to heaps of them while she's out walking or running, and (pro tip!) they can make doing the vacuuming or washing up a lot more fun too! We play some of Episode 7 of Paname called La Guillotine.

12:55pm Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend Podcasts have become the new must-have 'celebrity accessory' according to a recent article in the Financial Times. So big names like Gwyneth Paltrow, Russell Brand, David Tennant, and Snoop Dogg have all launched their own shows. The US talk show host Conan O'Brien worked as a comedy writer for Saturday Night Live and on The Simpsons before getting his own late night chat show back in 1993. In November he started 'Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend', the shtick being it's him trying to find more friends, and to pay off the mortgage on his beach house. After enjoying his chats with Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly, we play some of his interview with the actor, jazz musician, potential buddy, and Renaissance Man, Jeff Goldblum, a star of films including Jurassic Park, Thor: Ragnarok and The Fly. 'Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend' is produced by Sona Movsesian and Matt Gourley, and thanks to Matt and Adam Sachs for helping us to share it.
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