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10 podcasts that are changing the world for the better

Positive News launched a podcast last week, but we’re not the only ones trying to inspire change over the airways

Positive News launched a podcast last week, but we’re not the only ones trying to inspire change over the airways

From true crime documentary to sport geekery, business, meditation, politics and fiction, there’s a podcast to satisfy every facet of humankind’s restless curiosity.

It’s a medium ideally suited to modern living – equally accessible on the go or while enjoying downtime – and research suggests that stimulating our imagination with auditory input reduces stress and boosts mental wellbeing.

Of course, not all podcasts are created equal, and it can be a tough task finding the super-sonic gems among a sea of static, so here’s our pick of top 10 listens to get you started, including our very own podcast, which launched last week.

1. The Conversation Weekly

The Conversation has built an enviable reputation as a trusted source of quality, thought-provoking news and opinion, thanks largely to the bona fide experts who pen its open access written content. The weekly podcast sticks to the same ethos, with researchers and academics drawing back the curtain on their fascinating discoveries.

It’s a broad church: recent episodes cover everything from the hunt for a universal snake bite anti-venom to assisted dying. Even kids are catered for with scientists answering some of the burning questions bugging growing minds. Do whales sneeze? Is magic real? Tune in to find out.

2. Good Life Project

One week you’re listening to international best-selling author James Clear breaking down his Atomic Habits, and the next you’re musing on mycology with fungi wizard Merlin Sheldrake. Podcast founders Stephanie and Jonathan Fields have set themselves a high bar by featuring what they call “embodied teachers – people who don’t just talk the talk, but also walk the walk”.

The result is a Webby-nominated and top-rated podcast exploring happiness, health, friendship, purpose and more in a quest to discover what it means to live a good life.

3. TED Talks: How to be a Better Human

Meanwhile, spare some headphone time for thoughts on how to be a good human. This podcast transcends mere philosophical noodling and instead looks in unexpected places for clear takeaways to help foster self-improvement.

Learn how to pay attention, give and receive good advice, and pinpoint ‘the thing’ that gets you leaping out of bed in the morning. Brought to you by the non-profit famed for its conversation-starting talks and conferences, this podcast promises big ideas in a pocket-sized format.

4. Life After Prison

A podcast by ex-offenders, for ex-offenders. The show alternates between weekly sit-down interviews with people who’ve been through the criminal justice system, and sage advice on managing life on the outside, with guidance on topics such as housing, work and confidence-building.

Award-winning co-presenters Zak Addae-Kodua and Jules Rowan are amply qualified to dish these gems of post-prison wisdom. Ex-convict Addae-Kodua has applied his drug dealing smarts to spreadsheets and now works with social enterprises, while Rowan runs a personal training business after serving time for violence.

Image: Jon Holloway

The Positive News Podcast – new episode available In our opening six-part series, Developing Mental Wealth, we uncover the fascinating ways that communities are supporting people’s mental health in parts of the world where circumstances can be the most challenging. Hosted by wellbeing expert Dr Radha Modgil and journalist Seyi Rhodes. Hear the latest episode
5. Dad Still Standing

Hosts Liam Preston and Matt Dearsley were brought together through baby loss three years ago and set out to plug a gap in support and resources for grieving dads. Last year, their efforts were recognised with the Best Parenting Podcast of the Year gong at the British Podcast Awards. The pair provide a unique insight on working through grief and coping with life – from a male perspective, but for mums and families, too – and have gone on to offer workshops and training for workplaces looking to support staff after child loss.

6. Ben & Jerry’s Into the Mix

The irrepressible ice cream activists launched Into the Mix in 2022 with a string of interviews featuring cultural icons talking about championing social change. The latest season dishes double scoops of joy and justice, with inspirational stories of success and struggle from the frontlines of some of the planet’s most pressing challenges: think trans rights, cannabis laws and books bans, all served up in a waffle cone with sprinkles and strawberry sauce.

7. Movers and Shakers

Six high-profile Parkinson’s sufferers meet for a weekly chinwag in a Notting Hill pub as they search for the silver linings in the realities of life as – in their words – “Parkies”. Broadcaster Jeremy Paxman brings expletive-laden rage to proceedings, while Vicar of Dibley writer Paul Mayhew Archer tempers his fellow Parkies’ fury with optimism and hysterical laughs. The group’s ‘honest and enlightening’ conversations were honoured at this year’s Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, winning Best Podcast.

8. The Guilty Feminist

Laughs and activism in equal measure from comedian and Edinburgh Fringe stalwart Deborah Frances-White (pictured) and her special guests. This global phenomenon finds the funny in imperfect feminism, skewering the intersect between good intention and the hypocrisies and fears that can sometimes undermine these lofty principles. If you’ve ever felt like you could be better at feminism, or found yourself starting a sentence – like Frances-White’s guests – with the words: “I’m a feminist, but …” this one’s for you. 100m downloads can’t be wrong.

9. The Blindboy Podcast

Blindboy’s painstakingly crafted, softly spoken monologues are delivered to mesmerising effect in his soothing Irish lilt, making them the perfect accompaniment to morning dog walks or the daily commute. While waxing lyrical on everything from politics to digestive biscuits, and segueing effortlessly from hilarious anecdotes of growing up in Limerick into Greek mythology, Blindboy has become something of a mental health champion, holding up his autism as the engine of his art and offering ideas for coping with anxiety, depression and agoraphobia.

10. The Positive News Podcast

Our first foray into podcasting – Developing Mental Wealth – is a globetrotting six-parter hopping from Guatemala to Nigeria, Peru to Zimbabwe, and beyond, exploring some of the fascinating ways communities are combatting mental health issues in some of the most challenging corners of the world. Among the powerful projects unearthed by hosts Seyi Rhodes and Dr Radha Modgil are the climate cafes helping Africans to manage eco-anxiety and the Ivory Coast hairdressers who are training as mental health first aiders. You, our readers, asked for a podcast. We listened – and now we hope you’ll listen, too.

Main image: The Guilty Feminist

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