The Content Is Queen ‘Pick of the Podcasts’ in 2023
Earlier this week we shared a list of the twelve podcasts that, according to everyone else, are the best podcasts of 2023. Those podcasts were the most widely lauded shows in 2023, being recommended in lists, winning awards, and hitting the podcast charts.
We think the shows on the list are great, and a couple in particular are favourites of our team: The Retrievals, If Books Could Kill and The Shamima Begum Story are all great examples of how podcasts can offer new perspectives, tell hidden stories and challenge the prevailing narratives.
But we were disappointed that the list as a whole does not reflect the range of the creators and listeners we know podcasting has. It seems there is still a bias in the types of shows being served to us by production companies and curators.
In an effort to rebalance this, we wanted to elevate some shows we think should be more widely celebrated! These podcasts that have been smashing it in 2023, whether it’s through winning awards, featuring on billboards or simply sharing stories that no-one else is.
So here’s the list of shows we think you should keep a close eye on next year – the Content Is Queen ‘Pick of the Podcasts’ in 2023
The ones that nearly made the top twelve
As mentioned in the article about the most-lauded shows, there were several shows that made it onto the long-list. Whether it was a couple of writers mentioning them, or the shows winning awards, it was great to see shows like these recognised, even if they didn’t quite make the shortlist of the top twelve.
A new show, Bitter/Sweet was mentioned in a couple of lists, including ‘Tink’s Audio Delicacies‘ and ‘The best podcasts of 2023: The ESSENTIAL list!’ on Pod Bible, and the show was also nominated for a few awards – host Natasha Miller actually won the Bronze ‘Best Narrator’ at the Audio Production Awards. The show explores the relationship between food and our deepest memories, and is really unique in its execution – Natasha’s vulnerability in talking about grief is very moving. – listen here.
Where’s Home Really?
We have a soft spot for Jimi Famurewa’s show, because we did an episode swap on the Wanna Be feed earlier this year, but it’s not just us that like it. Where’s Home Really? won a Silver at the British Podcast Awards, and was suggested on a couple of lists. His simple question to guests opens up incredible conversations with public figures from different backgrounds. – listen here.
Normal Gossip is definitely a favourite among podcasters, and one of the first shows that came up in our team-talk about what to include. It actually featured on a number of lists including New Yorker and Tink’s Audio Delicacies (and also featured on some in 2022). We really like the show, which has host Kelsey McKinney discussing reader-submitted comedic gossip with her guests. – listen here.
A BBC Radio 4 production, Lights Out is a series of stand-alone documentaries that are always enlightening. As a show that has different producers every episode, it is a real showcase for some UK audio talent, and is particularly good at giving a platform to newer producers like our Micro Grants for Podcasters recipient, Talia Augustidis. It’s clearly not just us that appreciates this one – it always gets high praises when it does appear on lists and reviews. For such an innovative series, it’s sad that the BBC won’t be continuing it. We can only hope it returns in the future, in some capacity. – listen here.
Pod Save The UK
Pod Save The UK has had a great first year. It had a good starting point: the format and branding from the sister shows Pod Save America and Pod Save The World meant there was a pre-made audience. But as a new show, it has featured on the cover of magazines, been nominated in awards and made it high in the podcast charts. This was mentioned a few times on lists, and only just missed that top twelve. – listen here.
Where’s There A Will There’s A Wake
Kathy Burke is a beloved celebrity speaking to beloved celebrities, but the premise of asking people to describe their perfect funeral gives a really different insight to the guests. There’s an unexpected amount of laughs as well, and this might be why the show gained nominations at the 2023 ARIA Awards. It’s another great show that was recommended by a handful of individual writers. – listen here.
The ones quietly winning awards
It’s certainly not the only measure of success, but winning an award is an incredible achievement, and especially if you are new to podcasting, independent or telling stories not heard elsewhere. Our team members were particularly fond of two award-winners that haven’t been recommended on lists in the way we would expect.
Now in its third series, the Get Birding podcast has been quietly recognised in a few awards – it won the Climate Award at the 2022 British Podcast Awards, and the host of Season 3, Kwesia, won Best New Voice at the Audio Production Awards, and it was also a winner at the International Women’s Podcast Awards this year. Listening to Kwesia’s journey in Season 3 as a new birdwatcher, new podcast host, and new mum was particularly special. It’s a shame this wasn’t recommended more in lists, but we’ll recommend it as much as we can. – listen here.
Black Earth Podcast
Another show that quietly picked up an award, but hasn’t been picked up widely yet, is Black Earth Podcast. This is a passion-project show, and it won the Silver Award for Best New Show at the British Podcast Awards 2023. Hosted by Marion Atieno Osieyo, the show is an interview-based celebration of nature and black women leaders in the environmental movement. We’ve got our eye on where this might go. – listen here.
The ones speaking to the right people and making it BIG
We’re big believers in the fact that there are many different metrics for success, and some shows are unapologetically speaking to the right people. Listeners often seek podcasts that talk about their experience because they can’t find their stories represented elsewhere. These shows can also be a way of learning about other people’s lived realities, and a few of these made it big this year – literally – and were featured on billboards from London to New York.
Let’s Make It Rain
Davinia Tomlinson is a finance expert and the Founder of rainchq, and her podcast features weekly chats that will help women build their financial literacy, build wealth and ultimately live life entirely on their own terms. Let’s Make It Rain was featured on a billboard in Leicester Square and other UK locations (alongside two more shows below) as part of Spotify’s Black History Month offering. The theme was ‘Saluting Sisters’ and we think the feature was particularly fitting. – listen here.
The second podcast on the billboard as part of Spotify’s curation was the *(Relate)able podcast – a safe space for open and honest conversations created unapologetically for Black people. Fiona, Sherween, and Chantal have created an incredible platform to explore how we relate to one another – whether that’s intimate connections, friendships, family and/or everything in between. They believe that “a shared journey brings hope” and we couldn’t agree more. – listen here.
Our own flagship show Wanna Be, hosted by CIQ founder Imriel, was the third show on the Spotify billboard, and what company to be in! Wanna Be is about helping listeners get to where they want to be, but we know that the audience for the show is wide. We can say for certain that it is a valuable resource to learn about incredible Black women, and our team’s children have been known to use it for their homework! – listen here.
Sangeeta Pillai’s self-titled ‘South Asian feminist podcast’ feels like it needs no introduction. It has won multiple British Podcast Awards, been featured in places like the Guardian, Cosmopolitan, and more. But it’s worth highlighting that this year has been big for the show, as Sangeeta went to the USA for an American series, Masala was featured on a billboard in Time Square, and Sangeeta spoke at the Birmingham Podcast Festival. – listen here.
The Content Is Queen Community!
The last podcasts we’d like to highlight are some shows from the Content Is Queen community and studio. We work hard all year round to elevate shows through our event curations, studio support and community spotlights. Make sure you check out these podcasts, and you can sign-up to our newsletter to get the latest recommendations directly to your inbox.
A Shared Gaze
It’s All Relative
Bookshelfie: Women’s Prize for Fiction Podcast
On the Outside
Comuzi: Next Billion Users Podcast
The Waffle Shop
Do you want to join our community in 2024? Find out more here!