JUST WILLIAM: Video hasn’t killed the radio stars

As you read this, it’s day 24 of what most people in the UK are calling lockdown (and for the purposes of this, so will I). Now we are living through unprecedented times – and it goes without saying that I wish all of those who read this the very best of health – which means there is only one story in town at the moment – Coronavirus. With three more weeks of social distancing to come – and an odds on shot that’s just the beginning – that’s not changing anytime soon.

Now with the large majority of people staying at home, one medium of communication which is soaring – and this is on top of traditionally strong figures in recent years – is radio. The BBC had seen an 18% rise in streaming of radio stations (and this was on the 25th of March) whilst Global, which owns Capital FM and talk station LBC, said online radio listening had risen by 15%.

As someone who loves nothing more than radio of any kind, I’m more than used to long and happy hours listening to anything on the airwaves (with podcasts included) but recently I’ve become swamped with nothing but Coronavirus stories. I subscribe to 63 podcasts (I know, I know) with 40 of them being political, and I cannot think of one that didn’t have their last episode partly or entirely based around the Coronavurus. Now that’s totally understandable when people need information on such an event, but this can also be overbearing. A 2011 report published in the British Journal of Psychology, found that the ill effects of watching bad news were evident after only 14 minutes, and even WHO advice instructs those at risk not to expose themselves to too many headlines.

So, with this in mind, I’ve been on a special search this week for the best pieces of radio on any subject that have nothing to do with Coronavirus. Here’s my top picks – and in no particular order – with some honourable mentions.

The Unofficial NON COVID Radio Playlist:

📻 Ingenious (BBC Radio 4)

Presenter: Dr Kat Arney
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton


This is a fascinating dive into 4 parts of DNA – the ginger gene, the breast cancer gene, the milkshake gene, and the cyclops gene – by Dr Kat Arney which skilfully uses some of the best scientists around along to tell you everything you didn’t know about what makes humans human. This is a four-episode series, but it’s best listened to as an omnibus edition.

📻 The Next Episode: The Future Of Housing For Gypsies, Romas and Travellers (BBC)


Presenter and Producer: Georgia Coan

This is a more recent episode than some others on the list – and perhaps aimed at younger people – but it’s an absolutely fascinating look at housing for three of the least considered communities in the UK which shines a fascinating light on a long running issue.

📻 Test Match Special: A View From The Boundary, Lily Allen (BBC)


Presenter: Johnathan Agnew
Producer: Adam Mountford

One of the things I am missing most is test cricket, but thankfully we are blessed with the BBC’s deep archives on the airwaves – and indeed I’m sure that many of you will have relieved that Ben Stokes innings from Headingley. For their #40from40 series the good people at Test Match Special have dug up some real classics, but few were as engaging and enjoyable as the 2009 meeting between Lilly Allen and Aggers, which surprised and delighted many in equal measure.

The interview actually become infamous in the week after, as Will Buckley, the Observer’s senior sports writer at the time, didn’t take kindly to Agnew’s clear delight at being in the presence of Lilly Allen, leading Buckley to suggest that that “Aggers had positioned himself firmly on the pervy side of things.” A real classic.

📻 Trashfuture


Presenter: Riley Quinn
Guests: Nish Kumar, Milo Edwards, Alice Avizandum
Producer: Nate Bethea

Spoiler alert: This is not one for those who are fond of Jacob-Rees Mogg (if that is you, I apologise). However, if you do enjoy angry reviews of books then I cannot recommend a more perfect hour and twenty minutes of side splitting, angry, irreverent podcasting.

📻 Slow Burn (Slate)

Presenters: Leon Neyfakh (seasons 1-2) Joel Anderson (Season 3)
Producers: Leon Neyfakh and Andrew Parsons (Seasons 1-2), Joel Anderson and Christopher Johnson (Season 3)
Assistants and Mixers: Madeline Kaplan (Season 2), Jared Paul, Sophie Summergrade (Season 3)

Over to America for one of the best storytelling podcasts on the planet. Slow Burn’s three seasons tackle three of the most incredible stories in American history: Watergate, Blil Clinton’s Impeachment and the feud between Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur. The depth of the archive material would make even the most ardent BBC listener blush, and a fantastic timeline of events allow a listener of any age to take themselves through those moments as if they were happening right now (which, let’s be honest, we’d all give an arm and a leg for).

📻 The Zeitgeist Tapes: In Pod We Trust

Presenter & Producer: Emma Burnell

As someone who’s subscribed to 40 political podcasts, it would be frankly rude of me to to recommend a podcast about… political podcasts. Emma Burnell talks to Ed Miliband, Nick Robinson, Jacqui Smith, Iain Dale, Matt Chorley, Helen Lewis and Stephen Bush in a whirlwind tour of… well political podcasting.

📻 The Reunion (BBC Radio 4)


Presenter: Sue MacGregor
Producer: Robert Nicholson
Series Producer: David Prest

The format seems simple in theory & is brilliant in practice: Sue MacGregor interviews four people involved in a famous event. All of the episodes are good, but if you’re reading this, then perhaps the Euro 96 reunion is probably the best place to get started. It features BBC commentator Barry Davies, England player Darren Anderton, assistant manager & Chief Scout Ted Buxton along with The Mirror’s Chief Football Writer Harry Harris looking back at the summer where England’s footballing dreams almost came true.

📻 Archive On 4: Backwards Brexit (BBC Radio 4)


Presenter: Multiple
Producer: Martin Williams

I could easily have made this whole list Archive On 4, given the depth of subjects and the incredible materials used in them. I’ve done my level best not to just fill this column with differing episodes from Archive On 4, but this trip back in reverse – right from March 29 of last year to the very beginning of the UK’s entry into the EU – is a beautifully put together rollercoaster with a fantastic soundtrack that takes one through the decade.

📻 Profile (BBC Radio 4)


Presenter: Mark Coles
Producers: Beth Sagar-Fenton and Joe Kent.

I could recommend any amount of Profile episodes – and a good binge of Profile is like a radio pick n’ mix – but who better to find out about than Simon Stevens, who runs NHS England. Mark Coles digs into the man who’s got what might be the toughest top level job in the country at the moment (feel free to tell me different).

📻 Documentary On One (RTE)


Narrator: David Coughlan
Producers: David Coughlan & Sarah Blake.

It’s April, 1982. A remote British colony in the South Atlantic known as the Falkland Islands is invaded by Argentina. And so begins a conflict that would go a long way to defining a Premiership in Britain, and one that would define the end of a military.

Two weeks after the invasion, which nation is on a tour of South America? Of course, Ireland – who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the World Cup in Spain. An incredible story of farce, international crisis and footballing legend.

📻  The Cycling Podcast: Inside The Team Car


Presenter: Richard Moore

Producers: Adam Bowie, Will Jones, Jon Moonie & Paul Scoins,

This is a brilliant 12-minute blast through what it’s like to follow the Tour de France from the closest spot possible – the Team Car. If you’re as into your cycling as I am, then I heartily recommend the rest of the podcast episodes.

📻 WeCrashed (Wondery)

Presenter: David Brown

WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork

Have you ever heard of WeWork? You have now. I suggest not googling it before you read this if you’re unfamiliar with the giant tech unicorn then I suggest listening to this before reading anything else – it’s one of the most remarkable stories of recent years.

📻 The Guardian Audio Long Read (Monday, 20 March 2017)


Few like to contemplate the death of the Queen – and you can count yours truly amongst them – but Sam Knight’s essay on what should happen if she passes, god forbid, has so much incredible detail I couldn’t leave it out.

📻  Confronting: O.J. Simpson with Kim Goldman (Wondery)


Presenter: Kim Goldman

Some True Crime now. This is one to keep the brain engaged, and perhaps not one for the faint-hearted, but you and I both know the O.J Simpson story. We relive the story through the eyes of none other than Kim Goldman in this tale.

📻 LeVar Burton Reads (Stitcher)


Narrator: LeVar Burton

One of the best voices in broadcasting reads the some of the world’s best authors. 40 minutes or so of bliss, whatever story you pick.

📻 Missed In History (HowStuffWorks/Stitcher)


Presenters: Holly and Tracy Wilson

Two experts from HowStuffWorks take you through the most extraordinary moments in history.

📻 30 for 30 Podcasts: Back Pass (ESPN)

Jody Avirgan, Host, Senior Producer and Series Editor
Erin Leyden, ESPN Films Senior Producer and Series Editor
Andrew Helms, Reporter and Producer
Meradith Hoddinott, Host and Producer
Andrea B. Scott, Editor
Brennan Rees, Archival Researcher
Meradith Hoddinott, Mixing and Sound Design

I could recommend any single one of the 30 for 30 podcasts, but I am certain that not enough people have heard the incredible tale of how the 1999

📻 Smile (BBC Radio 4)


Presenter: Professor Kate Williams
Producer: Andrea Kidd

Another scientific programme, where we learn about – of all things – the smile. A genuinely lovely way to spend half an hour whilst learning whist I could never look good when smiling in photos.

📻 Popular Front


Presenter: Jake Hanrahan

This is a very niche and personal choice – which I would only have known for if it wasn’t for a suggestion from a good friend – but Popular Front relevels a whole world of the war stories you don’t hear enough about.

📻 30 for 30 Podcasts: Back Pass (ESPN)

Back Pass

Jody Avirgan, Host, Senior Producer and Series Editor
Erin Leyden, ESPN Films Senior Producer and Series Editor
Andrew Helms, Reporter and Producer
Meradith Hoddinott, Host and Producer
Andrea B. Scott, Editor
Brennan Rees, Archival Researcher
Meradith Hoddinott, Mixing and Sound Design

I could recommend any single one of the 30 for 30 podcasts, but I am certain that not enough people have heard the incredible tale of how the 1999 USA team made their mark and took football into the forefront of American sports – culminating with the creation of the WUSA, the Women’s United Soccer Association.

EXTRA: #BettingPeople highlights

Of course, I couldn’t write this without picking some highlights from the Betting People archive. Here are a few favourites.

Rory Campbell: The full time punter discusses his process in taking on, and beating the Asian Lines in football. A must watch for those wanting to improve their results.


Hayley Moore: The broadcaster’s natural energy shines through when discussing her life with the Moore family and ‘that’ catch at Chepstow in 2018.


Darran Keefe: The top greyhound punter discusses the lifestyle of a pro punter, how to deal with losing as well as winning, and his greatest successes:

#BettingPeople: DARRAN KEEFE

Paul Krishnamurty: The political punter talks about his trip to the USA in 2016, and making it pay on betting on cricket, golf, snooker and politics. Vital if you want to understand American politics.


Tanya Stevenson: Tanya discusses her time at Channel 4 with Big Mac, her love for greyhound racing, cricket, golf and NFL, and how a meeting in Parliament and why her motto is ‘Never Say If Only’.


That should be enough material to keep anyone happy, so here’s what else has been happening in my world this week.

Sods Law – Wind and gazebo

Apart from work, I’ve been trying to make the most of being at home. As someone lucky enough to live with a garden I thought that setting up a gazebo – encouraged heavily by Mum, who was worried about me burning up in the hot sun. Of course, over the Easter Weekend, we had winds overnight which were so strong that they managed to filp the gazebo and break it. Tremendous scenes for all.

Choosing Your Battles

It’s probably a headline that you might have missed yesterday, but neither the EU or the UK has asked for an extension period to that most little known of issues, Brexit. Given that the Coronavirus is currently consuming all European governments, the only responsible course of action is surely to take a large extension. The Institute for Government’s Brexit Coordinator Joe Owen explains in detail why this should surely be the case, despite the government’s reckless and stubborn position that a transition will not be asked for, or accepted:


What Could Have Been

For the past two years, the Labour Party has been riven with strife thanks to massive splits between the party’s progressive and centrist wings. The 2019 election defeat saw the end of Jeremy Corbyn’s time as leader, but one of the most contentious arguments was over the result in 2017, where many activists believed that sabotage in the party cost Labour a victory.

Now it’s worth saying that there are a whole load of caveats there – the Tories were just 55 votes in the right seats away from a victory, far less than the 2,227 Labour were using that matric – but the leaked report on a party investigation into Anti-Semitism exposed party staffers who were so determined to work against Labour that even the most cynical observers – and yours truly counts himself in this bracket – were left absolutely flabbergasted.

An investigation has been launched by Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner into the revelation – and of course we’re in the middle of an emergency – but if something doesn’t change at the top rank of the Labour Party then the road back to power could be even longer than most think – regardless of who’s in charge.

If you made it, thanks for reading – and send your questions (which I promise I’ll get to) at william@starsportsbet.co.uk for next week!

Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.