A Short Guide to Podcasts & Podcasts about Poland
Podcasting is so hot right now. But what is it? And how does one do it? And once you’re up and running, where are the podcasts about Poland? Culture.pl explains all.
Over the last decade, podcasts have grown from a niche oddity to an ever-growing medium to be reckoned with. But this new form is still a bit confusing to many. Although around 70 million Americans listen every month to at least one podcast, the other 200 million-odd are scratching their heads wondering what the fuss is about.
The best way of thinking about podcasts is to imagine it as ‘radio-on-demand’. Just like the term ‘television-on-demand’ has become common – with Netflix, Amazon Prime and Youtube filling living room screens and letting you watch whatever you want, whenever you want – podcasting allows you to listen to what you want, when you want, and most importantly, where you want. All you need is a smartphone, an item that has become near ubiquitous in many countries. That way, you’ll be able to listen to shows whenever you’re doing something else. Many people like listening to podcasts when they do exercise or doing household chores. Of course, the most popular time of day to listen is when travelling to and from your workplace.
The experience of finding something to listen to is much the same way as if you want to watch something: when you want to see a video, you might go to your Youtube app. Similarly, when you want to listen to something, you go to a podcast app.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you almost certainly already have a native app installed simply called Podcasts. You can of course download a different iOS service, such as Overcast, but it’s hard to argue with such a simple solution. If you’re an Android user, say with a Samsung or Huawei phone, then you’ll need to install an app to get started with listening. There are many to choose from, each with different interface styles and features, but here are a few that many recommend: Podcast Addict, Player FM, Stitcher, and Pocket Casts. That being said, some shows are available to download directly from Google Play (the Android app store).
The crucial and most convenient aspect of podcasting is that when you find a show that interests you and you want to hear more, you can ‘subscribe’ to it. There will always be a button somewhere in your app that will allow you to do that. That way, when the show’s newest episode appears, your phone will conveniently download it when it sees you’re on Wi-Fi, and have it waiting for you to listen whenever you’re ready.
So what can I listen to?
What with Culture.pl being a site that talks about Polish culture, we unavoidably have to tell you where to start when that’s what you’re looking for. When making our selection though, we had to make sure that the shows presented had a so-called 'RSS feed', something that enables them to be findable in most podcast apps. That meant we couldn’t list certain things we wanted to, like the remarkable Radio Chopin, which is now restricted to a web-based archive, and the Listen Everywhere show about classic Polish literature, which is also unavailable on most platforms.
Also, for people looking for Polish-language offerings, then your best bet is to search podkasty.info, a project headed by Borys Kozielski, a man passionate about making it easier for Poles to find Polish podcasts. Although podcasting in Poland is at a more nascent stage than in the US or UK, you’ll find around 40 shows there in Polish and the beginnings of a real community.
But what about English-language podcasts dedicated to Poland and its culture? Well, then we’re really slimming down what’s on offer... Let’s take a look and see what we can find.
The Poland Podcast
It turns out the first proper English-language podcast about Poland was created by some Irish gentlemen living in Kraków. Their rather risqué chat about amusing episodes that occurred to them while living in Poland, a land previously little-known to them, has the air of barroom banter, and won’t quite be for everybody reading this. But if you’re looking for these kinds of insights, especially if you’re a foreigner looking to move to Poland for work, then you may well find The Poland Podcast enlightening. At the very least, it may give you a giggle.
The second English-language podcast is a lot more culturally-minded in the classical sense. The Toronto-based magazine show Polcast, hosted by Tomasz Kniat and Małgorzata Bonikowska, shines a light on a mix of Poland-based and Canada-based stories with interviews across a breadth of subjects. They even give Polish recipes. Their passion for ‘Poland and all that jazz’ overcomes their low-tech approach, and their efforts have been recognised by Polish Radio: the national broadcaster has entered an agreement to start syndicating the show on their airwaves.
A completely different beast from the previous two, Grammofon is a joint project from the Polish Institute in Stockholm and the Goethe Institute in Sweden, two forward-thinking organisations in love with progressive music. Each episode consists of an hour-long in-depth interview with a remarkable musician from either Poland or Germany and talks about their ten favourite records. For music lovers, the podcast is an absolute delight and a treasure trove. Our personal highlights are the episodes with classical ambient maestro Jacaszek, and one of the finest guitarists in Europe Raphael Rogiński.
The History of Poland Podcast
Having started in Spring 2017, this podcast takes the carefully-researched form of the long-established British History Podcast and does exactly the same thing for Poland. Telling Poland’s history from the very beginning in the 10th century, each episode of The History of Poland Podcast takes pleasure in narrating the country’s story chronologically. Seeing as it’s only around ten episodes in at the time of writing, and barely 60 years in, it looks like we’re in for a long succession of interesting hits of history for years to come.
The next podcast isn’t even available to listen to yet, but it’s already caused a small stir. Having raised funds through crowd-funding site Indiegogo, Michal Wisniowski is creating a podcast documentary series where he traces how his mother escaped Poland in the 1980s, a period when the country was under the communist regime’s exacting martial law. Due to be released in 2018, we already can't wait for The Landless thanks to the show’s moving trailer.
Stories From The Eastern West
Unsurprisingly, we have to mention our own efforts in the world of podcasts. Although not immediately obviously a podcast about Poland, Stories From The Eastern West uses the country as well as the surrounding region as the backdrop for a series of interesting histories told in an involving and audio-rich way. With episodes covering Wojtek the bear who went to war, Ludwik Zamenhof’s struggle to create Esperanto, and when the Rolling Stones played for the Communist Party, SFTEW is designed to be a narrative podcast that focuses on connecting the listener to the story, whatever their background might be.
Make sure you check out all the above-mentioned podcasts about Poland. For people who never seem to have the time to sit and read, listening on-the-go could be a new way to help Polish culture spread and reach new audiences. Whatever the future may hold, we at Culture.pl will be there seeing where this new podcasting medium might take us all.
Source: press materials; compiled by AZ, Sept 2017