Turn on the radio these days and most of the time you might as well be piping horse manure into your lugholes. But thankfully technology means you don’t ever have to reach for that dial again.
We’re talking about podcasts, of course: basically the best bits of radio cut out and presented to you in a form that you can listen to anywhere at any time.
But with thousands of podcasts around, where do you get started? Right here, that’s where. We've picked our favourite new series of 2017 so far, and bundled them together with some that are maturing nicely this year, plus the classics that are absolute must-listens. They might just make the commute your favourite part of the day...
The Totally Football Show
Best for: Footie nuts
The most scandalous news of 2017? Not Bake Off going to Channel 4, but James Richardson walking out on The Guardian Football Weekly to set up The Totally Football Show. With a familiar bi-weekly round-up schtick and similarly turncoat contributors like James Horncastle, Michael Cox and Rafa Honigstein, this is a great pod for getting your fix of Premier League, Champions League and continental football analysis. Jimbo might have jumped ship, but The Totally Football Show is very much more of the same minus Barry and Sid. Yep, that means a cavalcade of side-splitting puns too.
Try this episode: Irish hangovers, Chinese takeovers, and the king of crumbles
Best for: Conspiracy theorists
It's going to be another cracking year for fiction podcasts is this is anything to go by. Homecoming follows a therapist and army veteran, who are thrown together by a new government program that helps soldiers readjust to civilian life.
At least, that’s what the government claims. Without any narration, the series weaves together recorded phone calls and therapy sessions that slowly start to hint at more sinister motives.
This intimate approach, plus some excellent performances and sound design, give it a real authenticity as it starts to muse on the personal cost of erasing traumatic memories. With each episode coming in at a tight 20 minutes, it’s an essential commuting soundtrack. The 'making of' segments are well worth a listen too.
Try this episode: Episode 1 - Mandatory
The Polygon Show
Best for: Gaming geeks
For an art form founded on blowing up pixelated aliens, people tend to get awfully serious when chatting about video games. Thankfully, none of these folk are contributors to The Polygon Show. Whether discussing the merits of Blizzard’s new Overwatch skins, disgusting gaming tatt or mourning the death of Coke Zero, this pod is never anything less than hilarious. Tuning into a new episode every Friday is like heading out for a post-work pint before the weekend: you know things are going to quickly get messy. In a good way.
Try this episode: Enter The Goal Zone
Best for: Your next hit of true crime
True crime podcasts are all the rage right now, and every time you hear a new one being advertised it can be hard to fight the sensation that this is just another boarder of the bandwagon. But to make that assumption about Stranglers would be to miss out on one of the finest new podcasts around.
This is very much in the same mould as Serial and In the Dark, in that it’s a journalistic investigation into a past crime. In this case it’s that of the Boston Strangler - an apparent serial killer who gruesomely assaulted, murdered and bizarrely posed a number of elderly women in their own homes between 1962 and 1964.
This is not pleasant stuff. Graphic, horrifying and frightening, no punches are pulled in the descriptions of the murders, nor in descriptions of the impact on the lives of the victims’ relatives and the residents of Boston as a whole. But it’s also a fascinating insight into criminal investigations before computer databases, CCTV or reliable DNA testing. It’s a brilliant, binge-worthy new series - as long as you’ve got the stomach for it.
Try this episode: Episode 1: Sisters in Death