Curated by James Parkinson, creator of By Association and World Cup Stories
James Parkinson is an audio producer from Melbourne, Australia with a passion for storytelling and the world’s most popular sport. Here, James presents a collection of podcasts that focus on the World Cup.
As the world’s most popular sport, football occupies a unique place in culture. It has the power to transcend barriers in our society, like politics, language, and religion. But it’s also tightly woven into these aspects of culture and community. Football is not the most important thing in the world, but it plays an important role in the lives of the people who care about it.
As a football fan, I care if my team wins or loses but I’m even more fascinated by the stories that surround the game and why it captivates us. In 2015, I created By Association with these very ideas in mind, getting to the core of the human connection behind the beautiful game.
This relationship with football is no more apparent than on the international stage at the World Cup. A global event that brings people from all walks of life together, in celebration of cultural identity and diversity. The following are a selection of podcasts that speak to these ideas and are also keeping me informed and entertained as Russia 2018 unfolds. I have specifically chosen shows that I listen to frequently, with a focus mostly on high-quality independent podcasts.
World Cup Stories
To celebrate Russia 2018, I produced this spin-off series. While By Association is a storytelling/documentary podcast, World Cup Stories in an interview show where I speak with passionate football people about their favourite tournament. We discuss their memories, experiences, and what the World Cup means to them. It’s full of nostalgia, insights, and personal anecdotes that highlight why this competition is such an influential event.
This show from Howler Magazine had a big impact on me and By Association. While figuring out what it was going to be and how I was going to produce it, discovering Howler Radio gave me the inspiration to make it work. Their latest season, Postcards from Russia, comes in the form of an audio diary from reporter Tom Kludt, experiencing the tournament first-hand. You should also check out their previous seasons: Euro Miniseries (audiobook/monologue) and Season 2 (narrative).
Total Soccer Show
In the world of independent football podcasts, the typical discussion format can often fall flat if not done well. But Total Soccer Show is an absolute gem, with Taylor and Daryl having been at this game since 2009 when they started on public radio. And that’s where this show distinguishes itself: with the hosts themselves. The guys have a great rapport, which is paired with excellent knowledge and a passion for the game. Being only two hosts, it also makes for a more intimate discussion, unlike some of the rather shouty podcasts out there. Expect in-depth match analysis: what happened, why it happened, and what might happen next. The show is currently in World Cup mode, with a new episode every day of Russia 2018.
World Cup Road Trip
This is a new show especially for this year’s World Cup, from Australian network Nearly. It follows broadcaster Francis Leach and author Tony Wilson as they travel around Russia, supporting the Australian national team. It features some great interviews and audio diaries as Francis and Tony take in the football, the culture, and everything the tournament has to offer. If you can’t be on the ground with your fellow supporters, this is the next best thing, bringing you closer to the fan experience in Russia.
Santo, Sam and Ed’s Cup Fever
Cup Fever is definitely the outlier in this line-up. A comedic football show with a distinctly Australian edge, Santo Cilauro, Sam Pang, and Ed Kavalee began this project back in 2010 when it aired on television every night of the World Cup. A product of the legendary Working Dog Productions, the show has existed in various forms, but currently calls the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) home. The podcast is now its main output, although an on-demand video version is also produced for Australian viewers. It’s a fun, lighthearted look at the world of football from three hilarious but genuinely passionate football fans.
Game of Our Lives
Veteran football writer David Goldblatt fronts this new show by Jetty Studios — the new podcast arm of Al Jazeera. David has a long fascination with the cultural and political side of the world game and he brings all of that knowledge and passion to the audio form. The first season took on an interview format, accompanied by some great monologues and beautiful use of music and other sounds. Season 2 is currently underway, covering the World Cup twice a week via engaging discussions with a focus on issues off the pitch rather than on it. They do touch on some results here and there, but if you’re looking for in-depth analysis, this isn’t it. Instead, GOOL wonderfully contextualises the stories that surround the event, offering a perspective you probably won’t hear on your average TV broadcast.
Want to create your own collection of shows that dovetails with your area of interest? Add shows to your Smart Folder on RadioPublic, then inform the Podcast Librarian of your collection: firstname.lastname@example.org.