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The Podcast Hour for Saturday 3 November 2018

'The Daily' delivers the news to your ears. 'Black Sheep' portrays controversial characters from New Zealand history. 'Fortunately...with Fi and Jane' is an interview show with lots of laughs. And 'The Dream' explores multi-level marketing, from 'the plane game' to pyramid schemes.

The Daily: delivering the news to your ears

The Daily logo

The Daily logo Photo: The New York Times/Supplied

Since setting up its audio unit in 2016, the New York Times has been using podcasts as a way of attracting a younger audience, and to reinforce its reputation for good journalism. Audio allows its reporters to showcase their expertise and their personalities in a very different way than simply having their name on the byline of a written article.

So a few weeks back we featured the series 'Caliphate' which gave listeners an insight into some of the challenges of reporting on Islamic State.

Meanwhile The New York Times' daily news show 'The Daily' has proved a major hit: it's currently sitting at number 2 in the US podcast charts, with 5 million monthly listeners, and annual advertising revenues reported to be worth more than $US10 million.

And other media organisations are trying to emulate its success. Just this week The Guardian, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and NZME., the publisher of The New Zealand Herald, have all unveiled their own daily news podcasts.

Each episode of 'The Daily' comes in at a digestible 20-odd minutes and it's ready to listen to early each weekday in the US, in time for the morning commute. Host Michael Barbaro interviews some of the Times' best journalists about the big news stories of the day, with a team of producers editing their chats, and embellishing them with music and audio clips.

We play some of a story about climate change with Nathaniel Rich discussing his article on a missed opportunity to tackle global warming: a US refusal to enter into an international treaty to control carbon dioxide emissions nearly 30 years ago. We also speak to Clare Toeniskoetter who is one of 10 producers working on 'The Daily' about how the show began, and how it comes together each day.

Black Sheep: controversial characters from New Zealand history

Black Sheep logo

Black Sheep logo Photo: RNZ

'Black Sheep' is back for a new season, with William Ray telling more stories about colourful and controversial characters from New Zealand history.

Over the next few weeks there's going to be a veritable rogues' gallery of Japanese spies, con artists, and an alleged pirate with a great name...Bully Hayes!

We play part of the first episode of a two-part story called 'Headhunter: the story of Horatio Robley', produced and presented for RNZ by William Ray.

Episode 2 and the rest of the Horatio Robley story will be out next week, and new stories will be released each week for the next 6 weeks on Jesse Mulligan's afternoon show at 2pm on Mondays, at, or you can find it wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you are new to the series and fancy a taster, William suggests starting with the episodes about Cyrus Haley, Arthur Worthington and Alice Parkinson.

What's On Your Headphones? William Ray's listening recommendations

Interviews with lots of laughs: 'Fortunately...with Fi and Jane'

Fortunately logo (Supplied)

Fortunately logo (Supplied) Photo: Supplied by BBC Radio 4

Fi Glover and Jane Garvey are BBC presenters who met up hosting an event together a few years back: they got on well and made people laugh, and 'Fortunately...with Fi and Jane' was born.

Now nearly 70 episodes in, this weekly show is full of unscripted chat, and longer interviews with guests who come mainly from the world of broadcasting and entertainment.

They have some fun along the way with the fact that production isn't always all that slick and big budget; the chats often get recorded in the BBC staff canteen, with all sorts of stuff going on around them!  

Meanwhile some of their wry, self-deprecating riffs on life (perhaps about the weather, parenting, films, hipster culture, or food) will have you laughing out loud.

We play some of an episode of 'Fortunately...with Fi and Jane' (produced by Vivien Jones for BBC Radio 4) where they speak to Scottish tennis coach Judy Murray, who is also the mother of tennis playing brothers Jamie and Andy Murray.

The Dream: From 'the plane game' to pyramid schemes

The Dream logo

The Dream logo Photo: Supplied

'The Dream' explores the sometimes shadowy world of pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing, ways of selling stuff which also encourage you to recruit new people as participants. So if you can get your friends or family members to join up, you can also earn a commission on whatever they sell.

The show's host Jane Marie used to work on the 'This American Life' show, before setting up her own podcast production studio in Los Angeles.

And she has a personal interest in this topic. Growing up in rural Michigan, she knows many people who joined these schemes (and we meet some of them later in the series). We play some of episode 1 of 'The Dream', hosted by Jane Marie for Little Everywhere.