The Cambridge Geek

Pandemic Podcasts

I suspect this post was more or less inevitable - it was simply a question of when it would first be put together.

The Coronavirus lockdown has naturally lead to a lot of people having more time on their hands, and a certain requirement to keep busy in a way that feels fulfilling. Podcasting is obviously one of the outlets people have started using, but there's not just more people listening to them, there's more people amking them. That's most easily demonstrated by Amazon having run out of podcast microphones.

It took me about a month to be sure, but while I was collecting data for my monthly audio drama release lists, I spotted the trend of podcasts made not just in the quarantine, but about the quarantine (or Covid-19 in general). It points up one of the advantages of the podcast form in that it can respond to a new situation faster than many other types of media. I thought I'd collect a few examples of shows I've discovered here - may add more as they appear.

Dispatches of Disassociation is an epistolary show, featuring readings of letters or other messages sent between people separated by self-isolation. The first episode, featuring Vance and Bonnie, is the result of Tinder date they had, while people were still allowed to see each other. Now they can only talk through email, with a nice musical background underscoring their readings.

Today's Life is a short-form drama following Cynthia and Jordan, in a slice of life show about how ordinary people react to unusual situations. This one seems a lot more down to earth than many - think of The Archers, if they hadn't had to cancel it, with less cows and more dogs.

Then StoneKeep is our first example of speculative shows inspired by Covid-19. It follows Caleb as he visits his father's work. His dad is the head of security at a CDC lab, in which some form of viral science is being performed. Unfortunately, he only has to be there for 20 minutes before Covid-20 escapes and begins to wreak havoc. Not the best "take your son to work day" ever.

COVID39 by comparison is set far further in the future - 20 years or so, and looks at what could have happened during Covid-19 from the perspective of a couple who were children at the time. They dig through past letters and recordings written by their family at the time, to find out whether their relationship is based on accidental proximity during the event, or has a different cause, and investigate the other racial struggles of the USA at that time.

Wombwell Thespians are producing Pandemic Stories, this first one being a play written and recorded during the lockdown, as an amateur dramatic group find themselves unable to get together for their originally planned rehearsals and scheduled plays. It's got insights into romance over zoom (insert obligatory joke about speed-dating here), and the difficulties of families not being able to get together, interspersed with news broadcasts and a few thrills from the closeness to danger.

And then Listen Rinse Repeat is a very large number of micro-stories (some multi-part) to listen to while you wash your hands. Nothing more than a minute (though the multi-part ones probably count as cheating a bit). All you need now is to code an Arduino box with a little speaker and put it over the sink with a motion activated button (no touching the box!)

One for children is The Owlsteins in Quarantine, a whimsical rhyming tale about a family of owls who are attempting to not go insane and peck each other to death, while unable to go outside.

Listen to "Ep 1: Breathe" on Spreaker.

And if you've not had enough of the family you're locked down with, you might want to try The Incontinent Void, a soap opera about a family trapped together during quarantine, and their missing doctor.

Found any others? Feel free to let me know about them in the comments below.

Tagged: Audio fiction Drama Cast Dramatised Horror Anthology