Podcasts are taking over the media landscape with good reason. They are convenient, time-efficient and accessible to anyone who owns a mobile device with an internet connection. Besides freeing up your hands for multitasking, podcasts also allow listeners to absorb information in a fraction of the time usually spent reading or watching.
Podcasts offer different benefits to different people — some listen for entertainment and others, for learning and self-enrichment — but it can be quite daunting to navigate the endless options to suit your taste. Podcasts like Cultivating the Masses and Table Talk are all-rounders, and they touch on a variety of topics relating to Malaysians, but if you’re looking for something specific, these local productions are your best bets.
Take a Bao by Loh Yi Jun
You know you can trust a food writer when he makes a declaration that “kuih is the very fabric of life”. A chemical engineer-turned cook, Jun traded his steam tables for a fervent pursuit of all things food-related in Asia. His podcast Take a Bao is basically a love letter to the meals that shaped his Malaysian-Chinese upbringing, be it nostalgic kopitiam dishes and — yes — the small, delicate kuihs that possess big powers to connect the world. Jun also dissects important issues like refugee food (by working with social enterprise PichaEats and uncovering the struggles of a Syrian home cook) as well as the dwindling food culture of the marginalised Chetti community, which originated from traders and sailors from India who settled down in Malaysia.
Popcorn Culture by Lee Chwi Lynn, Sharmilla Ganesan and Arvindh Yuvaraj
Rigorously researched and underscored with punchy (re: sometimes acerbic) banter, Popcorn Culture sounds like a conversation between deeply knowledgeable friends. And what encyclopaedic knowledge they possess! The podcast’s film reviews have gained a steady following among cinephiles who want to find out the latest box office offerings (as well as cinematic duds) or revisit classics for a nostalgic throwback. The Favourite Non-English Films episode has remained our firm favourite when the trio discussed the significance behind Bong Joon-Ho’s Best Picture win at the Oscars last year but look out for other segments too where they deconstruct the building blocks of Malaysian cinema or geek out over some of the best comics that graced the silver screen.
Note: Needless to say, BFM 89.9 also hosts a series of engaging podcasts that cater for the business-minded, from aspiring entrepreneurs to CEOs. Check them out here.
Two Book Nerds Talking by Diana Yeong and Honey Ahmad
True to its name, Two Book Nerds Talking takes on a conversational approach while discussing the latest titles from Southeast Asia, as well as those from around the world. The podcast feels more or less like an audio book club, which isn’t surprising given the fact that Yeong started the KL Book Appreciation Club (which amassed 9k bibliophiles) and Honey, also a member, is a scriptwriter that reveres the art of storytelling. Apart from dissecting the most popular reads and sharing literary insights, the witty interlocutors have also hosted a slew of accomplished guests, including award-winning authors Zen Cho, Tash Aw and Hanna Alkaf. Bookworms will appreciate the duo’s fresh perspectives and we have to say, it is an excellent way of retaining the ephemeral high of a good book, even if it's just for a bit longer.
The Macha Men by Kavin Jay and Keren Bala Devan
Sometimes, all you need is a good laugh to get you through the week. Funny men Kavin and Keren are no strangers to the local comedy scene, often entertaining crowds in comedy clubs and stand-ups all around KL. Since it’s not quite possible to attend a live show right now, the comedians are bringing the jokes to you, that is if Malaysian scandals and conspiracies are your cup of tea. The duo shares good rapport and their comical banter will leave you chuckling and shaking your head. However, we do want to note that episodes are rather inconsistent and limited. Binge-listeners, beware!
The Borak Minda Podcast by Minda Kami
In recent years, while society has — to some degree — been more open to the topic of mental health, there is still much to be done to erase the stigma surrounding it. A fair assessment will conclude that treatment has been more accessible during the past decade than ever before, but at the same time, there has also been a significant increase of mental health issues, especially in youths and young adults. Borak Minda is a bilingual mental health podcast by Malaysian youth initiative Minda Kami, which aims to spread mental health awareness through online advocacy. In the podcast, Minda Kami co-founder Zulaikha Mohamad talks about mental health in a casual way and breaks it down into digestible topics. Clinical psychologists are invited to give advice on how to address internal issues and what you can do to maintain good mental health.