Podcasts as a genre have exploded across the world, and Russia is no exception to the trend. The immersive audio recordings can be played anywhere and anytime: on the commute to work, while cooking, or before falling asleep
While there hasn’t yet been a Russian equivalent to groundbreaking podcasts like S-Town or This American Life, there are still many high-quality shows to choose from, created both by old-time radio stations like Echo of Moscow and Radio Mayak, as well as by exciting new players on the radio scene. Use them to brush up on your Russian-listening skills, stay up to date with current political events, or delve into fascinating new topics like the digital economy or avant-garde literature.
Here are seven great Russian podcasts we’ve selected, covering every topic from music to politics. Search for them in your favourite podcast app or find them through the links provided.
Topic: The History of Culture
Arzamas is one of the most exciting projects to come out of Russia in recent years. They produce series’ of short lectures read by renowned Russian experts in the history of culture. Episodes are around 15-25 minutes in length, and they usually come in sets of five about any given topic. Recent episodes tackled ancient Greek and Roman understandings of sexuality, Russian avant-garde literature, and the major philosophical debates of the 20th century. Supplementary materials to each podcast can be found on the website.
Four days a week, the good people over at Radio Mayak produce recordings of short stories by Russian and international authors. If you haven’t been able to find the time lately to brush up on your Nabokov or Solzhenitsyn, why not give their audio versions a try? If you’re not ready to tackle Russian literature yet, you can always listen to your favourite short stories from authors like Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King translated into Russian. Readings range from 10 minutes to one hour and are followed by a short commentary about the author and their work.
An hour-long selection of music from around the world selected by the legendary Russian musician, Boris Grebenshchikov, one of the founding fathers of Russian rock and the lead singer of Aquarium. Episodes are released weekly, and centre around a common theme or musician, like Bill Evans, inner alchemy, or conversations with God. The songs are interspersed with short anecdotes and pieces of wisdom from the cult musician.
An award-winning popular science podcast and website that covers everything from how the digital economy is changing our lives to how 3D printers can produce food. Themes include astronomy, physics, mathematics, as well as culture, history, philosophy, and much more.
Name: ТАСС уполномочен заявить
A weekly talk show dedicated to a different country every episode. An expert on the country is invited to give an introduction about the country, unearth unusual facts, and explain the current situation, as well as talk about the country’s relations with Russia. The light conversational tone is great for practising your Russian listening skills.
Name: Полный Альбац
A weekly political talk-show produced by Echo of Moscow, dissecting the most important events in Russia in the previous week with invited experts. Popular Russian political figures and analysts are frequent guests on the show, including figures like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Gleb Pavlovsky, and Ekaterina Shulman. It’s a great way to keep up to date with the latest political developments in modern Russia.
Name: Время свободы
This is one of the last remaining Western-based daily Russian-language news podcasts left on the web. It’s a great way to keep up with what’s happening in Russia, as well as to hear analysis from the journalists at Radio Free Europe. One thing to note is that the podcast is financed by the US government so it has a pro-democracy agenda. Catch it before Trump’s budget cuts to US programmes abroad set in!