Podcasting is hardly a new phenomenon, and Estonia is often referred to as one of the foremost digital states globally, so it will come as no surprise that there is a multitude of podcasts out there about different aspects of the country, including many in English.
Some of these might have so far slipped below the radar for many potentially interested listeners, however. To help solve that issue, ERR News has drawn together well over a dozen of the current crop of podcasts of all types (seventeen, at the last count), all together in the same article for ease of reference.
For a podcast to be listed it needed to meet three criteria: Be in English, be about Estonia and have had multiple episodes posted online within the last year or so.
Listening to every single episode might have been a big task, so instead the list below contains individual episodes fairly representative of the podcasts as a whole, covering a plethora of subject matter and approaches on offer, from the e-state to culture; from everyday life in Estonia to the academic; from covering a specific event or development, to a more general discussion; from official organizations' broadcasts, to hobbyists, etc.
In short, there should be something to suit all tastes, while those interested in hearing more can follow the links through to other episodes from the same people.
Participants are both Estonians and native speakers of English (with Australians by far topping the list with around half-a-dozen appearing in the episodes below!), along with people of other nationalities.
Formats vary from monologues, to host-guest dialogues, two hosts, two or more guests etc., while the language runs the gamut, from the formal, to the somewhat coarse, so Caveat Auditor.
The podcast episodes also range in length hugely, from around five minutes, to over two hours, and some podcasts run video, others audio only, and still others a choice of both (Spotify and YouTube are among the most commonly-used platforms).
Please note inclusion on the list – which is in no particular order – is neither an endorsement nor a comment on the content; we'll let readers, or in this case listeners, make up their own minds.
A digital podcast to kick things off, from the e-Estonia briefing center's official Art of Digitalization series. This focuses on digitalization stories that have taken Estonian know-how globally, the site says.
In this episode, from May this year, host Florian Marcus talks to Kristo Vaher, Estonia's CTO, about Vaher's role, and innovations such as plans for virtual assistants aimed at helping people interact with the government.
Tallinn University Podcast
Tallinn University Podcast kicked off big with its debut episode in May this year. Host and TLÜ lecturer Terry McDonald was joined by none other than former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who is perhaps uniquely placed in being able to summarize independent Estonia's 30-year history in its geo-political context. Ilves was Estonia's first ambassador to the U.S. following the restoration of independence, later becoming foreign minister, ahead of his two terms as head of state, 2006-2016.
Notwithstanding the caveat made about content in the opening paragraphs, this episode comes highly recommended.
The podcast episodes' other guests include former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul, Professor Mika Aaltola and Dr. Mari Liis Jakobson.
History of Estonia Podcast
Literally what it says it is, this regularly-updated podcast has been running two years and is currently at episode 46, which averages around one installment a fortnight. The host goes by the name of William of Clermont, real name William S. Parsley, and the series starts at the start, in prehistory. It continues through the many foreign conquests that Estonia has suffered in its history since then, and had reached the Soviet era as of the most recent update, which examines the political leadership of the Estonian SSR during the 1950s-1970s.
Estonian Football Podcast
The only podcast on the list so far to be dedicated solely to sport, this is brought to you by U.K.-based brothers Reece and Nath Broughton, and covers club football, primarily the top-tier A. Le Coq Premium Liiga (also known as the Meistriliiga). The podcast's Twitter account is here.
The most recent episode features Levadia defender Trevor Elhi, who finds the net surprisingly often for a full-back – it turns out, largely due to the fact that he used to be a striker!
Found in Estonia
A real people podcast, this one, hosted by Tiina Pärtel – and, in the earlier episodes, co-hosted by Kaisa Holsting – and interviewing many different expats from all over the world on their lives in Estonia.
In this episode, Tiina and Kaisa interview long-term Australian resident of Estonia Penelope Piip, while recent guests include expats from countries as diverse as the U.S., Malta, Jordan, Mexico, Sudan and Indonesia.
More recently, Britain's ambassador to Estonia, Ross Allen, appears on an episode, and is able to bring some of his perspective and experiences to the show.
Hosted by Chantel Rowe and Solace-Rose Quartey, the podcast is aimed at international residents of Estonia's capital, and anyone else interested in Tallinn.
The latest episode is a seasonal one; Tallinn's annual Christmas market has already been up and running for several weeks now, and guests Merit Hallang (Tallinn Christmas Market) and Mari Pever (Visit Tallinn) look both at the history of the market and what is on offer this year.
The segment of the episode featuring Merit and Mari is available on YouTube here, while the audio-only version of the full podcast contains local news, and also features Lennart Sundja (Tallinn Culture and Sports Department) and Reigo Ahven (Fairmus) talking about Tallinn's status as UNESCO City of Music 2022, and is here.
Tallinn Talks is broadcast in cooperation with the City Center district government and the Tallinn Strategic Management Office, and forms part of the Tallinn City Centre New Arrivals project.
A pure culture podcast, this installment hosted, the site says, by Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (EAMT) alumni [sic] Michael Haagensen in its English episodes – the podcast also has Estonian episodes and is affiliated with the EAMT.
Hannele Känd, Chief Operations Officer at Noorsooteater, appears on the featured episode, along with Dan Renwick (aka Dan le Man) performer, manager of Heldeke theatre club and organizer of Tadaa Festival and the Tallinn Fringe Festival. Hannele and Dan reflect on their activities in Tallinn, local versus international acts, the effects of the pandemic and more.
Startup in Estonia
British-Estonian host Adam Rang takes a look at different aspects of creating and building up a startup, by interviewing some of the key players in the sector, who already have a track record of having successfully done the same.
This episode, entitled "How to help save the planet & still make a profit", features Sandra Särav, head of sustainability at Bolt, nowadays one of Estonia's half-dozen unicorn firms but originally a startup too. Särav and Rang talk about various sustainability methods Bolt uses, the company's green business strategy and the avoidance of "greenwashing".
Rang previously worked for the e-Residency program, and recently gave a TEDxTallinn talk on another one of his passions, Estonian saunas.
This Estonian Life
Dan "Le Man" Renwick returns with this professionally put-together video podcast, co-hosted by fellow Australian Andrew Martin and broadcast from the Heldeke bar itself. It takes an off-the-wall look at the quirks of living in Estonia as a foreign resident.
This installment features entrepreneur and startup guru Annika Ülem (podcast starts about the nine-minute mark-ed.).
The guys are taking a break at the moment, but hope to be back podcasting again soon.
(Full disclosure: The author of this piece was earmarked as a co-host during the podcast's embryonic stages, before wimping out-ed.).
Life in Estonia for Foreigners
Manan Anwar presents this series of video shorts on many different areas of living in the country as a foreign national. This episode looks at a big issue at the time of writing, the cost of living.
Comedy Guy with Louis Zezeran
The founder of entertainment troupe and promoters Comedy Estonia has been hosting this for a couple of years now, often joined by co-host Tadhg Ó'Riada (Tim Reidy). In this episode, they are joined by journalist Sille-Kadri Simer, to mark the 10th anniversary of the publication of a notorious "pick-up" guidebook.
The Estonian Experience
The Estonian Experience with Stew and Jay is here (audio), with some episodes available on YouTube. It features U.S. stand-up comic Stewart Johnson and his co-presenter Jason Medina, recorded at the Richter Studio in Tallinn.
The most recent guest at the time of writing was another well-known figure from the expat community in Estonia, writer Justin Petrone.
Petrone, one half of the popular "Minu" series, has just published a new collection of stories related to Estonia and the Nordics, with a Christmas theme and entitled "Jõulumees", while his last English-language title, "My Viljandi", came out last year.
Other Estonian Experience guests so far include former prime minister, Taavi Rõivas, rapper Genka, musician James Werts and ERR's own Katrin Aarma.
A current affairs-based podcast hosted by Stuart Garlick plus journalist-activist, and now Social Democratic Tallinn city councilor, Maris Hellrand.
This episode brings some, perhaps much-needed, tough love from academic and researcher Keegan McBride, much of whose research work has been related to e-governance in Estonia. Estonia's flagship e-state's biggest challenge to date, the arrival of the Covid pandemic, and with it new ways of interacting – such as remote learning in schools and track-and-trace apps – is examined, in the context of Estonia's digital service provision as a whole.
Digital Government Podcast
Journalist, sociologist and researcher Federico Plantera is show host, across dozens of episodes on e-governance, the e-state and digital development.
In this part, Plantera is joined by Heiko Vainsalu of the e-Governance Academy, and the pair debunk some of the viral tech myths and tech buzzwords which, though they may some annoy some, are widely used by others – often obscuring more substantive issues.
The podcast is the e-Governance Academy's official channel.
The Tissident lifestyle podcast, while generally in Estonian, occasionally carries English-language episodes, including this one with Estonian-Canadian trans-man comic Kaido "Kid" Strange, and this one with U.S. comic Rachman Blake.
ERR News' very own podcast here, hosted by writer and historian Maarja Merivoo-Parro and, as its name suggests, deconstructing many of the underlying aspects of the national character and way of doing things.
Here, episode two looks at the curious phenomenon of Estonia as a singing nation.
While Estonia Explained is on hiatus at the moment, it is set to return soon with more content so keep an eye on the ERR News front page.
EXPO Dubai 2020 Podcast
Maarja Merivoo-Parro has been keeping busy by also presenting this limited-episode series, which ties in with Estonia's participation at Expo 2020 Dubai, currently in progress (through to the end of March 2022).
This installment focuses on personalized medicine - the fine-tuning of medical decisions, interventions and treatment and tailoring them to the needs of an individual patient based on genetic information.
The podcast is produced by Research in Estonia.
Do you run, host or take part in a regular English-language podcast about Estonia, and which was (unintentionally) left out? Please send your link here and we'll consider it for inclusion.
Editor: Andrew Whyte