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Feature | Estonia's English-language podcasts, all in the one place

Tallinn University Podcast host Terry McDonald, interviewing Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, March 2023.
Tallinn University Podcast host Terry McDonald, interviewing Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, March 2023. Source: TLÜ

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, in English, about different aspects of the country.

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 (17, 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: To be in English, about Estonia and to have had multiple, recent episodes posted online.

Those podcast series which have not been updated in the past year, or thereabouts, are included under the legacy section.

Listening to every single episode might have proved a major undertaking, so instead the list below contains individual episodes fairly representative of the podcasts as a whole.

These cover a plethora of subject matter and approaches, from the e-state to culture; from everyday life in Estonia to the academic; from specific events or developments, to more general discussions; from official organizations' broadcasts, to hobbyists, and so on.

In short, there should be something to suit all tastes, while those interested in hearing and/or watching more can trace the links through to other episodes from the same people.

Participants are both Estonians and native speakers of English, along with people of other nationalities.

Formats vary from monologues, to host-guest dialogues, two hosts, two or more guests etc.

The language runs the gamut, from the formal, to the somewhat coarse, so Caveat Auditor.

The podcast episodes also range in length hugely, too, from around five minutes, to over two hours, while some podcasts comprise 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 of nor a comment upon the content; readers, or in this case listeners, can make up their own minds.

This article was first published in 2021, and has been updated.

e-Estonia podcast

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.

The most recent installment, just a few days old at the time of writing, is called "From citizen-centric to personalized healthcare: the power of genomics," and features Piret Hirv manager of the Connected Health Cluster.

The podcast starts on a pretty bleak note (e-Estonia's words) in shedding light on the challenges faced by the healthcare system due to Estonia's ageing population and limited resources. A more optimistic vision for the future follows, and emphasizes the potential of innovation to provide healthcare to more people, with fewer resources.

History of Estonia Podcast

Literally what it says it is, this regularly-updated podcast has been running for several years and has many good quality and interesting takes on Estonian history that go way beyond the surface-level nature of many other English-language treatments of Estonian history.

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, as well as the drive towards independence.

The most recent episode at the time of writing, issued April 2023, looks at Estonia's accession to the EU and NATO in 2004, and features Professor Andres Kasekamp of the University of Toronto.

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 latest episode has an interview with Markus Poom, son of legendary Estonian goalkeeper Mart (Derby, Sunderland, Arsenal, Watford). Markus is a midfielder currently plying his trade with Irish side Shamrock Rovers.

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.

Found in Estonia host Tiina Partel talking to Maltese national and episode 45 guest Stefano Ellul. Source: Startup Estonia/Ahti Kaskpeit

The podcast is conducted bi-weekly, and is already at ep. 68 at the time of writing.

KultuuriReflektor

A pure culture podcast, the series includes episodes both in English and Estonian; the most recent in English looked at "The Future of modern technologies in the Cultural sector in Tallinn."

Tallinn University Podcast

Tallinn University Podcast started in May 2021 with an appearance by former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, and earlier this year also featured one Prime Minister Kaja Kallas...

Tallinn University Podcast host Terry McDonald, interviewing Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, March 2023. Source: TLÜ

The podcast episodes' other past guests included former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul, Professor Mika Aaltola and Dr. Mari Liis Jakobson, while the series has covered the War in Ukraine in some depth.

Life in Estonia for Foreigners

Manan Anwar, originally from Pakistan and now an Estonian citizen, presents this series of video shorts on many different areas of living in the country as a foreign national.

In the most recent edition at the time of writing, Manan addresses that perennial question facing most foreigners from all parts of the world who have moved to Estonia, how does one make Estonian friends?

quESTonia

A current affairs-based podcast hosted by Stuart Garlick with journalist and Social Democratic Tallinn city councilor Maris Hellrand.

This episode brought 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.

Digital Government Podcast

The e-Governance Academy's podcast has assisted digital transformation globally in more than 130 countries, according to the website, providing insights and worldwide examples on how digital technology can benefit every society.

The podcast is broadcast most Wednesdays.

The podcast is the e-Governance Academy's official channel.

Work in Estonia podcast

Work in Estonia Talk says it aims to give an insight to expats working in Estonia and covers two sides of the story in its podcasts, one expat guest working in Estonia, and one of their local co-workers (or bosses).

Just to show we're up for anything, within reason, ERR News' Marcus Turovski and Andrew Whyte appeared in this episode, from December 2022.

Estonian Soldier

Finally, no article on podcasts in English relating to Estonia would be complete without former Estonian Defense Forces conscript, now reservist, Artur Rehi's "Estonian Soldier" series (not least because the YouTube channel will have far more subs and views than the other series combined).

Rehi had already been regularly podcasting about military matters prior to the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, which unsurprisingly has dominated the series since then.

The latest installment at the time of writing asks: "What really happened in Belgorod?".

Legacy podcasts

Here are all the podcast series, in no particular order, which have not been updated in the past year, yet are still online and contain plenty of content. If they start up again naturally they will be re-bumped to the main list. Any other podcasts which were included in the original version of this piece, but whose links are no longer working, have been removed.

Estonia Explained 

Writer and historian Maarja Merivoo-Parro, formerly of ERR, put together this series which, as its name suggests, deconstructs many of the underlying aspects of the national character and way of doing things.

Here, episode seven, originally posted in April 2023, examines another question more than familiar to most expats in Estonia: "Why are you here?".

Tallinn Talks

The Tallinn Talks podcast was aimed at international residents of Estonia's capital.

The podcast was broadcast in cooperation with the City Center district government and the Tallinn Strategic Management Office.

Startup in Estonia 

British-Estonian host Adam Rang took 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", featured Sandra Särav, head of sustainability at Bolt.

Rang previously worked for the e-Residency program, and has given a TEDxTallinn talk on another one of his passions, Estonian saunas.

Comedy Guy with Louis Zezeran

Hosted by founder of entertainment troupe and promoters Comedy Estonia. this episode features journalist and comic 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 featured U.S. stand-up comic Stewart Johnson and co-presenter Jason Medina

This episode features ERR's own Priit "Wend" Kuusk.

Other Estonian Experience guests included former prime minister Taavi Rõivas, rapper Genka, musician James Werts and travel writer Justin Petrone.

EXPO Dubai 2020 Podcast

Maarja Merivoo-Parro also presented this limited-episode series, which tied in with Estonia's participation at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The podcast was produced by Research in Estonia.

Editor's note: This article was first published in 2021 and has since been updated.

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Do you run, host, take part in or simply listen to/watch 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.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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