Having really enjoyed other people’s end of year lists, I thought I’d put a list together that runs through some of the discoveries I’ve made, or moments I’ve enjoyed in 2019. It’s a list of everything from podcasts, to music, to videos. If you find something interesting that you missed in amongst it all, then it’s done its job.


George The Poet’s Have You Heard George’s Podcast? is breathtaking. I heard the hype, and for once it’s entirely justified. This podcast had me spluttering with laughter as tears flowed down my face… as I made dinner. Quite the sight. It’s honest, beautiful, painful and brave. An extraordinairy achievement. Beautifully written and produced, and of real substance. Hats off to the team behind this one.

Sheila Heti on FT Culture Call was an unexpectedly wonderful way to hear more about the author as she explore the Pierre Bonnard exhibition at Tate Modern.

As the Brexit debacle played itself out, I found Talking Politics was the most consistant and informative source of discussion on both domestic and global politics. Get yourself subscribed.


Here are a selection of my favourite musical discoveries from 2019, with Aldous Harding the artist I listened to the most throughout the year… alongside Drake of course… but that goes without saying, right?


Ian Penman wrote a fantastic piece on Prince for the LRB. Book reviews aren’t meant to be this good. An added bonus for those of you who don’t do words much, Audm now provides an audio version of the article.

And I’ve not read as many books as I’d like this year, but Reaching for Utopia by James Cowley, editor of The New Statesman, had the biggest impact on the way I see the world.

Hobo Johnson’s Tiny Desk Concert isn’t technically from 2019, but I discovered it in 2019, so that counts. Heartfelt, beautiful lyricism.

This is what strength and conviction looks like. Extraordinairy.


It’s been a fantastic year of work, which began with the completion of the Google x Guardian Voice Lab. The summer brought working at The Economist with The Intelligence podcast team, before joining the BBC’s Voice & AI department in the autumn to help them develop the persona for their beeb voice assistant.

Around these longer term projects, I found time to also produce a pilot for Sampha / Young Turks, an audio advert for the FA/Public Health England and a couple Strrr TV episodes. Plus, I finally got around to releasing another episode of the Sound Motives podast, this time with the excllent musician Max Cooper.

I’ll consider myself lucky should 2020 match the opportunities I had in 2019 to meet and work with interesting and talented people. With a couple really exciting projects lined up, it’s looking promising. Well, that’s it. I guess all that remains is to say Happy New Year, and I wish everyone a happy, healthy and fulfilling 2020.

Dave O’Donnell

BBC Voice & AI

In October I began working with the team at BBC Voice & AI, helping them with their forthcoming beeb voice assistant. It's been fascinating contributing to this process of shaping the assistant's persona, as the team develop their remarkably ambitious project. The...

The Guardian Voice Lab

At the end of October I was offered a role working on a new initiative from The Guardian developing audio content for Google's Home smart speaker and Google Assistant. Guardian News & Media is pleased to announce the launch of Guardian Voice Lab - an in-house team...