February 17, 2016

The Skylines Podcast

By City Monitor Staff

Hey! Nice to see you here. How you doing? Have you lost weight? Anyway, you look exactly like the kind of hep cat who might be looking for a podcast to subscribe to.

Luckily, we have one right here. 

CityMetric launched the Skylines podcast in February 2016, with the help of the producer Roifield Brown. Every two weeks, Jonn Elledge, colleagues and guests talk about the politics and workings of cities, and test the contention that maps are a great topic for radio. 

You can find us on iTunesAcast or Stitcher. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed. You should definitely do that. 

Previous episodes…


Episode 94: The Fat of the Land

Content from our partners
The role of green bonds in financing the urban energy transition
The need to grow London's EV infrastructure at speed and scale
All eyes on net zero: How cities execute world-class emissions strategies

Crops, cows and soil: Dr Sarah Taber explains how agriculture works, and why there’s a relationship between climate and diet.

Episode 93: The Great Northern Rail Crisis

Why has the north of England’s rail network fallen over, and why is nobody taking responsibility? Jen Williams of the Manchester Evening News explains.

Episode 92: The Italian Job

Italy has a north south divide bigger even than Britain’s. Two researchers at the Centre for Cities – northerner Elena Magrini and southerner Gabriele Piazza – discuss why.

Episode 91: Victoriana

Why is London still so reliant on Victorian infrastructure, and how would the Victorians feel about it? Freelance journalist and noted aristocrat Ned Donovan considers.

Episode 90: Glasnost

Comedian Milo Edwards, an Englishman in Moscow, talks about live in the Russian capital.

Episode 89: Our Town

Lisa Nandy, the Labour MP for Wigan, discusses her new think tank, the Centre for Towns.

Episode 88: The Post Mortem

So what happened in the local elections? New Statesman politics correspondent Patrick Maguire joins Jonn to discuss.

Episode 87: Estuary English

Caroline Crampton, the New Statesman’s head of podcasts, finally makes her Skylines debut to discuss the Thames estuary, subject of her first book.

Episode 86: Industrial revolution, industrial decline

A guest episode: on an episode of the Centre for Cities’ City Talks podcast, chief executive Andrew Carter talks to writer and ex-Treasury staffer Mike Emmerich about Britain’s industrial history and future.

Episode 85: The Unitary State

Was devolution to Scottish and Wales a bad idea? Henry Hill, a correspondent from Conservative Home, reckons so. Jonn argues with him.

Episode 84: A load of old bollards

On street furniture. Ed Jefferson on bollards, India Bourke on trees.

Episode 83: Four weeks out

What to expect from the 2018 local elections? Stephen Bush joins Jonn to explain.

Episode 82: Blighty

The second half of Skylines’ crossover with the San Francisco-based Talking Headways podcast. Jonn talks host Jeff Wood through British cities, their politics and their transport policies.

Episode 81: Dad jokes

To commemorate the late Bob Elledge, Jim Waterson walks Jonn through his favourite railway journeys.

Episode 80: A Local Pound For Local People

On urban economics – or why people who support the Bristol Pound might as well be voting for Donald Trump. With Paul Swinney of the Centre for Cities.

Episode 79: A Primrose Hill By Any Other Name

On names, identities and irritating attempts at rebrandings. With India Bourke and Tass Mavrogordato, chief executive of Bee London, which runs the Midtown Business Improvement District.  

Episode 78: Live From The Crypt

Our first live show, recorded at the New Local Government Network (NLGN) conference at London’s Guildhall. With Piali Das Gupta, head of policy at the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace); Chris Naylor, chief executive of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham; Kathryn Rees, assistant director of Transformation at Wigan council; and Jessica Studdert, deputy director of the NLGN.

Episode 77: It’s Always Sunny…

Philadelphia used to be a major US city. Now, not so much. Writer Nathaniel Popkin, one of the authors of “Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City”, tells us what that does to a city.

Episode 76: Over The Cliff

Why are English councils in so much financial trouble? With Emma Burnell.

Episode 75: The Big Freeze

On extreme weather and climate change, with New Statesman environment writer India Bourke.

Episode 74: Our Friends In The North

A crossover episode. Jonn chats to writer Emma Burnell and Professor Steve Fielding of the University of Nottingham about the best drama ever made about municipal housing policy. (Originally released on The Zeitgeist Tapes.)

Episode 73: Urbanisation Without Globalisation

Daniel Knowles, the Economist’s sub-Saharan Africa correspondent, on why the continent’s rapid urbanisation has not so far led to economic development.

Episode 72: Eleven Minutes Late

Journalist Matthew Engel on how he came to write a history of the British railways, and why it is they’ve spent 200 years stumbling from one cock-up to another.

Episode 71: Africa Rising

Writer and feminist activist Nimko Ali on Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland – a country that doesn’t officially exist.

Episode 70: Merry Xmas Everybody

Jonn and Stephanie discuss the appropriate name for the archipelago which contains the UK and Ireland, plus the second CityMetric Christmas quiz.

Episode 69: Nice

A crossover episode. Jonn talks to Roifield Brown, former Skylines producer and podcast maker extraordinaire, about his lifelong love of maps. (Originally released on Friday 15.)

Episode 68: Fallen Empires

James O’Malley on how he started a campaign for London to become an independent city state as a joke – and how things got a little out of control. Also, Vienna.

Episode 67: The One With The Special Mystery Guest

Sue Jeffrey, leader of Redcar council and Labour’s unsuccessful candidate to be mayor of the Tees Valley, talks about the north east, devolution and why more women should run for the council.

Episode 66: Le soixante-sixième

How do the French see their capital? How do French cities see each other? Two London-based French journalists, Marie Le Conte and Pauline Bock, explain.

Episode 65: Section 106

Why doesn’t Britain build enough houses? Why isn’t affordable housing actually affordable? Rose Grayston, senior policy officer at Shelter, explains.

Episode 64: Slum networking

Guest presenter Joshua Bryant speaks to Himanshu Parikh, the Indian engineer who developed the concept of “slum networking”, and his daughter Priti Parikh, a professor at UCL.

Episode 63: “What are the rest of your bad takes?”

Stephanie joins join to talk bendy buses, devolution, tuition fees and the ontological origins of tube-iness.

Episode 62: The Missing White Rose

Why haven’t Leeds, Sheffield and the other great cities of the West Riding got a devolution deal? With Yorkshire Post political editor James Reed.

Episode 61: Let us play

On spontaneity and playable cities, with Umbrellium’s Usman Haque.

Episode 60: The Adventure of Richard Florida and the New Urban Crisis

Jonn interviews CityLab’s Richard Florida about superstar cities and winner-takes-all urbanism.

Episode 59: The Arsonist and the Water Pistol

Will Theresa May’s big promise on social housing actually help solve the housing crisis? Or will expanding Help to Buy just make everything worse? Jonn and Stephen Bush discuss.

Episode 58: The Eye of the Storm

On extreme weather and climate change, with New Statesman environment writer India Bourke and Bangladesh-based climate scientist Saleemul Huq.

Episode 57: Uber & Out

What does TfL’s threat to ban Uber from the streets of London really mean? Jonn discusses with Stephen Bush.

Episode 56: Shanks’s Pony

On walkable cities, with Steve Chambers, from the charity Living Streets.

Episode 55: Beating the bounds

Where does London, and something else start, and what defines it? Is it transport, commuting patterns, culture, what? Stephen Bush joins Jonn to argue it out.

Episode 54: White heat

Why is York pretty while Wakefield isn’t? Some forgotten architectural history with Buzzfeed’s Jim Waterson.

Episode 53: The Poison Sky

On the air pollution crisis. With Simon Alcock of ClientEarth, India Bourke and Sanjana Varghese.

Episode 52: Transatlantic

A crossover episode with The San Francisco-based Talking Headways podcast. Jonn asks its host Jeff Wood to explain US transport policy to him.

Episode 51: The Slightly Delayed 50th Episode Special

Stephanie and Jonn drink answer a selection of reader questions about high speed trains, city status, and the Redcliffe-Maud report, for just long enough to drink a bottle of fiz.

Episode 50: Gimme Shelter

Why do we have a housing crisis, and why is it so hard to fix it?

Episode 49: The Strange Death of Municipal England

How did England become the most centralised country in the world? With journalist and thinktanker Emma Burnell.

Episode 48: Going Underground

All about the tube. James O’Malley talks about how TfL is using wifi to track how passengers use the system; then Stephen Bush joins Jonn to rank the tube lines.

Episode 47: The Middle Bit

What’s the deal with the US MidWest? Ohio native Sarah Manavis tries to explain. Then Patrick Maguire joins Jonn to talk weird tourist attractions. 

Episode 46: Election special

Stephen Bush and Patrick Maguire join Jonn to talk about the UK general election, and why the politics of cities is different. 

Episode 45: Francophonie

Stephanie has been to Paris, Jonn has been to Montreal; they compare notes.

Episode 44: SPQR

What was urban life like in ancient Rome? And why did the empire fall? Yale historian Kevin Feeney is here to help us find out.

Episode 43: Mistakes were made

The mayoral election post-mortem episode. Featuring Stephen Bush and Patrick Maguire, as well as Andrew Carter and Paul Swinney from the Centre for Cities.

Episode 42: Level Five

It’s mayoral election day, so Stephen Bush and Patrick Maguire join Jonn to make their predictions. Plus we talk to the Guardian’s Alex Hern about the rise of the driverless car.

Episode 41: Bouncing back

How do cities come back from industrial decline? Featuring the chief resilience officers from Pittsburgh and Glasgow, Grant Ervin and Duncan Booker, and a return by Stephanie Boland as co-host.

Episode 40: Snap

Oh god we’re having another bloody election. Stephen Bush and Patrick Mcguire join Jonn to discuss.

Episode 39: Shakespeare’s Engine

On the Midlands mayoral election. Jonn interviews the leading candidates, Labour’s Sion Simon and Conservative Andy Street; and Stephen Bush and Helen Lewis talk about the region and its politics.

Episode 38: Build more bloody houses

It’s Stephanie’s last day on staff at the New Statesman, so it’s Jonn’s last opportunity to  explain exactly why Britain has a housing crisis. Plus Catharine Banks of Shelter tells us about the land problem.

Episode 37: The Mersey Beat

On the Liverpool region mayoral election, with local lad Patrick Mcguire and politics maven Stephen Bush.

Episode 36: Keep calm and carry on

The regulars on London’s resilience and its history as a target for terrorism.

Episode 35: The Manc of the hour

Andy Burnham speaks! The likely mayor of Manchester on his manifesto for England’s second city. Plus Patrick Mcguire joins the regulars to discuss the great man.

Episode 34: Limps, marriages and deaths

Stephanie talks public displays of affection talks public displays of affection & Jonn talks about falling down a manhole.

Episode 33: Parallel histories

On histories, real and imagined. Jonn talks about how London got its tube, and Stephanie recounts the oddest article she’s seen in ages, re-imagining the UK as a Catholic country.

Episode 32: In the loop

Stephanie’s in Chicago, so we chat via Skype about the capital of the midwest and how the US seems to be coping in the age of Trump.

Episode 31: The iron road to Europe

On the history of the British railways, plus Buzzfeed UK’s Jim Waterson joins us to talk about the hilariously huge sums Britain wasted failing to get Eurostar trains to run from the north of England to Paris. 

Episode 30: Now we are one

It’s our first birthday, so we’re getting the old cast back. Former co-host Barbara Speed comes back to talk about the British High Street and ubiquitous bakery chain Greggs, while producer Roifield Brown talks about his home town, Birmingham.

Episode 29: The Permanent Way

Interrailing, weird transport systems, Belgian Boy Scouts and Psychosomatic Diarrhoea. Plus the Guardian tech writer Alex Hern swings by to laugh at Elon Musk’s hyperloop.

Episode 28: New year, new mayors

What is going on with England’s metro mayors – and why does nobody seem to know? Plus the man who tried to ban death, and the foot powder that got elected mayor.

Episode 27: Christmas special service

The regulars discuss the highlights of 2016; what would be on the CityMetric Christmas playlist; and Stephanie flummoxes Jonn with a surprise quiz.

Episode 26: Parklife

On Christmas, and other fun things to do in the city. Ed Jefferson on long-distance walks, Peter Watts on the crisis facing Britain’s parks, and the story of the Gävle goat.

Episode 25: The end of the world

How can we make the world’s cities resilient to an increasingly volatile climate? Featuring 100 Resilient Cities’ Michael Berkowitz, and Risk Cooperative’s Dante Disparte.

Episode 24: Trumpocalypse now

The New Statesman politics team’s Stephen Bush and Julia Rampen join us to talk about Donald Trump’s election victory and why cities didn’t save us.

Episode 23: Roads, ruins and racism

Jonn takes time out from his US election road trip, to talk to Stephanie about Trump, the rustbelt, and why interstates are better than motorways.

Episode 22: Northern soul

On Liverpool, Manchester and the culture of the north of England, with Neil Atkinson from the Anfield Wrap football podcast, and Stuart Maconie off BBC 6 Music.

Episode 21: North and south

On history, economics and the north of England. Ben Harrison and Paul Swinney from the Centre for Cities talk Newscastle, Sunderland and devolution deals, and Jonn tells Stephanie how he managed to offend Liverpool.

Episode 20: Before the flood

How can we protect low-lying cities from rising sea levels? The resilience officers from Rotterdam and Norfolk, Virginia, tell us, while India Bourke updates us on the latest science on climate change and we all get very depressed.

Episode 19: How it all began

History, ancient and modern. Rob Monaco, the man behind the epic Podcast History of Our World, tells us where the world’s first cities appeared, and what they may have looked like. And Stephanie tells Jonn about her attempts to move house, and they discuss how London and other world cities have changed of late.

Episode 18: Sex* and the city (*gender)

On planning and patriarchy, with journalist and feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, Flâneuse author Lauren Elkin and the women of the Berlinials podcast.

Episode 17: Kings in the north

A bonus episode. Labour has selected its candidates for three major city regions: Andy Burnham in Manchester, Steve Rotheram in Liverpool and Sion Simon in Birmingham. Julia Rampen, editor of the New Statesman‘s Staggers blog, joins us to discuss what this means for those cities.

Episode 16: Let the games begin

Why did Barcelona work, but Athens didn’t? Would dressage be more fun if the horses drank lager? On Olympics and regeneration, featuring Sara Doctors on London’s Olympic Park, Peter Watts on the failure to rebuild Battersea Power Station, and listener Jeremy Broome on his adopted city, Singapore. 

Episode 15: Band on the run

Jonn and Stephanie are joined by Neil Codling, the keyboard player from Suede, to discuss how you engage with a city when you see six of them every week of your tour. Oh, and we also discuss busking. Plus, Steffan Storch tells us about his city, Swansea.

Episode 14: Barbarexit

Our co-host Barbara Speed is leaving us. So, for her last appearance, we look back on three of the big questions she answered while at CityMetric. Are there really alligators in the New York Sewers? Is London littered with bottles of discareded Uber piss? And what’s the world’s smallest skyscraper?

Episode 13: Help! Somebody save us!

Benjamin Barber, the American politican theorist and author of If Mayors Ruled the World, joins us to explain, well, why mayors should rule the world. Plus, Jonn and Barbara are joined by Stephanie Boland to discuss British cities and the fall out from Brexit.

Episode 12: Crossing continents

On migration and immigration. Emmanuel Akinwotu on how Lagos is coping with becoming a megacity; Olivia Cuthbert on life in Za’atari, the refugee camp that’s now Jordan’s fourth largest city; Lyman Stone on the city Americans love to hate, Washington DC; and we get a bit worried about the Brexit vote.

Episode 11: Fear and loathing in Miami

A *bonus* mini-episode. Jonn tells Barbara about what he did on his holidays – specifically, read about who the whole place he’s holidaying in is almost certainly going to drown. So.

Episode 10: Genius Loci

How are our views of places driven by the way they’re presented in culture? Stephanie Boland talks literature, then Stephen Bush and Helen Lewis join us to discuss annoying geographical screw ups in TV and film. Plus, Steven Bell on getting around Glasgow.

Episode 9: Cats in a bag

Borders and boundaries, identity and institutions – whether the city is one entity or many, and who it is who gets to decide. Applied Wayfinding’s Tim Fendley on disconnections in Toronto, and Drew Reed the fall and rise of street cars in his home town, Los Angeles.

Episode 8: Yes we Khan

A special *bonus* mini-episode, in which our colleage from the New Statesman‘s politics team Stephen Bush joins us to talk about London’s new mayor, as well as elections in Bristol and Liverpool and the looming appearance of metro mayors. 

Episode 7: Transports of delight

How public transport makes a city. Emmanuel Akinwotu on commuting in Lagos, Nicole Badstuber on why megaprojects fail, and a listener from Leeds on why it’s the best but also the worst. 

Episode 6: Sound and vision

This week we get cultured. Shain Shapiro, founder of the Music Cities Convention, tells us what makes a music city; arts producer Sara Doctors tells us why Harlow is one of England’s most culturally significant towns; and a listener from Toronto tells us about her city.

Episode 5: One in five

On one of the biggest stories in the world today: the urbanisation of China. We talk to Wade Shepard, author of Ghost Cities of China, about how it came about – and whether those cities will stay empty for long. Also, our producer Roifield makes a rare appearance to tell us about his hometown, Birmingham.

Episode 4: When cities attack

On earthquakes and eminent domain. Diana Wall on the African-American village destroyed to build central park, and Michael Bird on how a Bucharest nightclub fire brought down the Romanian government.

Episode 3: You are here

Maps! Maps! Maps! Stewart Mader on his campaign to get the PATH trains onto the New York subway map, and Tim Findley of Applied Wayfinding on how you make a map.

Episode 2: Not a drop to drink

Linda Tirado on the water wars brewing in the American West, and Karim Elgendy on the Middle East.

Episode 1: Globalised cities and their discontents

On London, New York, and why so many people hate us. Guests: Yorkshire’s Tom Forth and NYC’s Elizabeth Minkel.


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