Podcast Reviews – 1

iCatA lot of literary ladies here review books. Well I am going to review podcasts and I may continue to do so intermittently.

Let me declare here and now that the podcasts I like fall into four categories: History, IT, Management and occasionally Science. I’m a geekette, and proud of it.

Aphra’s favouritest podcast series ever is Hardcore History from Dan Carlin.

Carlin describes these as “conversations around the water-cooler”; he picks up an historical event or theme, peers at it from all sides, pokes it a bit to see what gives and puts it back so we can re-consider it from a distance. There are some very pedestrian history podcasts out there at least one of which must owe serious royalties to Wikipedia, but Carlin shows everyone else how it should be done. Very strongly recommended if you like to have thoughts provoked, connections made and paradigms subverted. Carlin’s not made that many of them, so I have started listening to his riffs off American politics and finding them almost as compelling.

Another must-listen podcast in Aphra’s car is The Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast

A bunch of likable actors from the West Coast of the US shoot a themed breeze each week on some subject relating to their present and past touring shows. A particular favourite was Let it Snow. Gentle and amusing fun. I’m growing rather fond of them, and will of course go and see them next time they are in the Literary Festival in Little-Wittering-on-the-Wold.

I also enjoy the Business Week Cover Story

These are cheerful interviews between one of the editors of Business Week and whoever wrote the cover story that week. They’ve not made me go out and buy the magazine, but they are interesting, informative and sometimes illuminating.

Alt.text from Wired Magazine is good for a quickie

Running to 5 or 8 minutes or so, one of Wired’s columnists casts a flippant and frequently surreal eye over whatever catches his attention that week. Geeky. Silly. Witty. Worth 8 minutes of anyone’s week.

The National Archives Podcasts

Informative and interesting British history from real live academic historians. The lecturers are specialists and really know their stuff, working from primary sources. The slides they refer to, which one cannot of course see, show original documents. No wikipedia here. So understated it’s cool.

Old English in Context

These are undergraduate lectures from Oxford University which provide background information on the Dark Ages for students studying English Literature. They are detailed, funny and fascinating, and – woo hoo – you and I can listen to them and know we don’t have to write an essay or sit an exam. How bloody jammy is that?

There are several podcasters I am trying out to get a feel for:

Dan Klaas does laid-back essays about whatever strikes his fancy. They are classed as comedy, but I find them thought provoking.

The Cranky Middle Manager seem to have quality interviews on business-related subjects without pretending its aimed at the directors of plcs.

Occasionally the HBR Ideacast has interesting interviews with the authors of academic papers or books, but I overdosed on them early on and now I shake nervously when I hear their theme music.

There was one outstanding podcast from The University of Bath Public Lectures by world-class academics and politicians. These are frustrating because the original lectures were illustrated and the podcasts are audio only. Even so “Dead Sexy – the corpse is the new porn star of popular culture” is an exceptional lecture in an exceptional series.

It’s gotta beat Terry Wogan on the way into work, eh?


I download all my podcasts from i-Tunes. However, it has not escaped my notice that you are going to be looking at this at a PC so the links go to web pages and you can download the podcasts directly and listen to them on your PC. Isn’t that helpful of me?

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3 responses to “Podcast Reviews – 1

  1. M’lady Aprhra, I’m honoured you found my Cranky Middle Manager Show podcast, and your’e right- it’s not for CEOs or big shots… it’s for those of us in management in the middle of companies. As our motto says, we’re for those “stuck between the idiots who make the decisions and the morons who won’t do as they’re told.”

    We also take great delight in finding historical references that send people scurrying to the web to find out more- so far we haven’t mentioned Aphra behn but you gotta love any business show that talks about Boudica, Florence Nightingale, Genghis Khan and Ptah-hotep. Sometimes all in the same show.

    Thanks for the kind words, and here’s hoping you “get us” and visit often.

  2. Oh, er. If I’d known you were going to drop by I’d have been really really nice about you.

    I enjoyed the two episodes I’ve listened to more than enough to listen to more of them, and it really is refreshing to have a show by practitioners for real people rather than by academics for those “in the corner office”.

    Aprha Behn wouldn’t be a bad person to mention on the show; the first woman to make her living by writing, she was practical woman who got on with it.

    Thanks for dropping by, and and thanks for commenting.

    All the best

    Aphra

  3. I didn’t know that the Reduced Shakespeare people had a podcast – I will have to check that out. Their shows are very amusing – I laughed and laughed at both their Shakespeare and general literature evenings. I must, must, must catch their abridged Bible at some point.

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