Over the last three years I’ve become a fan of podcasts. They’re great to listen to when I’m doing things that require my hands and eyes but only a small part of my brain: chopping vegetables, washing dishes, reconciling bank statements, sorting through the pile of mystery papers on the floor next to my desk. For the most part, I listen to podcasts about the craft and business of writing,* with an occasional side trip into popular culture. **
Recently I had a revelation. (You see where this is going, right?)
In the course of research, I stumbled across New Books In History: a podcast that interviews academic historians about their work. I’m glad I found it. The interviews are well done, but definitely academic in scope and tone. It’s more like listening to a college lecture than two smart, opinionated and funny writers discussing narrative structure and character development in The Philadelphia Story. *** And it’s a nuisance to stop what I’m doing to take a note. Which I often want to do. Because these people are smart.
But beyond its intrinsic value, NBH made me think “History podcasts!” and “Duh!” A quick glance at the choices in iTunes was both overwhelming and dispiriting. I downloaded several that seemed to meet my criteria: broad interests held together by a set of personal historical concerns on the part of the podcaster(s), a quirky aesthetic that doesn’t descend into farce, an appealing voice.**** In short, the podcast equivalent of History in the Margins.***** Once I find a few I like, I’ll share.
But in the meantime, I’m hoping you’ll share. Do you listen to podcasts? How do you find them? Are there history podcasts you love? History podcasts you hate? What makes a good history podcast? Etc.
I really want to know.
**Or better yet, popular culture as a vehicle for understanding narrative structure.
***The Popcorn Dialogues. They stopped recording in 2012, but there is lots of good stuff here,
****Literally as well as metaphorically. The voices on some podcasts that I listen to regularly drive My Own True Love out of the kitchen.
*****Yes, yes. I’ve thought about it. But not any time soon.