Listening to podcasts is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to “learn on the go.” I listen to podcasts when I’m driving to the office, walking in the neighborhood, or when doing chores around the house. I usually set the podcast to 1 1/2 speed, to benefit from Apple’s “skipping” technique that speeds the podcast up without making everyone sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Last summer, I listed my seven favorite podcasts. Commenters chimed in with additional recommendations, and I made some new discoveries. Here are some of my favorites this year.
I’m going to start with the podcast that breaks all the rules about how long your podcast should be, or how frequently you should put out new episodes. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is my favorite find of the past year. Carlin has radio experience, and you can tell from the intensity of his voice and the dramatic flair of his commentary. But where Carlin really excels is in making you feel like you are there, in the shoes of the main players, weighing the same choices. Start with the multi-part series on the Great War raging a century ago – “Blueprint for Armageddon.”
Another history podcast is Stuff You Missed in History Class, a shorter program with a long list of episodes from which to choose. On the Church History front, you can’t beat 5 Minutes in Church History put out by Ligonier. Both of these podcasts are released once a week.
NPR is still king when it comes to masterful storytelling in an audio format. My three favorites in this genre are released weekly or twice a month.
This American Life, long a staple of public radio, carries over well as a podcast. I don’t listen to every episode, but I rarely go a month without dipping into this series.
Serial set the bar high for riveting storytelling and reporting. The first episode is one of the most compelling and perfectly paced audio documentaries I’ve ever encountered. The rumor is that the next season will focus on the desertion, defection, and rescue of Bowe Bergdahl.
Criminal features a series of stand-alone episodes about odd and eccentric crimes. The earlier episodes are better than the later ones.
Christian Cultural Engagement
The best place to start is still The World and Everything In It, a half hour newsmagazine that summarizes the day’s top news and features commentary from a conservative Christian perspective. The quality is excellent, and you can forward to the next segment in case you’re not interested in what’s being discussed.
There are some other great podcasts for Christians and culture, including Breakpoint This Week with John Stonestreet and Ed Stetzer (released weekly), The Eric Metaxas Show (two segments daily, usually with interesting guests), and The Briefing — Al Mohler’s daily analysis of the news.
Pass the Mic is a weekly program hosted by Jemar Tisby and gives insight into the African-American evangelical community and the pressing issues of the day. The Gospel Coalition podcast is a mix of roundtable conversations and sermons/talks from TGC conferences.
For more in depth conversations about religion, theology and public life, I recommend Mere Fidelity (a good group of guys whose discussions are always thoughtful and whose perspectives are always worth considering). I also recommend the weekly Research on Religion from Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, and the monthly-released Thinking in Public.
When you’re ready for a break from all that thinking, you can enjoy Phil Vischer’s podcast every week. Vischer (creator of VeggieTales and What’s In the Bible?) leads conversations with Skye Jethani and Christian Taylor, where they discuss big and small stuff, and show that it is possible to engage serious issues without losing your sense of humor.
The 5 Leadership Questions podcast hosted by Barnabas Piper and Todd Adkins never disappoints. This twice-a-week podcast features great topics and guests. Thom Rainer’s podcast is also worth downloading. Rainer talks about different trends he observes in the landscape of churches and ministries in North America. Always food for thought here.
(If you’re a Southern Baptist, you should check out SBC This Week, in which Amy Whitfield and Jonathan Howe provide updates on SBC matters and frequently features guests who are leading in the Convention.)
What about you? What do you recommend?
What podcasts should I should add to my list?