5 Things: On Great Podcasts

This may surprise some but I enjoy National Public Radio.  I'm not a normal NPR crowd kind of person but I really enjoy the format and the reporting.  I enjoy the book reviews, film reviews, and interviews.  But I'm not on the road that much and so I miss a lot.  Thankfully, the invention of the podcast has solved the schedule problem.  I can now listen to what I want when I have the time. The problem today is sorting out what is worth listening to from what should be passed on by.  Here's a list of truly great podcasts.  They are informative, engaging, and helpful.  I'm not linking here to their iTunes feed, you will have to search for that.  But if you have any road time I'd recommend any of these.  There are a lot more I've tried, but here I've put those that I actually have listened to the most.

1. Wall Street Journal This Morning A great morning news podcast, maybe the best.  It is generally broad and sufficiently thorough for a grasp of the last 24 hours events and a look at the current day's start and what may be expected perhaps on Wall Street or Capitol Hill.

2. Al Mohler's Thinking in Public Thinking in Public and Al Mohler's daily Briefing are two excellent sources of commentary on the news and culture from a Christian perspective.  The Briefing is a daily analysis of the news while Thinking in Public is an interview and conversation on some particular topic.  For instance, a recent interview was with Leland Ryken on the influence of the King James Bible.  And by no means does Mohler interview only those with whom he agrees.  Recently, he had a great conversation with the well-known scholar and columnist Stanley Fish.

3. This American Life This American Life is kind of hard to classify.  It is not talk radio, nor news radio, nor an interview format.  It is a sort of radio documentary on some generally off-the-wall or strange topic.  It is a fantastic show.  Of all the podcasts I listen to, I forget these episodes the least.  One, in the last year, took on the subject of cryogenics; the freezing of dead people immediately upon death with the hope that one day a method will be devised to unfreeze them, revive them, and remedy the disease that killed them.  Fascinating and unbelievable.

4. Freakonomics Radio This podcast is by the authors of Freakonomics, Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt.  This is great stuff.  Each episode takes you on some wild thought ride about some strange fact or fallacy, small or great.  Do wine experts really know better than most concerning the taste of truly great wine?  Dubner and Levitt find it out.  How much has science improved food?  Dubner and Levitt show us.  Very good stuff and always interesting.  Did you know that the invention of jarring food was brought about by a prize Napoleon Bonaparte awarded scientists?  Neither did I.  Trivial?  Maybe but always engaging.

5. Russell Moore's Cross & the Jukebox This is a new entry on the scene and an odd one.  Russell Moore is a theologian, preacher, and professor, and he loves country music (and folk, blues, Gospel).  He also loves the South, being from Mississippi, as well as southern writers such as Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, and William Faulkner.  This podcast is an intersect of those loves.  In each episode, he analyzes a song as a piece of cultural artifact, and provides cultural commentary on things such as the South, Evangelicalism, fundamentalism, revivalism, country music, and more.  It's sort of a strange show because it generally begins with a country song and ends with Christian exhortation.  But it works well and I enjoy it very much.

EXTRA: Notice that no NPR shows ended up in my podcast list above, but I want to note that many NPR shows are podcasted now as well.  So I'll throw an NPR one in for the extra. NPR: Jazz Profiles is just great.  They haven't updated in years but I use to get them every week and ended up with dozens.  They still have a dozen or so available.  If you like music and in particularly jazz you'll have to work to not like these ones.

Well, those are my recommendations, and perhaps you will find them helpful and enjoyable.  If you have any recommendations of your own, please post them in the comments below!

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