by Roxanne Spencer (Associate Professor and Coordinator, Western Kentucky University Libraries)
and Rebecca L. Nimmo (Part-time Library Assistant, Beulah Winchel Education Library, Western Kentucky University Libraries)
Column Editor: Jack G. Montgomery (Professor, Coordinator, Collection Services, Western Kentucky University Libraries)
Column Editor’s Note: Podcasts are to the early 21st century what radio and early TV was to our mid-20th-century grandparents. We can access them anywhere, anytime, and on virtually any subject. We can subscribe to podcasts on iTunes and Google Play through our mobile phones, or we can listen online via our laptops, tablets, or smart speakers. Most podcasts are audio only, although some have video versions or are video only.
Traditional media — radio and TV — has adapted to mobile access by developing podcasts from popular programs. Popular podcast apps include Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Google Play, Podbean, iHeartRadio, Player FM, Stitcher, and more.
Podcasts continue to grow in popularity along with smart speakers, according to a 2018 Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital — https://www.edisonresearch.com/infinite-dial-2018/. Data shows that 44% of Americans aged 12 and over have listened to a podcast, a gain of 4% over 2017.
This Wandering the Web column looks at a variety of random podcasts on topics of interest to library patrons and staff. From comedy to pets, education to sports, and more, sit back, relax, adjust your earbuds, and enjoy these popular podcasts! There are lots of top podcast of the year lists on various topics, too, so start making up your own lists with these as a possible starting point. — JM
Craft-ish with Vickie Howell — https://vickiehowell.com/craftish/. Author, designer, and television personality Vickie Howell is best known for her knitting television programs on DIY Network and PBS. On her independent podcast Craft-ish, Howell speaks to crafters and designers in many fields about their motivations and histories in crafting, as well as how they balance crafting with other parts of life.
Making — https://makingzine.com/. Formerly the Woolful Podcast, host Ashley Yousling meets with creative professionals and “makers” to discuss their personal journeys with creation. The podcast was formerly limited to fiber arts so the back catalog is full of knitters, spinners, quilters, and even sheep farmers, but the change from “Woolful” to “Making” in 2018 opened up the podcast to creative professionals of all types.
The Stranded Podcast — https://www.youtube.com/user/amyflorence14. Amy Florence is a 28-year-old self-employed yarn dyer living on the south coast of England. On her weekly video podcast, she discusses knitting, crocheting, spinning, and running her own business out of her garage.
The Cult of Pedagogy — https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/pod/. Jennifer Gonzalez, educator, blogger, and creator of the web resource Cult of Pedagogy, speaks to students, teachers, parents, and administrators “about psychological and social dynamics of school, trade secrets, and other juicy things you’ll never learn in a textbook.” This savvy podcast is well worth listening to for a variety of views and discussions on the ever-evolving world of education.
The Allusionist — https://www.theallusionist.org/. Helen Zaltzman, an award-winning podcaster located in London, UK, discusses the growth and development of the English language. Selected as iTunes’ best new podcast in the year 2015, Zaltzman reveals how England’s colonialist history, combined with “tiny idiosyncratic decisions” from the language’s speakers have shaped English into the messy amalgam of grammar and syntax that it is today.
The House of #EdTech — https://chrisnesi.com/ — Chris Nesi explores how technology impacts education. Topics include discussion of good teaching, early childhood and technology, pre-service teachers’ need for more exposure to ed tech tools, creativity and critical thinking, and tips for growing ed tech skills over long summer breaks.
You Must Remember This — http://www.youmustrememberthispodcast.com/ — You Must Remember This, as the tagline states at the beginning and end of every episode, is a podcast about “the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century.” Host Karina Longworth focuses on accuracy when approaching topics on the behind-the-scenes world that shaped cinema in the 20th Century. The podcast is released in seasons that focus on a single topic or era of Hollywood’s history, making it easy for new listeners to find a starting point.
Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness — https://www.earwolf.com/show/getting-curious-with-jonathan-van-ness/ — Jonathan Van Ness, the flamboyant grooming guru from the Netflix reality show Queer Eye, has always been curious about how the world works. In this entertaining and diverse series, Van Ness brings in experts to discuss a wide variety of topics, with titles such as “Who Was the Beyoncé of Renaissance Art?” and “What’s The Cutest Way to Fight Climate Change?”
Nerdificent — https://www.nerdificent.com/ — Comedians Dani Fernandez and Ify Nwadiwe take deep dives into all things “nerdy” in the podcast Nerdificent. With topics ranging from Comic Con to bitcoin to queer representation in geek culture, Fernandez and Nwadiwe present information in a manner that is entertaining and informative for nerds and non-nerds alike.
One Bad Mother — https://www.maximumfun.org/shows/one-bad-mother — Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn are mothers who aren’t afraid to dig down to the nitty-gritty. They focus on frankness in discussing parenting trials and tribulations, striving to shift the conversation about motherhood from a place of judgment to one of camaraderie.
Zen Parenting Radio — https://zenparentingradio.com/ — Separately, Cathy Adams is a licensed clinical social worker, therapist, and sociology instructor at Dominican University and Elmhurst College and Todd Adams is a certified life coach focused on supporting work/life balance for men. Together, they are a married couple with three daughters, and co-hosts of the Zen Parenting Radio podcast. The two use their personal and professional experience to build a community through this podcast focused on ideals of peaceful parenting.
Mom and Dad Are Fighting — https://slate.com/human-interest/mom-and-dad-are-fighting — Rebecca LaVoie, Gabriel Roth, and Carvell Wallace of Slate present this podcast where they discuss parenting triumphs and fails, as well as pertinent interviews and news items. Topics hit across the parenting spectrum, including topics such as board games, the teenage boy obsession with the “friend zone,” and daycare.
The Sporkful — http://www.sporkful.com/ — or on iTunes or Stitcher — hosted by Dan Pashman, author and Cooking Channel host, and produced by Stitcher, is an exploration of people via food. It “isn’t for foodies; it’s for eaters.” Feast your ears on A Short History of Cereal and Milk, The Food Guilt Remediation Project, Inside the Mind of a Culinary Mad Scientist — and more — to learn more about who we are by what we eat, how we eat, and why.
Gastropod — https://gastropod.com/ — Viewing “food through the lens of science and history,” co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley bring fascinating facts and tales to the table with a new episode every two weeks. Through 100 episodes to date, Gastropod explores topics ranging from Native American cuisine to exploring international flavors to fake food and so much more to tease your palate.
Cook the Perfect… from BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour — https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrwmn — also available on iTunes. Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey interview leading food writers and top chefs for tips on preparing delicious home-cooked meals including classics like quiche Lorraine or coq au vin, as well as more exotic fare, such as kimchi fried rice or fattoush. American audiences may need to do a little homework to convert measurements and temperatures, but why argue with the quality from Auntie Beeb?
20-Minute Fitness Podcast by Shape — https://shapescale.com/blog/category/20-minute-fitness-podcast/ — offers tips on nutrition, exercise, weight-loss, and digital resources for a healthier lifestyle. Topics such as improving sleep, smart clothing, helpful apps, and supplements are delivered in 15-25-minute podcast episodes.
Bulletproof Radio with Mike Asprey — https://blog.bulletproof.com/category/podcasts/ — is a long-running podcast covering the length and breadth of ways business, culture, and health influence one another. In the pursuit of “the art and science of becoming superhuman,” Asprey seeks viewpoints from practices as diverse as neuroscience, cardiology, fitness empires, and holistic practitioners. Directory of episodes — https://blog.bulletproof.com/bulletproof-radio-episodes-directory/.
Hay House Podcasts — https://www.hayhouse.com/podcasts — feature several motivational, inspirational podcasts from such well-known figures as Louise Hay, Caroline Myss, Wayne Dyer, and Christine Northrup. Topics for personal growth are gleaned from teachings in psychology, personal development, meditation, and spirituality.
Library Land Loves — https://librarylandloves.libsyn.com/ — is a presentation of the Ontario Library Association. Weekly episodes feature library professionals from across Canada, presenting top five lists about anything they are passionate about related to libraries, from management tips to “Top Five Literary Men I’d Leave My Husband For” and everything in between.
Dewey Decibel — https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/tag/dewey-decibel/ — is a monthly podcast from the American Library Association. Host Phil Morehart, associate editor of American Libraries, interviews authors, librarians, scholars, and other library-adjacent professionals about hot topics in libraries such as disaster response, cybersecurity, and library advocacy.
The Librarian Is In — https://www.nypl.org/voices/blogs/blog-channels/librarian-is-in — The New York Public Library is the largest public library system in the United States and releases this weekly podcast about books and culture. Hosted by Gwen Glazer and Frank Collerius, the podcast provides a librarian’s view on literature, pop culture, and library life.
How Stuff Works Stuff Media — https://www.stuffmedia.com/ — presents varied podcasts from topics ranging from the bizarre Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities to Culture Kings to relationships (Committed) to personal and societal health (Commune) to questions about the universe (Daniel & Jorge Explain the Universe). Listeners will also find a comedic take on almost any subject, such as Alchemy This, Creature Feature. What are you waiting for? Dive in to the constantly changing, sometimes scary, often funny world of How Stuff Works podcasts.
A Way with Words — https://www.waywordradio.org/ — is available on many public radio stations and as a podcast iTunes, player.fm, gpodder, and Android apps. Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett research and answer listener’s questions about language — unfamiliar, regional, or family expressions’ origins; word histories; misunderstandings, slang, dialects, wordplay — you name it — Barnette and Barrett will tackle your questions and welcome your contributions.
A History of the World in 100 Objects on BBC Radio 4 — https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nrtd2/episodes/downloads — and through iTunes. Although this series was recorded in 2010, it is worth listening to for its exploration of human history through ancient artifacts. From coins to vessels to stone tablets, statues, and more, learn about the development of various peoples through the craftsmanship, vision, and impetus of ancient artists and artisans.
Speedway and Swan — https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/2018/march/lit-lists-5-binge-worthy-literary-podcasts — a poetry podcast from the University of Arizona Poetry Center, is among 5 binge-worthy podcasts showcased in early 2018 on World Literature Today. Among other recommendations are San Francisco legendary bookstore Live! From City Lights, The Moth, Between the Covers, and The New Yorker Literary Fiction podcasts.
Bookstr — https://www.bookstr.com/11-best-literary-related-podcasts from mid-2018 — published a “12 Best Literary-Related Podcasts” list in July 2018, with favorites such as the eerie Welcome to NightVale; “true-life scary stories” from Lore; new writing from The Catapult; cultural conversations with authors on Lit Up; and Book Fight: Tough Love for Literature.
Electric Lit’s post “14 Literary Podcasts that Are Not Hosted by Three White Guys” — https://electricliterature.com/diverse-literary-podcasts-books-writing-ffdd55bdf2e7 — features literary podcasts with an eye to diversity, from poetry to Black Chick Lit to minorities in publishing to Asian authors and more, these 14 podcasts open up the world of diverse literature for your morning commute or podcast binge.
News & Politics
SLATE Podcasts — https://slate.com/tag/slate-podcast/1 — has something for everyone, but not all podcasts are completely free. Slate Plus, their subscription model, includes ad-free, full-length podcasts from such popular shows as What’s Next, The Good Fight, Political Gabfest, and more.
Today, Explained — https://www.vox.com/today-explained — from Vox, hosted by Sean Rameswaram, provides an evening wrap-up of the day’s events, perfect for the commute home. For other timely Vox podcasts, see The Weeds, Future Perfect, The Impact, and more at https://www.vox.com/pages/podcasts.
Left, Right & Center — https://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/left-right-center — from KCRW. One of several timely podcasts on modern life, Left, Right & Center bills itself as a “weekly civilized yet provocative” discussion of pop culture, politics, and policy. Josh Barro hosts as the centrist, with newsworthy guests from the left and right.
Other popular news podcast sources: Popular news podcasts can be found through traditional providers on your favorite podcast source, such as Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, Player FM, iHeartRadio, etc.
- NPR — https://www.npr.org/podcasts/,
- BBC — https://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts, and
- PBS Search — https://www.pbs.org/search/?q=podcasts.
- Many TED topics are available as podcasts — https://www.ted.com/read/ted-podcasts.
Canine Nation Podcasts — https://caninenation.ca/podcasts — are based on articles by Eric Brad, which appear in Life as a Human online magazine — https://lifeasahuman.com/category/pets/canine-nation/. Brad digs deeper into the history of the evolution of dogs as working animals and companions, dispelling myths and sharing advice for effective training. The podcasts are meant to be an open forum and the producers welcome comments at both sites.
Horse Radio Network — http://www.horseradionetwork.com/ — for equine lovers everywhere, HRN offers a variety of podcasts on care and tack, horse “eventing,” well-known and unusual personalities, legends, training, nutrition, and good horsemanship.
Radio Public — https://about.radiopublic.com — lists a selection of best animal podcasts as of October 30, 2018, “Our Pets, Ourselves: Best Podcasts for Animal Lovers” — https://about.radiopublic.com/2018/10/30/our-pets-ourselves-best-podcasts-for-animal-lovers/. Topics include training tips and shared stories about cats and dogs, animal agriculture, aquariums, and caring for unusual pets in the home.
30 for 30 Podcasts — https://30for30podcasts.com/ — the award-winning series 30 for 30 Podcasts follows the same general format as the popular ESPN 30 for 30 film series — they are individual audio documentaries about various sports and sports-adjacent topics. Topics are widely varied across sports fields, including topics such as the birth of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, professional poker cheating, and the John Madden video game legacy.
Outkick the Coverage — https://www.outkickthecoverage.com/outkick-the-show/ — available on numerous outlets, including iHeartRadio, PodBean, and FoxSports — brings unusual long-format discussions hosted by Clay Travis on sports, entertainment, and politics.
Burn It All Down: The Feminist Sports Podcast You Need — http://burnitalldownpod.com/ — offers a fresh perspective to sports, gender equity, and popular culture through its diverse female hosts. Expect intelligent, engaging, and lively discussions on the intersections — and intersectionality — of women, sports, and social and political questions of today.
StarTalk Radio — https://www.startalkradio.net/ — an award-winning radio show and podcast hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Along with a rotating cast of comic co-hosts, including comedians Chuck Nice and Eugene Mirman, Tyson discusses physics, astronomy, and life in the universe with celebrities and scientists across various fields.
99% Invisible — https://99percentinvisible.org/ —host Roman Mars, a founding member of the podcast collective Radiotopia, created the podcast 99% Invisible to explore the hidden architecture and design that has shaped the modern world. The podcast website includes a list of the staff’s favorite episodes for new listeners wondering where to begin.
Stuff to Blow Your Mind — https://www.stufftoblowyourmind.com/ — hosts Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore science and technology in their weekly podcast. No field of science is untouched, with topics relating to biology, engineering, chemistry, physics, psychology, and more on regular rotation.
A word of caution as listeners track down the many options available in the burgeoning world of podcasting. Many podcasts are free, but some sources have limited access to recent or full episodes, as upselling listeners to subscriptions is a fact of internet business life. Listeners may have to search various podcast providers for full episodes, newer or archived editions. Happy listening!