Great Podcasts #4: BBC World Book Club

Harriet Gilbert hosts monthly interviews with contemporary authors that feature questions from both a live audience and BBC World Service listeners from all over the world. Recent programs have featured writers such as Nawal El Sadaawi, David Guterson, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, Alice Walker, Annie Proulx, and Chinua Achebe. Highly recommended!

As always, you can go directly to the BBC site, but the best way to ensure that you don’t miss a program is to subscribe via iTunes.

Great Podcasts #3: 'In Our Time' with Melvyn Bragg

BBC Radio’s Melvyn Bragg explores history and especially the history of ideas every week in a breathless 42-minute romp through a huge range of topics. Gathering academic experts around him, he delivers a weekly mini-course on subjects such as the trial of Charles I, the Augustan Age, St. Paul, Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, the Boxer Rebellion, T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’, and so on, to take just a few recent examples. Science, politics, literature, art, and philosophy are all included. ‘In Our Time’ is ideal for teachers and students of those subjects, and teachers of I.B. Theory of Knowledge (TOK) will also find it useful.

The speed and (for some) the British accents will make comprehension challenging, so for these podcasts even more than most, it’s far better to download episodes and then distribute them to students, who can then listen at their own pace, re-listen, etc.

You can download recent programs from the BBC web site, but older programs are available only for streaming, so if you want your students to be able to listen on their computers or mp3 players, it’s best to subscribe via iTunes.

Great Podcasts #2: Writers & Company

Eleanor Wachtel interviews writers on her Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program, “Writers & Company”. She and Leonard Lopate are the two best interviewers I know. She talks with famous and not-so-famous authors, and their conversations are invariably interesting and informative. Few ‘media personalities’ are as well-informed as Wachtel. Older students in top-level literature classes will find these podcasts stimulating, sometimes challenging, and very worthwhile.

Subscribe via iTunes, or directly from the CBC web site.

Great podcasts #1: WNYC's Leonard Lopate

Leonard Lopate interviews a wide range of people on New York’s public radio station, WNYC—authors, musicians, actors, visual artists, dancers, and many others, on a huge range of topics. A remarkable number of these podcasts are wonderful to share with students.

For literature and drama teachers, he interviews many actors, directors, and playwrights whose work is appearing on one of New York City’s many stages, along with contemporary novelists and poets, and biographers of great writers. But his topics also include the environment, current events and politics, science, psychology, mathematics, philosophy, and religion.

Lopate is one of the two best interviewers I know, along with Eleanor Wachtel. His rich, smooth voice is a pleasure to hear. He seems to know a good deal about almost everything, asks excellent questions, and comes to his interviews incredibly well-prepared.

You can subscribe to The Leonard Lopate Show via iTunes, or directly from the WNYC web site.