History & general knowledge podcasts! It's a whole new world that opened up to me a few months ago, and life has been so much for the better because of it. I listen every evening before bed, John makes incessant fun of me for listening to these kinds of podcasts, claiming them boring and also pointing out that I generally fall asleep about 30 minutes, making it so that it usually takes me a day or two to get through one episode. I think of it as a two-prong bonus - something about the soothing drone of voices makes me sleepy (great!), I'm also learning something in the process (double great).
I also have all the old standby favourites on my phone, the entire NPR collection (This American Life etc) and RadioLab and on and on. I find that nighttime listening is not opportune for these kinds of podcasts, particularly This American Life. I become so engrossed and so riled up that it makes it impossible to fall asleep. Terry Gross has quite the dulcet voice but still....
Here are some of my favourite lecture series/history/science podcasts:
Love love love Mike Duncan. Beautifully researched, and spoken with a dry wit, it's like listening to your favourite history teacher, except without the annoying interruption of class clowns and final exams. Clocking in at an incredible 179 episodes spanning three years and endless hours, simply, it's the history of Rome from start to finish, from fascinating foundation story of Romulus & Remus, to the rein of Nero and the persecution of Christians in Rome (where I'm at now), to... what? I'm not sure, because i'm not finished with the series and I'm not sure at what year the podcast wraps up. Highly highly recommend it! Mike Duncan also did a really interesting Reddit ANA (found here) where he reveals that he used to be a fishmonger. Really!
This is a fantastic public service that I am so thrilled by. Each week, American History TV (on the CSPAN channel), chooses a college somewhere in the nation and records a lecture by a professor. The topics range from the prohibition, civil war, religious identity, development of American politics and so on. The quality of these lectures can vary, sometimes you find some truly awful professors, sometimes the format of the class is too socratic (with too poor audio quality) to really get the full experience. Still, a really really interesting listen.
So this is interesting because only upon looking for the link to the podcast series did I realize that these lectures are hosted by Brigham Young University, which, as I'm sure you know, is a massive Mormon school out of Utah. Thinking back, the lectures generally tend to run on the more conservative side (see: Barack Obama and the Future of Liberalism), but I've generally found that even when there is a conservative skew to the subject matter, the lecturers themselves are world class, very fair, and very very interesting. Like the CSpan podcast, the quality of these lectures can vary, but that's just the nature of public speaking.
Love these guys! Julie Douglas and Robert Lamb sound exactly like they look (seriously), and their subjects are always super interesting. Not as heady as the previous podcasts I mentioned, and usually I listen to these when I'm a bit more awake. The thing I like about this podcasts is how well the two hosts interact with each other - I used to be a big fan of the Stuff You Should Know podcasts, but eventually turned away because I couldn't stand the smugness (and giggling) of Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant. It's an interesting thing about podcasts, so much to personal tastes. Maybe I've got a sensitive ear, but I literally can't listen to Planet Money, one of the hosts has a very strong Mid-Western accent that for some reason really grates at my nerves. Also, just to throw it in there, I love Radio Lab but the sound engineering is too jarring to be able to listen to at night.