Luckily, the rise of the wonderful amateurs has not put the professionals out of work - well, at least not yet. And since many stations now release their radio shows online as podcasts in addition to broadcasting them, it's possible to listen to radio shows from anywhere in the world and at a time of your convenience. Here are three great podcasted radio shows I highly recommend:
- In Our Time is the single most unabashedly cerebral show I've ever come across. In a typical episode, the host Melvyn Bragg gathers half a dozen or so Oxford and Cambridge dons, who then discuss some topic in history, science, philosophy or art. Bless the BBC. There have been episodes on Darwin's Origin of Species, Munch's "The Scream", the Battle of Agincourt, Machiavelli and the Italian City State, the Zulu Nation, and much, much more. I simply cannot recommend this show enough. (Bonus: you get to laugh at British academics' preposterous affected accents).
- Like In Our Time, Material World is a BBC production, but its host Quentin Cooper takes himself far less seriously, and the show is a lot lighter as a result. Indeed, I suspect I love listening to it as much for the comedy as for its interviews with working scientists at the heart of important recent developments. It's as entertaining as informative, so it's an absolute joy to listen to.
- Radio Lab is hard to describe. Produced for NPR and hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, this show is into telling stories and doing so compellingly. Not just fascinating, wonderful stories (it's not This American Life), but fascinating, wonderful stories about science. I'm not sure how to describe it further, so here are some episodes I particularly liked: "Placebo", "Limits", "Parasites" (featuring the wonderful Carl Zimmer), and "Famous Tumors".
- The Skeptics Guide to the Universe. (My all-time favorite - hosted by the incomparable Steven Novella. Listen to this podcast. Srsly).
- Astronomy Cast. (All things astronomy, hosted by professional astronomer Pamela Gay and Universe Today publisher Fraser Cain).
- Skeptoid. (I wasn't a huge fan of Brian Dunning's popular offering until recently, but it has really grown on me. Short, sharp and impeccably researched).
- Point of Inquiry and For Good Reason. (I list two here because I recommend Point of Inquiry until DJ Grothe left and started For Good Reason. The early Point of Inquiry interviews are just wonderful).
- Nature Podcast. (The podcast of the journal Nature consists of interviews with authors of recent Nature papers, news and so on. Highly recommended. Science, by the way, also has a - somewhat less good - podcast).
(Hat tips: Simon Grest for introducing me to In Our Time; Clint Armitage for telling me about Radio Lab and some random commentator on a Facebook atheist group many years ago for telling me about The Skeptics Guide - the very fist podcast I listed to).