Five Podcasts I Enjoy (That You Might Also Like)

Dallas media personality Chris Arnold once said, “People love lists.” I don’t know if they actually do (generalizing is tricky business), but here’s my list of five podcasts I enjoy that you might want to start listening to:

  1. History of English Podcast by Kevin Stroud: Kevin, a North Carolina lawyer by trade, is more than 100 episodes into a historical look into the development of English from its Proto-Indo-European origins to the language we speak today. He’s currently up to early Middle English, so there’s no telling how many hundreds more episodes the series will take to get to its eventual conclusion. But I hope it’s many, many more. You don’t need to be a linguist or even a language geek to appreciate the story of where our language (and those who spoke it) came from and how it changed (and continues to change) over time.

2. Our Fake History by Sebastian Major: I recently discovered this podcast by a Canadian history teacher who looks into famous myths and legends from around the world. There are sometimes bits of historical truth in myths and some of what we think is true actually never happened. He’s good at exploring and theorizing about where the truth lies and why “fake history” is popular with so many people. He is frank about the lack of rationality of some crazier claims, but I would say he’s even-handed in his approach. He’s not out to make fun of people for believing in fake history. Instead, he’s fascinated by these tales’ existence and what perhaps compels people to believe in them.

3. When Diplomacy Fails by Zack Twamley: This young man from Ireland is a thorough researcher who focuses more on the diplomatic side of conflict than on the gory battlefield details. His commitment to digging deeper into a topic and really exploring the competing claims and viewpoints of the multiple sides in a war, or a series of world political events, makes his episodes intriguing and thought provoking. He makes me question the easy narratives and the lazy labels of heroes and villains put on many famous events from history. Also, he delves into conflicts in Eastern Europe and elsewhere that I previously knew almost nothing about.

4. History of England by David Crowther: If Monty Python had a podcast about the history of England this would be that podcast. David Crowther offers much in the way of humor and gentle sarcasm in his historical look at that island nation off the west coast of Europe that we all know and love. And, frankly, David just straight steals many punchlines from Monty Python. But I forgive this theft because he weaves it so skillfully into his narrative. He seems like the kind of guy with whom I’d enjoy having a pint. Plus, he obviously grew up being dragged to Anglican Church services and I grew up attending its U.S. sister church, the Episcopal Church. So he knows his way around the Nicene Creed. You don’t need to be an expert in the Plantagenets or Henry VIII’s break with the pope to enjoy this podcast.

5. It’s Just Banter by Jake Kemp and TC Fleming: There’s an alternate universe (or a city in the Florida panhandle) somewhere where Kemp and Fleming have a forum befitting their talent as talk show hosts. Both play supporting roles on Dallas-Fort Worth’s behemoth sports/general “guy talk” station The Ticket (1310 and 96.7 FM), but these 30-ish-year-olds have the humor and unique perspectives to play a starring role there or elsewhere, and this podcast consistently proves it. Now, a word of warning: Their views and subject matter are far from G-rated, and I don’t endorse many of their opinions (I’m a 37-year-old — about to be 38, politically independent, Christian who has never smoked pot). But they are a really great listen, especially during my six- or seven-mile evening runs. They recently dived into the sudden disappearance (well, firing) from The Ticket 10 years ago of former afternoon drive host Greg Williams. And it was a riveting hour (and not only because I tried and failed to get an interview with Williams for the Texas Christian University alumni magazine in 2007, right before his firing occurred). Jake is from the 817 — a reference to people from the Tarrant County side of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. And I do wish he tried a little harder to dispel some of the negative stereotypes his co-host, who is from Richardson — the 972 , has about the people of the 817. For the record, I grew up in a middle class (upper middle class?) neighborhood near Lake Arlington, where life seems very similar to the tony Dallas ‘burbs from which TC hails. But I digress. If you like The Ticket or you think you could eat 200 Chick Fil-A nuggets in two hours (What about three hours?), then this podcast is a must listen.

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