• Hardcore History: History enthusiast Dan Carlin chooses a topic that interests him, takes a deep dive into the literature (really deep there are 30 titles in the bibliography for the current show), and creates a compelling, conversational podcast.
He takes you deep, too 13 hours over six installments for the Roman epic Death Throes of the Republic. The latest post: A nearly-two-hour initial installment on the 13th century Mongol invasion of Europe.
• History Extra: The editors of BBC History Magazine present extended interviews with historians that are filled with fascinating tidbits, from the importance of makeup in allowing the aging Queen Elizabeth I to project a vital public image to the Japanese militarys long-hidden World War II policy of cannibalism in the South Pacific.
• New Yorker Fiction: Each month, the magazines fiction editor, Deborah Treisman, invites a current writer to select, read aloud and discuss a short story from the New Yorker archives. Three of the 50 delectable offerings: Louise Erdrich on Lorrie Moore, Jhumpa Lahiri on William Trevor, Junot Diaz on Edwidge Danticat.
New York Times Book Review: Editor Sam Tannenhaus typically speaks (in separate interviews on different books) with an author and a reviewer featured in the current issue and checks in with staffers who cover the bestseller list and the publishing industry. An appetizer when you have time to read the review and a crib sheet when you dont.
• The Writers Almanac: Each day, Garrison Keillor presents five soul-nourishing minutes of on this date notes about literature and culture capped by a poem.
Lives and love
• Great Lives: BBC Radio 4 host Matthew Parris shares the microphone with a guest who has nominated a favorite historical figure and a scholar who has studied the nominee. The diverse perspectives make for engaging conversations about subjects from Gracie Allen and John Ford to Winston Churchill and Michel de Montaigne. (Fun fact: At his fathers insistence, the 16th century French essayist was spoken to from birth in Latin.)
• Savage Love: Columnist Dan Savages phone-in podcast is an eye-opening (and X-rated) primer on sexual practices, but more than that, its a platform for his wise, if often wise-cracking, advice on interpersonal relationships.
• Boxcars711: It requires editing to enjoy this vast repository of radio dramas and comedies from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. But if you delete the lame shows and fast-forward through the hosts inane introductions, you can enjoy gems like Frank Sinatra as the debonair ner-do-well Rocky Fortune, Dick Powell as the suave Richard Diamond, Private Detective, and Humphrey Bogart as a Havana hotelier who plies the Caribbean aboard The Bold Venture with Lauren Bacall at his side.
• Lexicon Valley: In this Slate magazine podcast, hosts Bob Garfield (On the Media) and Mike Vuolo explore the marvels and mysteries of the English language, from the (fading) proscription against ending a sentence with a preposition to the study of stylometry. Interviews with linguists add meat to this feast for word freaks.