Podcasts similar to CBC's Ideas
June 15, 2021 6:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a few podcasts that are similar to Ideas, is there anything you'd suggest. The CBC describes Ideas as "deep-dive into contemporary thought and intellectual history. Anchored in a powerful legacy and expansive archive spanning over five decades, its topics are boundless. The nature of consciousness. The history of toilets. The roots and rise of authoritarianism. Near death experiences. No idea is off-limits."

The diversity of the topics is what I enjoy the most about Ideas. Recently, I've listened to covering topics from domestic chickens to the Aztecs, from reading to Beethoven's scowl. I really enjoy the diversity, I usually end up learning something new or thinking about a topic in a different way.

HOWEVER, I also really enjoy the fact that the topics are treated SERIOUSLY. They have a diverse range of academics, intellectuals, journalists, etc. on the show who treat their topics with respect. Which, I really appreciate. To some, it might be too serious (and Nahlah Ayed always sounds deadly serious!), but I think as an extension as that, the show treats the audience with respect.

This isn't to say that I'm humourless, or I wouldn't enjoy humour in podcasts (I also listen to some funny ones!!!). I guess a podcast pet-peeve of mine is something I've noticed lately, where one host will chat with the other host about a topic and the second host spends the entire time gasping and being shocked at the revelations the first host reveals about the topic at hand. I also find a lot of "non-fiction" podcasts to be too snarky, sometimes.

For example, I listened to an episode of Ideas about Alexander Graham Bell's impact on the deaf community today and, of course, he does not come off well. But none of the subjects interviewed were reductive or spent time going "ewwww, obviously Alexander Graham Bell is GARBAGE!!!!!!!!!! hehe." Like, the academics interviewed actually went into the WHYS and the HOWS. It was a very informative deep dive about a very divisive person and their legacy.

Anyway, any recommendations for podcasts that might be similar to Ideas? Basically, I guess I'm looking for ones that cover a broad range of topics, are slightly more "intellectual," and also respect the audience? I hope this doesn't make me sound too prissy, I do listen to funny podcasts, too! I'm just running out of Ideas episodes, so I want more Podcasts to scratch that itch.
posted by VirginiaPlain to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Response by poster: Forgot to add, I do listen to a few other CBC podcasts that might fit the bill: Quirks & Quarks and Spark, but I'd prefer podcasts that lean more towards the humanities, arts, and current events, similar to Ideas.
posted by VirginiaPlain at 6:26 PM on June 15


Best answer: Something besides In Our Time?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:27 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


Best answer: Yeah, In Our Time is exactly what you want. I skip far fewer of their episodes than I do Ideas’s.
posted by Kreiger at 7:15 PM on June 15


Best answer: In Our Time was what I thought of first, but maybe also Innovation Hub.
posted by catquas at 8:39 PM on June 15


Best answer: I love In Our Time, but when I was running low on the topics I was interested in (because I had listened through most of the 20 years of archives), I found The Great Courses and Modern Scholar audio lecture series, available free from my public library (through Overdrive and/or Recorded Books). I'm not sure if your library will have them, but if you're craving hours of people talking seriously and intelligently about all sorts of things, these series are treasure troves.

They are also available as videos on Kanopy, if your library subscribes - and are credit free to watch. (Video isn't audio, of course, but works well for knitting, even doing the dishes if I put my device into a dry sack, just in case it gets splashed).
posted by jb at 9:14 PM on June 15


Best answer: Thinking Allowed is another BBC podcast that is social science oriented.
posted by jb at 9:16 PM on June 15


The Verb might just fit your requirements - poets and spoken word artists, seriously playful, about everything in the way that poetry is.
posted by clew at 10:22 PM on June 15


You’re Wrong About- Everything from the newsboys strike of 1899 to pop culture.
Outside/In (about the outdoors but they cover a surprisingly wide variety of topics)
Invisibility
Hidden Brain
posted by Champagne Supernova at 1:01 AM on June 16


Best answer: Ok so I looove "You're Wrong About" mentioned above but it is heavy on the millennial snark. That said it is also quite thoughtful - just snarky.

Would recommend 99% Invisible which has an astonishing range of things you never thought were particularly noteworthy but actually are deeply interesting.

Also with more of a social justice/ political history perspective, Throughline is fantastic and deeply thought-provoking, at least for me.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:14 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Seconding that you should check out 99% Invisible, which handles a variety of topics from a design perspective.
posted by Leontine at 5:18 AM on June 16


Response by poster: Thanks for the recommendations so far, In Our Time sounds perfect! 99% Invisible sounds interesting, too!

I didn't want to call out a specific podcast for the style I hate when I posted the question, but "You're Wrong About" is exactly the type of podcast I can't stand listening to!! I've tried listening to it a few times and that style just grates on my nerves. 🤣
posted by VirginiaPlain at 7:12 AM on June 16


Just wanted to pop back in with an autocorrect correction: Invisibilia is the podcast, invisibility is not what I was going for!
Athanassiel might be right re: “millennial snark”. The hosts do interact over an episode, but I personally don’t find it annoying or distracting at all, so I included it. As always YMMV!
ETA: I see now that You’re Wrong About is not what you were going for, but the other podcasts I recommended I entirely stand behind as “snark free”
posted by Champagne Supernova at 7:15 AM on June 16


Best answer: BBC Radio 4's Analysis podcast might be of interest.

Media Indigena is a great round-table discussion podcast (here are the frequent members of the panel).

The New Books Network's podcasts are also very good for a "serious" treatment of a vast range of topics.

It has a dedicated podcast feed for different disciplines or subject areas (e.g., History, LGBTQ+ Studies, Science Technology and Society, African American Studies, Russian and Eurasian Studies, and on and on). Sometimes an episode will be cross-posted to different feeds (e.g., a book from African American Studies might be a history book, so it'll appear in the History feed as well, etc.).

Each episode is an interview with an author of a new (obviously) book in that subject area. The interviewer is always someone who is a researcher or academic who practices in that area or one adjacent to it, so the discussion is always on-topic and they ask the author intelligent questions. It ends up being a dive into the book that's quite digestible. They usually run an hour or so, and there's a huge archive of older episodes.

They also have a "Special Series" category, which includes things like "Big Ideas."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:47 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Great question. I listen to a lot of radio and podcasts and you've perfectly articulated what's great about Ideas. To be honest, I don't think there's anything else that's comparable.

I've tried In Our Time but personally found it completely inaccessible but it's probably just beyond me. Even though Ideas often talks about complicated subjects, the tone is always respectful, inclusive and never elitist or snobby.

Another one I like is ABC's Conversations with Richard Fidler. Each episode is a long-form and wide-ranging interview with an interesting person (sometimes famous but usually not.) It's not the same format but similarly to Ideas it takes me to faraway places and keeps me thinking about things long after I've finished the episode.

Ideas is a treasure and I hope CBC never cancels it (as they have with other great programs).
posted by Pademelon at 8:37 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


It's been a few years since I listened to either podcast, but To the Best of our Knowledge (TTBOOK) has a fairly similar tone and broad-ranging interest to CBC Ideas. Back when I used to listen, the format of TTBOOK used to be 1 hour broken into about 4 separate interviews that pertained to this week's topic. They are prone to treating everything seriously, including a few things that I wouldn't treat seriously.

I've always appreciated Discovery from the BBC. It's always about science & technology, which might mean the pursuit of science & technology, or might mean the impact that they have on society.

Otherwise 99% Invisible, Invisibilia, and Radio Lab are pretty much on target (and the answers above are correct--you 100% want 99% Invisible. And while you're listening, I suppose you can look into all the other shows on the Radiotopia network). Among those, Radio Lab might fail your criteria about the chatty and snarky, yet I would point out that the show content can vary a lot, and has gone into darker and more serious places over the years. Maybe give this miniseries that they did about "The Other Latif" a listen? And as for taking stuff seriously, Jad Abumrad did a spinoff miniseries about Dolly Parton and does an ongoing series about the history US Supreme Court. I always dread those Supreme Court episodes when they pop into the Radio Lab feed, because I know they're going to be soooo heavy and so serious, and yet I always find them riveting once I start to listen.
posted by polecat at 2:30 PM on June 16


I listen to many of the great recommendations above, there's also

5x15
Fresh Air
Inquiring Minds
Intelligence Squared
KERA Think
London Review of Books podcast
RadioWest interviews
Rear Vision
RSA Events
The Forum (BBC World Service)
posted by amestoy at 5:10 AM on June 19


I also think you should check out the NY Times Book Review podcast. The format is typically the host has two longish interviews with authors of recent books. The topics are diverse and the discussions thoughtful.
posted by Leontine at 5:29 AM on June 22


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