Podcasts that focus on historical topics can greatly help extend public history to a larger audience by providing a condensed, convenient and more entertaining telling of historic people, places and events. The variety of podcasts are available are as wide as the variety of listeners.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History goes into great depth of detail on historical topics, often spanning several podcasts that are 2-3 hours each in length. This podcast would probably appeal to a student of history that is looking for a concise explanation of whatever topic is being discussed. For me, the entertainment factor is touching the bottom of the chart, and I feel it is probably geared towards people that may already be in the history profession or academia.
According to my boyfriend, who is my “local expert” in podcasts and a longtime listener of Stuff You Missed in History Class, this an easy listen to a wider audience. This is a podcast that is much shorter in length averaging anywhere from 10 min to 1 hour. This podcast focuses on, as the title would suggest, slightly more offbeat historical topics, people and events that might otherwise be overlooked or deemed unimportant in academia. Although many episodes do focus on more widely known historical topics. The entertainment factor is higher on the charts than Hardcore History.
I have given episodes of Stuff You Missed in History Class a try in the past and again for this blog but found that how relevant podcasts are depends on the learning style of each person. I cannot listen to podcasts or NPR. I zone out immediately and want to draw or clean. The fact is that I am not am auditory learner. People like him on the other hand, listen to history podcasts and radio talk shows like it’s going out of style but is not interested in art museums in the same way that I am.
To each there own right?
Other podcasts that do involve historical topics are Radiolab, Stuff You Should Know and Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know. These are podcasts that have a broader mix of topics, some historical and some human interests and scientific topics.
Overall, podcasts dealing with historical topics open up the world of history in several ways. The convenience of listening to a podcast offers those who do not have time or desire to read books about a historical topic the chance to learn about it in a condensed format that is oftentimes more entertaining than a book or longer format documentary. The podcast format also allows a listener to learn about the historical topic from various viewpoints that may otherwise take the reading of several books or articles to get the same information. In podcast format the research is already complete and presented to the listener. Many of these podcasts often focus on more offbeat and obscure topics that have a more entertaining aspect to them but lesser impact on the greater historical narrative as discussed in more mainstream media and universities. However, some podcasts do delve quite deeply into a single historical topic and seem geared towards the history professional.
The interest in the future of public history is found online. There is absolutely no question about that. The challenges facing traditional learning strategies are as many as the opportunities and researchers in the 21st century.