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“In Our Time” Excels

A radio podcast to stretch your mind

Paul McLane is editor in chief of Radio World U.S.

If you are looking for stimulating radio listening, you can’t do much better than “In Our Time” with Melvyn Bragg from BBC Radio 4.

It’s been around for many years, but it’s a new discovery for me. I listen via iTunes podcast, mostly at the gym here in northern Virginia, and I enjoy it very much. I’m working my way up in time from episodes that date to the late 1990s.

I’ve learned about volcanology, the Roman Empire, the birth of the universe, American expansionism and a host of other fascinating science and history topics. The experts are academics who really know their material; and Bragg is brilliant, he would be an amazing dinner guest. The program also delves into philosophy, religion and other areas of intellectual pursuit, and you can find the programs archived by category.

If you are the kind of person who wishes you could go back to the first year of college, just to be exposed to all those new ideas again, this is for you. (It will be quite some time before I have worked my way up to the new episodes about “The Tempest” and Pocahontas, which makes me very happy.)

“In Our Time” is available on iTunes and For me, a real find. I also recently enjoyed BBC Radio 4’s “A History of the World in 100 Objects.” Thanks, BBC.