The Weekend Listener #3

The Weekend Listener is an eclectic weekly list of noteworthy podcasts and radio recordings, old and new, curated for your listening pleasure. Posts in this series are published on Fridays – please search the website for the previous instalments.


The World in Words: How the Basque language has survived

The Basque Land, Library of Congress

The Basque language is the single oldest language of Europe, but interestingly, not an Indo-European one. Before the advent of Celtic, Romance and other IE languages, Basque had already been there. Learn about the curious history and features of this language and how it survived in spite of centuries of marginalisation and suppression. [Duration: 34’50’’]


Literate: The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot

First published in October of 1922, exactly a hundred years ago, T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land is one the most important poems of the 20th century. In it Eliot combined many disparate elements coming from various literary and religious sources, creating a masterpiece of modernist poetry. This episode of the Literate podcast includes an introduction to Eliot and his works, as well as in-depth interviews with literary scholars on the subject of The Waste Land. [Duration: 69’]


American Stories: The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

As we’re approaching Halloween, what better time to listen to scary stories? This episode of the American Stories series produced by the VOA is an adaptation of E.A. Poe’s famous story The Tell-Tale Heart, suitable for English learners who are at an intermediate level (or above). On the webpage you’ll find the audio file, full transcript and the accompanying vocabulary notes. [Duration: 12’50’’]


Distillations: Ghost Hunting in the 19th Century

An illustration from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly, April 2 1887

Continuing this month’s exploration of spiritualism, my selection for this week is a podcast from the Science History Institute on the unexpected connections between scientific research and the paranormal. It deals with, among other things, the vigour with which 19th century mediums and spiritualists embraced technological innovation. The webpage includes the full transcript of the programme. [Duration: 39’19’’]


RadioWest: The Joys of Walking

Photo by Tamar Willoughby on

Walking is one of my personal passions, a simple daily practice that has over the years become something of a ritual, an exercise in mindfulness. I’ve immensely enjoyed this episode of KUER’s RadioWest interview with the writer Robert Macfarlane on the joys of walking. If you haven’t given this activity much thought, do listen to what he has to say. It might change your life. [Duration: 49’44’’]


The Classical Ideas Podcast: An Introduction to Shinto

Photo by Jeremy Dupuis on

Shinto (lit. ‘the way of the gods’) is the native religion of Japan, an ancient and at the same time modern system of complex beliefs and elaborate practices. Eric Lancaster teaches Japanese at the University of Missouri and in this episode of The Classical Ideas he explains the core ideas of this rich and fascinating religion. [Duration: 38’57’’]

Is there a podcast episode you’d like to recommend on these and related topics? You’re very welcome to share it with us in the comments section below.

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