The Weekend Listener #5

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.


Word of Mouth: A Murmuration of Starlings

Photo by Somya Dinkar on

I’ve recently blogged about collective nouns for groups of birds, the sort of terms such as ‘a murder of crows’ or ‘a parliament of owls’. (You can access that post here.) There are many such nouns in the English language, and not just for birds, either. To learn more examples and find out where they originally come from, listen to this interview with Matt Sewell, author of A Charm of Goldfinches. [Duration: 28′]


Poetry Off the Shelf: This Poet Never Gets Old

This episode of the Poetry Off the Shelf podcast from the Poetry Foundation brings us an interesting conversation on the famous British poet John Keats, whose birthday is just around the corner, on 31st October. What’s the relevance of this 18th century writer today and what can we learn from his works? The episode includes a discussion on several of his poems, and the full transcript of the programme is available on the webpage. [Duration: 23’07”]


Words and Their Stories: Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Photo by Monstera on

Designed for learners of American English, this episode of the Words and Their Stories series introduces a number of words and phrases connected with the noun ‘ghost’, not all of them scary, from aghast to ghostwriting. Suitable for intermediate-level students. The webpage contains the full transcript and a glossary. [Duration: 6’26”]


Throughline: The Dance of the Dead

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Halloween is a fascinating holiday, with a complex history which spans over centuries and a number of different cultures. This episode of the NPR programme Throughline explores different facets of Halloween, walking us through its evolution from the pagan times until today. Full transcript available on the webpage. [Duration: 51′]


RadioWest: The Creative Genius of Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton was one of the true stars of the silent film era. Inimitable actor and filmmaker who has profoundly influenced the history of cinema, Keaton has loyal fans dedicated to preserving his legacy to this day. This episode of RadioWest is an interview with Dana Stevens, author of Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century. [Duration: 51’33”]


Yale University Press Podcast: A Brief History of the Reformation

Apart from Halloween and John Keats’ birthday, Reformation Day is also on 31st October. It marks the day on which Martin Luther famously nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of a Roman Catholic church in Wittemberg. It was one of those history-making moments whose significance cannot be overestimated. This interview with the historian Carlos Eire provides a lot of background information on Luther and the subsequent history of the Reformation. [Duration: 43’18”]

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

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