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Archive for the 'podcast review' Category

09 May

Podcast Review: Hank’s History Hour


Hank’s History Hour is produced by Hank Nelson, who sounds like a high school student.  Don’t let that fool you though.  Hank has done a wonderful job with his podcast.  Although it doesn’t look like it has been updated in a few years.  Hopefully, Hank will pick it up again.  He is probably in college now and doesn’t have much time to do podcasts.  It seems like the podcast’s original purpose was to help his fellow students get thought their history book since he often refers to the chapters in a textbook.

At the time I found Hank’s podcast I was searching for material on the Thirty Years War my last podcast.  So I listened to the podcast episode entitled Chapter 15 Part 1: The Religious Wars, it was about 38 minutes long.  It was originally published on October, 2, 2007.  Hank’s voice comes across as a real surfer dude, although I don’t know where he is located.  The podcast production leaves something to be desired but I had no trouble hearing Hank.  I did hear some pops and breaths a lot.  There was some strong language in the podcast.  For those looking for more information on the Thirty Years war and want to listen you can skip forward to minute 25 where Hank starts talking about Ferdinand.

This was a good podcast and I hope Hank produces more of them in the future.  Hank’s podcast has 112 ratings and they are all 5 stars!  You can find it in iTunes here.  Even though Hank has not put up a podcast since 9/2009 his podcast is still in the top 100 history podcasts.

15 March

Podcast Review: The Memory Palace


For this review I listened to episode 37 of The Memory Palace. It is entitled “natural curiosity”. It is about Joice Heth, the African American slave that P.T. Barnum put on display and told everyone she was 161 years old nanny of George Washington. It is a wonderfully told story of a piece of history that is very obscure. The episode itself is just short of 7 minutes, because there just is not much known about Joice Heth. Even her Wikipedia article is very short. There is a book that Nate the author of the podcast mentions on the website, The Showman and the Slave: Race, Death, and Memory in Barnum’s America by Benjamin Reiss.

Some nitpicky things, the sound was a little quiet so I had to turn up my ipod quit a bit. No description notes in the lyrics section of the podcast. I always find these useful when listening to a new podcast for the first time. Nate played music in the background of the podcast, but it didn’t bother me at all.

I would recommend this podcast for history lovers. It is currently number 9 in the history podcast category on iTunes [iTunes Link]. It has 5 stars out of 5 stars, with 254 ratings. The podcast also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. There is an interview of Nate located on this website (click on “Extra”).

03 March

Podcast Review: Stuff You Missed in History Class


For this review I listened to Stuff You missed in History Class, which is currently rated number one in the history category on iTunes [iTunes Link]. I listened to the episode called How the Stono Rebellion Worked that was released on 2/23/2011. The episode was about 26 minutes long. Stuff You Missed in History Class has 280 episodes! They have 1,610 ratings on iTunes with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars. The podcast is one of many different podcasts that puts out. The podcast is updated very frequently. When glancing that the past shows, it looks like they do one almost every other day. That’s a lot of content and a lot of research.

I enjoyed listening to this episode. I always find history about early slavery in America fascinating. I’m always after more information. Sarah Dowdey and Deblina Chakraborty did a great job putting this episode together. You can tell they did a lot of research. They both have very pleasant voice and are easy to listen to. The production quality of the podcast is high. They have a little musical intro and some more music plays as they wind down the podcast episode.

The ladies took turns speaking through what sounded pretty scripted. With two people on a podcast I usually expect a discussion, but really they just took turns presenting the topic. I’m not sure that two speakers were really necessary. I did find the webpage for the podcast a bit lacking. I wanted to know more about who these podcasters were. What is their background? I couldn’t find that information. I did find that they have a Twitter page, a Facebook page and separate author pages on howstuffworks.

All in all, I thought they did a good job presenting the information and while two speakers is a little strange to me in this format, they are pleasant to listen to. I’m going to stay subscribed. It seems that I am not the only one, after all they are number 1 in the History section of iTunes. They also have more than 10,000 fans on their Facebook page and over 6,000 Twitter followers. You should give them a try and if you do let me know what you think in the comments section below.

24 February

Podcast Review: The History of Rome


Rome - Colosseum

The History of Rome by Mike Duncan posted its first episode on Sunday December 30, 2007 and for the last 4 years he has been rocking the podcast world. In 2010 his podcast won the Podcast Award in the education category. It is a pretty big deal to win the podcast awards. Congratulations to Mike!

On iTunes History of Rome has 1,121 ratings and an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars! Wow! History of Rome is currently number 4 on the top 10 podcast on iTunes.

For this review I listened to episode 127 – Commanding the Economy. The duration of the episode was 28 minutes and change. It was released on February 21, 2011. Mike seems to keep the podcast fairly frequent. At the beginning of the podcast is a 60 second plug for audible. Strangely this didn’t bother me though. Mike has an almost hypnotic voice. It has a strange ability to calm you. It’s like meditation with history. But that’s good, really.

After the plug for audible there some calming music played then Mike gets right into the episode content, see his description of the episode below:

Rome’s economy was in disarray when Diocletian came to power and he initiated major overhauls to get the system running again.

As I mentioned before Mike has a great voice. He doesn’t say what he does for a living, but if he is not in radio he should be, what a voice! Here is what I could find on the History of Rome website’s about page in regards to Mike:

Mike Duncan grew up outside of Seattle, WA and has a degree in Political Science and Philosophy from Western Washington University. His deep and abiding love for Roman history is matched only by his deep and abiding love for Seattle Mariners baseball. He recently married and now lives in Austin, TX.

Mike reads nice and slow, but not too slow, just right actually. He does a great job doing a summary/overview of what will be covered in this particular episode. I don’t want to ruin the podcast for you, so I’m not going to cover the content that Mike went over. At the end of the podcast the same calm music plays.

I’m going to stay subscribed to this one! I really enjoyed it and look forward to more from Mike.

While doing my research I found two other reviews that have been done on the History of Rome Podcast. Frank Yeats for Suite101 did a review on May 20, 2010 and Charles Odom from the Yahoo! Contributor Network did a review on April 6, 2009.

In addition to the website the History of Rome Podcast also has a Facebook group.

As mentioned earlier, the History of Rome won the Podcast Awards for 2010 in the Education category. There is a Youtube video of the awards ceremony here, skip to 18:20 in the video to see just the education category:

17 February

Podcast Review: History According to Bob


Bob gets right into it. No, “This is Bob and the show name”, nothing. The show I listened to was called, Atlanta Campaign Part 1 of 4. It was published 2/11/11. The episode was ten minutes and 32 seconds long. This is Bob’s description of the podcast episode:

This show is about the Atlanta campaign in May 1864 Part 1 of 4 this one deals with early movements and Rocky Face Ridge.

This particular episode could have used some visuals. It was hard to visualize the battle scene and who was where.

Bob is hard-core old school. He has a very distinctive almost nasally voice. His podcast has no music, no sponsors, no picture associated with the mp3. I’m some what surprised he had the show description in the lyrics field of the mp3.

I thought this particular episode was very well done. Its pretty quick so I won’t summarize it here, just go check it out for yourself. At the end of the show he does quickly cover the name of his website and sources he used to put together this episode

Even though, what I have written above criticizes Bob’s podcast, ignore all that. It has been said that content is king and if you agree with that, you will be very hard pressed to find a better history podcast than History According to Bob [iTunes Link]. Bob’s was the first history podcast available that I know of. I would say that it was one of the first 300 podcast available in the beginning. It came before History Podcast, my own creation. I still think History According to Bob is a stellar show! No one knows their stuff better than Bob. His is the podcast that inspired me to podcast. His show is simply awesome. If you only subscribe to one podcast this should be it.

History According to Bob is number 58 in the Top 100 history podcast on iTunes. His show has 114 ratings with an average rating of 5 stars.

After listening to this episode I decided to listen to the episode entitled Questions 86 as well. These are episodes that Bob creates specifically to cover what is happening with him personally and to go over the emails that he receives.

I was sorry to hear while listening to Questions 86 that Bob’s wife has cancer.  I hope she has a full recovery and is healthy soon!  I’ve missed out on a lot since not keeping up with his episodes. He does so many that I have a hard time keeping up. Strangely enough he talks about the show Who Do You Think You Are?, something that we talked about briefly in another podcast review posting, BBC History Magazine. Bob goes on to talk about request for episodes he has received and his addiction to the video game Mass Effect 3 (gotta love a guy who is a gamer). In addition to Who do You Think You Are, he also discusses the HBO program Rome.

Below is a YouTube video that Bob did on the cold war:

11 February

Podcast Review: Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History Show 37


I met Dan briefly at the Podcast Expo a few years ago. It was quick, but I’m glad I got to meet him. Dan is pretty famous. He has been a radio talk show host, a television news host, an author and a journalist. Dan is the son of Academy Award nominated actress Lynn Carlin and film producer Ed Carlin. He released his first episode, Alexander Versus Hitler on July 26, 2006.

Dan started after iTunes started carrying podcast (June 28, 2005). I would consider Dan an Indie podcast even though he has a lot of professional training, since he is not working for anyone else, only himself. Dan also has another podcast called Common Sense.

Enough of Dan though, let’s talk about his show. I listened to show number 37 of Hardcore History(iTunes link), which is the fourth part of a series Dan is doing on the fall of Rome. The show was about an hour and a half long. It was released on January 28, 2011. When the show started there was a very brief ad for Audible done by Dan himself. It was no longer than 10 seconds. There was a neat intro played and then Dan starts.

I had never listened to Dan’s podcast before and I have been missing out. He has a great voice for radio and therefore podcasting, which makes sense given that he was a talk radio host. Another key reason why Dan’s podcast is doing well is that he is a great storyteller. By creating a story out of historic events Dan weaves a story that is interesting. He is able to describe complicated historic events like the fall of Rome in common language, making it accessible for everyone.

Hardcore History has 2,564 ratings on iTunes, with an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars. Wow! As I write this, Hardcore History is the number 4 rated podcast in the history section of the podcast directory on iTunes.

Many podcasts like Dan’s are overlooked because they are not paid for by a huge company. They are Indie podcast. To me these are the best podcast out there. The only reason this person is doing the podcast is for themselves. It is too bad that most of the listeners on iTunes are looking first to the company owned podcast and not giving the Indie podcast the attention they deserve.

Dan’s fourth part of the fall of Rome is very well done. I won’t rehash it here, go listen to the podcast yourself, he does a better job covering it that I could here. At the end of the podcast there is a longer Audible ad, again done by Dan, where he talks about the service and then recommends a book to listen to on the service, How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle. Dan then moves on to go over what he will cover in the next episode. The last thing, is a woman’s voice asking for donations to keep the podcast going. $1 per episode.

The below video looks like a fan of Dan’s show put it together.

08 February

Podcast Review: BBC History Magazine – February 2011


Do you know the saying, “Those who can’t, teach.” Well, this is a little like that. Since I can’t find the time to do a podcast of my own, I thought I could bring a few cool podcast to your attention. While doing so I want to also learn what other podcast are doing in my genre so that I can improve History Podcast. To find some good history podcasts, I did what anyone would do. I went to iTunes and look at the top 10 podcast. BBC History Magazine is number 9. Their most recent podcast goes over the some of the articles from their February magazine. This episode of their podcast runs 41 and a half minutes. It was released on January 1, 2011. The show begins with some light classical music. While the music plays the 3 hosts do a summary of what they will be covering in this episode.

They used the description field in the mp3 tags to show the following description if you are listening on a iPod:

Mark Ormand discusses the black death, Mark Nicholls explores the life of Sir Walter Raleigh, Simon Sebag Montefiore explains the challenges involved in writing a history of Jerusalem.

The show begins with a plug for one of BBC’s programs, Who Do You Think You Are? The show is on in the US too on NBC. It is available on Hulu as well. On the show celebrites find out about their ancestory and viewers follow them on their journey. There is also a magazine, Who Do You Think You Are.

Next the podcast moved on to interview Mark Nicholls the co-author of the book Sir Walter Raleigh: In Life and Legend. The book will be published on April 7, 2011.  Sir Walter Raleigh was a aristocrat, writier, poet, soldier, coutier, spy and explorer.

After this interview they took a quick break to plug the magazine BBC History Magazine, website, twitter and facebook page.

Next, the interviewed Mark Ormrod about his new book  The Black Death in England, 1348-1500. The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Ormrod gave a some what vivid description of the sysmptoms of Black Death, so be prepared for that. This, I thought, was the best interview of the three.

Lastly, they interviewed Simon Sebag Montefiore about his book Jerusalem: The Biography which releases on October 25, 2011. This interview takes place in a very noisy cafe and is hard to listen to, but the host does warn you of that before it starts.

The podcast ends with more about the magazine and what is coming up next episode while the same classical music we heard in the beginning plays.  I would recommend this podcast and intend to stay subscribed myself.