This seems to be the time of year for lists, and I wanted to mention some of the media creators I’ve discovered this year, so here is my year-end contribution to the list-making season. These are the podcasts and YouTube channels that I’ve started following in the last 12-18 months (I’m not sure on a few of them!) What media sources have your discovered in 2015?
- The Church at Brook Hills – I found this church because David Platt, the author of “Radical,” was the pastor, but then he moved to another position and I’m still listening! The website has a great archive of past sermons, but mostly I listen to the new messages as they are posted, often by Matt Mason, the new pastor. It’s great Biblical teaching from a reformed, evangelical perspective. (I’m not great with those “Christian labels” but I think those are the best two to give you an idea of the flavor!) Recent favorites: the two or three on Daniel in October, right when I was studying the book.
- Imaginary Worlds – “A podcast about how we create them and why we suspend our disbelief.” I pick and choose in this stream since I’m not a full-blown sci-fi/fantasy/comic book fan, but those I do listen to are well-thought-out. I also appreciate that he looks at the roles women play, and don’t play, in these genres. Right now he’s in the middle of a five-podcast series about Star Wars that’s included a look at the cultural climate into which the original movie was released, the way the term “evil empire” is used and a defense of it as not necessarily evil, and the strong opposing opinions on the “slave Leia” look. I’ve already put a hold on the book he discussed in the last episode I listened to, “The Golem and the Jinni.” Favorite episode so far: When Human Met Creature
- 99% Invisible – A podcast about the design of everyday objects and experiences, I came across this after Roman Mars, the host, did a TED talk in the format of a live podcast production. It’s fascinating to me to learn what’s behind things that, 99% of the time, I don’t even notice. The hidden danger of autopilot, the pursuit of an unpickable lock, bootleg records engraved on discarded X-ray prints in the USSR,… Always something new, usually something fascinating, and very well produced. Favorite episode so far: 192, Pagodas and Dragon Gates, about anti-Chinese sentiment in American history and why Chinatowns look the way they do. If you love China and American-Chinese as much as I do, check out episode 182 as well.
- Vinyl Cafe – A friend from Edmonton recommended this show filled with music and stories earlier this month, and it seems to me something like a Canadian “Prairie Home Companion.” So far I’ve just dipped my toe in the water with a couple of Christmas episodes for the drive home, but I will be back to listen more and see if this program is as good as it seems. Favorite episode so far: “Christmas at the Store.”
- Theology Refresh – A podcast for pastors from Desiring God, featuring 7-15-min. interviews on topics from church planting to depression to youth athletics, each episode ends with a prayer. You don’t have to be in formal ministry to find the recordings helpful. Sadly this podcast was already finished when I discovered it, the last episode was posted in November 2014, but since the topics are applicable at any time, I was able to mine it for old episodes for a while. While I don’t struggle with depression, that was probably my favorite episode so far, very enlightening.
You can see many of my favorite channels by going to my own YouTube channel, but be warned, I don’t necessarily encourage you to watch my own years-old videos – somehow I always seemed to be winding down at the end of a long day when I made them! One of these days I’d like to reboot my channel and post more professionally-produced videos.
- The Nerdwriter (NerdWriter1) – Like the Vlog Brothers and Idea Channel, both of which I’ve enjoyed since before this year, Nerdwriter Evan looks at things from modern culture and goes deeper, applying psychology, sociology, art criticism, etc. His video on “It’s a Wonderful Life” made me blink and feel like “I knew that, but never put it into words,” while his video on “Children of Men” made me want to re-watch it to see all that I missed the first time. Admittedly I do not always agree with worldview he is cultivating, but his videos generally make me think about my own in a way I enjoy.
- College Info Geek (electrickeye91) – While I’m not in college anymore, I have been teaching college, and I love all the very practical life- and study-skills videos Thomas Frank presents with clear closed captions! It’s a pity that he talks too quickly for my ESL students to easily follow (like many YouTubers), but at least they can pause to catch up on the CC’s, and/or go read the associated blog posts for each episode.
- –That’s about it for the ones I’m really excited to share and didn’t already follow before this year, but here are some honorable mentions that I have found this year.–
- Today I Found Out – In-depth trivia for when you’re curious or just want to waste some time learning things you really don’t need to know
- The Financial Diet – Kind of like “How to Adult” but with a more focused scope. I think I need me some side-hustles 🙂
- Fouch-o-matic Off Grid – For some reason this homesteading channel and the tiny home videos YouTube shows me are fascinating to me. I don’t really want to be tied to a place right now myself, but a part of me does still dream of making a home, possibly in a more hands-on, raw way than the average American dream (but probably not hauling my own water and living in a yurt!)
- VideoFromSpace & NASA Johnson (ReelNASA) – While I can’t say these are thrilling videos, there is some great material here if you love space like I do!
I’m not reading blogs as much anymore, though there are several I still enjoy that I’ve followed for two or more years. I think the only one I’ve enjoyed discovering and seeing each new post of this year is Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. I don’t always eat healthfully, but I do generally try to eat more fresh vegetables and fruit, to eat less sugar, wheat, and meat, and if possible to eat fewer carbs overall, compared to what I ate growing up and definitely compared to what I see on menus of the major restaurant chains and Pinterest boards around America.