BBC World Service Documentaries
May 8, 2010 5:33 PM   Subscribe

BBC World Service has over 500 audio documentaries you can download. The subject matter is incredibly wide ranging, for example, internet cafés, the influence of Islamic art on William Morris, South African female AIDS activist Thembi Ngubane, Yiddish, the importance of cows, novelist Chinua Achebe, financial risk management, Obama as an intellectual, the physical and emotional effects of a car crash and many, many more. If the quantity and variety are overwhelming, you can subscribe to a podcast, which delivers a new documentary to you every single day.
posted by Kattullus (21 comments total) 126 users marked this as a favorite
The BBC is one of the greatest cultural institutions in the history of humankind and it's going to be an upsetting next decade as the British government slowly castrates it into oblivion.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:49 PM on May 8, 2010 [23 favorites]

posted by Dr. Send at 6:01 PM on May 8, 2010

I hope you don't mind my piggybacking on your post, Katullus, to let folks know that the Beeb has also made the first 30 episodes of 'A History Of The World In 100 Objects' available for download in advance of the resumption of the series. Fantastic stuff that we'll surely miss if your dire prediction of the fate of the BBC comes true.
posted by punilux at 6:13 PM on May 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

Thank you!
posted by interrobang at 6:29 PM on May 8, 2010

I've been subscribing to the podcast for some time, but I just can't keep up. Great to see a news organization dedicating so much resources to this kind of reporting.
posted by msbrauer at 6:32 PM on May 8, 2010

Thanks a lot, Kattullus. I guess I'll sleep when I'm dead. Did I say thanks? Thanks. /hamburger.

(but really, thanks!)
posted by rtha at 6:53 PM on May 8, 2010

Thanks for posting this. I'm still upset that the World Service doesn't aim any shortwave broadcasts at North America anymore. I can occasionally receive their West Africa and Southeast Asia broadcasts, but it's usually weak.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:38 PM on May 8, 2010

I use the BBC to help me learn foreign languages, as I can listen to (sometimes the same) documentaries and news programs in English as well as in the language du jour. This BBC Languages page has an interactive map with links to all 32 of the regional BBC broadcasts (with 30 distinct foreign languages). It's a fun way to keep up with the news and pick up some new vocabulary.
posted by math at 7:43 PM on May 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

TrialByMedia, I hadn't realized that the BBC had stopped broadcasting SW to the US. In fact, they've stopped all shortwave broadcasts to all the Americas, which shocked me. Not that I've used my shortwave radio recently, but it was nice when I was out camping to have the BBC on the old radio, deep into the night.

In fact, I notice that none of the major national news services (Radio Netherlands and Deutsche Welle are two of my favorites) are broadcasting to the Americas, although DW does have a brief broadcast, in German, to Central America, if you can believe it.

Of course, all the programs are available on-line as either streaming audio or podcasts, so for most of us that's more convenient, and it's also available via satellite radio in some areas, but still, there was something romantic about the old shortwave broadcasts.

For those longing to hear the BBC in all its scratchy, fadey shortwave glory, they have re-started SW broadcasts to the Caribbean region for a limited time:

... short wave broadcasts in English were reinstated due to the situation in Haiti.

You can can tune in to BBC programmes from 1200 GMT to 1300 GMT on 11860 kHz (25 m.b.) and 9410 kHz (31 m.b.)

Sat 16th - 12:00:00 - 13:00:00
Sun 17th - 12:00:00 - 13:00:00
Mon - Fri (next week) - 12:15:00 - 13:00:00

posted by math at 8:02 PM on May 8, 2010

I understand why BBC stopped broadcasting SW to the Americas, but it's still kind of sad.

I'm sadder though, that BBC World Service evolved over the years to broadcast more news, and less cultural content.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:08 PM on May 8, 2010

posted by Neekee at 8:34 PM on May 8, 2010

Gods, will this improve my commute. Thanks!
posted by Space Kitty at 9:51 PM on May 8, 2010

This is just out of control. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Blau at 10:21 PM on May 8, 2010

Broken on Linux. FAIL
posted by print at 11:35 PM on May 8, 2010

Toksvig for President of the World
posted by e.e. coli at 12:18 AM on May 9, 2010

Now I almost wish that I was commuting... Good post!
posted by Harald74 at 1:21 AM on May 9, 2010

e.e. coli: "Toksvig for President of the World"

I for one welcome our short, Danish, lesbian overlordlady.
posted by hardcode at 3:29 AM on May 9, 2010

Print: Even the MP3 download on the right hand side?
posted by Harald74 at 4:33 AM on May 9, 2010

yes yes yes. thank you.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:12 AM on May 9, 2010

I wonder if they ever thought of adding a star rating system for these docs?
posted by storybored at 8:00 PM on May 9, 2010

Wow, this is great, thank you! I'd only just begun getting my head around how I'll listen to all the In Our Time podcasts. I guess I'm spoilt for choice now!
posted by cryptozoology at 1:12 PM on May 10, 2010

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