When I was a kid, I used to tuck a small transistor radio under my pillow at night and listen to the clear-channel Top 40 broadcasts beamed across the Midwest from WLS-AM and WCFL-AM. I used to think it was the tunes that hooked me, but now I realize it was the DJ’s talk that connected with me. It was as though they were escorting me into their oh-so-cool world – and I could go, even if I was an 11 year-old kid awake in a darkened bedroom in Des Plaines, IL.

The technology has changed from transistor to ipod, and now I get to choose the places I go when I listen to a podcast in the darkness. Here are some of my current favorites, in no particular order, from my podcast rotation:

Prairie Home Companion’s News From Lake Woebegone
– Garrison Keillor’s invented small-town MN world comes alive because of his wry and witty attention to detail about our human condition.
Christianity Today’s Books & Culture podcast
– John Wilson is a great reviewer and thinker, and highlights the work of writers from a wide array of genres and themes.

Focus on the Family’s The Boundless Show
– This one maybe shouldn’t be considered a favorite because I often turn it off when the tone gets a little too smarmy or strident, but when it’s good, the conversations about contemporary life from the twenty- and thirty-something crew can be fairly interesting.

Israel National Radio/various
– Arutz Sheva is the radio voice of the Modern Orthodox movement in Israel, and some of their shows are fascinating: Aliyah Revolution (issues related to immigration to Israel), Land Minds (profiling archaeological finds and controversies), Temple Talk (Third Temple guys discussing Torah readings, current events and more, through the filter of their dream of rebuilding the Temple).

Steve Brown Etc.
– I love Steve Brown, and he gets a lot of really interesting guests on his show (John Armstrong, Anne Jackson, Scot McKnight). I do not love his sniggering cohosts, which occasionally turn the show into a bad imitation of a small-town FM “Morning Zoo” program. Favorite with an asterisk, because I have to turn this one off from time to time as well.

This American Life
– Brilliant. Thought-provoking. Entertaining. There are not enough superlatives to describe just how wonderful this slice-of-life story-driven show can be. Highly recommended.

One Year Daily Audio Bible
Former music exec Brian Hardin has created a completely unique program. Each day, he reads from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs, mixing translations and bookending the reading with a personal note and prayer. Wonderful production values and Brian’s warm voice and personality make this a must-listen for me.

Got any suggestions of podcasts I should add to the rotation? 
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