Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Podcasts I'm Listening To Now

Click or tap the above image to see a list of my media-related blog posts.These are the podcasts I’m listening to now:


Mike Duncan dissects and reassembles in clear conversational prose the events leading up to and through the French Revolution.

It’s like watching a train wreck. You have a feudal agrarian society ruled over by an out of touch aristocracy that literally goes financially and morally bankrupt as the winds of political change are blowing through. Duncan keeps attention on the people involved. One impression you get is, “This is what happens when no one’s in charge of things.”

Life of Caesar

Ray Harris Jr. and Cameron Reilly’s entertaining and oftentimes irreverent banter follows Julius Caesar’s rise to power and influence. What amazes me is how he was able to move his army all over Europe to subdue the natives for Rome without the benefit of a modern transportation system.

One of the things that comes across is how Roman success was based on a combination of leadership, ruthlessness, and intelligence. They really understood how to get stuff done!

The Pen Addict

I admit to a fetish for pens, paper, notebooks, plus I often write letters to friends and family. This podcast touches on the fascination of fountain pens, inks, different types of paper, and the occasional Kickstarter campaign to create new writing instruments. Along the way we learn about pens, nibs, paper quality, and collecting hobbies.

In a world so digital I find it a pleasure to see my pen and pencil trace words on paper. Apparently there are many others who feel the same way. There are dozens of blogs that deal with pens, paper, ink, and pencils and companies that manufacture beautiful handmade fountain pens. Brad Dowdy and Mike Hurley keep tabs on all this. Often I find after an episode I have the urge to pull out my pen and notebook start writing something!

Film Sack

Scott Johnson, Brian Dunaway, Randy Jordan, and Brian Ibbot review/comment on/criticize films of all kinds, including some downright embarrassing trash like Sharknado. The conversation follows a standard sequence but along the way we are treated to outrageous commentary, esoteric trivia, outright condemnation, and deserved praise. The whole thing is incredibly entertaining.

One thing I find especially interesting is how their views of some movies have changed over time. Some films they have very fond memories from childhood now suck. Occasionally there will be arguments, a case in point being the Minority Report podcast. But usually they’re entertaining and informative, if someone loopy. My only lament is that they devote a lot of time and talent to discussing junky films. It makes me wonder what the program would be like were they to focus consistently on the good stuff (you know, the stuff I like)?


Tom Merritt and Brian Brushwood talk about the “cord cutting revolution and being able to watch with one whenever you want on whatever device you damn well please.” As a card-carrying Comcast hater I look forward to every week’s program; in fact, I’m a financial supporter.

Merritt sort of presents a business perspective and Brushwood sort of represents the creative perspective, but that’s really a too simplistic dichotomy. They don’t always agree as they run down the week’s news about DRM, set-top boxes, business deals, and the growing strength in popularity of non-network programming sources such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The program is fast-paced. My only real problem is they a lot of time to TV series programming; for example, I myself don’t really care about the latest episode of The Walking Dead. But they know their stuff and I learn something new every week.

New Books in History

I called this podcast “historians talk about their history dissertations they turned into books for academic press.” In other words the folks that get interviewed for this podcast know their stuff. Sometimes it’s obscure, little-known, but always fascinating.

The first question asked is always something like, “How did you come to write this book?” Invariably the response is a tortured and convoluted tale of chance, parental influence, mentors, luck, and a lot of time-consuming research. Let’s face it; a lot of books get written not to make money but because they represent the passion of the author. This program is proof of that.

Copyright © 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald. Dennis is a project management consultant based in Alexandria, Virginia. He works with BaleFire Global on open data programs and with Michael Kaplan PMP on SoftPMO program management services. His experience includes consulting company ownership and management, database publishing and data transformation, managing the integration of large systems and databases, corporate technology strategy, social media adoption, statistical research, and IT cost analysis. His web site is located at and his email address is On Twitter he is @ddmcd

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