You know, it’s a dangerous business, dear podcaster and podcast enthusiast, going out your door. (Especially in the year 2020!) You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to. But today, we know EXACTLY where are feet (or more accurately, our ears) are taking us! Straight to Middle-earth! Yip, that’s right, today we’re talking all things Tolkien, as today, the 22nd day of September, is Hobbit Day, in honor, as true fans will know, of it being the birthdays of two of the most beloved and most famous of Hobbits, Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Hobbit Day is celebrated the world over today, with fans hosting parties and feasts worthy of any Shire celebration, or simply by going about their day barefoot. We’re choosing to celebrate by finding the best Tolkien-inspired podcasts in the realm. So whether you’re a Ringer or a true Tolkienist, boil up a cup of tea and get your breakfast and second breakfast (and elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper ‒ no judgment here!) ready, and tuck into these truly spectacular podcasts in celebration of Hobbit Day.
1. An Unexpected Podcast: Talkin’ Tolkien
First up, we have An Unexpected Podcast: Talkin’ Tolkien. Hosts Ezra and Lane are your guides and will traverse with you as you begin your adventure and delve deep into Middle-earth. In each episode, out every two weeks, you’ll gather together for a book re-read, show speculation, and much more! You can really hear just how passionate Ezra and Lane are about their subject, and you may even be moved to tears as they share what these works of the legendary J.R.R. Tolkien mean to them. They encourage you to grab your book, a highlighter, cup of coffee, and keep a pocket-handkerchief close at hand, (for the afore-mentioned tears!) as they analyze and dissect all that is on offer for each particular episode. As you wander through the text (remember, not all who wander are lost!) your thoughts and imagination will sprout wings to also wander far and wide. All are welcome to join on the journey, whether young or old, new to the books or a long-time fan ‒ all you have to do is speak “Friend” and ENTER! You’ll be entertained and enthralled, and you’ll come away feeling moved and uplifted after each and every episode.
2. The Prancing Pony Podcast
Alan Sisto and Shawn E. Marchese are passionate Tolkien enthusiasts who are inviting listeners to join them on their weekly podcast, The Prancing Pony Podcast. This podcast firmly focuses its attention on the Middle-earth legendarium of J.R.R. Tolkien, including The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and the other works by this most-beloved of authors. Join them on each episode as they discuss favorite passages from the books and films that started the worldwide fantasy phenomenon. Alan and Shawn engage in plenty of in-depth study of Tolkien’s books, but with a healthy dose of self-effacing humor, pop-culture references, and bad puns, which, when brewed together, ensure that you are always laughing but also, always learning. It’s funny, informative, and you’ll feel like you’re sharing a pint at the pub with your best mates as you explore all of these great classics. They offer up some amazing insight and will help you evaluate and dissect the narratives, themes, and the incredible symbolism present in The Professor’s work. They serve up excellent content, ensuring that you’ll certainly always enjoy your visit to The Prancing Pony (Podcast).
3. That’s What I’m Tolkien About
Mary Clay Watt has never read The Lord of the Rings, and that’s great! Because we get to enjoy it with her as she reads through the trilogy chapter by chapter on her podcast, That’s What I’m Tolkien About. Whether you’re new to the realm like Mary, or the pages of your books are dog-eared from all the years of reading and re-reading, all will find this podcast thoroughly entertaining. Each week, Mary is joined by a new guest, and together, they will take a deep dive into the books. Even the most avid of Tolkien fans will get a kick out of Mary’s hilarious theories and predictions, and her enthusiasm and energetic nature are palpable through the headphones, and you may even discover things you never knew before! Her open and honest nature also allows you to experience the wonder of these books all over again, and if it is your first time, you will find no better travel buddy than Mary Clay Watt and whichever guest is joining her, as she is guaranteed to make your journey thoroughly entertaining…particularly as she can’t be sure exactly where she is leading you!
4. The Tolkien Professor
If you’re ready to kick your Tolkien exploration up a notch, then may we present The Tolkien Professor. This podcast is brought to us by Professor Corey Olsen, President of Signum University. He is a skilled guide as you trod through Middle-earth as he is an English professor with a Ph.D. in medieval literature and has been a student of Tolkien’s work for as long as he can remember. This unique podcast is actually a series of lectures, discussions, and seminars on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and so are the perfect guide if you’re looking for an academic exploration into all the richness and depth that these works have to offer. But don’t think for a minute that this podcast is all intellect and no entertainment! Professor Olsen brings the humor and wit – as so many of these beloved characters do. It’s a great podcast for both the studious and casual students, as all are welcome to enter – even those without any party business!
5. The Tolkien Heads
Next, we have The Tolkien Heads podcast – a show dedicated to exploring J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in great detail, and from a variety of literary perspectives. Each week, you’ll be joined by hosts Richard Hronek, Christopher Stohs, Nathan Germain, and Matthew Boutilier as they work with a different chapter and explore various themes both in the novel, as well as in their lives. They take a very specific approach to their analysis of each chapter, which has been inspired by the traditional practice, Lectio Divina (Latin for ‘divine reading’), which is a four-part method of encountering a text. The four parts of their analysis – lectio (reading), meditatio (meditation), oratio (prayer), and contemplatio (contemplation) – allow them to give a wonderful dissection of each chapter, as they explore the literal and symbolic meanings of the text. And there is plenty of introspection, banter, and pop culture references, making this a truly great Tolkien podcast for every type of listener. They have also diverged into reviewing Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, so there is even more Middle-earth inspired content for fans to enjoy.
6. The Lord of the Rings Minute
Speaking of those Peter Jackson films, there are also some great podcasts that take us to Mordor and back, but via the film franchise, rather than through the text. So if watching movies rather than reading books is more your thing, then you will definitely want to check out The Lord of the Rings Minute podcast. This is a daily podcast in which hosts Cassandra and Norman analyze the Lord of the Rings (The Extended Edition, of course) trilogy one minute at a time. Even if you’ve watched the films plenty of times before, you’re sure to discover things you never knew about the movies through this minute-by-minute exploration, and you’ll learn so much from their thorough commentary and in-depth insight. But don’t think it’s just an intellectual analysis! There are plenty of jokes and tons of humor to boot! It’s an exceptional podcast, whether you love the movies or have never seen them before, and this podcast will see you in good stead as you make your way through the many, many minutes that make up these films.
7. The Tolkien Road
Join hosts John and Greta Carswell as they travel down The Tolkien Road. This podcast takes us on a long journey through Middle-earth as they go chapter-by-chapter through the written works of the legend(arium) author who is J.R.R. Tolkien – from The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and all of Tolkien’s other works. This podcast was started back in 2015, and they have recently celebrated their 200th episode, so there is plenty of content to guide you along your own journey along the Tolkien Road. The works of Tolkien hold a special place in the hearts of both John and Greta, and this is obvious in the care and thought that goes into each episode. Their commentary is both insightful and thoughtful and given in a way that is easy to understand and enjoyable for the die-hard fan as well as the newbie. They have brought together the viewpoints of a published Tolkienite (John) as well as a newcomer (Greta) to these classics to produce a show that will serve as a trusty guide for any who join them on their long walk through Middle-earth.
So whether you celebrate Hobbit Day by feeling the ground (Middle-earth or otherwise) beneath your feet, filling yourself up with delicious food, re-reading any or all of Tolkien’s works, or allowing your mind to wander through Tolkien’s universe and beyond with the help of these podcasts, may it be a celebration that rivals any that the Shire ever saw, Gandalf’s fireworks and all! No matter if this will be your first adventure into all things Tolkien, or if you’re well-versed in Tolkienology and fluent in Elvish, these podcasts will all be wonderful companions no matter where your journey takes you. And remember, even the darkness must pass, and a new day will come. There’s plenty of good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for – and even the smallest person (or podcast!) can change the course of the future. Wishing you all a Happy Hobbit Day and may the stars shine upon your faces.
Related read: Our Top 9 (And ¾!) Harry Potter-Themed Podcasts