Podcast: One in five

Some of the ghost cities identified by Baidu researchers. Image: Baidu.

On this week’s podcast, we’re talking about one of the biggest stories in the world today – the urbanisation of China.

To help us work this one out, we’re joined by a man who literally wrote the book on the subject. In 2006, American student Wade Shepard found himself lost in an entirely empty city somewhere in western China. When he told his professor about the experience, the response was a shrug and the words, “Yeah, those things are everywhere”.


So Wade set about exploring these empty cities. Last year, he published the book, Ghost Cities of China, about his experiences, to explain where these cities come from – and why they’re not really ghost cities at all. (You can find links to some of Wade’s excellent articles for us below.)

Also this week, we’re introducing a new segment in which one of our listeners tells us about their own city. This week, the man behind the curtain, our producer Roifield Brown, tells us about his hometown Birmingham.

If you’d like to contribute to this section in future, you can leave us a short message on Speakpipe – or, if you think that what you want to say will take more than 90 seconds, you can just email us an audio file.

The episode itself is below. Also, you can (and, frankly, should) subscribe on AcastiTunes, or RSS.

Some relevant links...

Wade has written a whole series of articles for CityMetric, in his capacity as our unofficial China correspondent. Here are some of our favourites:

  • “My family has lived here for generations. We don’t want our house destroyed”: on China’s mass evictions

Incidentally, the image at the top of this post is our map of the week, and show's an attempt to map China's ghost using mobile phone signals. You can read more about this here.

 
 
 
 

Podcast: SPQR

Rome celebrates its birthday in 2014. Image: Getty.

It’s just me this week, which is a problem, because there’s no one to stop me from indulging his sillier ideas. For example: an entire podcast about Ancient Rome.

Our guest is Kevin Feeney, a historian of the late Roman Empire based at Yale University, Connecticut. He gives us a whistlestop tour of Imperial Rome, with occasional side trips to other ancient cities. We also discuss other important matters such as the nature of Roman emergency services; whether the Emperor Claudius was all that Robert Graves made him out to be; why ancient Britain sucked; and, inevitably, why the whole enterprise fell apart.

Then we round off with the audience participation bit. This week we’re asking: which cities or places from history would you like to visit and why?

The episode itself is below. You can subscribe to the podcast on AcastiTunes, or RSS. Oh – and if you’d like to give us a nice review on iTunes, we’d really like that very much, thanks. Enjoy.

 

Skylines is supported by 100 Resilient Cities. Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, 100RC is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

You can find out more at its website.