YouTube Channels Worth a Gander

At one point, there was NBC and CBS. Then along came ABC. Slowly people started to gain access to cable television, an invention that first developed to help people in the valley get access to stations when geography prevented a broadcasting signal to be picked up. With cable television came dozens, then scores, then hundreds of channels. Now there’s streaming shows on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Disney+, to name just a few.

About the same time as streaming, YouTube came along. At first, the content was just uploads of televised content, movie scenes, and a few rogue YouTube channels. But now, there are genres, sub-genres, creators making millions, channels, and both individual and group creators. There’s no practical end to what is out there.

In such a digital jungle, it helps to have a guide, either a friend on an algorithm, to lead you through the morass to what treasures lay in store. As such, consider this blog list, a friendly set of suggestions for YouTube channels that you might find interesting. Each one represents a channel I find interesting, and these channels maybe be something you learn from or enjoy. There are seventeen channels below, in alphabetical order.

Ashleigh Burton: Ashleigh is a millennial, who by her own account, grew up extremely sheltered in the ways of cinema. Up until recently, she didn’t know much outside of the Disney cannon. But she’s wanting to expand her movie knowledge, and she’s asking her viewers for help.

Twice a week, she watches a film that her viewers suggest, and then she gives commentary on it. While there are lots of reaction channels, Ashleigh’s stands out for any number of reasons: for instance, she does a good job of editing her comments, of keeping the video on close-up, and of having smart but goofy things to say.

CPG Grey: CPG Grey has been around for about ten years on the web. His videos range from the educational, to the mysterious, to the funny, and back to the educational. A former teacher, CPG Grey clearly wants to use his channel to inform, educate, and provoke conversations among his viewers. I’ve learned a lot from his channel, and I suggest you take a look at it too.

Doug DeMuro: I don’t care about cars. I don’t know much about them, other than how to drive them, and to marvel at how luxurious even the lower-end models have become. I’ve never been interested in cars the way some people are, and I see no reason why I ever will be.

But I like Doug DeMuro, car enthusiast and nerd extraordinaire. Doug reviews automobiles in each video. Sometimes his video is about a splashy, expensive, exotic car, but the ones I tend to like are when he reviews a normal, every day car, but goes into incredible detail about it. It’s not that I’m so much interested in the car, as I am interested in Doug’s enthusiasm.

Franchise City: I don’t own a franchise, nor do I operate an extension of one. Furthermore, I have no desire to own one, and likely never will. So it may seem odd that I subscribe to Franchise City, a YouTube channel that gives people advice about how they should go about purchasing a franchise.

I like this channel for several different reasons. Probably, first and foremost, I find that the host’s advice about purchasing a franchise transfers to other walks of life. It’s like accidental aphorisms sprinkled around business advice.

Historia Civilis: This channel might seem boring at first, and it’s certainly true that it isn’t for everyone, but if you like history, and want mini-lessons on small moments of history, this is the YouTube channel for you. You’ll learn about famous battles, such as the Battle of Cannae and historical trials such as that of Charles I of England. He focuses mainly on classical Greek and Roman History, but he sometimes reviews other historical periods as well.

Joel & Lia: These two actors took a look at YouTube and said, “nice work if you can get it, and I think we can.” Their channel is very simple in concept. They just gab every episode about the differences between the U.S. and the U.K. It’s obvious that they put very little preparation into their videos, sometimes basically summarizing Buzzfeed articles. But they have a secret weapon, the gift of gab. It’s fun to listen to them. Here again, it’s more about them than it is about their subject matter.

Jomboy Media: This sports YouTube channel is hit and miss. Sometimes it comes off as a bit too much inside baseball, both literally and figuratively. But sometimes the guy behind this channel can be positively hilarious. He also has an eagle eye for details, as he does a close-read of sports plays and everything around them.

Julia Galef: Julia is a philosopher, who hosts a podcast, “Rationally Speaking,” keeps a blog, and has written at least one book. Her videos are aimed at a beginner’s level in terms of philosophy, but she has a way of articulating concepts that emphasizes not just what the idea is but why it is important, both in the abstract and in her listeners’ everyday lives.

I also enjoy how she presents her opinions in ways that emphasize their creative practicality, even though her opinions usually gravitate towards the golden mean. In other words, she makes moderation sound fun and smart.

Julie Nolke: Julie’s channel has been around a while, but it received a major boost during the pandemic with her series of time-travel videos, “Explaining the Pandemic to my Past Self.” You should definitely check out those videos, but she has other funny skits as well.

Postmodern Jukebox: Have you ever wanted to listen a song in a completely different genre? If so, check out Postmodern Jukebox. They are clever and fun. Below is one of their best videos. Here’s another one, a clever take through dance of a famous video game song.

Pushing Up Roses: I’ve only started to get into this one, but this channel appears to be reviews of murder mysteries, but also other television shows, books, and video games, among other things. She does quite a good job, from what I have seen, but I’m just barely getting into it, as of now.

Robyn Adele Anderson: Robyn got her start with Postmodern Jukebox, but now she creates her own videos on her own channel. Her talent and clever takes on songs are fun, surprising, moving, and humorous.

Ryan Reeves: This is without question the most scholarly of the YouTube channels on this list. Ryan used to be an Associate Professor of Historical Theology. I stumbled upon his channel several years ago. His channel has several epic courses on Bible History and other subjects. So far, I’ve made my way through two of his courses, “Early & Medieval Church History” (54 videos, each about 30 minutes long) and “Reformation and Modern Church History” (39 videos, each about 30 minutes long). These video courses are in-depth and thought-provoking. Here’s one of my favorites.

I love his rhetorical style. For instance, he will usually start a video by saying, “We are in,” instantly transporting you a distant time and place. What makes it even better is that his introductions are sometimes connected to the lecture’s subject only through a serpentine path. This encourages the viewer to guess how he’s putting all of these thoughts together.

Tom Scott: For several decades during the 20th century, news reporter Charles Kuralt specialized in human interest stories, where he would travel across the country, meeting interesting people and introducing them to America. British YouTube reporter, Tom Scott, emerges out of that tradition.

It would appear that he started his YouTube channel with practically no budget, but slowly became more popular with more resources and more sway to get into restricted areas, travel, and meet new people. Here’s one of my favorites of his vignettes:

TwinsistheNewTrend: These two young men basically do the same thing Ashleigh Burton (see above). They review pop culture from previous generations and then comment on it. What I’ve noticed about these two is that they seemingly always enjoy the songs.

This could just be them being polite young men; it could be their natural disposition towards appreciating things. But there’s another possibility; it could be that they are quite cleverly turning their channel into a subtle form of social validation for Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. Anyway, their channel is a lot of fun!

Up and Atom: This is a fun one about math, physics, and maybe philosophy. Jade goes through some academic concepts, but she does so in a way that’s engaging, clear, and entertaining.

Veritasium: This is another science YouTube channel. It’s not my favorite, but every once in a while it’s fun to watch.

Anyway, those are some of my picks. Please let me know what your favorite YouTube channels are.

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