CBC Podcasts & Radio On-Demand

IDEAS is a deep-dive into contemporary thought and intellectual history. No topic is off-limits. In the age of clickbait and superficial headlines, it's for people who like to think.


Canada, ON


IDEAS is a deep-dive into contemporary thought and intellectual history. No topic is off-limits. In the age of clickbait and superficial headlines, it's for people who like to think.






Ideas CBC Radio P.O. Box 500 Station A Toronto, ON Canada, M5W 1E6 (416) 205-3700


Echoes of an Empty Sound: The Story of Zero

It's the middle of the number line, and the likely end of the universe. It's nothing — and it's everywhere. Zero has confounded humanity for thousands of years. On IDEAS, we explore the infinite danger and promise of the void in a series called The Greatest Numbers of All Time.


The Great Reset

The Great Reset — it came down from the mountains of Davos, Switzerland. To conspiracy theorists, it's a plot by global elites at the World Economic Forum to control our lives. To its supporters, it represents a gentler, more humane form of capitalism. IDEAS contributor Ira Basen investigates what exactly is the Great Reset and why it's so controversial. *This episode originally aired on May 23, 2023.


The Bird Man: Adventures with Bill Montevecchi

*Be advised there is some strong language in this episode | Seabird biologist Bill Montevecchi has been ranked in the world’s top two per cent of scientists. IDEAS producer Mary Lynk follows him on a heart-pounding overnight rescue mission of young storm petrels along Newfoundland’s coastline. This episode originally aired on March 31, 2023.


How to Flourish in a Broken World

The world is full of problems — our broken healthcare, out-of-reach housing, a democracy in shambles and a dying planet. Is it actually possible to fix this mess? IDEAS hears from people working to fix our most intractable problems at a time when it can feel easier to just give up.


The Many Afterlives of the Queen of Sheba

The Queen of Sheba is a holy figure to some; a demon in disguise to others. Author and journalist Kamal Al-Solaylee explores the many afterlives of the Queen of Sheba — and how ideas about gender and power have shifted in each retelling of her life. *This episode originally aired on May 9, 2023.


Smart Cities, Technology and the Pursuit of Urban Utopias

Nothing seems to make a city politician’s eyes light up like the promise of the smart city. In his latest book, Dream States, journalist John Lorinc questions whether smart technologies live up to the hype and whether ultimately smart cities serve the interests of city dwellers or big tech companies.


Canada's School Trains

They were known as school cars and schools on wheels. Trains that brought the classroom to children in the most isolated communities of Northern Ontario. IDEAS contributor Alisa Siegel explores remote education, homeschooling and nation-building. *This episode originally aired on January 9, 2023.


The Enslaved Teen Who Cracked Vanilla’s Secret

Vanilla may well be the world’s most popular flavour. Its history is intertwined with the institution of slavery, scientific discovery, geopolitics and one individual’s breathtaking resilience. Scholar Eric Jennings shares the troubled, yet inspiring, history of vanilla, in his June 2023 lecture for the Jackman Humanities Institute.


Ghost Particles

The mysterious ‘neutrino’ has a nickname: the ‘ghost particle.’ Benjamin Tam is finishing his PhD in Particle Astrophysics at Queen’s University. He takes us two kilometres to a laboratory deep below the earth’s surface where he and fellow scientists hope to watch neutrinos finally explain the universe’s existence. *This episode originally aired on February 1, 2023.


The North Star: Canada and the Civil War Plots Against Lincoln by Julian Sher

Montreal was a hotbed of spies and conspirators during the U.S. Civil War. IDEAS host Nahlah Ayed and investigative journalist Julian Sher, author of The North Star: Canada and the Civil War Plots Against Lincoln, tour Montreal’s past and present, tracing the city’s hidden Confederate past.


Hands Up Who Loves Timmins

Timmins calls itself “the city with a heart of gold." And it offers a fast track to permanent residency for immigrants willing to move there. IDEAS producer Tom Howell finds out what this northern Ontario city has to offer a newcomer, and who’s ready to fall in love with Shania Twain’s hometown.


What Good Is Philosophy?

"What is good?" is at the heart of philosophy. Asking the question helps us move toward answers about inclusivity, equality, and who gets a voice at the table. Earlier this year, The Munk School at the University of Toronto hosted philosophers and writers and put philosophy to the test. When it comes to the good, they asked, what good is philosophy?


Astra Taylor: The Hidden Truth of the World

Writer and political organizer Astra Taylor is the 2023 CBC Massey Lecturer. She speaks with Nahlah Ayed about key moments in her intellectual coming-of-age, from her early life in the “unschooling” movement to her involvement with Occupy Wall Street.


What’s Up with The Birds?

Fears of technological overreach, environmental decline, and the violent rise of the irrational: our 21st century anxieties were anticipated in an unlikely 20th century horror metaphor. “The Birds” – a haunting 1953 short story by Daphne duMaurier, and the truly bizarre 1963 Alfred Hitchcock movie that it inspired.


What are universities for?

What are universities for? Where have they gone wrong? What are they doing right? And what do they owe the public? Those were just some of the questions put to university educators and renowned scholars at a public discussion hosted by the University of Regina. You'll also hear voices from students past, present and possibly future on what the purpose of a university means to them.


World on Fire

The Labour Day long weekend is the unofficial end to our Canadian summer but it won't be the end of the smoke or the fires. This unprecedented wildfire season has burned further, faster and is predicted to last longer than even some of the climate experts could have imagined. CBC reporter Adrienne Lamb explores what this could mean for all of us.


Eugenic thinking has never gone away

Eugenics is seen as a 19th-century idea put into horrific 20th-century practice. But the attraction to breeding “better” humans has a long and persistent history, says Adam Rutherford. The geneticist and science podcaster explains, in conversation with host Nahlah Ayed. *This episode originally aired on January 20, 2023.


Suzuki's Survival Guide | Air and Atmosphere

Air of course is all around us. We move through it without noticing it. This episode from 2010 is called The Last Breath. We follow a single breath in its journey around the world, explore how an ice-free Arctic will change life on Earth, and David Suzuki sits down with Margaret Atwood for an entertaining chat conversation about breath, life, and death.


The Librarian Who Won’t Stay Quiet

Libraries are under literal attack in Ukraine, and ideological attack amid North America’s culture wars. Oxford librarian and author Richard Ovenden is not about to stay quiet about it. He argues that libraries defend our democratic freedoms, and deserve our defence in return. *This episode originally aired on March 21, 2023.


Muhammad Iqbal: one of the greatest South Asian thinkers of the 20th century

Muhammad Iqbal was popularly known as the intellectual founder of Pakistan, but his greater fame is for his philosophical works in English and his poetry, both in Urdu and Persian. IDEAS looks at the life and work of one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. *This episode originally aired on January 25, 2023.