In Our Times was in peak form with their show on the Abassid Caliphs. When the Vikings were asail, Baghdad was new, and Basra was buzzing the Abassids ruled Iraq's empire. They created the first "western" revolution in communication -- paper from China and a well maintained system of transporting and routing paper-based documents.
Wealth from the rich fertile lands of irrigated Iraq. Communication technologies that allowed government to scale, and education to be expanded. A system of taxation that turned Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians from annoying unbelievers to a steady stream of revenue; in essence non-Muslims paid for tolerance and thus incented tolerance. Economics, technology, surplus, education, tolerance, good governance -- that's how a Golden Age is made.
This is good listening, particularly if one uses Audio Hijack Pro and RealAudio client to capture the audio stream for iPod replay on the morning commute. IOT does podcast their new shows, but to put the archives on an iPod one has to capture the stream and digitize it. I need to put a page together on how to do that, but for now the AHP manual does a decent job.