Podcasts of the Week Ending May 8


Fresh Air :: Remembering Astronaut Michael Collins

A vintage interview with Apollo 11 command capsule commander who most famously spent some time alone in space.

The Last Archive :: Monkey Business

The John Scopes trial and the origins of the American culture wars.

This Day in Esoteric Political History :: Kennedy’s Pulitzer Controversies (1957)

John F. Kennedy gained national attention when his book Profiles in Courage won the Pulitzer Prize.  I was particularly interested that his profiles tended to focus on Senators who aided “bipartisan compromise” even during times of slavery, and how valuing the idea of bipartisanship actually lead to dangerous outcomes.

Unspooled :: A Trip to the Moon

I’ve long enjoyed this podcast about classic movies and here Amy & Paul discuss their oldest film yet, the 119-year-old French space adventure A Trip to the Moon.

 

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending April 24


Afropop Worldwide :: Punk in Africa

Punk is not a genre typically associated with Africa but the music of rage both personal and political has found its niche in countries dealing with imperialism, apartheid, poverty, and political corruption.

Fresh Air ::  The Social Psychologist Who Works To Reduce Harm In Policing

Regulating police behavior rather than focusing on the attitudes of individual police officers is the approach advocated by one researcher.

Radio Boston :: Former Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson Reunites With Birth Mother

A heart-warming story of Tito Jackson, one of my favorite Bostonians, meeting his birth mother for the first time.

What Next :: Fear and Paranoia in American Policing

Police officers are trained to be terrified by everything around them leading to their inscrutable violent actions.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending April 17


Best of the Left :: Our Democracy is Filibusted, Time to Kill the Filibuster

The filibuster is a tool of white supremacy and it must be eliminated to allow the United States to pursue freedom and equality for all.

99% Invisible ::  Welcome to Jurassic Art Redux

The best way most people have to understand how extinct animals like the dinosaurs lived is through art.  Over the years, paleoart has transitioned from maintaining outdated ideas, to illustrating new understandings of dinosaurs, to entirely speculative art of different possibilities of how dinosaurs looked and acted.

Throughline :: The Real Black Panthers

If your understanding of the Black Panther Party is informed by depictions like Forrest Gump of a group of radical Blacks who hate white people, it’s worth listening to this podcast to learn what they actually understood.  In reality, the Black Panthers were seen as a threat by the FBI, and others, due to their radical vision of cross-racial activism.

The Story Collider :: Stories of COVID-19: Teachers

Teachers have dealt with a lot during the pandemic, from the brunt of redesigning education for remote learning on a moment’s notice to being the target of anger from parents and politicians.  Here are some of their stories.

Unf*cking the Republic :: AOC & the Lying Men Hydra

New York congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the target of rage from Republicans, establishment Democrats, and Leftists alike.  This podcast explains what they have in common.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending April 10


99% Invisible :: The Real Book

How a book of pirated sheet music became a must have for students in jazz music programs.

Throughline :: Policing in America

A history of police in America and how it has served the purposes of white supremacy.

Unf*cking the Republic :: Mass Incarceration: The War on Drugs

A  profanity-laden summary of the work Michelle Alexander and others have done to detail how increased policing and imprisonment is being used to infringe the rights of Black Americans.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending April 3


Fresh Air :: The High Stakes Of Amazon’s ‘One-Click America’

The vote to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama and what that means for labor in America.

Planet Money ::  Socialism 101

A primer on a widely misunderstood economic theory.

Radio Boston ::  New Study Supports Suffolk DA Rollins’ Focus More On Serious, Violent Crimes

Rachael Rollins ran for and was elected as Suffolk County District Attorney promising not to prosecute many nonviolent offenses and focus on more serious crimes.  Newly released data is proving her approach to be correct.

Radiolab :: What Up, Holmes?

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes originated a metaphor for free speech as “the marketplace of ideas,” but is there a better way to conceptualize freedom of speech?

This Day in Esoteric Political History :: Three Mile Meltdown

A partial nuclear meltdown at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania was apparently not as bad as it is always made out to be.

Throughline :: Our Own People

The story of a social justice activist I’ve never heard of before, Yuri Kochiyama. A Japanese-American woman who fought for Asian American equality, Kochiyama allied herself with numerous liberation movements. She was friends was Malcolm X and held him as he died.

What Next :: Can a Highway Be Racist?

There’s a long history in the United States of working class BIPOC communities being leveled to build and enlarge highways.  The freeway revolt against this practice continues in Houston.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Two Weeks Ending March 27


Best of the Left :: Democracy Under Siege

Republicans are attacking the right to vote in order to retain power and maintain white supremacist fascism.

Code Switch :: Lonnie Bunch And The ‘Museum Of No’

An interview with the first Black Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution focusing on his work in bringing the National Museum of African American History and Culture to fruition.

Have You Heard? ::  What They’ve Lost

Boston Public Schools students talk about their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic and not being able to attend school in person. Also includes a good discussion of why the focus on “learning loss” only adds to the trauma rather than addressing students’ real problems.

Hub History :: Disaster at Bussey Bridge

134 years ago, corporate malfeasance lead to the death and dismemberment of several railway commuters at a site not far from where I live today.

Planet Money :: The Even More Minimum Wage

The history of the tipped minimum wage and how it maintains inequality. I was particularly stunned by how tipped employment is often the first jobs for young women and that it conditions them to accept sexual harassment in order to get tips.

Seizing Freedom :: Interview: Rhiannon Giddens

For the second POTW post in a row I’ve found a fascinating podcast about the banjo in Black music, this time an interview with the contemporary folk musician Rhiannon Giddens.

This American Life :: The Campus Tour Has Been Cancelled

Many colleges and universities have suspended using the SATs and other standardized tests for admissions because of the COVID pandemic. Tests like these have a gatekeeping effect and this podcast explores how their absence can open up college opportunities for poor, BIPOC, and first-generation applicants.

Throughline :: Chaos

Stories of humanity and chaos, including the real life The Lord of the Flies.

Twenty Thousand Hertz :: 20th Century Fox

The composition and history of the deceptively simple 20th Century Fox fanfare.

The War on Cars :: Jamelle Bouie Has Seen the Future of Transportation

Journalist Jamelle Bouie talks about his experience using an electric bike in Charlottesville, VA and the future of transportation and housing in the United States.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcast of the Week Ending March 13


Afropop Worldwide :: The Black History of the Banjo

Many people associate the banjo with white music from the rural Southern United States, but the instrument has its origins in Africa and is heard hear in a variety music styles of African and the African diaspora.

Futility Closet :: Eugene Bullard

The fascinating life of Eugene Bullard, a Black American who became an expatriate in France where he was a prizefighter, combat pilot in WWI, a nightclub owner who jammed with the great jazz artists of the day, and a spy in WWII. Someone make a biopic about this man, quick!

99% Invisible :: Artistic License

” I guess those are the two extremes in thought. It would seem to me that somewhere in between ‘Live free or die’ and ‘Famous potatoes’ the truth lies probably it’s a little closer to famous potatoes.” – George Carlin.

An episode about license plate design that touches on its promotional uses and issues of free speech.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending March 6


Seizing Freedom :: Reconstructing Family

This is a fairly new podcast that I just started listening to. I listened to all the back episodes this week and highly recommend it.  It is a history of Black Americans during the Civil War and Reconstruction who emancipated themselves and fought to gain political influence and equality.  Not only does it feature interviews with historians and scholars, but frequently we hear readings from primary documents allowing us to hear these Black people of a century and half ago in their own words.  The episode I chose stands out because it deals with an issue I’d never considered, how formerly enslaved people sought to find the parents, children, siblings, and spouses they’d been separated from by slavery.

Reparations: The Big Payback :: History of Reparations

Another new podcast also deals with slavery and the concept of reparations.  Hosted by Erika Alexander and Whitney Dow, the show deals directly with the tension of the reparations debate.  The episode I selected includes a timeline of the reparations movement from the Civil War era until now, done in a somewhat silly way.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending February 26


AirSpace :: Nicotine Stain

How flight attendants lead the fight against public smoking and raising awareness of the danger of second-hand smoke

Consider This :: Optimism About Case Rates, Vaccines, And Future Of The Pandemic

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Judas and the Black Messiah

This podcast series ties into the new film about Fred Hampton and explores the Black Panther leader’s life with interviews with people who knew him, as well as behind the scenes of making the movie.

99% Invisible : The Batman and the Bridge Builder

The story of how the design of a bridge in Austin, Texas lead to it becoming a center of bat conservation (featuring bat scientist Merlin Tuttle).

Throughline :: Remembering Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the March on Washington

The life of Bayard Rustin, a pioneering activist of nonviolence in the American Civil Rights and labor movements.

Up First :: Christian Nationalism & Disinformation

How white evangelical churches perpetuate the ideology that led to the Capitol Insurrection.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending February 20


LeVar Burton Reads :: “Silver Door Diner” by Bishop Garrison

A great science fiction story about a waitress at a diner meeting a mysterious child.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021