We’ve said goodbye to the dumpster fire that was 2016 but as the year changes we now find ourselves in the daylight looking at the smoking remnants. No one really knows what a Trump presidency will bring. We need to learn new ways to engage with our government and with each other to prepare for the possible fights ahead. While this is a confusing and downright frightening time for many of us, those of us who are just waking up may be more confused and disheartened than others who were not all that surprised that this is what we’ve come to. This list of podcasts is meant to get you started on the journey to learning what got us here and hopefully give us ideas to help us survive, resist, and rise up against what seems to be coming our way.
Jon Favreau (not the Iron Man director), Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor are former members of Team Obama. They spent last year doing one of my favorite podcasts, Keepin’ It 1600. Spending election night with their live feed was comforting and devastating at the same time as their hopes were crushed right along with mine as the results came in. It’s helpful to have commentators who have been on the inside of the White House to guide us through things. Last week’s episode included a conversation with Obama’s ethics lawyer breaking down all of the issues with Trump’s conflicts of interest. They are not journalists or pundits just guys who still believe in the hope and change that Obama promised. Their mission to bring those things to fruition hasn’t changed, they’re just trying to figure out what that looks like in the Trump era. As are we all.
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This recommendation has a bit of an asterisk only because it’s so new and very white (so are the Pod Save America guys to be fair but I’ve listened to them for a year so I know they are aware of their whiteness and all that comes with it). The hosts for this show also seem to be aware of their privilege and say right off the bat that they hope to bring the diversity through the guests they have on. I’ve listened to three episodes so far and they do feel sincere and are up front about it being a learning experience for them as well as us, which I appreciate. The recent episode with Emily Ellsworth discussing the best ways for citizens to use the power they have with their representatives was particularly interesting and helpful. I like the direction of this podcast because it is about trying to figure out actions we can all take rather than just bemoaning our fate.
We are The FourFiftyOne, a podcast for the Resistance. Our hosts are Summer Brennan, Jesse Hirsch, and Jonathan Mann, two journalists and a musician discussing what it means to be an American in the age of Trump.
“The FourFiftyOne” takes its name from the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, set in a dystopian America where books are outlawed and any that are found are burned. The title comes from the temperature at which paper was thought to burst into flame.
There is no denying that white fear played a huge part in this election. This country is built on a foundation of systemic racism and white fear is the flame that the media and politicians fan so the economically disadvantaged in this country stay divided. Class is a major issue but the 1% keep winning because they make sure we only see the differences and never see the middle ground we all share. Recognizing your privilege is a good starting point and that means listening to people who don’t look like you and who don’t share your background. Code Switch is a good start for this. The hosts discuss the same headlines you read about but seen through a different lens. You’re not a true ally unless you can listen to people of color and face your own biases.
Remember when folks used to talk about being “post-racial”? Well, we’re definitely not that. We’re a team of journalists fascinated by the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.
From climate change deniers to anti-vaccine proponents, the Trump team seems particularly allergic to scientific facts. It’s up to us to stay informed as to all the wonderful things that science teaches us about our world and how we can take care of it and ourselves better. Most weeks this is just a podcast of highlights from the world of science although some weeks they do a deeper dive into one subject.
For 25 years we’ve introduced top scientists to public radio listeners, and reminded them how much fun it is to learn something new. But we’re more than just a radio show. We produce award-winning digital videos, original web articles, and educational resources for teachers and informal educators. We like to say we’re brain fun, for curious people.
The Economist has a number of podcasts but I like The Week Ahead because it gives me an idea of what important things are going on across the globe that the American media may not cover. It’s important to remember that we are just a piece of the world puzzle, a large, powerful one yes, but still just a piece. There are things going on all over that contribute to global instability and we are not immune to the repercussions of these events. This is just a nutshell version but is a good launch pad to start broadening your worldview.
Edited in London since 1843, The Economist is a weekly international news and business publication, offering clear reporting, commentary and analysis on world current affairs, business, finance, science and technology, culture, society, media and the arts. As noted on its contents page, The Economist‘s goal is to “take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” The Economist is read by more of the world’s political and business leaders than any other magazine. In March 2014 circulation stood at over 1.5m.
Described as “A culture conversation with Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham”, Still Processing is lighter in tone than the previous podcasts but can get serious when digging into the larger meaning of popular culture. This is my one of my favorite hours in the week because Wesley and Jenna make the podcast feel like you’re just sitting and hanging out with them. They are intelligent, engaging and fun but they’re also not afraid to talk about the realities underpinning our culture. From movies to TV to the election they always share their thoughts, hopes, doubts, and vulnerabilities.
We’re both writers at The New York Times, with very different focuses. Jenna is obsessed with Beyoncé, the evolution of the digital world and all things time travel. Wesley likes to think about the relationship among art, news and life in popular culture. The overlap of that Venn diagram is pretty much our show.
We’ll be talking about the TV we’re watching, the movies we saw, the music we’ve heard, the books we’re reading; tech etiquette, like how to slide into DMs and whether you should (quick answer: If you have to ask, as Wesley did, then no). We’ll get into the purpose — the real purpose — of Snapchat, the legacy of stars like Gene Wilder, the actual point of DJ Khaled (is there one?), and whether there ever was such a thing as good hair.
This is your geek break from it all. It seems out of place in this list but self-care means we get a safe space to relax and replenish for our next act of resistance. In full disclosure host, Michael Nixon is a social media buddy of mine, but I’d enjoy this podcast even if I didn’t know him. He and co-host Melinda-Catherine Gross work from the premise that 1986 is the most important year in geekdom. I’ve included it in this list not just because we need the break but because it is a fascinating look at how we’ve evolved over the last 30 years. As a geek I especially enjoy seeing it from that perspective and if you’re reading us I’m betting you will too. They’ve covered subjects such as Stephen King’s It, Dungeons and Dragons, and Manhunter, following a trail from these watershed pop culture moments to their influence on what we read, play, and watch today. The show is on a break for a couple months but there are eleven episodes to catch up on before then.
This is by no means a complete list. This is not even a list for people who have been deep in the social justice movement already. These are all conversation starters, idea generators, and places to begin building bridges to form the community we will need if we’re going to keep the baby steps of progress we’ve seen over the last few years moving forward against the tides trying to slow it.