This is the final post in my series on news and politics podcasts. In preparation for this series, I listened to dozens of political podcasts. The first four articles focused on the greats, and now I have a list of some pods that also deserve recognition.
If you haven’t read them yet, here are the first four reviews in the political podcast series:
Here’s the quick list, then I’ll break them down one by one: 5 on 45 by The Brookings Institute, The New York Times’ The Daily, WNYC’s The United States Of Anxiety, WNYC’s On The Media, Primary Concerns by The New Republic, and Radiotopia’s What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law.
1. 5 on 45 by The Brookings Institute
The Brookings Institution, tracing back to 1916, is a nonprofit public policy organization based in DC with the mission to conduct in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national, and global levels. Brookings brings together more than 300 leading experts in government and academia who provide quality research and policy recommendations.
One of their many podcasts, 5 on 45, is exactly as the short title describes, a 5-minute easy-to-digest monologue by an expert on what Trump has done or plans to do. Typically there are three to five episodes per week. Each episode has a different reader and sometimes can be a little dry, but it’s always good information and perspective.
2. The New York Times’ The Daily
The Daily by The New York Times is a staple of the podcast world in the news category. This is a must-listen, and you likely already do. Host Michael Barbaro interviews The New York Times journalists about their recent stories, giving a behind-the-scenes look at how they broke it. At the end, he gives the day’s most important headlines.
Barbaro started podcasting for The New York Times with The Run-Up, a 2016 election-focused podcast. He was recently a guest on another The New York Times podcast called Inside The Times. This was the latest and final episode of Inside The Times, unfortunately, but it served as the passing of the torch as they covered some of the same ground.
Barbaro really cares about delivering quality news in an approachable and consistent manner. The podcast is usually about 20 minutes long and comes out weekday mornings. You can find this show in the top charts of Apple Podcasts, or at nytimes.com/column/the-daily and the link will be in the shownotes.
3. WNYC’s The United States Of Anxiety: Culture Wars
Starting as a call-in radio show to bridge the divide between the right and the left after the 2016 election, and shifting to a similar but expanded format rebranded as Indivisible, WNYC returned to its original feed with a new season and new format called Culture Wars, an episodic history covering the creation of the differences and misunderstandings that define the “Divided States of America.”
Hosted by Kai Wright, editor and host at WNYC and columnist for The Nation magazine, each episode is centered on a topic such as why the Republicans deny climate change, how white supremacists communicate on social media, or how Aaron Copland created the Americana sound and how it’s used in super hero movies to bring you chills.
The episode with contributor Jim O’Grady interviewing Yewande Omotoso about anti-intellectualism struck me really hard.
The latest season of the show has just finished, but all of the episodes are timeless history lessons worth going back to, about 30 minutes long. You can hear more about United States Of Anxiety at WNYC.org/shows/anxiety. And WNYC also produces the next podcast on my list.
4. WNYC’s On The Media
Hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield turn the focus back on the news outlets and journalists in a frank and transparent manner. I like to listen to this show as a fact-check to all the other news podcasts.
On The Media has been analyzing the left and the right for 22 years, and from their investigating and reporting have earned many awards including the Edward R. Murrow, the National Press Club’s Arthur Rowse Award, the Bart Richards award, and even a Peabody Award.
On The Media, typically under 50 minutes, also features extra episodes interviewing journalists about their stories. Recently, Bob interviewed Brian Beutler of The New Republic about The New York Times’ new conservative columnist, and his initial fumbles with the existence of climate change on the episode Climate of Poor Rhetoric. You can hear more at http://www.wnyc.org/shows/otm.
5. Primary Concerns by The New Republic
Brian Beutler has an hour-long podcast of his own that comes out weekly called Primary Concerns, initially starting with the 2016 primary for president, hence the play on words.
The format is an interview show where Brian talks with a politician or journalist about the week’s news highlights with thoughtful questions and followups. The guests he lands are knowledgeable and it’s always a kind and friendly interview, so you don’t need to worry about getting riled up from hot tempers.
You can find more at NewRepublic.com/podcasts.
6. Radiotopia’s What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law
“This sounds like an article written by The Onion…” Despite the cliché, this is what I think each time I listen to Roman Mars’ new podcast, What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law.
Roman Mars is the host of the podcast 99% Invisible and co-founder of Radiotopia. In his new show, What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law, he has partnered with constitutional law professor Elizabeth Joh; together they check Twitter to compare what the 45th President of the United States has done, says he’s done, or says he will do against 200 years of judicial branch interpretations and rulings on the United States Constitution.
Everything is a remix, right? Con Law is Roman Mars’ mash-up of other great podcasts in a concise and well-produced package. Two of my favorite new podcasts, since this administration started, are Can He Do That? by The Washington Post, analyzing the scandal of the week by asking the titular question, and Civics 101 (♫ “Civi- Civi- Civics! One Oh One!” ♬) by New Hampshire Public Radio, a weekly dive into “what you may have forgotten in civics class” or what you never learned because most public schools stopped teaching civics. Con Law mixes these formats with Roman as the everyman asking questions of Elizabeth in the teacher role, who shares her knowledge of constitutional law.
What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law is as quirky and well edited as you’d expect from a Mars’ production. The episodes are about 15 minutes each. You can listen at TrumpConLaw.com.
In addition to the aforementioned, I’ll keep listening to two pods by Oregon Public Broadcasting, called Think Out Loud and Politics Now, to keep up on my own local news and politics. Now, I am going to unsubscribe from many of the podcasts that didn’t stand out, not only to spend less time just on news, but also because I’ve noticed my stress levels increase.
This concludes my series on news and politics podcasts. I hope you were able to find a new podcast to listen to or found a new perspective on one of your favorites.
In the immortal words of Mike Burkett from NOFX ‘the people’s revolution is gunna be a podcast.’