Hodgepod delivers five personally recommended podcasts, about everything from love to literature, straight to your inbox. It's like a surprise party for your ears, every Thursday.
About five blocks away from On Being host Krista Tippet's house—in what she calls a "Leave it to Beaver" neighborhood—Philando Castile was shot and killed by the cops last year. As a white person, she says it's reasonable to feel uncomfortable when racial inequality play out in your own "integrated" community. But then what? Eula Biss, a Northwestern professor who has written about racial disparities in her own suburban town, talks with Tippet about the purpose of white guilt. People who recogni...more
If you're the kind of person who needs certain things explained to you like you're 5—or if you listen to podcasts with 5-year-olds in the room—The Show About Science is the podcast for you! It's hosted by a kid named Nate (who turned 6 since starting the show), and he interviews working scientists and professors about things like recycling and vampire bats. His latest episode is all about climate change and how humans are contributing to the problem.
What would you do if you had a billion dollars and a deep concern about rising income inequality? In Silicon Valley, where techies have long touted their ability to improve everyone's lives, a good number of executives are now planning to avoid "the pitchforks" by retreating into luxury bunkers in central Kansas. Evan Osnos wrote an unsettling story about the new class of ultra-wealthy doomsday preppers in this week's New Yorker, and his follow-up interview on Fresh Air is a must-listen.
I like Drake. I love Kentucky basketball. If you've never rooted for a dominant team, try it. In uneasy times, it's deeply satisfying when things go according to how you hoped. It's no surprise that Drake is a member of Big Blue Nation, and it's only fitting that his interview on Cal Cast, coach John Calipari's podcast, was released a few hours before this final Hodgepod. Here's two successful people talking about their families, their feelings, and being good at things.
David Axelrod and Barack Obama have been friends for 25 years, so this isn't the most bias-free exit interview you'll hear with the president. That said, a 60-minute conversation with a close friend elicits more candor than a press conference or a "Slow Jam the News" segment on Jimmy Fallon. So if you want to hear Obama's earnest opinions about his presidency, this episode of The Axe Files is the best thing you'll get until he writes his memoirs.
The German, Canadian and EU ambassadors to the U.S. just appeared as guests on 1A, NPR’s new weekday talk show. Good news: They’re not as down on 2017 as I thought they’d be. They also seem confident Trump will change his mind about a lot of the promises he made during the campaign.
Need a break from the news? Poetry Off the Shelf, a very unpretentious podcast from the Poetry Foundation, has a new series about American women who've changed the poetry game. It combines short readings with commentary from contemporary poets about why this stuff is so influential. The first episode covers the story of Phillis Wheatley, an enslaved woman whose poetry was beloved by George Washington and ought to be read by all.
President-elect Donald Trump, who once allegedly stiffed Andy Warhol because he didn't like the colors used in a commissioned painting, isn't known as an art buff. But he is a big fan of Citizen Kane, and there's a segment about the significance of Trump's film taste in this episode of Studio 360. It includes a clip from an Errol Morris documentary in which Trump talks about Kane’s themes of alienation and excess. It's insightful on a few levels.
Tracy Clayton, co-host of the Buzzfeed podcast Another Round, recently tweeted to her 98K followers a list of 30 things she wants to make happen in 2017. One of them, which she explains in this episode of Death, Sex & Money, is getting her finances in order. I think because it's uncomfortable, especially for young people, to talk about how much money you have, it's uncomfortable to discuss what you do or don't know about managing it. Her candor here about credit, investing and giving money back ...more
Despite my inside knowledge of the public radio business, I didn't know, prior to listening to this episode of the Longform Podcast, that Terry Gross is 4'11". She also started hosting a radio show at 24. Those things together, she says, led interviewees to think she was a child. She was not a child. She was a radio legend in the making. Here, she tells the story of her career trajectory and revisits the awkward moment where she asked Hillary Clinton about flip-flopping on gay marriage.
We've lost five million manufacturing jobs since 2000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the next ten years will see millions of new jobs for nurses and home health aides. Does that mean men without college degrees will ditch the work boots for white sneakers? Are "macho" jobs over? And are economists woefully misguided in expecting people to abruptly switch careers? The experts on Slate Money had a lively debate about all this on their most recent episode.
According to legend, Pope Clement VIII first tasted a cup of coffee in the year 1600 and thought it was so delicious, he decided to "baptize" what was previously known within the Vatican as "the devil's drink." But long before the Catholic Church gave it a thumbs up, coffee was a staple in the Muslim world. Abdul-Rehman Malik, a British journalist who really loves coffee, made a documentary for the BBC World Service about how this brown sludge went from a spiritually significant beverage in Yeme...more
Eurasia Group, a consulting firm led by Ian Bremmer (pictured above walking through a shopping mall chatting about deglobalization), publishes an annual list of the top geopolitical risks facing the world. This year, Bremmer says the top risk is Donald Trump's wariness towards upholding the global order as we know it. That said, Bremmer's outlook is long on substance and short on hyperbole. He discusses the big risks of 2017 on Bloomberg Surveillance.
Gunung Kemukus is a remote Javanese mountain where people sneak off to attend an adultery ritual. Legend has it that an Indonesian prince once brought his stepmom there to sleep with her. Over time, many small business owners came to believe they could garner good luck for their companies by doing something equally shameful. Specifically, having sex with one stranger, seven times, every 35 days. A reporter from the Australian Broadcasting Service climbed the mountain to interview participants in...more
This is a fun thought experiment: Take a sport, and then imagine what a match would look like if both sides were trying to lose. Would soccer players keep scoring on themselves? Would basketball players all foul out? This actually happened at the 2012 London Olympics, when two competing badminton teams both wanted to lose so they could face an easier opponent in the next round. Radiolab made an episode about how this transpired, and what it says about why we play games at all.
It was one of the best movies of 2016. The part featuring a DMV full of sloths reportedly set a record for the longest scene in animated movie history. And it taught audiences young and old a lesson about bias, human imperfection, urban conflict, and hope. In an interview on KCRW's The Treatment last week, the movie's creators discussed the sociological research that went into their masterpiece. Give it a listen, and keep Zootopia alive in your heart.
Musicians often sound so earnest when they're singing that I forget it's okay to laugh at weird lyrics. Hannibal Buress doesn't have that issue. This episode of Handsome Rambler with Chance the Rapper is 45 minutes of Hannibal singing rap songs—including Chance's—and then laughing about them. It's very funny, and listening to it twice in a row made my holiday flights bearable.
I've never been a fan of comedy roasts, or any form of insulting people. But a friend insisted this interview with Comedy Central roast guy Jeff Ross was one of the best episodes of Fresh Air he'd ever heard. It starts with Ross talking about performing inside prisons and police precincts, and evolves into a conversation about compassion and loss that's all kinds of surprising.
See the villagers beating a goose in the picture above? Or the pensive woman in the stalks? Or the nude monks bathing in a pond? Pieter Bruegel's 1565 masterpiece, "The Harvesters," actually hangs in the Met, but a museum guard wouldn't let you get close enough to see any of those details. Google, however, made a rendering of the painting that lets you zoom in until the cracks in the paint show. In turn, the BBC Radio 4's Moving Pictures produced a documentary that incorporates the zoomable imag...more
In 2016, Desus Nice and The Kid Mero, a.k.a. the Bodega Boys, predicted the rise of the scammer, the gentrification of chopped cheese sandwiches, the collaboration between Drake and Taylor Swift, and the continuation of Ben 'Barson' Caron's illustrious career. All their prophesies came true. They also got a late night TV show that's very good. They are my favorite comedians. I listen to their show every week. So should you. Here's their most recent episode.
If you're a Christmas hater—you think it's a corporate scam, or an exclusive religious holiday—consider the English writer Jeanette Winterson's case for Christmas. In reality, she says, it's a holiday that combines Roman rituals, a Celtic feast, Mary, Joseph, Dickens, the Muppets, cookies, and gin into one hodgepodge of festivities, and she loves it. This, from someone who grew up leaving cookies for the four horseman of the apocalypse and later wrote a memoir titled, Why Be Happy When You Could...more
People have long been putting things on their teeth to convey wealth and status. Since the 18th century, we've used braces and other orthodontia. Since the Etruscan age, around 500 B.C., we've used jewels. The latter is best known today as grillz. WHYY's health podcast, The Pulse, produced a deeply reported episode about tooth ornaments and other wonders of the human mouth.
Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian president who just won a Nobel Peace Prize after ending a five-decade civil war with a leftist rebel group, was interviewed after the ceremony on the BBC World Service's Hardtalk. Listening through, you can hear why the show's called Hardtalk! The host, Stephen Sakur, grills Santos on the details of the peace deal, which will allow war criminals to both avoid jail time and run for parliament. All this amid the country's serious problems with inequality and viole...more
There's a scene in my new favorite TV show, Atlanta, where a character (played by the actor pictured above in a sailor hat) goes to a shooting range in the middle of the day and causes a ruckus by firing at a picture of a dog. Apparently that's bad; I've never been to a shooting range, or to Atlanta. Michael Arceneaux, who writes about Atlanta for New York magazine, gave an excellent breakdown of the show and its nuances on 2 Dope Boys & a Podcast, a culture podcast hosted by two dope guys. I fo...more
The Lincoln Memorial was in the news recently after the National Parks Service squashed a plan by the Women's March on Washington to gather at the site on the day after Donald Trump's inauguration. Why is the Lincoln Memorial of particular significance? Because Martin Luther King spoke there. And Marian Anderson sang there. And Richard Nixon went there at 4 a.m. once to meet with Vietnam protesters. And, as this Studio 360: American Icons special so eloquently traces, the Lincoln Memorial is one...more
Though Vice President-elect Mike Pence is reportedly the one reading daily security briefings while Donald Trump takes his victory tour, Trump will be the commander-in-chief come January 20. So the Council on Foreign Relations started a new podcast called The President's Inbox, where experts have snappy conversations about what Trump, theoretically, is considering when it comes to his post-campaign foreign policy. This episode, which is all about defense, crescendoes to an alarming bit about Nor...more
By day, Bomani Jones is a radio and television personality on ESPN. One night a week, he records his own podcast—often in his sneaker closet—called The Evening Jones. He reviews albums. He recommends albums. He answers listener questions about his personal life. And he has a really soothing voice. It's a good show for when you need something mellow to listen to.
JCPenney made a big mistake a few years ago by hiring a former Apple executive to try to make the brand hip. JCPenney is a 114-year-old department store chain. Half of its customers are women over 60. The plan failed. That guy got fired. And the company brought in a new CEO, Marvin Ellison, who began his retail career as a security guard at Target and says he understands what "Middle America" wants. He gave an interview about his business philosophy to Marketplace's Corner Office podcast, while ...more
President-Elect Donald Trump's interview at The New York Times last week is relatively old news at this point, but the recording of that meeting is still stuck in my head. Several journalists essentially annotate clips of it for this episode of The Run-Up, The Times' politics podcast, and the thing that stands out most is how often Trump tells a joke that makes the room chuckle. One reporter admits that, in a way, Trump is charming. Which is a serious thing to reckon with.
For a guy who's written so many sad songs, Bruce Springsteen is pretty funny! This interview from The New Yorker Radio Hour was recorded in a packed Midtown theater, and every other thing the Boss says—about his parents, about aging—gets a belly laugh from the crowd. What a pleasant man. If you're the kind of person who hates on New Jersey, this will change your mind.
Scott Carrier, who makes the podcast Home of the Brave, has a signature style of chatting people up that makes his reports on heavy news subjects more intimate than your average documentary. His two recent episodes on the people protesting—and supporting—the Dakota Access Pipeline are exceptional, and he's planning to release more, so it's worth subscribing to the show to get them once they're out.
Allison, the storyteller in this episode of the Canadian podcast, Love Me, met her best friend Kate through an online writing group. They started talking on the phone all the time, but never met in person. Kate is obese. She's too large to leave her house, and too ashamed to take visitors. Allison tells the story here about fretting over whether or not to just show up at Kate's house. It gets tense.
The BBC reporter Chloe Hadjimatheou was covering the 2008 election when she met a 15-year-old named Tobias Wilson in a rural Mississippi trailer park. He a was sharp, gregarious kid who told her he wanted to become a cop. For a recent Radio 4 documentary, Hadjimatheou returned to Mississippi, hoping to track down an Officer Wilson. I won't spoil what happens. Just listen.
Say you're wrongly arrested in New York City on misdemeanor charges and sent to Rikers Island because you can't make $1,000 bail. You then get two options: risk losing your job while you wait months to go to trial, or take a plea deal and risk not getting a job again because you have a criminal record. For poor inmates, confronting bail is an almost surefire way to plunge even deeper into poverty. For taxpayers on the outside, it costs $475 per night to house each inmate at Rikers who can't get ...more
WNYC aired a series of live call-in specials of The United States of Anxiety, and this hour is all about the cultural response to the election: what people are watching for comfort (the Canadian Bachelorette), what they're listening to (Solange), and what books they're turning to (Paris is Burning director Jennie Livingston calls in to share an apt reading list). Also, the first half of the broadcast is co-anchored by the drag queen Lady Bunny, whose take on Donald Trump's reality TV-style vulga...more
The most-listened-to talk radio show in the country, according to Nielsen, is All Things Considered. Next is The Rush Limbaugh Show. And if you listen to the former but not the latter, you may be unfamiliar with the insidious dealings of Sidney Blumenthal, or Jonathan Gruber, or "Moo-chelle" Obama, and you likely haven't heard the song, "Barack, the Magic Negro." WNYC reporter Matt Katz, who's been covering a Republican governor for years, says these are well-known items within conservative circ...more
Pop-anthems-out-of-car-windows season is over. Fall is the time for listening to moody, ethereal music, like that of the 80s New York avant-garde cellist and composer Arthur Russell. The host of this BBC Radio 4 documentary describes Russell as the greatest musician you've never heard of, whose work sounds like "the music they play in nightclubs on the moon." Even if you're not a fan of moon disco, this radio piece is a beautiful portrait of an artist, a place and a time.
The theologian and civil rights icon Ruby Sales delivers nothing but wisdom in this On Being interview, but two points stood out to me. One is about the need for young people to connect with their elders. The other is her call for white people to do what seems "less sexy" nowadays, which is to show compassion for other white people who are angry and hurting and feel unworthy of redemption. During an election season where the primary "religious" topic has been whether or not we should ban Muslims...more
Any good restaurant wants to make customers feel comfortable. Drawing attention to racial differences makes many people uncomfortable. So can a restaurant—especially one in a radically gentrifying neighborhood—explicitly try attracting a diverse clientele without turning anyone off? The Sporkful met a few Washington, D.C., restaurateurs who are giving it a shot. They share their stories in this first installment of a new series on race and dining called, "Who Is This Restaurant For?"
Malibu Ron is a guy who sells "magical" trinkets and intangible spells online, sometimes for as much as $11,000 a piece. He acknowledges that he's a con artist. He spends most of his money on expensive sneakers. In listening to him tell his story on this episode of Here Be Monsters, a podcast from KCRW about fringe phenomena, I kept going back and forth on whether he's totally reprehensible or a dubious salesman who merely enables people to live out fantasies. Either way, this is a fascinating l...more
The late Studs Terkel is considered one of America's finest interviewers of all time, not for asking deep questions, but because he gave subjects his full, undivided attention. NPR and Radio Diaries are now releasing audio recordings of interviews that went into Terkel's book, Working, and you can hear why the book became so successful. The switchboard operator, entertainment publicist and auto union worker interviewed in this batch of "The Working Tapes" all have affecting things to say about e...more
All three of the stand-up comedians featured in this 2 Dope Queens episode are hilarious. I hadn't heard of any of them before I listened, and I won't ruin it for you by explaining their jokes, but they made me chuckle continuously through a 50-minute commute. I'm confident you'll have a similar experience.
Even "objective" journalists are more than stenographers, which is why it's relevant to know who these reporters are as people. Sarah McCammon is someone you probably hear on the radio most days because she covers Trump for NPR; she's also a 30-something from Kansas City who grew up in a church where speaking in tongues was encouraged and listening to pop music wasn't. She talks about her background and how it comes in handy on the Republican campaign trail in this episode of the public radio in...more
Jerry Springer is having a moment. He's been a star campaigner for Hillary Clinton. Colin Powell gave him a shout-out out in a recently hacked email. And the former Cincinnati mayor now hosts a weekly show called The Jerry Springer Podcast, which records in front of a live audience at a coffee shop in Ludlow, Kentucky. It's part folksy charm (Springer talks about vacations and his grandchildren), part live roots music, and in more recent episodes, Springer has been delivering some righteous poli...more
B.T. Washington says that as a young man in the Air Force, he was brainwashed into thinking intelligent black men like himself didn't exist outside the military. Then he attended the Million Man March in October of 1995, where nearly a million black men gathered at the National Mall to pledge their commitment to things like supporting black businesses and not calling women the "b word." That day changed his life, and he tells the story to his 26-year-old daughter in this episode of Historically ...more
The point of On The Media's new five-part series about poverty is not that millions of poor Americans need help. The point is that we've been told this over and over, yet Americans continue believing that poor people deserve their plight because they don't work hard enough. For decades, Athens, Ohio, has been one of the news media's go-to towns for sympathetic reporting on poverty. Brooke Gladstone kicks off the series with a visit to Athens to see what dozens of television appearances have mean...more
Tax Season is primarily a hip-hop interview show hosted by a guy from Brooklyn named Taxstone, but this week's episode is a special one. Kenneth J. Montgomery, a former prosecutor and current Fordham law professor, came on to discuss race relations in America, and launched into an hour-and-a-half-long lesson about everything from Terence Crutcher to the Haitian Revolution to black abolitionist movements to the Bobby Shmurda case (Montgomery represented Shmurda). It's dense, but so captivating. T...more
Sara Blakely was a door-to-door fax machine saleswoman when she got the idea to create footless pantyhose that make the rear-end look better. After 15 years, an endorsement from Oprah and a spin on QVC, Spanx have made Blakely a billionaire. She shared her underwear's origin story on the debut episode of NPR's newest podcast, How I Built This. I'm inspired.
Booker Wright, a waiter from Greenwood, Mississippi, became a Civil Rights hero in 1965 after he told a TV interviewer about the pain he hid when customers yelled racial slurs at him. Wright was fired immediately after the interview aired, and murdered several years later. An acclaimed opera oratorio was recently written about him, and clips of that music are interspersed throughout this Gravy documentary about Wright, making it all the more moving.
I need to know who killed Elizabeth Andes in December of 1978. Her boyfriend was charged with murder. A jury found him not guilty. The cops more or less gave up on the case. And now Amber Hunt, a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, is making an eight-part podcast called Accused with the explicit goal of figuring out what happened. If this goes according to plan, it'll be southern Ohio's version of Serial, but with a conclusion.
If Donald Trump loses this election, millions of people will wake up on November 9th feeling just as frustrated as they do now. Then what? Listening to Trump supporters explain at length why they feel the way they do can teach us all something about where we stand as a country, and what these next four years could look like. A new podcast called The United States of Anxiety, which is running up until the election, is highlighting the stories of Long Island voters struggling with the question of ...more
Death, Sex & Money is releasing a series of guest-hosted episodes while Anna Sale is on maternity leave, and this week, Sonia Manzano interviews Sonia Sotomayor. One played Maria on Sesame Street. The other is a Supreme Court justice. They're both Puerto Rican women who grew up in the Bronx exposed to some heavy stuff. Hearing them speak to each other, as friends and mutual admirers, makes you feel both comforted and inspired to do more with your life.
I've never been a fan of comedy roasts, or any form of insulting people. But a friend insisted this interview with Comedy Central roast guy Jeff Ross was one of the best episodes of Fresh Air he'd ever heard. I second the endorsement. It starts with Ross talking about the shows he's done inside prisons and police precincts, and evolves into a conversation about compassion and loss that's all kinds of surprising.
This election season, I've found it helpful to stay up on Keepin' it 1600, a bi-weekly podcast hosted by three former Obama staffers. The vibe is smart dudes in pajamas discussing the presidential race from the perspective of having been there. Tuesday's episode has a bonus: Julia Ioffe, a Russia expert, comes on to talk about the phenomenon of Trump supporters favoring Vladimir Putin over Barack Obama. She then gives a sobering rundown of all the damage Putin has done to his own country's democ...more
Here's an admirable trajectory for a pop song: air on Top 40 radio, get covered by Kidz Bop, make it into a car commercial, then play quietly in elevators and Kmart dressing rooms. Writing a pop song with serious staying power is hard. William Bell did it several times, yet he's relatively unknown. The Organist, a podcast from McSweeney's and KCRW, took a road trip with Bell for this documentary about his life and hits, which have been covered, sampled and popularized by everyone from The Byrds ...more
The Talkhouse is a podcast where musicians who admire each other talk about their work. This conversation between dance pop star Shamir (who used to play country music) and indie rocker Aaron Maine (who now makes more electronic music), is nominally about songwriting, exploring different genres, and psychoanalyzing Taylor Swift. But music aside, it's two young people talking about what young people do. You try things, get embarrassed by them, then move on to the next thing that excites you.
Cormega Copening, also a high school football player, did something lots of kids do these days: He sent nude selfies to his girlfriend. Only he got charged with several felonies for distributing child porn. Note to Self caught up with Cormega and his father at their home in North Carolina to discuss what they learned from the ordeal, and how sex ed programs fail to address the ways teens actually experience sexuality.