5 Podcasts from the Pod People: Digging into the Archives for Black History Month

Media Features Podcasts
5 Podcasts from the Pod People: Digging into the Archives for Black History Month

Hey Pod People,
I’m still new to this gig but want to thank you all (especially radio producers!) for flooding me with your fave episodes. When podcasts are looking for pitches, I’ll try to post news of those updates here. And if you have specific suggestions on how to improve podcast review culture or just want to chat about why you listen to podcasts, hit me up on Twitter or e-mail me at [email protected]. Would love to hear from you!

Items of Note:
In each episode of Foodal, Allison Sidhu sits down for a chat with an expert in the world of food and agriculture—authors, academics, chefs, farmers, teachers, policymakers, artisans, and others—to discuss what makes them tick, why we like to eat the things we do, what all of the current hubbub is about on the latest food trend, their work and their dreams, and their favorite foods. Foodal is currently looking for story ideas, pitches, and questions that listeners might want producers to address in future episodes. Give Allison a hello at Allison at foodal dot com if you want to share some syllables with some foodies.

Heavyweight, a show produced by Gimlet, recently put out its own call for pitches too!

If you have a moment from your own past you wish you could change and you want us to tackle it on the show, send us an email at [email protected] with a brief overview of what happened and how it affected you. Try to keep it to 500 words tops—much shorter is fine. Keep in mind that the stories that work best for our purposes are the ones that remain unresolved—you should want to address or work through a moment, not just relive it. Maybe there’s a confrontation you’ve been putting off, or a question you’ve been afraid to ask. We welcome silliness, but there should be a feeling that resolving this moment could have some sort of significant impact on your life. There should also be some complication—if your regret is simple enough that you could fix it yourself with about an hour’s time and a couple of emails, it’s probably not a good fit.

What! Wait! Woah! We’ve got another podcast looking for stories: Alix Spiegel of Invisibilia tweeted this bit out earlier this month:

Do you have a story idea for Invisibilia? Write us! We’re looking for stories about power and everything else! [email protected]

Now, back to the podcasts!


Yeah, What She Said
Black History Month

Yeah, yeah, this Yeah, What She Said episode is from two years ago—from the distant land of 2015. So, first things first, this is a podcast produced from the seamy underbelly of Calgary by a fantastic team of feminists. This episode looks at the lives of four black women: Jean Augustine, Phillis Wheatley, Mary Ann Shadd, and Mae Jemison. Its hosts offer insightful thoughts and occasional tangents on the trials and tribulations that black women in North America have faced. It’s lovely stuff for the ears and even better for the soul.

Line of note: “I think it’s important to keep in mind that Phillis is allowed to be a multifaceted individual and can have conflicting views on the same subject.”

Black Girl Nerds
Nerdy History, Superheroines, and Women of Color in Comics

Black Girl Nerds might just have the best intro music out there. This episode, which weighs in at almost a full two hours, is good for a long road trip. It consists of three segments: an interview with journalist A’Leilia Bundles, followed by an interview with actress Kyla Frye, and concluded with a panel at the New York ComicCon called “Women of Color in Comics.” A’Lelia Bundles, the great-great-granddaughter of Madam Walker, drops by to chat about her career in journalism and her experiences being an African American woman back in the 1970s. Bundles talks about some of her contributions to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and what aspects of her great-great-grandmother’s story matter most today. Kyla Frye explains how British and American conceptions of black history differ. Panelists at the ComicCon reflect on not being represented in the art form that they love. Are you a proud history nerd? A news junkie? An archivist? No matter what stage of life you’re in, this episode is bound to spark ideas. It’s a magical ecosystem of sound and thought.

Line of note: “Madam Walker really was a pioneer of the modern hair care industry…She was Black Lives Matter in 1916.”

BBC Radio 4
Loretta Lynch

Long before Loretta Lynch was U.S. Attorney General, she read Chaucer. This tidbit amuses BBC broadcaster Edward Stoughton to no end. He delves into her bookish habits and includes excerpts of interviews with family members and friends. What did Loretta Lynch do during the Bush years? How did she navigate the complex confirmation process in the Senate? This is a super short episode, but that certainly does not discount the quality of the content! As we reflect on the future of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it’s important to remember those who came before him.

Line of note: “Loretta might be the only lawyer in America, who battles mobsters and drug lords and terrorists, and still has the reputation for being a charming people person.”

Inside Media
The Life of Thurgood Marshall

Many of us have forgotten about Thurgood Marshall—the U.S. Supreme Court’s first African-American justice—but his legacy is one worth remembering and revisiting. This podcast is produced by the Newseum, and unsurprisingly features a talk by Wil Haygood, author of Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America. Recorded long before the nominations of Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch, “The Life of Thurgood Marshall” takes us back to a different era in U.S. civil rights.

Line of note: “Marshall sought to elevate through the law; he would go into these federal courtrooms, and he would say, the state of Mississippi is breaking the law.”

The New York Public Library Podcast
The Future of Black History

This episode starts out incredibly strong—with an excerpt of an interview between Paul Holdengräber and Marcus Samuelsson. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Toni Morrison, and Zadie Smith are just some of the other African-American voices we hear from over the course of an hour. The New York Public Library Podcast has this magical ability to put a topic under a microscope—to let us listeners feel as if we are also scientists, getting to look at social phenomena at a molecular level. Race, beauty, love, art, injustice, dreams—this podcast takes on so much; it’s a compilation of so many other episodes. It’s a podcast within a podcast within a podcast.

Line of note: “My parents prepared me for the 21st century in the 20th century.”

Raised on a strict diet of NPR and C-SPAN, Muira McCammon is a war crimes researcher by day and a podcast reviewer for Paste Magazine by night. She can be found on Twitter @muira_mccammon or walking about the woods of western Massachusetts. Her writing has previously appeared in Slate, Waypoint by VICE, Atlas Obscura, the Massachusetts Review, and other publications.

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