Staff Speaks Pt. 1: Podcasts
Whether you listen to them on your commute to school or work, during your workout or as is, podcasts are perfect for any occasion. Looking for some new ones to add to your library? Find out what SUNIA Staff recommends in our first edition of Staff Speaks.
Emma: I listen to a lot of podcasts, but one I’ve really gotten into recently is called Heavyweight. It’s produced by Jonathan Goldstein, who takes a deep-dive into the past in every episode. Whether it’s helping people unravel longstanding mysteries, revisiting old memories, or reaching back into his own personal history, Goldstein tackles love, loss, and relationships with wit and thoughtfulness in every single episode. My favourite episode is called “Isabelle,” where he finds a suitcase full of love letters and tries to find its original owner.
Andrew: One of my all-time favourites has to be NPR’s Invisibilia. Through storytelling, the podcast explores the invisible forces that “control human behaviour and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions.” My favourite episode is called “Flip The Script,” which is about something called “complementarity.” It’s the idea that when someone is hostile towards us, we’ll be hostile back. Or kind to us, we’ll be kind back, and so on. The podcast talks about how if we choose to flip the script—e.g. if we choose to answer hostility with empathy—amazing things can result. My favourite story from this episode is about how flipping the script helped young Danish Muslims turn away from ISIS. It really showed me that countering hostility with hostility is not always the best option. Empathy is what this world needs more of!
Victor : Sorting through my library is really hard. One podcast that does stand out to me is Majority 54. It’s a policy podcast hosted by Jason Kander, a former US Army soldier and Missouri Secretary of State and in every episode, he discusses in great detail a specific policy or idea with another guest. The guests are by far the best part of the show. They’re not always “famous”, but they always provide really interesting perspectives to the problems Kander discusses. The goal of the show is to show how people of differing views can compromise, and how we could do a better job listening to each other and where we came from. My favourite episode is “Islamophobia,” and the guest in that episode is Kander’s former translator who he worked with in Afghanistan. It’s both informative, thoughtful, and incredibly funny.
Anna: I’m still a newbie to the podcast game, but The New York Times’ The Daily has quickly become an essential part of my morning routine. It gives you a rundown of what’s going on in the world - although it largely focuses on American politics, they also feature stories from around the world. My favourite thus far is an ongoing series they have about a Canadian who went overseas to fight for ISIS, called The Caliphate (they release new episodes every Saturday). I’m also a big fan of Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert. It’s definitely less intelligent than the other podcasts in this list, as it’s structured around his conversations with different celebrities, but it’s quite entertaining. A highlight of this series is Shepard’s interview with Ellen Degeneres, where she offers insights into her experiences as an LGBTQ+ woman in the entertainment industry.
Michael: My all-time favourite podcast is Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History. It’s hard to nail down what exactly the podcast is, but what I can tell you is that Gladwell’s gripping storytelling ability makes every episode fantastic. The podcast utilizes history to help us better understand a contemporary issue or situation. Gladwell is able to reach deep into history, given his journalistic abilities, and tells a compelling narrative that can rapidly shift my position on the dialogue around a particular current event. And, excitingly, it has recently been renewed for season three! My favourite episode is “Carlos Doesn’t Remember,” which discusses the amount of wasted talent in America. The episode is part of a three-part series discussing America’s use of human potential and makes for a wonderful introduction to what the series is all about.
Alex: Hands down, Freakonomics Radio. Stephen Dubner, a co-author of the Freakonomics books (also some of my all-time faves) sets about examining the “hidden side to everything,” by using principles of economics to predict and decode everyday life. This, I know, sounds incredibly boring on the surface… but just look at some of the past topics! They have analyzed the demonization of gluten, corruption in Japanese sumo wrestling, the obsession with lawns, how to win a Nobel Prize, and all sorts of fantastic things. The secret: it’s all about the incentives; follow the motives of the players and you can predict the outcomes.
Staff Speaks is an ongoing series where staff will give their takes on various topics, ranging from pop culture to politics. A topic you'd like to have us cover? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and give your suggestion.