Podcasts are how I get a lot of my information, and how I broaden my perspectives on the world. The storytelling and sharing in a really well-produced podcast can change how you think or how you see the world in less than an hour, in a way that no other medium I know can do so consistently.
Here are four podcast episodes I’ve listened to in the past week which have done just that.
TED Radio Hour: Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
If you only listen to one of these four episodes, this is the one. It draws together problems which I kind of knew about and others which I had no idea of, and shows how important and wide-ranging the impact of all of these issues are, but particularly silence. I’ve listened to it twice, and I’m sure I’ll listen to it again. The reflective nature of Clint’s conversation with the host, Manoush Zomorodi, the poems he reads, and the decisions we all have to make, but especially black parents, are all important to listen to. He emphasises that this is an intergenerational job, and we all need to play our part to move towards the world we want to create. And if you didn’t already realise how powerful and important education is, this episode would prove it.
It’s easy to look back at the past and say what you would have done, it’s harder to look at the present and say what you’re going to do.
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) June 2, 2020
TED Radio Hour: Ingrained Injustice
As protests for racial justice continue, many are asking how racism became so embedded in our lives. This hour, TED’s Whitney Pennington Rodgers guides us through talks that offer part of the answer.
Whitney Pennington Rodgers is the current affairs curator at TED. She selected four talks which show how racism affects all of us, regardless of what colour we are, and suggest ways that we can start to do something about it:
- Baratunde Thurston: How To Deconstruct Racism, One Headline At A Time
- Heather C. McGhee: Racism Has A Cost For Everyone
- David Ikard: The Real Story Of Rosa Parks — And Why We Need To Confront Myths About Black History
- Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa: Black Life At The Intersection Of Birth And Death
All four of these talks made me think about what I can do, and how lucky I am to not have to deal with these issues myself. The final poem was particularly powerful and emotional, and reflected what Clint Smith said in his talk too. These are things which should be self-evident, but clearly aren’t. We need to work to change that.
Desert Island Discs: Your Desert Island Discs
Listeners choose the music that has been special to them during the weeks of lockdown. With Jane Moss, Hugh Mullally, Ailish Douglas, Professor Jason Warren, Niti Acharya, Margery Hookings, Simon Spiller, Clare Raybould and Garry Greenland.
Each of the eight pieces of music shared here is accompanied by a story from the person who chose it, all from the general public. They cover all aspects of dealing with the pandemic and how it has changed lives in both negative and positive ways, and many of them made me cry. As a piece of cultural history which truly captures a moment, this podcast episode should be saved forever.
Reduced Shakespeare Company podcast: Lockdown Shakespeare Pioneer
Rob Myles, along with his producing partner Sarah Peachey, is the creator of The Show Must Go Online, which, since March 19, 2020, has been creating fully if madly rehearsed productions of Shakespeare’s canon in the order in which they were written, once a week, using actors and fight directors from all over the world. With over 100,000 views on YouTube in just 12 weeks, Rob talks about how this has become huger than he ever imagined, and how he’s learned to work in this new space; how his early studies in psychology led to understanding characters and delivering an actor-driven experience; excellent new opportunities for both audience engagement and audience research; iambic discoveries expressed in actual iambic pentameter; developing his singular obsession; shout-outs to The Barnsley Civic; being leaders in a movement rather than a company; and the realization that our moment cried out for a Rob Myles — and thankfully we have one.
This is a much more upbeat episode than the three previous ones, and is a fantastic example of the creativity and innovation that this pandemic has created. It shows the ingenuity of humans, and how we can all pull together in extraordinary ways. Rob’s story of going from somebody who hated Shakespeare at school, with a working-class background which meant that drama didn’t even really cross his radar through to somebody who became completely obsessed with it and is now co-producing every Shakespeare play in the order they were first produced. The last two minutes of the podcast are particularly important, as I completely agree with Rob Myles that Shakespeare is and should be for everyone.
These episodes have stayed with me, and will for a very long time. Podcasts really are special.