Todd M. Sweet

Topics: Champaign-Urbana, higher ed, communications, movies, music, books, running, biking, parenthood. Opinions are my own.

Category: Podcasts

2018 Favorites: Podcasts

There are so many great podcasts out there to choose from, but here are a few that I enjoyed in 2018. These are listed in alphabetical order. I’ve marked the ones that you need to listen to as a series.

All Songs Considered: “All Songs Considered is home to the best new music and a community of fans always ready to share their opinions on the current music scene.”

Bear Brook (serial): “Two barrels. Four bodies. And the decades-long mystery that led to a serial killer. A podcast about a cold case that’s changing how murders will be investigated forever.”

Caliphate (serial): An audio series following Rukmini Callimachi as she reports on the Islamic State and the fall of Mosul.

Dear Sugars: “A radically empathic advice show hosted by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond.” The show recently ended, but the team leaves a vast archive to explore.

The Ezra Klein Show: “The Ezra Klein Show gives you a chance to get inside the heads of the newsmakers and power players in politics and media.”

Fresh Air: “Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio’s most popular programs.”

The Habitat (serial): “Life on Mars. Sort of. The true story of six volunteers picked to live on a fake planet.”

Slow Burn, Season 2 (serial): “On Slow Burn, Leon Neyfakh excavates the strange subplots and forgotten characters of recent political history—and finds surprising parallels to the present. Season 1 captured what it was like to live through Watergate; Season 2 does the same with the saga of Bill Clinton’s impeachment.”

Listening to season two I can’t help but notice the eerie similarities between Trump and Clinton. Morally compromised presidents reviled by their political opponents and sheltered by their party leaders. People tend to compare Trump to Nixon, but the Clinton analogy is more realistic, I think. I am still upset by the 2016 outcome, but I am actually relieved that Bill Clinton is not roaming the halls of the White House exerting his political influence.

Stay Tuned: “Join Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney who fought corruption, financial fraud and violent crime, in a series about justice and fairness.”

The Wilderness (serial): “The Wilderness is a documentary from Crooked Media and Two-Up about the history and future of the Democratic Party. Pod Save America’s Jon Favreau tells the story of a party finding its way out of the political wilderness through conversations with strategists, historians, policy experts, organizers, and voters. In fifteen chapters, the series explores issues like inequality, race, immigration, sexism, foreign policy, media strategy, and how Democrats can build a winning majority that lasts.”

Show logo

Anand Giridharadas On the Concept of Generosity Versus Justice

Ezra Klein hosts what has become my favorite political podcast. While we share a very similar ideological viewpoint, Klein is open to a persuasive argument and hosts very civil conversations with people on the opposite end of the spectrum. For example, listen to this episode featuring David French, a conservative columnist for the National Review. Unlike serial podcasts, you can pick and choose from his archive based on the topic of the day. Klein’s conversation with author Anand Giridharadas (embedded audio below) has stuck with me and continues to make me think.

From the podcast description (emphasis mine):

Giridharadas has done his time in elite circles. His education took him through Oxford and Harvard, he spent years as a New York Times columnist, he’s a regular on Morning Joe, he’s a TED talker. And so when he mounted the stage at the Aspen Institute and told his fellow fellows that their pretensions of doing good were just that — pretensions — and that they were more the problem than the solution, it caused some controversy.

Giridharadas’s new book will make a lot of people angry.It’s about the difference between generosity and justice, the problems with only looking for win-win solutions, the ways the corporate world has come to dominate the discourse of change, and the fact that elite networks change the people who are part of them.

Generosity versus justice. I could point to a myriad of examples where tech billionaires used their philanthropic dollars to try and solve problems in unique ways outside of traditional systems (“the system is broken!”). However, I don’t have to look that far to see how this dynamic plays out – I only need to look at my own behavior. Last year I set up a GoFundMe account in an effort to eliminate all outstanding lunch debt at my daughter’s elementary school. We raised enough money in 10 days to pay off the debt, which felt incredibly good. Campaigns were launched to do the same at other schools in the district, and they raised even more money. The generosity of our community was on full display.

However, one of the follow-on campaigns took a slightly different approach. Not only did they raise money, but the organizers used the opportunity to advocate for a solution to the root problem. What can we do to make sure students have access to a healthy lunch without their family having to accumulate debt? That would represent justice. Listening to Giridharadas’s critique made me realize that while philanthropy is good, if possible we should try and repair systems and structures we consider broken rather than go around them or create alternatives. I’m sure there are exceptions, but the lesson I took away is that solving the root problem should be the primary focus of our efforts (justice), not how that effort reflects on us (generosity).

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: