Poverty Action Recommends is an occasional series that highlights staff recommendations in a variety of topics related to activism or social justice. This is our first post of the series!
Podcasts are popular — so much so, in fact, that as of this year, there are close to a million active podcasts available. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that there is a podcast out there for practically every possible interest.
For those unfamiliar, podcasts are a type of audio recording. They are similar to radio, in the sense that they are audio segments that almost always feature one or two (sometimes more) hosts who talk about a certain topic and explore that topic in depth. But podcasts also share similarities with TV shows or books, in the sense that most of the time, each podcast will have multiple episodes– sometimes dozens or even hundreds, depending on how long the podcast has been around! Podcasts are generally low-cost or completely free with access to a phone or computer and internet. Creators will usually have a website that has all podcast episodes available to listen for free (usually, podcast hosts/creators make money off their podcasts by having ads in the show, not charging people a fee to listen). Popular mobile/web apps like Spotify or Apple Podcasts also offer a huge variety of podcasts as well.
Due to their low-to-no-cost nature and the fact that they are audio only, podcasts are, for many, incredibly accessible. Most podcasters keep their episodes to under an hour in length,so they’re a convenient thing to listen to during your commute or while cooking.
Podcasts are also a great way to be introduced to or learn more about a huge variety of topics, especially those that may seem daunting or complex at first. That’s why we’ve created a list of some of our favorite economics and social justice podcasts! Read on, listen in, and tell us what you think.
Podcasts about economics / anti-poverty policy:
–Planet Money: On their website, Planet Money describes their show thus: “Imagine you could call up a friend and say, ‘Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.’ Now imagine that’s actually a fun evening.” And honestly, this is a pretty accurate description. Planet Money offers deep dives into specific yet often very niche topics related to the American economy. Stand out episodes: “The Modal American” and “A Mob Boss, A Garbage Boat, and Why We Recycle.”
–The Indicator: Made by the same staff as Planet Money, The Indicator offers short 10-minute long daily episodes on a huge assortment of subjects related to work, class, money, and economic policy. The enormous range of topics will leave you wondering at the never-ending barrage of ideas related to economics and the shortness of the episodes makes it easy to listen to a few in a row. Stand out episodes: “Working Women–Why the US is Behind” and “The Battle for the Office Thermostat.”
Podcasts about race & identity:
–Latino USA: US-Latino culture is diverse, complex, and difficult to categorize, but this podcast does an excellent job of exploring issues important to or about US Latinos. Episodes include explorations of Latino identity (both personal and political), news from both Latin America and the USA, and interviews with notable people of Latin heritage. Stand out episodes: “Of Bloodlines & Conquistadors” and “The Skeleton by the Lake.”
–Self-Evident: Asian-America’s Stories: As the creators of this podcast write, Self-Evident is about challenging narratives and telling new stories about where Asian Americans are from and where they belong. Stand out episodes: “Pull Up the Roots” and “The Non-United States of Asian America.“
–The Nod: This podcast explores topics relating to Black identity and culture, and manages to both be superbly on-point and incredibly hilarious, all at once. The hosts take on subjects relating to pop culture, media, and art, and talk about how these subjects relate to Black identity. Stand out episodes: “Drake of the Diaspora” and “Jordyn Woods vs. The Kardashians.”
–Native America Calling: This podcast is a little different from the others– it’s a live radio call-in program! Native America Calling offers almost-daily episodes on topics related to Native American identity, offering the space for community and Native American perspective. Stand out episodes: “Keep Going: Motivation to Learn Your Language” and “A New Tool to Fight Sexual Violence.”
Podcasts about social justice, in general:
–Serial, Season 3: Many people credit the creators of Serial with the rise of podcasting as a cultural sensation. Their third season is a journalistic exploration of the US’ criminal justice system through the focus of one courthouse in Cleveland. All episodes build on each other, so start at episode 1!
–Unladylike: Unladylike is basically a treasure box for all things related to women’s issues and dismantling patriarchal systems of oppression. Stand out episodes: “How to Solve Math Problems,” and “How to Wear Body Hair (3 part series).”
Do you have a favorite social justice podcast? Let us know!