For The Love Of Pod(casts)


Media is ever-changing, overwhelming, and always questionable. Major news outlets and leading headlines tend to do nothing but trigger and divide, and even an accidental glimpse at the comment section can make you wish the world were flat so you could find an easy way off! (that’s a joke, please don’t debate with me in the comment section about a flat earth ).

As someone who got their professional start in media, I get it, but I just don’t enjoy that method of gathering information and gaining knowledge. Instead, I have used other far less stressful, far more entertaining, and far more informative ways to understand the goings-on of the world. Research articles, documentaries, google scholar, TED talks, and a few websites like The Guardian, Medium, Gapminder, and YouTube, are where I get a lot of my information. But my absolute favorite go-to, of course, are podcasts!

So without further ado, here are five of my favorites. If you have any you regularly listen to or recommend drop a comment in the comment section and I’ll be sure to check it out!

The Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain’s host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.” (description from the Hidden Brain website)

“Professor Elizabeth Joh teaches Intro to Constitutional Law and most of the time this is a pretty straight forward job. But with Trump in office, everything has changed. Five minutes before class Professor Joh checks Twitter to find out what the 45th President has said and how it jibes with 200 years of the judicial branch interpreting and ruling on the Constitution.Hosted by acclaimed podcaster Roman Mars (99% Invisible, co-founder Radiotopia), this show is a weekly, fun, casual Con Law 101 class that uses the tumultuous and erratic activities of the executive branch under Trump to teach us all about the US Constitution.” (description from What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law website)

State of the Human, the radio show of the Stanford Storytelling Project, shares stories that deepen our understanding of single, common human experiences—belonging, giving, lying, forgiveness—all drawn from the experiences and research of the Stanford community.” (description from the State of the Human website)

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but, for a show about knowing stuff, the Stuff You Should Know website sure is lacking on a description to help you know how their stuff works. There are actually several podcasts from the stuff network including another favorite of mine, Stuff Your Mom Never Told You.

Just when I thought one talk was amazing, they went and combined them by topics and included extra interviews! “TED Radio Hour hosted by Guy Raz is a journey through fascinating ideas: astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, new ways to think and create. Based on Talks given by riveting speakers on the world-renowned TED stage, each show is centered on a common theme – such as the source of happiness, crowd-sourcing innovation, power shifts, or inexplicable connections – and injects soundscapes and conversations that bring these ideas to life.” (description from TED Radio Hour website)

Your turn! Share your favorites! 

Living as a writer in Baton Rouge 

Someone recently told me they have never lived in a place where they have met so many writers as they have here in Baton Rouge. As a writer, having lived here the last 17 years, perhaps that was something I never noticed. That was just my “circle”. I never realized there was a difference in the number of writers here versus anywhere else.

But, if that really is true, I can see why. I think it’s because there is something about this small (trying to be big) city that brings out the writer in people. We have an abundance of both amazing, powerful people and unashamedly horrible ones. We are a city/state that is always last in everything except for the things you want to be last in, and in those things we are first. We are a place built upon old money, corrupt politics, judgement, and tradition. There is no end to the story, ever, you can dig forever and probably never get to the bottom of the truth even if you change your opinions 50 times along the way. And what you would believe is a safe approach to take could be the most controversially received by the public eye.

In fact, it is exactly that aspect of the truth of this city that has kindled my passion for being actively involved in change, while simultaneously stepping out of the professional writing circuit. I sat at many tables with many leaders, hearing from their mouths and the mouths of supporters the wonderful progress, the true good, the advancement that their programs are bringing to our communities, only to then speak to those these programs are supposedly “helping”, to speak to the workers, to get an inside look, and realize that there is not as much positively happening behind the scenes as I was led to believe.

There is no doubt in my mind that being a writer in this city is what has brought me where I am today. Coupled with working in the non-profit sector, I have been granted a look into the inner workings of our city that goes beyond the media representations (even the media that I myself have contributed to). I have been plunged beneath the surface, and there are no misgivings about the good and the bad. And I, for one, am proud that there are so many willing to share the stories and to keep digging.

One thing that I will be sharing in upcoming posts are articles that I have written on certain topics (school choice, government and non-profit partnerships, non-profit activities, the violence reduction strategy, etc.) and give an opinion I was not allowed to share at the time those articles were published. The opinion that isn’t as trustful of these supposedly “life changing” programs in our city. Because there is never just one side, and it was seeing both sides that has led me where I am today.

I truly hope others can see those sides as well. I believe once we get to that place, we can move beyond the agenda and bias, get past the ignorant, hate-filled comment sections, and move forward together for the betterment of our community.