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10 “Can’t Miss” Public Media Podcasts 

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Looking for a new podcast to stimulate your brain or warm your heart? VPM is here to help! We asked our staff members which public media podcasts they enjoy listening to and why. 

 1. Throughline

The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Take a trip back in time to develop a better understanding of the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world

"I'm a huge history nerd, and the thing I love about Throughline is how it makes the past relevant to our own times. One of the most illuminating episodes dealt with the history of the Korean Conflict. A more recent episode explored the influenza pandemic of 1918 and how it compares to the current COVID-19 pandemic."

Peter Solomon, Jazz Host and FM Operations Manager


Photo Credit: Peter McElhinney


 2. 30 Animals That Made Us Smarter
Science & Nature

Hear about the amazing things humans have learned from our friend in the animal kingdom. This BBC podcast is inspiring, fascinating and bingeable.

"This inspiring podcast explores how humans continue to learn from animals. Learning more about their skills and features is leading to exciting developments in design and engineering. Did you know observing the shape of a bird's beak led to one of the fastest trains in the world or that an octopus might teach us how to make suits of invisibility? Amazing!"

Carla Siqueiros, Coordinator, Education and Engagement



3. The NPR Politics Podcast

Every weekday, NPR's best political reporters explain the big news coming out of Washington. They don't just tell you what happened; they tell you why it matters.

"I do love me the NPR Politics podcast. These reporters -- Domenico Montanaro; Mara Liasson; Asma Khalid, et al; all at the top of their games -- join seamlessly for this vital weekday conversation. Constantly smart analysis of the White House, Congress and cities/states, with none of the shout-match histrionics of cable news. I get giddy when the NPR One app cues up a new episode."

Roben Farzad, Host, Full Disclosure



4. In the Dark (Season 2)
True Crime

Curtis Flowers has been tried six times for the same crime. For more than 20 years, Flowers has maintained his innocence. He's won appeal after appeal, but every time, the prosecutor just tries the case again. What does the evidence reveal? And why does the justice system ignore the prosecutor's record and keep Flowers on death row?

" In the Dark’s Season 2 on Curtis Flowers is a must-listen for any cold case fan, because there is monumental progress made in the case in part because of the podcast team. Do not spoil the podcast listening experience by googling it. Add it to your playlist, and take the mind-blowing, investigative journey with a team of reputable, tenacious, and likeable journalists from APM as it unfolds."

Patty Nevadomski, Managing Producer, Virginia Currents



5. On the Media
Media Studies

WNYC investigates how the media shapes our worldview. While maintaining the civility and fairness that are the hallmarks of public radio, OTM tackles sticky issues with a frankness and transparency that has built trust with over one million weekly radio and podcast listeners.

“I’m a different, better person for having listened to Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone examine everything from the business models of the newspaper industry to the misconceptions that impact the reporting I hear and read every day. On The Media was the first podcast I ever listened to and is still the first podcast on my playlist each and every week.”

Travis Pope, FM Traffic Manager



6. Life Kit
Society & Culture

Everyone needs a little help being a human. From sleep to saving money to parenting and more, hear from experts to get the best advice out there. Life Kit is here to help you get it together.

"I love Life Kit because it's basically life's questions, answered. Practical tips - on everything from how to homeschool your kids during this COVID-19 crisis, to how to help a kid whose parent is struggling with addiction - in podcast format."

Megan Pauly, Education/Health Reporter, VPM News



  7. Ear Hustle
Criminal Justice/Prison Life

From Radiotopia, hear about the daily realities of life inside prison shared by those living it, along with stories from the outside, post-incarceration.

"A number of years ago I was part of a small crew filming within maximum security prisons. It was an unforgettable experience that to this day brings up a mixed bag of emotions: fear, curiosity, shame for being an intruder. But the most pronounced is regret. Regret for a missed opportunity to connect at the human level in spite of the obstacles. Ear Hustle has found that bridge, producing stories from within San Quentin State Prison that skillfully tap into the full gamut of shared human emotion."

KT!, Producer/Director, Virginia Farming



8. Full Disclosure

Fun, slow-cooked conversations about business, policy, media & tech, culture and more. Full Disclosure airs weekly on VPM News.

"What I like about Full Disclosure is the interesting cross-section of guests. It's not a stuffy conversation with pundits and analysts. It's always an accessible conversation, whether it's with a local restaurant owner I might've never heard of or an Olympic gold medalist who is a household name. My favorite episodes feature Richmond newsmakers and personalities. As a city native who has only recently found her way back home, these conversations help me understand my hometown in a new way."

Benae Mosby, Director of Marketing and Communications



9. Up First

NPR's Up First is the news you need to start your day. The three biggest stories of the day, with reporting and analysis from NPR News — in 10 minutes.

"NPR's 'Up First," is a great general news podcast. It is there when I wake up, and it gets me up to speed on the important news of the day as I walk my dog in the morning."

Jennifer Whiteside, Studio Society Manager



10. Buried Truths

We can’t change our history, but we can let it guide us to understanding. WABE’s Peabody Award-winning Buried Truths podcast acknowledges and unearths still-relevant stories of injustice, resilience and racism in the American South. The podcast uses investigative journalism to honor lives and reveals what’s been hidden, not published and not taught. 

"I really like how Buried Truths blends investigative journalism with empathetic storytelling, looking at racism, crime and injustice in the South. Produced out of Atlanta's WABE and in partnership with Emory University, Professor and veteran journalist Hank Klibanoff and his students make some impactful discoveries and connections as they pour through civil rights cold cases and help families who, for decades, have been left without answers about their loved ones."

Catherine Komp, Senior Features Editor and Producer, VPM News



BONUS: Social Distance Assistance, a VPM Original Podcast Coming in mid-April
Health/Human Interest

Artwork by Chloe Diamond (photo by Terry Gau)

In Social Distance Assistance, a new podcast from VPM, host Kelly Jones talks to the helpers, people who are engaging in brave, creative problem-solving to support their communities in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation. Hear their stories — then learn how you can give back and become a helper yourself. New episodes will be released on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning mid-April. 

"The coronavirus is understandably dominating the global conversation right now, but with so much of it centered around the tragic or political circumstances of the pandemic, it's easy to feel burnt out and helpless. I'm so excited for Social Distance Assistance to showcase positive stories, answer questions about our daily lives in the time of social distancing, and help me understand the best ways I can assist others in our community."

Gavin Wright, Project Manager




Coming next week: 10 “Can’t Miss” Music Podcasts!  

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