Testing the Political Podcast Waters

By K. Merten

In the twenty-four hour news cycle, sometimes it feels like we’re on a runaway carnival ride that we cannot escape. There are days when “news fatigue” sets in, and I’m ready to turn off the TV for a long while. When this happens, I turn to podcasts as a way to get my news. Some of our readers may be devoted podcast listeners, but some of us may be wondering just what a podcast actually is. A podcast is an updated version of the old-school radio show, ready to be downloaded onto your smartphone. They can make a long drive seem bearable or brighten up a long day of chores. Podcasts are an easy way to learn about a range of different topics, but some of my favorite podcasts offer takes on current political issues.

If you’re interested in testing the political podcast waters, there are a bunch of great podcasts out there, some of which are produced by Democratic individuals and organizations, and some of which are produced national news organizations. Always remember to do your research about the media you consume–know where your news is coming from. A quick Google search can tell you more information about who produces and sponsors specific podcasts. To get you started, here are a few of my favorites:

It’s important to critically examine the media you consume: always know where your news is coming from

For a fresh take on Delaware County politics, check out the Delco Young Democast, hosted by Mike DiEva, Amanda Hammock, Pasquale Cipolloni, and Gina Amoroso . Their podcast covers local issues, including election results, education funding, and local organizing. Also, it’s refreshingly honest about what life is like as a democrat in a largely republican county: the frustrations, the triumphs, and yes, even the humorous moments. Some of their earlier episodes feature “fireside chats” with local and state candidates, including John Fetterman (D), candidate for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, and Mary Gay Scanlon (D), nominee for Congress in the new fifth district; these chats provide a good window into the candidate’s policies and personality. What sticks with me about the podcast is that there’s a civics component to it as well: if you want to learn about gerrymandering, how to get on the ballot, or even about the voting process, it’s all there. There’s even an episode about Lansdowne’s democratic history.

Mike DiEva and the hosts of the Delco Young Democast saw a vacuum when it came to a local podcast focused on issues that young people care about, and they deliver in spades. As they move forward, the Democast is interested in bringing issues “specific to Delco” onto the airwaves–and inviting guests that represent the diversity of the party and Delaware County as a whole. The structure of this podcast is more of a conversation, but the hosts never talk down to the listener, and it feels more like “grabbing a beer or a cup of coffee with a friend,” according to Mike.

On the national stage, check out Pod Save America a podcast hosted by four former aides to president Obama: Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor. Their show covers. Guests have included Barack Obama (in his last interview as president!), Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren. What hooked me about this podcast is the hosts’ ability to make me laugh while simultaneously teaching me something, and never downplaying the seriousness and potential far-reaching consequences of the decisions that are being made in the Trump White House.

If you’re looking for a news-based podcast without the spin, check out National Public Radio’s Political Podcast. This podcast features fifteen minute episodes, designed to cover the major political happenings each day. It’s a great way to catch up on the ever-changing political landscape, and ensuring that you don’t get whiplash bouncing back and forth between topics. This podcast does its research and has less spin than the two podcasts covered above. It’s a good podcast to introduce to friends, family, and neighbors who want to learn more about current events from a more journalistic perspective.

Remember, it’s important to critically examine the media you consume: always know where your news is coming from. These podcasts are great starts, but it’s important to examine your own biases and consider how the media we consume affects our worldview. So, check out these latest podcasts, learn about the issues, and vote to empower people this November in the voting booth.