On the Media: The Divided Dial Podcast Review

The media in its various forms (television, radio, etc) is by itself a tool. How it is used is based on the individual’s needs and perspective.

The new five-part podcast, On the Media: The Divided Dial is a part of the long-running WNYC produced On the Media program. The focus of this short-lived series is how a certain company (which I will not name in this blog) has used the media to share its right-wing perspective with its listeners.

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So far, three of the five episodes have aired. From my perspective, it is a reminder that this perversion is here to stay and has been part of our cultural landscape for many years. Though the argument for free speech is valid, relevant, and important, there is the question of what happens when the line that leads to violence and hatred is crossed.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of On the Media: The Divided Dial is released every Tuesday.

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Where Were You in ’92? Podcast Review

Every once in a while, a year comes along that is so culturally important that it changes us in some way.

The new podcast, Where Were You in ’92? examines the most iconic songs from 1992 and the impact that music has had since its initial release. Host Jason Lamphier interviews artists, producers, music video directors, and others to examine why this specific year opened the door to the world that we live in today.

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To provide some context, I was in junior high school in 1992. So obviously, there were certain things that were over my head at that point. That being said, I have enjoyed the two episodes that have aired so far. The insights provided have given me a rearview perspective that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It is also a nice trip down memory lane for those of us who remember that time.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of Where Were You in ’92? are released every Wednesday.

Exile Podcast Review

It is easy to assume that the world is saved by Generals and Presidents. While it is true that they have a hand in restoring normalcy, we should never forget that one ordinary person can make a difference.

The new podcast, Exile, started airing earlier this month. it is sponsored by the Leo Baeck Institute and hosted by Mandy Patinkin. Each episode tells the story of a person of German Jewish descent who fought against fascism during World War II. Using archived letters, stories, and first-hand accounts, each subject is given their due as a hero or heroine in their own right.

As I listened to the episodes that have been released, I can’t help but think that history is one more repeating itself. Around the world, democracy is slowly being replaced by other forms of government that do not respect the rights of the average citizen. The lessons are there, if we are willing to stop and listen.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

New episodes of Exile are released every Tuesday.

The Randy Rainbow Podcast Review

It seems that everyone and their mother has a podcast these days.

Back at the end of September, Randy Rainbow added another accomplishment to the list: podcaster. Each episode is broken up into two sections: responding to fan questions and an interview with a celebrity friend or admirer.

With his trademark wit, honesty, and musical styling, he is as entertaining as ever. I find myself laughing, and wishing I was in the room as he was recording it.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

New episodes of The Randy Rainbow Podcast are released every Thursday.

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Fast Politics with Molly Jong-Fast Podcast Review

Politics is a common subject for many a podcast. What makes one stand out from the pack (at least from my perspective), is the ability to laugh through the anger and frustration.

The new podcast, Fast Politics with Molly Jong-Fast, is a deeply truthful and slightly comedic take on the current state of the American political system. Hosted by Molly Jong-Fast (previously of The New Abnormal), she gets to the heart of the issues and what can hopefully be done to resolve them.

Starts at 18:30

She is one of those political commentators that does not shy away from the real problems. While calling out the bullshit on both sides of the aisle, she speaks for us while encouraging us to do the same.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of Fast Politics with Molly Jong-Fast are released every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The Last Resort Podcast Review

The Civil War was one of the bloodiest and most historically important events in American history. 150 years after the fact, the same political, cultural, and social schisms still play a role in our everyday lives.

The new seven-part podcast, The Last Resort, presents the following question: What if California seceded from the United States? Founded by Marcus Ruiz-Evans and Louis J. Marinelli, the movement is called Calexit. Each episode examines the state’s past and the potential effects should this idea become a reality.

It’s an interesting concept, both as an idea for a podcast and an exploration of who we are as Americans. If nothing else, it asks the listener to consider difficult questions about who we are as a country and what we imagine our future will be like.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of The Last Resort are released every Tuesday.

The Franchise: Jews, Sports, and America Podcast Review

For many, sports open the door to the American dream. Regardless of the specific game, it is also representative of the best and the worst of America.

The new Tablet magazine podcast, The Franchise: Jews, Sports, and America, is hosted by Meredith Shiner. This limited series tells the story of notable Jewish athletes and the impact they have made over the years.

The first episode tells the story of Sandy Koufax. Koufax is remembered for choosing to sit out of the first game of the 1965 World Series. The game was scheduled for the same night as Yom Kippur. Instead of playing, he chose to observe the holiday. For generations of American Jews, this decision has been one of nachas (pride).

I am so far enjoying this podcast. Shiner has a way of bringing these tales to life, regardless of whether or not one is a sports fan. She has an obvious passion for the subject, giving the listener an avenue to get to know these people beyond their public persona.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of The Franchise: Jews, Sports, and America are released every Wednesday.

Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra Podcast Review

January 6th, 2021 was an extraordinary day in American history. It is one of those moments that I don’t think anyone over a certain age will ever forget. Up until recently, it appeared to be the only event of this nature in recent memory.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow tells us otherwise. Her new limited podcast, Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra tells the story of a failed coup led by prominent Americans to overthrow the US government in the 1940s. Among them are members of Congress and notorious antisemite Father Charles Coughlin.

Though only two episodes have aired, the parallels between then and now are hard to ignore. I got chills listening to it. There are too many similarities to January 6th. Though the names have obviously changed, the basics remain the same.

For that reason alone, this should be required listening for every American and a reminder of how delicate our democracy is.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

New episodes of Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra are released every Monday.

Gatecrashers Podcast Review

College, as we all know, is supposed to open the door to professional opportunities. But the university experience, as we know it to be today, is not what it was only a few generations ago. The opportunity to attend a post-secondary higher educational institution was limited to Caucasian males of a certain social strata and background. It goes without saying back then that women and minorities could not even consider attending.

The new eight-part Tablet magazine podcast, Gatecrashers is hosted by Unorthodox co-host Mark Oppenheimer. It tells the story of how Jewish students tried to attend ivy league colleges in the 2oth century. If they were let in, there were limited social opportunities solely based on faith and unofficial quotas. If they were not let in, they were given the runaround about why their application was denied.

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The one thing that struck me (specifically in regards to the schools that gave BS reasons for rejecting Jewish students), was who they were saying no to. One of these young men was Isaac Asimov, who was originally denied admittance to Columbia University only because of which deity he prayed to and where he lived.

Looking back, that seems to be incredibly short-sighted. Granted, no one has a crystal ball to see what the future holds. However, knowing now what Asimov accomplished later in life, it seems foolish for the admissions department to have made the initial decision they made.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of Gatecrashers are released on the Tablet site every Tuesday.

Zack to the Future Podcast Review (2020 to 2021)

Every era and every age group has its own archetypal character that sort of sums up the creative ideas of the time.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, this character was Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar)  on Saved by the Bell. Zack was an overconfident, smooth-talking kid with a slightly used salesman con artist veneer. He had a good heart, but it wasn’t always on the surface.

Zack to the Future (2020 to 2021) is a rewatch podcast in which Gosselaar sits down with co-host Dashiell Driscoll to watch the program with adult eyes. Having never watched the show, it is an opportunity for the cast, crew, and fans to reminisce about the gang at Bayside High.

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I looked forward to this podcast every week. Gosselaar’s insight provides a unique perspective on his time playing one of television’s most well-known teenage characters. Unfortunately, it has since been canceled. But like its small screen predecessor, there are always returns.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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