The best way to learn about a new culture is to speak to a local. They have the insight and experience that an outsider would never have.
Earlier this month, Israeli actress/ producer Noa Tishby published her first book. The Tel Aviv native seeks to understand and explain Israel as it is, without relying on the flashy headlines or the half truths. Using her firsthand experience, she speaks of Israel, both past and present, as it is, and not how some see it or wish it could be.
What I love about this book is how down to earth and accessible it is. Tishby‘s voice is that of the average person, not the academic or historian who usually writes about this topic. That, I believe, provides an opportunity for a dialogue that should have happened long ago.
If you only read two chapters, I highly recommend chapters on BDS and the virulent anti-Israeli sentiment (which is really antisemitism). Even for those who are well versed on the topic, it was an eye opener.
In the last decade or so, podcasts have exploded in popularity. It goes without saying that every listener has their own preferences. However, that does not give producers and hosts the leeway to produce an incomplete product.
The WNYC podcast Bullseye has existed since 2000. Presently hosted by Jesse Thorn, it was initially entitled The Sound of Young America when it was schedule of the lineup of college radio station in California. Over the years, Thorn has interviewed actors, directors, writers, and others whose work falls under the label of pop culture.
If I were to rate all of the WNYC podcasts that I listen to (1 representing the best and 5 representing the worst), Bullseye would be a 3. It’s not all bad, but it is not one that I listen to regularly. The problem is not Thorn or his guests. The problem is that it is not as interesting as some of the other podcasts on the schedule.
Sometimes, the most difficult conversations are the most important.
The WNYC podcast, United States of Anxiety, has been on the air since 2016. Hosted by Kai Wright, the topics discussed are race, racism, social justice, and how we can make amends for the mistakes from the past.
Though much of the last four years have been focused on politics and the previous Presidential administration, there are also discussions about thorny issues that after many generations, are still unresolved. As a listener, I appreciate the honesty of Wright and his guests, making the subject matter as palatable as possible while not shying away from the hard truth of where we have been as a nation.
We all know how important the media and the press is. Especially when it comes to maintaining democracy. But as important as both are, they are equally fallible.
On the Media is a podcast that made it’s debut on WNYC twenty years ago. Hosted by Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone, the purpose of this podcast is to honestly review the different aspects of our media landscape, warts and all.
It is easy to accept a headline or a statement from a politician at face value. It is harder to dig deeper and explore the facts, particularly when those facts contradict the initial statement. On the Media examines both in a way that paints the full picture, helping us to make an educated and non-prejudicial opinion.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
New episodes of On the Media are released every Wednesday and Friday on WNYC.
There are some topics that within the bounds of polite conversation, are not usually talked about.
The WNYC podcast, Death, Sex, & Money, hosted by Anna Sale, has aired since 2014.The premise of the podcast is discuss issues around death, sex, and money, three subjects that are difficult to talk about. Even among those that we are closest with.
This is one of my favorite podcasts. Anna has a way of talking to the guests in a way that is both sensitive and genuine. By doing that, it makes these issues a little less taboo and opens the door to being less afraid of being honest with one another.
Discovering a favorite podcast is akin to discovering a new television show.
When the United States was founded more than two centuries ago, real democracy was a pipe dream. Most of what was considered to be the known world (aka Europe) was ruled by Kings and Queens. The Founding Fathers were akin to political scientists, trying different experiments until one worked. The latest podcast from WNYC is called The Experiment. The premise is to explore what has worked within our country and what needs to be improved upon.
Jane Austen once wrote the following about friendship:
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”- Northanger Abbey
Friendship is so important. When it comes to mental health issues, it can be the one thing that keeps the emotional wolves at bay. Especially when we are locked in our homes due to the pandemic. Anxiously is the latest podcast from Tablet Magazine. Hosted by two friends, Aimee and Lisa, their conversations revolve around what makes them well, anxious.
So far, I have enjoyed both The Experiment and Anxiously. I like the way both explore their respective subjects in a way that the audience can connect to without being talked down to or over.
Knowing how to interview people is a skill that is always is need.
The NPR and WNYC podcast Fresh Air, has been on the air since 1985. Hosted by Terry Gross, the subjects and guests come from the varying worlds of politics, popular culture, and entertainment.
I look forward to listening to this podcast. Listening to Gross (who has the perfect radio voice) and Fresh Air is akin to sitting in on a lecture from your favorite college professor. The stories that come out of each episode are interesting, entertaining, and sometimes, a learning experience.
The book tells the story of how the Vice President was able to execute a bribery and extortion ring before and during his time in the White House. When it became obvious that Nixon’s time as President was growing short, three young lawyers took it upon themselves to stop Agnew before he could ascend to the Oval Office.
Based on the podcast of the same name, this book is brilliant. It was both a throwback to the past and a light shining on our current political situation. I knew about Watergate, but I had no idea that Agnew had his own political baggage. It reads like a fictional thriller, even though the events that take place are certainly non-fiction.
The game of politics has always been contentious. It takes a cool head to let everyone share their opinion without getting into a verbal or physical argument.
The Brian Lehrer Show has aired on WNYC since 1989. Hosted by Brian Lehrer, the program airs every weekday morning from 10:00 to 12:00. Hosting politicians, journalists, and other newsmakers, the conversations revolve around politics and news from the around the block and around the world.
Brian one of the mainstays of NYC media personalities and a local legend. Attempting to do the impossible, he allows all voices from the political spectrum to be heard, regardless of how the listener feels about the topic. His show is my weekday morning fix and one of the few journalistic voices that is truly trying to be objective.