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When can we say we're well listened?
butter drama, baseball movies, forgotten women scientists, lacking school lunches, future of fashion, a revolutionary women's magazine, sex in movies, Julia and Jane
I like reading, but I’m a slow reader. There are a lot of people who might describe themselves as well read, because of all the things they’ve learned from reading. It makes them more informed, more aware of different experiences, and expands the world they know. When can we say we’re well listened? Because with the feverish way I absorb podcasts, I really do feel like I’m getting exposed to so much more than I ever could have imagined if I was only reading. I’m always learning something new and I love fueling all my curiosities with a good podcast.
What begins as a story of a butter contest that gets tricked by a margarine submission, actually evolves into a look at our relationship with processed food and food in general. Simone Polanen does a fantastic job of illustrating how our skepticism over where our food comes from has always been there, but also not really changed. The battle of butter vs margarine, and how passionately people reacted to it is definitely still occurring today. We have more options and more marketing tactics used to persuade us and more places to look up information about our food than ever. But “we’re all just left standing in the dairy aisle trying to make good decisions with bad information”.
I’m with Elamin, I don’t love baseball but I will watch Moneyball any time it’s on TV. And after listening to this episode, I’m itching to watch some more baseball movies! Elamin is joined by culture writers and baseball fans Noah Gittell and Stacey May Fowles to discuss the boom in baseball movies and the bust. There haven’t been many lately and it might be a reflection of changes to the sport and the movie industry in general. There are a lot of basketball movies lately, for a comparison. This was my first time listening to Elamin’s new show and I really enjoyed it! I learned more about BTS and it made for a great pop culture catch up. I’ve already tuned into more episodes and I think it’ll become a regular for me!
Imagine not knowing your grandma was an incredibly advanced scientist who helped determine why so many premature babies were going blind. And mostly only ever being told about your grandfather’s scientific accomplishments. When host Katie Hafner discovers this, it sets her on a path to realizing and reveling in just how impressive her grandmother’s career was, especially considering it was a time when women were not given as many opportunities to pursue education and work at highly esteemed establishments like MIT and Columbia. Katie’s story is a perfect example of what this show does best – highlight groundbreaking scientists who, because of time, place and gender, have gone largely unrecognized. I felt so proud for her as she discovered more and more about her grandmother’s role in science. (transcript)
Last year I got so invested in the reading program that was hindering children across the US (see Peabody nominated Sold A Story), and now I’m learning about the school lunch system that’s struggling to work for almost everyone involved. You hear from women who work in lunch programs for school districts, women who work in cafeterias, students, and parents. I’m not a parent and I don’t live in the US, so I have no experience with a school lunch program, but after the first two episodes, I’m invested in what they’re uncovering about how broken the system is and what could be done to save it. You know I love food content, but this is a high stakes food story that grips you on a whole other level. School can already be challenging enough for kids, teachers, and parents, when you add hunger to the story, it only worsens existing struggles. (transcript)
Climate Vision 2050 is taking such a cool approach to talking about our future and the climate crisis. They transport you to the year 2050 using a fictional portrayal of what the world could look like based on actual solutions that could get us there. This episode envisions a future with more transparency to the material used, the production processes, and the overall impact of clothing. You hear about a fictional future where a brand is caught using a black-market petroleum based material that isn’t allowed anymore. There’s even a look at digital fashion and how more technologies open up new opportunities. They show what is possible when technology is used to level up the production process, both for creative capabilities and sustainability. I’m finding this show really helpful to see how things could be improved if we really committed to making the changes needed. (transcript)
I have to start with this quote, because it was exactly what I was thinking as I listened to the first couple episodes of this series: “The biggest question you’ll ask if you read these early Bob Guccione Viva magazines, is what kind of life leads a human man to believe he should be in charge of a women’s sex magazine?”. Stiffed is the story of a 1970s women’s magazine created by the same man who started Penthouse magazine. Even though the male leadership and direction of the magazine definitely hindered its appeal to women, there’s also another influence that caused a struggle. Yes, feminism and women’s sexual liberation was on the rise at this time, but it was all so new that there was a lot that women themselves hadn’t figured out or become comfortable with. The story of all the conflicting ideas of what women wanted in this magazine has me absolutely hooked. I blew through all three episodes that were available and kept finding more things to clean because I didn’t want to stop listening. My kitchen counters are squeaky clean, but the content of this podcast is not. (transcript)
I’m slowly working my way through the new season of You Must Remember This, which focuses on how the evolution of sex, porn, and feminism in the 90s impacted movies, and it’s interesting to listen to Karina’s historical retelling while also listening to conversations like this one on The Waves. Because in present day films, everyone’s talking about sex and it’s absence or presence. This conversation between Nichole Perkins and journalist Eliana Dockterman looked at it from many different perspectives. Like it often happens in discussions about the current state of films, superhero movies are referenced as a turning point, but so are censorship laws and money. The one thing that stood out to me is the difference between how we accept violence in movies and how scared we are of sex. To follow this episode, I listened to Death, Sex & Money’s episode The Movies That Taught Us What Sex Could Be (transcript) and that one was a perfect compliment! It featured a lot of voice messages from listeners sharing memorable movies and the complicated, helpful, and important impacts they had on them. (transcript)
I know an episode featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jane Fonda is a pretty easy sell, but I need to talk about it! I already knew I was going to love it, because I love the way Jane Fonda has talked about aging and appreciating the things you learn throughout your life, and that’s so much of what Julia is trying to do with this show. It’s an inspiring place to hear about aging, from women who have and are going through it. Both Julia and Jane get really honest about where they’re at in life and the things they love and struggle with. We romanticize younger years so much, but Jane and Julia point out how those are some of the hardest years and there is so much to enjoy with age. There are just way too many quotable moments from their conversation, I listened twice. And I’m with Julia, I want to hear more stories like this. She really sets the tone of the show right off the top and you feel her excitement, passion, and the fun style she’s bringing to it. Beyond that, I absolutely LOVE the way they edited together the technical difficulties in this episode. They certainly could’ve cut it out, but I think it’s a better, more relatable, and more memorable episode because of it and that’s a sign of a production team that knows great storytelling. And Lemonada is that team! (transcript)
More sweet treats
I really think some of the podcasts I listened to lately could be someone’s gateway podcast. So I’m going to recommend them and try to adopt those new listeners!
Do you know someone who says ‘podcasts aren’t my thing’? Let’s help welcome them into the wonderful world of podcasts by finding a podcast they’ll love. That’s the mission of Adopt-a-Listener month and I’d love for you to join the fun! Seriously, it’s a blast. Just look at what Lauren and Arielle did this week in NYC!
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Hear me talk about how fun and creative podcast marketing is on Podcast Bestie!
I love what Pushkin is doing to celebrate exceptional audio storytelling
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Thank you for reading! If you listened to something this week that made your heart sing, your imagination wander, or your brain ponder, I’d love to hear about it!