Podcasts are a great way to expand your knowledge on any given topic from your couch, on your commute, or while working out. That’s why PAW asked alumni and faculty members what their favorite podcasts were, and why they would recommend them to fellow Tigers. Do you have a podcast to recommend? Write to us at email@example.com and tell us why.
I’ve loved Against the Rules by Michael Lewis ’82. Yes, it’s signature Lewis exploring intriguing trends through vivid storytelling, but I couldn’t shake the sense that Lewis has a motivation deeper than mere entertainment or exploration for fascination’s sake. Each season examines a problem in the bedrock of our society, manifestations of which Lewis sees cropping up all over in American life (the kneecapping of impartial arbiters, the rise of a meritocracy that is based on access to knowledge and coaching to which only the privileged have access). In a non-preachy (and highly entertaining) way, this podcast left me painfully aware of the advantages I’ve enjoyed in life and also determined to do better in pushing for a more just, equal, and caring society. — Sam Rasmussen ’19
Every week I listen to Stay Tuned with Preet, hosted by Preet Bharara, and the CAFE Insider Podcast, co-hosted by Preet Bharara and Anne Milgram. On each episode of Stay Tuned, Preet interviews a different guest spanning a wide range, from Bryan Stevenson to Hasan Minhaj to Garry Kasparov. Even if you don’t agree with Bharara or his guest, you get to hear each person’s point of view in a way that allows him or her to express it properly, not just as a soundbite or talking point.
CAFE Insider, on the other hand, rarely has guests. Preet and Anne discuss the big news events of the week, taking time to explain things carefully, including legal principles and stories from their careers as lawyers. Both podcasts give an in-depth analysis and the hosts often raise points I would have liked to raise had I been in the room. On Stay Tuned with Preet, Bharara does a particularly good job interviewing people he disagrees with. He always speaks to them respectfully, allows them to make their points, asks genuine questions, and has often shown me good qualities in people he hosted that I disliked before the interview... @PreetBharara if you are reading this, please interview my dad! — Krishnan Mody ’11, son of Princeton School of Public & International Affairs Professor Ashoka Mody
Princeton School of Public & International Affairs Visiting Lecturer Doug Mercado *07 has been listening to NPR’s Us & Them, saying, “they talk about the fault lines in the United States — what divides and separates us across many issues, socially, politically, religiously, and more. It’s interesting to see very different sides of many different issues in our county, and the ‘us-versus-them’ mindset.” Mercado also highly recommends EPIDEMIC by Dr. Celine Gounder ’97, The Al Franken Podcast, Contrapoder con Jorge Ramos, and Nikki Glaser’s podcast.
Brian Lucas ’90 has started his own podcast since the start of the pandemic. “Voices of COVID-19 was launched earlier this year to offer up unique voices and perspectives related to the pandemic. I have produced 16 episodes so far, including two of my Princeton Class of 1990 classmates, Rabbi Josh Davidson and Celica Thellier.”
The New Books Network has a series of hosts that interview book authors from a broad range of disciplines. For example, Jaime Sánchez, a Ph.D. candidate in the Princeton history department, has interviewed Adam Goodman to discuss The Deportation Machine: America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants and Lorena Oropeza about The King of Adobe: Reies López Tijerina, Lost Prophet of the Chicano Movement. It’s wonderful for a few reasons: It allows me to preview books that look exciting, it keeps my reading list culled, it allows me to hear the scholar tell backstories about their work, and there are many different subjects covered so I can listen to whatever I’m in the mood for on any particular day. — Rosina Lozano, associate professor of history, author of An American Language: The History of Spanish in the United States
My favorite podcast is probably Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History. Growing up, I remember listening to the news radio in the car when driving somewhere with my dad. Occasionally, I’d be in the car when Paul Harvey would come on the radio with a 3-5 minute segment called “The Rest of the Story,” where Harvey would give a fascinating story about someone or something that you thought you knew pretty well, only to find out that there was a whole OTHER aspect to that story or person that you had never considered before. Revisionist History is like that, but in podcast form.
Some of the stories are great windows into the mind or world of sports or entertainment. Others have really brought home the reason for the axiom “never meet your heroes,” such as when I learned about Winston Churchill’s complicity in the starvation of millions of Bengalis in 1943, something I am embarrassed to say I had never heard of. But my favorite episode was the one where Gladwell describes the recurring contrast between archetypal artists as exemplified by Picasso and Van Gogh, the one whose genius seems to spring to life effortlessly and without need for further refinement, the other who is tortured by the need to constantly tinker and adjust their work until it evolves to perfection. Nowhere is this more vividly described than examining the history of Leonard Cohen’s classic ballad “Hallelujah” which at one point had something like 80 verses, torturing Cohen for FIVE YEARS as he sought to get it right, until other artists, including Bob Dylan, U2, Rufus Wainwright, and John Cale eventually trimmed and reworked it in the 1990s and early 2000s, when it gained even wider recognition on the 2001 soundtrack to Shrek. As Paul Harvey would say, ‘…and now you know…the REST of the story!’ — Chris Taber ’99
On Wednesday, September 16th, Princeton Professor Aaron Nathans launched his podcast Cookies: Tech Security & Privacy, which talks about how consumers are the product of gadgets, apps, and social media. The first episodes kicked off with a two-part special with Arvind Narayaan, associate professor of computer science. Season One will have seven episodes, with a new episode on Wednesdays this fall.
David Abromowitz ’78 recommends the You’re Wrong About podcast because, “it feels like you are listening to two smart and witty friends dive deep into a topic you’ve heard of but don’t really know the whole truth. They’re delightful!” He also recommends the podcast Scene on Radio, particularly their Seeing White series.
The Purple Principle, created and produced by Robert Pease ’83, was recently featured in The New York Times article, Podcasts to Inform Your Vote. This non-partisan podcast is catered to independents concerned with polarization in the two-party system.
Other alumni write:
Michelle Greenfield ’18 started a podcast called Aquadocs, which she calls a great podcast for pre-med students, doctors, and veterinarians.
Elinor Willis ’11 listens to a few podcasts, including Sawbones: A Marital Tour on Misguided Medicine, Straight White American Jesus, Justice in America, Ear Hustle, Good Ancestor Podcast, 99% Invisible, and Queens of England Podcast.
Lynn Martin II *04, also known as “Marty Martin,” has a podcast called Big Biology, where he and his colleague Dr. Art Woods discuss scientific problems in the world today in a way that anyone can understand.