14 Podcasts to Add to Your 2021 Queue

Curated by the Indiana State Leaership Council

2020 certainly showed that podcasts have cemented their place in our entertainment and audio world. From niche topics like crafting, photography, celebrity gossip, or skincare to big topics like “What do I think about our societal structures?” and “What is happening in Congress?”, podcasts allow us to explore thoughts different from our own and continue informal learning from the safety of our homes. 

The Indiana State Leadership Team has compiled a list of some of our favorite podcasts that truly run the gamut. The Policy Circle encourages members to practice critical thinking skills, be open to different ideas, continually question “truths” of life in order to discover what you hold to be true, or maybe just listen for fun!  We have divided up the podcasts into categories below. Please look at them, listen to some, and decide whether you want to keep listening or find others that pique your interest. 

You Just Want to Learn? 

  1. Armchair Expert – Dax Shepherd and Monica Padman interview interesting guests that come from all career paths, life paths, and niche topics. Some are celebrities and some are just experts in their respective field with information to share with a greater audience. Pick a person who sounds interesting! Dax and Monica are great hosts who ask insightful questions and add some levity to deeper topics.
  2. Second Life – Hosted by Hillary Kerr, founder of WhoWhatWear, this is about women in winding career paths, starting their “second life,” mistakes they have made, the path they took to get there, and things they’ve learned. As we march into 2021, what better time to think about a “second life!”
  3. Motley Fool Money or Talking Tax – These are for the budding financial moguls or individuals who want to learn a little more about trending tax impacts (p.s. there were a lot at the federal level this year!). The hosts of both podcasts keep things moving and make sure content is not super dry, which financial content tends to be. They cover the week’s top business news and financial headlines, while breaking down the stock market implications for investors. Plus, interviews with best-selling authors, industry experts, and an inside look at stocks on their radar. Episodes are either nine minutes or a full hour, easy to listen to in short bits, or listen in full. 
  4. The Skinny Confidential Him & Her Podcast – Hosted by Lauryn Everts Bosstick and her husband, Michael Bosstick. Don’t be fooled by the all pink aesthetic, Lauryn and Michael ask intriguing questions and interview guests such as Ryan Holiday, Greg McKoewn, Camille Styles, Mark Manson, Dr. Barbara Sturm, Dr. Dennis Gross, Robert Greene, Aimee Song, Dom Roberts, Topsie VandenBosch, and Lisa Vanderpump. The podcast has quite the wide portfolio: between influencers and how they grew, business leaders and their roles within their organizations, athletes, top doctors, and activists. It discusses business strategy and learning how to pivot in a world that requires us to pivot almost daily. The podcast is not for everyone but you will learn something, even if you didn’t think you needed to know how to best monetize Instagram or what it’s like being a pro surfer. 
  5. Stuff You Missed in History Class – For those who weren’t quite satisfied by our education or want to keep learning, Stuff You Missed in History Class dives into subjects  that may not be taught in standard high school history class. The hosts frequently contrast societies of the past to society today, working to fill in the gaps that come with time and change. The details may ordinarily seem trivial, but this podcast makes them fun and often puts them in a global context.

Work on Your Critical Thinking Skills?

  1. You’re Wrong About – Since its beginning, these journalist hosts have been taking different moments from pop culture and informing listeners why what they think happened wasn’t really what happened at all. They give both sides of the story and then report out numbers or official stats on the issue. You’re Wrong About encourages listeners to question those soundbites and to look for context and forgotten information and come to their own conclusion. Topics include Wayfair & Sex Traffiking, Princess Anatasia, Princess Diana, the Exxon Oil Spill, Stepford Wives, Koko the Gorilla, “Problematic” Women of History, and the OJ Trials.
  2. Revisionist History – Malcolm Gladwell looks at a theme each season and dives deep into topics about the other side of the story. The route to re-contextualizing and re-understanding the events in each episode can be both enlightening and mysterious. Why did we just adopt this one side? What are we not taught? Topics include the Boston Tea Party, the Oxford Comma, friendships of dignitaries in World War II, Elvis, and the LSATs. 
  3. Serial, Season One This podcast is about a 17-year-old who was accused and convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend but insists, to this day,  he did not do it. The legal process is fascinating and this podcast highlights how it can be manipulated by different actors. What should our societal standard for conviction be? How tight is “clear and convincing evidence?” Is the legal system really fair and just all the time? 
  4. The Civic Leader – Hosted by Policy Circle Co-founder, Sylvie Légère, this podcast strives to offer fact-based information that can act as a starting point for listeners to get involved and have a larger positive impact on their communities. When it comes to civic and community leadership, most people don’t know where to start and can feel as though they are missing important facts and details. Each episode goes beyond the titles and headlines to bring listeners the facts and data points to help illuminate the roles of businesses’, government and citizens’ in solving society’s greatest challenges. 

What About Social  and Civil institutions In the United States? 

  1. Code Switch – Conversations about race hosted by journalists of color, this podcast tackles the subject of race head-on. It explores how race impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between. This podcast makes all of us part of the conversation — because we’re all part of the story.
  2. White Picket Fence – This podcast sheds some light on white women’s role in women’s rights, the right to vote, and white privilege.  It discusses the fractured politics of white women. Host Julie Kohler unpacks how white womanhood in America has been constructed, how it’s evolved, and how it affects our politics. Join to explore how white women have fallen short and how we need to step up and own our political stake in advancing justice.
  3. Citizen Chef – Hosted by Chef Tom Colicchio of Top Chef fame, this podcast is only twelve episodes. It discusses how food and the food industry intersects with every possible area of our lives. From immigration, to tax breaks, to helping families out of poverty, to agriculture, food has crept its way into many topics that seem unrelated. If you love food, this will be fascinating. Colicchio does a great job of highlighting food as a mechanism to teach people about the connectedness of our lives 
  4. Nice White Parents – The New York Times produced this five part series to tell the story of a public school in Brooklyn and its journey in addressing  the educational divide between black and brown and white children and white parents’ role in public education. The school, which was built to be a gold standard, desegregated school in the 1960s, instead was largely attended by Latinx and Black students – that is until recently. As the host started to look for a school for her child to attend Kindergarten, she learned of IS-293 (which now goes by the name Boerum Hill School for International Studies) and how a group of parents – white – created a new French program at the school, and how every intention of steps forwards often comes with just as many steps back.
  5. Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions – This limited series podcast is similar to Armchair Expert but bent to look at the questions that have bubbled to the top during the 2020-2021 pandemic. The show is a mix of big questions about social institutions and human behavior. 

Post in the comments below and let us know if you have podcasts you think other women searching for informal learning should listen to!


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