12 Podcasts Tackling Major Issues You Should Know About

The way I do it, multitasking is like an extreme sport. There are a lot of things that are important to me, and only so many hours in the day, and I only have so much mental capacity, and emotional wellness capacity, too. Podcasts meet me halfway in so many ways. I can listen to a story while I design, or drive, or make dinner. I can learn about significant issues from these reputable sources. And if I need to pause, to take action, or breathe, or cry, or all three — I can.

This list may seem overwhelming. As I was creating it, I thought, Who's going to actually listen to all these? I don't know if you will listen to all of them, or any of them. But I hope you'll listen to one, or at least let your interest in one of the topics be piqued, leading you to learn in whatever way may better fit who you are and/or your season in life.

The New Normal
Latino USA

How does a mother prepare her toddler for her possible deportation? A church with a history of providing refuge for Mexican immigrants, sparks a modern nationwide movement. How a man who was mugged ends up detained and priority for deportation.

Police Videos: Cincinnati

On April 16, 2015, police officer Jesse Kidder encountered a murder suspect named Michael Wilcox in a suburb outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. What happened next was caught on video and surprised a lot of people, including police. And the incident tells us a lot about how these videos have changed us.

Shots Fired: Part 1
Radio Lab

A couple years ago, Ben Montgomery, reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, started emailing every police station in Florida. He was asking for any documents created - from 2009 to 2014 - when an officer discharged his weapon in the line of duty.

This American Life

An interview with a man who lost his testosterone. An interview with a transgender man, who started life as female and began taking testosterone injections several years ago. And a group of coworkers get their testosterone levels tested, to see who has the most and least.

Object Anyway
More Perfect

At the trial of James Batson in 1982, the prosecution eliminated all the black jurors from the jury pool. Batson objected, setting off a complicated discussion about jury selection that would make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Back to School
This American Life

What should kids be learning at school? What does a difficult home life do to the brain of a school kid — literally to the biology of the brain?  How does it make it difficult to learn? What are non-cognitive skills? Do they give kids the skills they need to get out of poverty? And the story of Kewauna, the Chicago teenager, who talks about the dramatic ways in which she changed her life.

I'm Brown
Radio Ambulante

Marco Avilés is a journalist from Peru. When he moved to Maine to be with his now wife, Annie, he was enamored with the countryside and not really bothered by the whiteness. But as the presidential campaign picked up, the Trump signs began to pop up, and his interactions with white neighbors shifted from mostly harmless microaggressions to outright hostility, to hard to tell apart. Marco, renowned in his own country, tells the story of what it's like to be just a brown man here.

Solitary Confinement: Cruel and Unusual
Stuff You Should Know

In a series exploring crime and punishment, SYSK takes a look at the practice of solitary confinement. Does it have its place in prisons, sometimes for protection of the inmates themselves? And what about when people are left in solitary for weeks, months and even years?

The Russian Passenger
Reply All

Somewhere in Russia, a man calls for a car. Somewhere in New York City, Reply All producer, Alex's phone buzzes. He's paying for a stranger's Uber rides in another country. And he's not the only one. This episode chases this story into the Dark Web, where people buy and sell Uber accounts — buy and sell peoples' usernames and passwords to many kinds of applications. You might want to change your passwords after listening.

Busted: America's Poverty Myths
On The Media

A "poverty tour" of Athens County, Ohio. Why we need to dispel the notion that poverty stems from a lack of will power and a poor work ethic. Why America as a land of equal opportunity and upward mobility for all is a myth (even for Ben Franklin, from whom the term 'rags to riches' derives). How government assistance leaves most needy falling through the cracks. And how to steer clear of stereotypes and seek insight when reporting on poverty.

It's Working Out Very Nicely
This American Life

What happened when President Trump’s executive order went into effect, and the way it was implemented. The stories of immigrants and refugees who were mid-flight when the order was released, leaving them stranded in airports around the country. A conversation with the people who vet immigrants and refugees. What's up with the process? What is the whole story about the connection between the visa process and the attack on 9/11? What are we really achieving with this order? Who are we securing?

A Bittersweet Persian New Year
Code Switch

It's springtime, and the celebration of rebirth and the New Year in Iranian-American communities is tempered by the recent rise in Islamaphobic incidents and ongoing uncertainties around the travel ban. To mark Nowruz, Gene and Shereen talk about what's bitter and what's sweet with Nilou Motamed, the Iranian-American editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine, and visit with Code Switch friend and comedian Negin Farsad.

If you listen to any of these podcasts, tell me about it. What did you listen to? What did you learn? What bothered you (about the stories, or even the way they were told)? What questions do you have? And if you have other podcasts you'd like to share, please share them with me in the comments below.