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Press Play: Five Leading Black Podcasts

Photo caption: Photo by Malte Wingen on Unsplash

My colleague, Ashleigh, recently wrote a blog to help brands avoid mishaps when celebrating black culture, Communication DOs and DON’Ts for Black History Month.

Understanding and connecting with a culture that isn’t your own can be an overwhelming task. There are many places to start but this post offers just one avenue to consider with a short list of five top black podcasts to help support your cultural exploration beyond the month of February.

  • NPR’s Code Switch: Gene and Shereen cover race and identity by exploring Dr. Seuss, the World Cup, popular home DNA test kits, film, politics and everything in-between. Start by reading this 2013 NPR blog post, “Five Reasons Why People Code-Switch,” and then listen to podcasts in any order based on your interests.  
  • NYT’s Still Processing: Currently on hiatus, but New York Times reporters Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham have an impressive archive that winds listeners through pop culture in unexpected ways. From exploring the changing landscape of stand-up comedy to celebrating “Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s marriage as a black cultural institution – like the Huxtables or the Obamas,” Still Processing is a light yet intellectual listen.
  • The Nod: Another great archive to dig into. The Nod recently ended a 2.5 year run on Gimlet Media but they will reemerge in April on Quibi. There’s no better summary of The Nod, than the hosts own words, “The Nod tells the stories of Black life that don’t get told anywhere else. Our show ranges from an explanation of purple drink’s association with Black culture to the story of an interracial drag troupe that traveled the nation in the 1940s.” Just listen, you won’t regret it.
  • The Secret Lives of Black Women: A relative newcomer, this podcast is gaining popularity by focusing on topics that are of particular interest to black women. It’s like having a glass of wine, or three, with your best friends.
  • Small Doses with Amanda Seales: Amanda Seales is an actress and comedian by trade but also a writer, activist and contemporary black voice beloved by many. Her views are polarizing but listening to different perspectives helps shape our own, right? Press play and see where you fall but be advised that many can only listen to her…in small doses.

Podcast’s obviously won’t tell you everything you need to know about any given culture, but they are a glimpse into topics of relevance and voices that inform subsets of a community. And as a key tool for storytelling, podcasts are here to stay, so the next time you’re looking for something new to listen to try out one of these to begin to cultivate your cultural awareness.

Karah Davenport is a vice president in Stratacomm’s Detroit office.