During the pandemic, podcasts boomed with popularity, with alternative platforms like Clubhouse, Anchor and YouTube adding to the discussion. Around the globe, more than 400 million podcasts listeners have tuned into over 2 million independent podcasts for all sorts of content.
Yup, you read it right – over 2 million podcasts! Why are they are popular? Podcasts have always offered something everyone for while reflecting diverse perspectives, ideas, and voices. Voices without censorship that are allowed a deep dive, expressing themselves fully, tackling any subject with a no-holds barred honesty most subjects deserve – especially when it comes to people of color.
Black Lives Matter brought issues to the fore that have been subjects of concern for the last 400 years. With podcasting, Black creators from all lanes of life have turned Black into not just a blip on the radar of time – but a movement in podcasting where we can be heard, understood, and debated without criticism or prejudice, offering a complement to what’s seen on the television airwaves.
So, in honor of Black History Month, here are a few “must listen” shows ranging from music, TV, film or general arts and culture that can be heard every month of the year — not just in February.
Started in 2016, this culture podcast is hosted by New York Times writer Jenna Wortham and critic-at-large Wesley Morris, who work it out weekly — tackling anything from television, film, books, music, to the culture of work, dating, the internet and how they all fight together. With such popular episodes as TV Theme Songs and The Undoing of Kanye West, these two leave no stone unturned while incorporating humor and candor to spice up our listening journey. The dynamic duo also now does mini seasons that drop on Tuesdays.
The term refers to our culture having to assimilate in environments outside of the African American community regarding the way we communicate to be understood. Leave it to National Public Radio to take this term and flip it into a wildly successful podcast hosted by award-winning journalist Lori Lizarraga, co-host Gene Demby, B.A. Parker and senior correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates. The trio explores how race affects every part of society from politics and pop culture to history and food and everything in between. This podcast finds a way to make its listeners part of the conversation — because we are all part of the story.
If you couldn’t tear yourself away from Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project” in the New York Times or the recent Hulu docuseries, now you have a chance to check it out in podcast form. The groundbreaking audio series takes a compelling look at the history and legacy of slavery in the United States from every vantage point you could possibly imagine.
Springing off of Hannah-Jones’ upbringing and personal reflections, her analysis of the ways U.S. history has been twisted is groundbreaking.
“Even as a teenager, I understood that the absence of 1619 from mainstream history was intentional. People had made the choice not to teach us the significance of the year…what else hadn’t we been taught? I was starting to figure out that the histories we learn in school or, more casually, through popular culture, monuments, and political speeches rarely teach us the facts but only certain facts,” said Hannah-Jones about the project.
“Questlove Supreme” is NOT your typical interview show. It’s a fun, irreverent and educational weekly podcast about legends and legends in the making, bringing their legacy to life in their own words. Each episode digs deep into the stories in a way that only Academy Award winner Questlove and Team Supreme can deliver, with conversations ranging from individual guest’s origins (along with a few never-before-revealed secrets to their success) to their life passions and current projects. Guests have included Usher, Michelle Obama, Chris Rock, Steve Miller, Maya Rudolph, Weird Al, Chaka Khan, Babyface and many more.
Baby, This is Keke Palmer
Keke Palmer has questions for days, about everything under the sun. From the existential to the inconsequential. From pop culture to pop science. From the meaning of life to the meaning of W.A.P. From life in outer space to “Where the eff is Tom from MySpace?“ And everything in between. Because Baby, this is Keke Palmer, and she is here for All. Of. It.
Each week, the multi-talented diva takes listeners on a journey down the rabbit hole on topics that she’s obsessed with while getting deep with special guests, trying to answer the questions that keep us up at night. We are getting INTO IT.
It brought me so much joy to watch this magnanimous presence preside over a plethora of post Q&A discussions for Film Independent. For more than 20 years, critic-host Elvis Mitchell, director of Netflix’s “Is That Black Enough For You,” has conducted weekly in-depth interviews with the most innovative and influential people working in entertainment, art, and pop culture for KCRW’s “The Treatment.” The NAACP Image Award winner (for creating and producing “The Black List” documentaries for HBO,) has created some vital conversations not only in the world of entertainment, but from tastemakers in fashion and sports.
Balanced Black Girl
Between elections, pandemics and just trying to live our lives, everybody needs a little balance for that daily yin and yang. Hosted by Les, a personal trainer and fitness instructor, the weekly podcast is dedicated to approachable health, self-care, personal development, and well-being advice from Black women wellness experts. With over 3 million downloads and counting, “Balanced Black Girl” is a top podcast in Apple Podcast’s Health & Fitness categories, and was named a top Mindfulness pick by Apple Podcasts in 2022.