News Editor recommends political podcasts for every level of listener

Photo courtesy of npr.org

By Katherine Coble || News Editor

With the Iowa caucuses (slowly and painfully) coming to a close and the New Hampshire primary on the horizon, the 2020 election season is in full blast. Whether you consider yourself fully-versed on political issues, have a specific candidate you’re cheering on, or have absolutely no idea what’s going on in the political universe, you may be wondering: how can I keep up with the madness of this election cycle? 

Podcasts are a great way to start. Instead of listening to 2000s pop-punk throwbacks on your way to that 8:00 am lecture, try pulling up a podcast app and catching up on the news. You can play podcasts while cooking or during that awkward three minute period before class begins. You can listen to podcasts while trekking over to the ASFC or, if you’re really hardcore, you can even listen to the soothing voices of public radio while regretting your life decisions on the elliptical. 

However, much like our 2020 election cycle, the world of podcasts can feel pretty overwhelming to a newbie. Here are four podcasts to get you started. 

Up First from NPR

This podcast is like a butter cookie: classic, quick, and always satisfying. It’s the best for true ‘beginners’ to news consumption. “Up First” runs only ten to fifteen minutes every day and shares three or four stories from both the United States and the world. Up First manages a broad scope within a small size. Environmental issues? Election drama? International affairs? Up First has you covered, every single day.

NPR Politics Podcast

If you’re generally fluent in the news (a.k.a., an avid Up First listener), the NPR Politics Podcast is a great way to expand your knowledge. If we’re sticking with the dessert metaphor, it’s a chocolate chip cookie. This election season they’re uploading daily fifteen-minute episodes plus a longer “weekly roundup” of the most important political news. Although the daily episodes are great for campaign junkies, the weekly roundup has always been – and continues to be – its strong suit. Listen every Thursday to figure out which political stories made headlines for a day and which will have lasting consequences. 

The Daily from the New York Times

So you keep up with news from headlines, or maybe you listen to those short daily podcasts mentioned above. But if you ever find yourself craving more, “The Daily” is great for you. It’s like the brownie of political podcasts – rich in context but still easy to understand. Hosted by one of the strongest interviewers in the country (who also has one of the most rhythmic voices in the game), Michael Barbaro delivers every weekday. Each thirty-minute episode focuses on a single story of the day and uses all of the New York Times’ resources to deliver fantastic guests like top reporters or members of the administration. If you want to know the story behind the headline, “The Daily” will hit the spot.

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast

This the cream of the crop – the creme brulee of podcasts, if you will. The brainchild of famous pollster Nate Silver and his team of ABC-affiliated reporters, FiveThirtyEight is best for political enthusiasts who are looking for a data-driven, deep dive into the stories of the day. Their refreshing focus on concrete numbers rather than emotional anecdotes is truly essential to a well-rounded perspective on the 2020 campaign. If you already know the stories of the day and want a complex analysis of their long-term importance, I cannot recommend FiveThirtyEight enough. This is a creme brulee with a cherry on top.

Senior Katherine Coble is the News Editor. Her email is kcoble@fandm.edu.

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