PodBlog #5 - 2020 PodYear in Review and short (but hopeful) look ahead to 2021
Updated: Jan 8, 2021
Podcasts became an essential lifeline for so many folks during 2020. Whether learning about the science on Covid, way before other outlets reported the hard truths, from Donald G. McNeil on The Daily in March; or about why white people finally spoke up about racism during the BLM protests last summer from Shareen and Gene of Code Switch; or the super duper relatable and relaxing manner of learning that Chuck and Josh of SYSK gives us, knowledge through Podcast listening was a grounding and empowering force in a year that felt so completely terrifying and unsure for all of us. Thank you to ALL of the creators out there in PodLand for helping us get through 2020. Here are some of our favorite shows and episodes from the past year...
Code Switch - As previously mentioned and as so many reviewers, listeners, celebrities and voters have identified, there's not a more important Podcast for what America faced up to this year. Like I said last week, the events of 2020 provide a chance for us to evolve and Code Switch will propel and promote that evolution if we allow the show to.
HumaNature - "Where humans and our habitat meet" is as great of an encapsulation of what this Pod is and what nature has meant for people during Covid. The show was a grounding source for folks stuck inside for many weeks, and then an inspiration to return to nature during our most socially distanced times in 2020.
Imaginary Worlds - In addition to knowledge, history and awareness of current events last year, we also very much needed an escape to, believe it or not, less complicated worlds like the Star Wars universe or anti-dystopian worlds birthed by Solarpunk imaginings.
The Longest Shortest Time - Babies were born during this wild year, my own daughter was one! And many were conceived during lockdown and social unrest. 2020 babies were born into a world mostly unrecognizable compared to the world I grew up in. It's not the life that new parents envisioned for their own children. But the vision for 2021 is a hopeful one! These kids are that hope, they are the evolved future citizens that have learned from the crisis of 2020 and the preceding decades of humanity's mistakes. They'll be the best version of humanity, so long as we allow ourselves to learn the lessons that 2020 has taught us. So, although Hillary Frank's TLST wrapped before 2020 came a knocking, this show that is stories about raising children felt SO essential to normalize raising them during these unprecedented times. Parents are always running on no sleep and rocking puke stained shirts when child rearing, no matter what is going on in the outside world. I personally needed this show and I know other new parents that did too. The Longest Shortest Time is about the longest days that become the shortest months and years of a person's life. For me, the show is a reminder that all things must pass and that we absolutely MUST have reverence and gratitude for every blessing of a day that we get to spend with one another, especially when times feel tough. Life goes by so damn fast, the most joyous times go the quickest, so to cherish the passing time is to live our best lives. Time will speed up again once we're all the way through this covid looking glass, I hope we can be more grateful than ever on the other side.
Episodes of the Year
There were so many great Podcast episodes that guided PodLand listeners through 2020. There were also so many tough listens, but that's because they made us aware of the "fierce urgency of now" (MLK). Here are our favorites, in no particular order:
Hidden Djinn, "We are not Alone" - The first episode of this amazing new show from Rabia Chaudry delves into the incredible mysticism, lore and true stories about the supernatural beings, called Djinn, that have lived amongst humans for time eternal. Stories of these beings first appeared in Islamic traditions but can now be seen all over western pop culture. This episode opened me up to another universe, which was such a welcomed trip outside of dystopian 2020. (Released on 9/1/2020)
Revisionist History, "The Bomber Mafia; May the Best Firebomb Win; Bombs-Away LeMay; Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" - I cheated by using a 4-part series, but Malcolm Gladwell's reassessment of historical events surrounding US Air Force General Curtis LeMay and the dark invention and use of napalm during WWII was essential listening in 2020 for a few reasons: because this mini-series is absolutely fascinating (as is all of Gladwell's content) while being very grim, and it felt incredibly important to learn about during such a divisive and violent time in world history. If the goal is to evolve, then we need to understand the history of past conflict in order to live more harmoniously in the future. (Season 5; Episodes 4-7. Released beginning 7/9/2020)
Radio Diaries, "Love at First Quarantine" - Part of another mini-series, but we picked just this one of Joe Richmond's "Hunker Down Diaries." Stories of unprecedented events are commonplace for 2020, but a story about true love in the time of covid just enveloped me with unique warmth upon my first listen to this episode. Love stories are eternal, check this one out! (Released 5/15/2020)
RadioLab, "Lebanon, USA" - This episode was an instant classic, even for RadioLab, which is one of the 3 to 5 most prolific and preeminent Podcasts in history. The American road trip and a story of finding common ground, decency, respect, care and love for your fellow world citizen, no matter which Lebanon you're from! (Released 8/20/2020 and produced in collaboration with the Kerning Cultures podcast)
Coming in 2021
As Podboard continues to evolve in 2021, we will undoubtedly continue to hit bumps in the road and attempt to learn from our mistakes and adjust as quickly as possible. One major goal for the site is to have much more consistency with our PodBlog posts (I know. I’ve been saying it for weeks), and publish them on Sundays. We will maintain our 3rd day of every month publishing date for the newest Podboard. You folks determine the definitive list of the top-100 shows in Podcasting by casting your PodBallots each month, so remember to vote at least once a month!
Part of casting those Podballots each month is being a contributor to our Crowdsourced Podcast Database. Rather, THE Crowdsourced Podcast Database! I truly believe that Podboard can continue to be a resource for listeners and creators, and that we can build this thing together in an organic sort of way. It’s easy to scroll through the recommendations made by algorithms on the major hosting platforms, but by finding new shows and voting for your favorites here at Podboard, you are celebrating the Podcasting industry and the creators behind the shows you love.
This is quadruply true for independent shows! We have been so lucky to be building relationships with new indie shows that have smaller listenerships, and we hope to continue to build our site alongside the listenerships of these independent shows. Please, please, please reach out to us if you are launching a Podcast or if you’re having trouble attracting new listeners! We want to prop you up and help you to attract new fans! Nothing helps Podboard more than the symbiotic relationship that we have with Podcast producers.
Podboard is the definitive monthly countdown of the 100-best shows in Podcasting, as defined by the people that listen to Podcasts. We are a Crowdsourced Podcast Database. Thanks to your votes and thanks to the creators that give us this wonderful medium of art, info, entertainment and much more. I hope for so much human evolution and awareness in 2021 (see PodBlog #4 www.podboard.org/post/podblog-4-christmas-day-2020). However, today is just about moving this site and the PodLand community into 2021 with the hope for awesome new Podcasts and continued success for the Pods that we love already! Why do we love this medium? Because Everything I Know I Learned from Podcasts. Happy 2021!!!
***A quick note about the events of January 6th 2021***
When my phone started buzzing yesterday afternoon like everyone else's in America, I was writing the blurb on The Longest Shortest Time podcast and feeling so very hopeful. By the time I returned to work a few hours later, I was nearly overcome with the fear and anxiety that only a parent can understand: the fear that my daughter was born into a wholly unsafe world, and that there's nothing I can do to protect her from it. But the hope for a consciousness evolution resulting from the tumult of 2020 brought me in from the cold darkness that the world witnessed yesterday in Washington D.C. We must continue to look for shafts of light to break through the darkness. Hope for a better future; hope for your kid's future will accomplish this. Because on days like 9/11 or Pearl Harbor or 1/6/2021, we have hope to deliver us from the cold. We have hope to gather around like a warm fire in the winter. It's cheesy sounding, but it's true.
Podboard openly and fervently condemns the violent and armed insurrection that occurred in America yesterday. But to maintain the hope that has permeated the last two PodBlogs, and the hope that must also permeate our collective human consciousness in 2021 and beyond, I am choosing to forgive the people that attempted a coup on America. Those folks have been lied to. They've been tricked. Humanity and history will never forgive the vile trickster that incited yesterday's mayhem with deception, fear and hate-mongering. Until this scourge is gone (and it will pass - all things must), we just gotta keep having hope.
1/8/2021 UPDATE - BLACK LIVES MATTER. #BLM
While I stand by the words that I wrote about the events of 1/6/21 above, and I stand firmly by the theoretic desire to practice universal forgiveness (because the most powerful agents of change is love and forgiveness), I can't in any way forgive the hatred of white supremacy nor any other hate ideologies. Hate is not welcome here, nor is it welcome anywhere in a hopeful future for humanity.
Alongside insidious hate ideologies, I also must acknowledge the role that white privilege played in the 1/6/21 insurrection. Had those rioters been black or Muslim, or any non-white group they would have been massacred. It's a dark reminder that systemic racism is ubiquitous in America.
Let's keep the hope, practice forgiveness, and practice love to deliver us from this divisive time. We'll be better on the other side.