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The best podcasts you should listen to this week

By Jaclyn Schiff and Simon Owens

Do you love listening to podcasts but are overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices out there? Have you subscribed to way more podcasts than you could ever listen to and don’t want to miss the best episodes? AudioTeller is a weekly newsletter that tells you the can’t-miss episodes you absolutely need to download. To have this newsletter delivered to your inbox, sign up here.

Welcome! In this week’s issue you’ll learn why Jerry Springer has the best job in the world, hear what happened last time Congress tried to pass comprehensive tax reform, and listen to an interview with the founder of WeWork about how he created the $18 billion company. Stay tuned.

From Jaclyn Schiff, AudioTeller co-editor:

Jerry Springer on why he has the best job in the world [link]

Podcast: The Turnaround —Episode: Jerry Springer

For media lovers, The Turnaround, a new show from podcast wunderkind-cum-juggernaut Jesse Thorn, has an irresistible premise: it’s a longform interview show with prominent interviewers. Early guests have included Ira Glass, Marc Maron, and Brooke Gladstone. This week’s episode is a conversation with Jerry Springer who discusses his early professional life as a lawyer and the evolution of his show, which is in its 26th season. Produced in conjunction with Columbia Journalism Review, Thorn, whom I first started enjoying as an interviewer on his show Bullseye, guides the conversations well, skillfully pushing experienced talkers like Springer to reflect in unique ways on their experience and outlook. This latest conversation from The Turnaround delivers just as the others before it.

From Sriram Gopal, a DC-based writer and musician:

Why Paul Simon continues to grow as a musician [link]

Podcast: Meet The Composer — Episode: Paul Simon’s Curious Mind

Paul Simon is high on the list of great 20th century American songwriters, up there with Gershwin, Dylan, Sondheim, and very few others. While his days of creating hit songs have long since passed, at 75-years old he is still producing quality music and growing as an artist. This episode of Meet The Composer traces Simon’s history and looks at the myriad influences that fueled his artistic growth. Simon has recently been exploring works of modern composers to draw inspiration, so it’s unsurprising that such a restless creative spirit would collaborate with contemporary classical composers on a project. The podcast culminates with clips and interviews from a festival performance he gave with yMusic, an ensemble that includes MTC host, Nadia Sirota. Especially touching are the emotions yMusic’s musicians describe after working with such an iconic artist.

Two progressive activists on why we should remain optimistic in these Trumpian times [link]

Podcast: Politically Re-Active — Episode: Street Heat w/ Congresswoman Barbara Lee & Linda Sarsour

The past several months have been trying times for those of us on the progressive end of the political spectrum. Like-minded folks looking for a boost of enthusiasm need to listen to this latest episode of Politically Re-Active, as hosts W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu interview two outspoken women of color who have histories of unapologetic activism. Barbara Lee is a congresswoman representing the San Francisco area and she discusses her early political work with Shirley Chisholm’s groundbreaking presidential campaign. She goes on to talk about her vote against the authorization of military force after 9/11, as well as the issues that are her current focus. Linda Sarsour earned widespread recognition as co-chair of the National Women’s March, but she also was at the front lines during the fight to end New York’s warrantless surveillance of the city’s Muslims. Sarsour has long been the right wing’s target, which often takes her words out of context to portray her as a radical Muslim, but it’s clear from this interview that she has no intention of backing down.

From Tristan Vick, an accountant from Texas:

What happened the last time America tried to overhaul its tax system [link]

Podcast: Taxology — Episode: The Stars Align: the 1986 Tax Reform

few weeks ago in the White House briefing room, Steven Mnuchin, the United States Treasury Secretary (you know, the guy whose signature is on every piece of money printed), handed out a small piece of paper to reporters detailing the Trump Administration’s tax reform priorities. The paper had a couple of hundred words and about 10 numbers. Secretary Mnuchin went on to say that the administration’s objective was to, “[create] economic growth… and unlock economic growth that’s been held back for too long in this country.”

The last time that comprehensive tax reform occurred was in 1986 under President Ronald Reagan with a Democratic controlled House and Republican controlled Senate. Taxology is a podcast put out by the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan institute that aims to bring together top experts in tax policy, budget policy, and economic modeling to examine tax policy. This episode transports you back to an era of American politics when bipartisanship was something that was expected of lawmakers on issues like tax reform.

The episode details how the reform was kickstarted by President Reagan in an address to Congress that resulted in members of Congress actually laughing at the President when he requested a report on tax reform priorities. It takes you behind the scenes with those who were charged with developing the plan of action for legislation. You don’t need to be a tax accountant to find the episode interesting. It shows you how locking decision makers in a room and demanding solutions can actually turn a seemingly insurmountable goal into actual results and deliverables.

Fundamentally, almost every piece of legislation follows the same process: demands made to Congress, a plan of action and principles to guide legislation developed, legislation written, amendments, and then passage of the law. If you made a hall of fame for legislative cooperation and bipartisanship, then the Tax Reform Act of 1986 would be one of the first inductees.

The perfect podcast for fans of both Game of Thrones and soccer [link]

Podcast: The Total Soccer Show — Episode: Game of Thrones XI

When the Primetime Emmy Award nominations were revealed on Thursday, July 13, one show was noticeable absent: Game of Thrones. Due to the way the show has been delayed this year for the upcoming sixth season, the show will have to be submitted for nomination in 2018. However, this didn’t dampen any of the show’s fans from celebrating the 7th season premiere on Sunday, July 16th.

If you like soccer or Game of Thrones, you’re going to enjoy this episode. If you like soccer and Game of Thrones, you’re going to love this episode. The hosts build the ultimate starting lineup for a soccer team using only characters from the hit HBO show. Each position in soccer requires different skills and traits that fit perfectly with their selections from the show.

This episode creatively combines two seemingly unrelated topics in a fun and enjoyable way. The hosts explain their selections explaining how each character fits the merits of the position they fill. WARNING: Spoilers await anyone who is not caught up through season 6 of Game of Thrones.

From Rachael Zur, a shoe designer in Brooklyn:

How Nixon sabotaged the peace process during the Vietnam War [link]

Podcast: Whistlestop — Episode: Foreign Collusion and the Dragon Lady

Before there was Trump, there was Nixon — a statement made often in relation to the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up. But there is another connection. Let’s go back to three days before the presidential election in 1968: President Johnson’s effort to persuade the South and North Vietnamese to stop fighting has been foiled.

Reason 1.) Democrat and VP Hubert Humphrey tells the voters that he would leave Vietnam as soon as he was elected. This makes the South Vietnamese very nervous: without the backing of the US, the South Vietnamese would be without an ally and would lose the war.

Reason 2.) and most interestingly, then candidate Nixon, has promised the South Vietnamese that not being receptive to Johnson’s peace plan would help Nixon win the election and that he, and only he, would help the South Vietnamese win the war.

How did Nixon wrangle this political understanding with South Vietnamese President Thieu? He set up a backchannel. Enter Anna Chennault, aka Dragon Lady, widow of Commander Chennault and chairwoman of the Republican women for Nixon. She communicated between South Vietnamese Ambassador Diem and Nixon’s man and future Attorney General, John Mitchell. President Johnson was aware of the less-than-appropriate channels between Nixon and Chennault through wiretapping of South Vietnam, a US ally. The day before the election, the Christian Science Monitor was ready to report that President Thieu withdrew from the Paris Peace Talks because of political promises from the Nixon camp, but the story never saw the light of day. The White House’s position was to request this story stay buried; it had weighed the political effects it would have on the outcome of the election, and the knowledge Nixon was in fact colluding with the South Vietnamese was obtained through spying. Some within the WH even went so far as to be concerned with how this information would tarnish Nixon’s ability to lead should he win. Nixon went on to keep the US at war in Vietnam for another 4 + years, losing 22,000 more American lives during his tenure. Three years into Nixon’s presidency, the release of the Pentagon Papers spurred Nixon’s dread that the Chennault backchannel would be uncovered, prompting him to set up the plumbers… and the rest is history. Compelling story concisely told, this podcast is a fantastic listen with Johnson audio to boot.

From Simon Owens, AudioTeller co-editor:

How a coworking space worth $18 billion was invented [link]

Podcast: How I Built This — Episode: WeWork: Miguel McKelvey

If you live in a major city, then you probably not only have multiple WeWorks nearby, but there are also likely several WeWork clones competing to get you renting from their coworking facilities. Today, coworking spaces are the norm, but in 2008, in the wake of the real estate collapse, this type of business was unheard of outside of the tech scene.

Nevertheless, WeWork founders Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann managed to convince building owners with unrented floors to lease out that space so the two could build full-service, sleekly-designed offices where entrepreneurs and freelancers from all stripes could come together and work. In this episode of How I Built This, McKelvey details how they managed to wire an entire building for broadband with no IT experience and why something as simple as free, high-quality coffee can serve as a major selling point for would-be renters.

Thanks for reading (and hopefully listening to our recommendations). Think we missed a great episode? Email us at Want to have this list delivered to your inbox every week? Go here.

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