Stitcher has a plethora of podcasts worth listening to. Each week, we’re giving you new episode recommendations from some of our top shows to help keep you up to speed and ease the pain of the pod discovery process.
Seizing Freedom — “A Powerful Black Hand”
Hosted by historian, author, and professor Dr. Kidada E. Williams, the show reminds listeners that it wasn’t only Abraham Lincoln and Congress who freed the slaves, but many forgotten African Americans who fought for their own freedom and helped reconstruct the nation.
In the first full-length narrative episode of the season, Dr. Williams tells listeners that she will be providing firsthand accounts, diary entries, letters, speeches, from various African Americans from that time, not rewritten snippets or poorly translated interviews.
The first episode tells the stories of various Black Americans during the war, like Harry Jarvis, who was enslaved on Virginia’s eastern shore in 1861 and crossed 35 miles of rough water across the Chesapeake Bay at night to escape. “But Harry knew he would rather drown in the Chesapeake than turn back to the shelter of the forest and risk being re-enslaved,” Dr. Williams tells us. Jarvis wanted to enlist in the army, but was told it, “wasn’t a Black man’s war.” And Susie King Taylor, who at around 15 years old became the first Black army nurse, and who Dr. Williams calls an, “all-around badass.” Taylor could handle a musket, she could hit her targets, take the gun apart, and put it together again.
The episode focuses particularly on enlistment, how Black men and women were initially turned away from joining the fight, but ultimately, “transformed the ranks of the Union Army.” White men didn’t want their help. Lincoln was reluctant to let formerly enslaved men fight. The fear was, “a powerful Black hand,” rising up. Many White Americans thought giving slaves access to military training might, “come with retaliation for the wrongs of slavery.”
If the episode is any indication of the future of the show, listeners can expect to be educated about a highly misinterpreted period of United States history. Take, for instance, the fact that families of Black soldiers who enlisted were not automatically freed just because their fathers, husbands, or brothers joined the army. “Those left behind in slavery were subjected to violent retliation,” our host explains. A passage from a soldier’s widow at the time is read. The widow recalls her husband’s death in the war and explains how her master whipped her as revenge for him fighting.
In addition to this episode, the podcast has released several, “Spotlight” episodes that are highly recommended. Each one highlights stories of individuals like Ambrose Headen, an enslaved carpenter who built Alabama’s oldest private HBCU and Cyntha Nickols, a grandmother who fought for and was blocked from taking custody of her 11-year-old, orphaned, grandson after the war.
The Distraction: A Defector Podcast — “You Can’t Steal All the LaCroix You Want (with Justin Halpern)”
It’s Super Bowl week over at The Distraction. Hosts Drew Magary and David Roth welcome Harley Quinn TV Series co-creator and San Diego Chargers fan, Justin Halpern. Justin begins the show by reminding the hosts that he wouldn’t be surprised if one of his kids burst in the room to ask him for a yogurt during the taping.
Justin opens up about what it’s like in Los Angeles now with Covid cases at a high and how it still feels very L.A. despite the worsening conditions. “I drove past the mall the other day and there was just a line of people waiting to have their cars valeted,” Justin says. “I was like ‘You can’t just take the one precaution and valet the car yourself?’”
The trio discuss the moves that the movie and television industry are making in order to reboot and resume productions. Just breaks down how protective sets are now with different, “zones,” being set up that limit interaction between many crew members. “You can work on and not meet 50% of the people on the production ever.”
The conversation then turns to the Super Bowl, the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday. Who is Justin rooting for? “I hate Boston sports more than I like any teams,” Justin says. “There’s no team I like more than I hate Boston sports.” Despite Tom Brady playing for the Buccaneers and not the New England Patriots anymore, Justin says he knows, “there are people from Boston who get joy from him and that makes me upset.” If it’s not clear, Justin is rooting for the Chiefs. Drew takes a counter position, saying this season proved “Brady is very much insufferable in his own right without any of the Boston baggage attached.” He goes on to say, “I can just hate him for him.”
The latest episode is the perfect listen to prepare yourself for the Super Bowl as the group discusses what foods they’ll be making and who they think will win. Listen to the rest of the episode to hear the guys talk about what would happen if Brady or Patrick Mahomes was spotted breaking Covid protocol, how Gronk can get away with anything, including how to avoid working even after tweeting about it, and a time David spotted, “a sad Tony Shalhoub,” at a craft services table.
Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People — “My Friend Took Their Own Life”
Trigger Warning: This post and episode discusses suicidal feelings. If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a loved one, or just need emotional support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–8255.
“That’s one of the hardest things about life is you don’t know the things you know until you know them.”
On this week’s Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People, host Chris Gethard tackles a heavy story from a caller who admits she’s wanted to tell him this story for two years.
Chris opens the show by saying that even though he’s not a trained mental health professional, he’s learned over the years that, “letting people say things in their own way and letting other people hear them in that fashion can strike a chord and make people feel a little less alone.”
The caller this week is a young woman whose best friend took his own life.
She begins by saying she has had many restless nights with no sleep. She reveals that a week or so prior to the recording was the second anniversary of her best friend’s suicide. They had been friends for over a decade. He dealt with addiction, depression, and alcoholism and told her he didn’t want to live past the age of 25. After he killed himself, she said her friend group fell apart. “He was the glue that kept us all together.”
What makes this episode so impactful is that it pays attention to the trauma faced by those who deal with the aftermath of losing a close friend to suicide.
“I’ve been in that position where all I can feel is just this looming dread of just not wanting to do anything more with your life and the only thing you can think of is how to get out and you can’t really think about what it would do to anybody else,” the caller says. She says her mom was the reason she stayed alive.
The show also explores the importance of not putting up a front to hide away the true emotions you’re feeling, to yourself or the people around you. She says her friend would rather show anger instead of sadness, not wanting to dent any perceptions of masculinity.
Chris admits he never felt, “more free,” then after he admitted to himself and others that he was seeking help and taking medication and not trying to put up a strong front.
It’s a heavy episode that delves into loneliness, choosing sadness over numbness, and ways to resolve blaming yourself for not knowing or not stopping what was never your fault. Like so many episodes of Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People, these kinds of conversations are needed. They not only reveal that nobody is alone in their struggles, but that there are always ways to seek treatment and that there are always people out there ready to help. And yet again Chris shows that if the caller has nobody else to speak with, he’s ready to listen.
— Ian Goldstein