In our new interview series, we’ll be asking asking prominent radiomakers to tell us about their favorite shows and podcasts. First up is Amanda Aronczyk, a reporter for WNYC whose stories have appeared on NPR, the BBC, Marketplace, CBC, Reveal, On the Media, and Studio 360.
While Aronczyk has primarily reported on health and science, her recent work for the excellent third season of WNYC’s The United States of Anxiety has turned toward politics. As a result, Aronczyk tells us, political podcasts have also made for the majority of her listening this year. Here, in her own words, are Aronczyk’s five favorites.
Underdog: Beto vs. Cruz
For the last few weeks I’ve been listening to Underdog, the great mini-series from Texas Monthly and Pineapple Street Media about Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke. I live on the coast, and I’ve been wondering what’s going on in Texas. I’m old enough to remember that the state hasn’t always been so red. And now, with a few large cities and a very young population, as well as an increasing immigrant population, things have the chance of shifting again. But the truth is kind of sad, which is that years of gerrymandering laws have tempered this natural shift. The podcast does a wonderful job of speaking to this, as well as covering Beto’s campaign from the ground.
Trump Inc. is such a good show. My favorite episode is the one on Michael Cohen. The team is out in New York, running around and trying to figure out who this guy really is. Of course, at WNYC we can’t engage with DC politics the way NPR or The Washington Post can. So the fact that Trump Inc. has taken the angle of covering Trump’s financial dealings and made it an open investigation where listeners can write in — I think that’s so clever. I love the episodes where the team hits the streets and tracks down all sorts of previously unknown information. Their work gives such a necessary and local context to these national, front-page stories.
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With The Wilderness, Jon Favreau and his team have opened their rolodex and used it for the ways it should be used, which is Democrats analyzing Democrats. It’s very interesting. They’re doing a critical analysis of a political party, but they’re doing it with crazy access. The final episode of the series, for example, is an interview with President Obama. He gives his thoughts on messaging, saying what works and what doesn’t, and gives his advice on what he thinks the Democratic Party should do moving forward. To me, there are few efforts more fascinating than deconstructing and examining the current state of the Democratic Party.
This might be an obvious choice, but The Daily is just so good. I listen almost every day. I want to highlight their recent episode on Georgia. The depth of the reporting is incredible. They bring on a reporter, Astead Herndon, who has been looking at the state for months, even years. He’s able to give such good context, and because nothing is scripted, he sounds really natural. To me, the crazy thing about The Daily is that I consume the news, then I’ll have questions, and the next morning they’ll put out an episode that answers every single question I have. Without fail, they seem to anticipate what I want to hear more about each morning.
The Brian Lehrer Show
To those of us at WNYC, Brian is a hero. He’s able to make and ensure civil conversation when so many others don’t. It’s his show that I turn to when I’m up late, trying to make sense of the news. In many ways, what he’s doing is very much service journalism. He regularly provides a forum for actual politicians to take calls from the public, and Brian himself will take calls from just about anyone, no matter how bizarre their questions are. My respect for him is enormous.