What is the Planet Money of Current Affairs? And History?
November 25, 2017 2:56 PM   Subscribe

What is the Planet Money of Current Affairs? The podcast 'Planet Money' feels like it's aimed at intelligent people, who just so happen to have no economics background: there's plenty of explanation from first principles, explanation of consequences, etc. There's also a fair amount of personality to the tone of the podcast, as opposed to purely dry and factual. Is there anything similar for Current Affairs? And for the history that would help us understand current affairs? A podcast would be nice, but if there's another way, that would be good too. Thank you.
posted by surenoproblem to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Current affairs is such a broad topic that they typically don't just have a specific narrative monologue interspersed with expert guests, but rely additionally on panel interviews. The show closest to what your looking for is probably 1A, but if you have some narrower areas of interest I could recommend some podcasts closer to that format. (Some gimlet pods, for example, are run by Planet Money alum)
posted by mikek at 3:16 PM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

"What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law" is a Radiotopia podcast hosted by "99% Invisible" host Roman Mars, and his neighbor Elizabeth Joh, a Constitutional Law professor. She uses Trump's current tweets as a jumping-off point to talk about constitutional law and legal precedent relating to civil rights and presidential power. It's fascinating and historical.

Radiolab's spinoff series "More Perfect" is along the same lines, but focuses on the Supreme Court, the history it makes and the stories around it. It's much more historical than current, but it's evident that the stories they tell are curated for an audience which is aware of current affairs.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:24 PM on November 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

Pod Save America?
posted by bleep at 3:27 PM on November 25, 2017

The Weeds?
posted by primethyme at 3:33 PM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

And for the history that would help us understand current affairs?

That is the exact premise of Back Story, which is very good at it (American history only, unfortunately)
posted by General Malaise at 3:37 PM on November 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

Backstory, as general malaise above recommended, is exactly what you want, although it is hosted by experts in their field. It is most definitely aimed at the layperson, though. The basic premise of the show is that they take topics that are of current interest and examine their historical roots from previous centuries.
posted by skewed at 4:14 PM on November 25, 2017

I love On the Media for analysis that also addresses framing problems in coverage.
posted by quince at 5:10 PM on November 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

Seconding Weeds and Trump Con Law. (I subscribe to Trump Con Law. I used to subscribe to Weeds but unsubscribed for idiosyncratic reasons, namely that my voice sounds weirdly similar to Matt Yglesias’ and it was freaking me out.)
posted by madcaptenor at 5:30 PM on November 25, 2017

History - In Our Time (BBC Radio 4, available as podcast)
posted by chiquitita at 5:33 PM on November 25, 2017

Pantsuit Politics is a favorite of mine. Specifically, their primers may be of interest to you. While the regular podcast covers the political news of the week (from a bipartisan standpoint), they do a deep dive into the historical context of relevant issues every few weeks or so. The last one gave an overview of the constitution and the appropriations process, but other recent ones have covered things like health care, North Korea, or the welfare system. As someone who paid zero attention in history class, but is very interested in current events, I find these super helpful.
posted by hessie at 7:59 PM on November 25, 2017

posted by 445supermag at 6:34 AM on November 26, 2017

An activist friend recommended The Intercept's podcast to me, which might fit what you're looking for.
posted by JDHarper at 9:41 AM on November 26, 2017

Analysis is a program from BBC Radio 4 that's good for this. It comes from a UK perspective obviously, but there are general interest topics. Just from the last couple of months there are episodes on:

- what it means for politicians to be "authentic"
- what directions the EU might take after Brexit
- how social media outrage is affecting politics for better or worse
- the possible shape of war with North Korea
posted by rollick at 5:01 AM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

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