Peabody-Nominated Podcasts You Should Listen to Right Now

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Women’s reproductive health, gun violence in schools, COVID tracking, banned books, and a major international murder mystery are among the crucial topics that the new batch of Peabody-nominated podcasts address. This year’s Peabody winners will be announced May 9 and celebrated at a ceremony on June 9 in Los Angeles. (Learn more about all of the nominees, across all categories, here.)

‘The Big Dig’

The Big Dig Podcast

Though the word “infrastructure” rarely excites everyday folks, Boston’s ambitious “Big Dig” project did indeed rile the masses in the 1970s with its audacious plans to bury a major highway and then link it to a tunnel connecting the city’s harbor to its airport. Cost overruns, massive delays, and a fatal accident earned the plan a reputation as a notorious boondoggle. But this nine-episode podcast examines the Big Dig’s failures as well as the surprisingly positive results of the completed project, resulting in a refreshingly non-cynical look at the way civic projects get done—and result in real improvements for real citizens.

Where to Listen: WGBH

‘Borrowed and Banned’

Borrowed and Banned Podcast

This timely spinoff of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Borrowed podcast reports from the frontlines of American right-wingers’ growing assault on books, interviewing students whose reading options are being curtailed; teachers and librarians who are risking their jobs to champion freedom of thought; and authors whose works are caught in the crossfire. The seven episodes introduce listeners to an Oklahoma teacher who was fired for sharing access to BPL’s digital collection with her students; detail the history of obscenity laws and how they’re affecting current battles; document an ultraconservative takeover of a Texas school board; and more.

Where to Listen: Brooklyn Public Library

‘How the Far Right Is Making Voter Fraud Easier’

How the Far Right is Making Voter Fraud Easier Podcast

An NPR investigation illuminates how a far right movement has actively undermined ERIC, a system designed to help states catch voter fraud, even though the Republican party has claimed to be working to stop ballot-box improprieties. In this 38-minute segment, Voting Correspondent Miles Parks deconstructs the conspiracy theories, secret meetings, and grassroots activists that have sprung up around a system that had once been cheered by both political parties.

Where to Listen: NPR

‘The COVID Tracking Project’

The COVID Tracking Project Podcast

The COVID Tracking Project chronicles the U.S. government’s botched response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a major volunteer effort that rose up to fill the vacuum, collecting data about test results, hospitalizations, and deaths across the country to form a clearer picture of the disease’s spread. Four years later, we can learn valuable lessons about why Americans made up 16 percent of worldwide COVID deaths, even though they make up only 4 percent of the world’s population. The Tracking Project’s data, as explained in this three-part series, can help us to better prepare for the next global pandemic.

Where to Listen: Reveal

‘The Empty Grave of Comrade Bishop’

The Empty Grave of Comrade Bishop Podcast

This seven-part investigative series hunts down answers to a 40-year-old mystery: What happened to the body of Grenada’s Prime Minister Maurice Bishop after he was executed in a coup? Washington Post journalist Marine Powers reviews how Bishop’s Marxist revolution failed, delves into the mystery behind his death, and reveals the part the United States played in it all. The Empty Grave of Comrade Bishop is a true crime saga with international and historic implications.

Where to Listen: The Washington Post

‘Post Reports’: Surviving to Graduation

The Washington Post spent a year inside a Richmond, Virginia, high school that had dealt with several shootings and deaths, aiming to witness administrators’ efforts to combat future campus gun violence. But on the team’s very first visit, a student was shot and killed, giving the reporters an unexpected firsthand look at a shooting and its aftermath; and as the three-part series reached its conclusion at graduation, yet more gunfire ended in more tragedy. In vivid and real-time detail, the Post chronicles what has become a catastrophic new normal for U.S. schools.

Where to Listen: The Washington Post

‘Prison Town’

Prison Town Podcast

Three murders in South Georgia trace back to one local prison, and the story of how it all fits together reveals larger systemic issues in the state carceral system. Reporters Evey Wilson Wetherbee and Jessica Szilagyi illuminate the problems plaguing the Georgia Department of Corrections and how they’ve manifested at Smith State Prison, as well as the effects a prison can have on the surrounding community. Hitmen for hire, prison riots, millions of dollars in contraband, and a corrupt warden all play a part.

Where to Listen:

‘The Retrievals’

The Retrievals Podcast

Serial Productions’ five-episode series The Retrievals tells the terrifying tale of what happened to dozens of women who sought fertility treatment at a Yale clinic, only to find themselves not properly anesthetized for an invasive procedure that’s a crucial part of the process. Host Susan Burton details not only the unnecessary (and torturous) pain these women experienced, but also the ways their complaints were dismissed—and explains the real culprit behind the problem. This appalling scandal points to larger issues in women’s healthcare in a post-Roe America.

Where to Listen: The New York Times

‘The Uncertain Hour’: Season 6 (The Welfare-to-Work Industrial Complex)

'The Uncertain Hour': Season 6 (The Welfare-to-Work Industrial Complex) Podcast

The Uncertain Hour takes an in-depth look at work requirements imposed on welfare recipients—and, more imperatively, the corporations whose business models are built on keeping these recipients trapped in a cycle of dependence. This close examination of the “welfare-to-work industrial complex” asks whether these requirements actually help lift people out of poverty, where the idea of work requirements originated, and how a system of profit developed around them. The answers are critical as efforts ramp up to require even more work as part of government assistance programs.

Where to Listen: Marketplace

‘Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children’

'Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children' Podcast

Host Josie Duffy Rice digs into the history of the state-run reform school known as the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children, a euphemistic name for a place escapees and former students described in the mid-20th century as little more than a slave camp full of violence, derelict conditions, and intense labor. Unreformed demonstrates how thousands of Black children who passed through the institution were haunted by the experience for the rest of their lives, often suffering dire consequences.

Where to Listen: Apple Podcasts

‘You Didn’t See Nothin’

'You Didn't See Nothin' Podcast

You Didn’t See Nothin re-examines a 1997 hate crime on the South Side of Chicago from the perspective of Yohance Lacour, a formerly incarcerated journalist who found himself at first radicalized by the incident, then hopelessly disillusioned by the local response. The seven episodes tell the story of a Black boy’s savage beating by a group of white teens, how it inspired Lacour’s interest in investigative journalism, how its public narrative morphed into a (false) tale of racial reconciliation, and what the truth looks like 25 years later. Part memoir and part investigation, it uses one incident to explore difficult truths about race and justice in modern America.

Where to Listen: Invisible Institute

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Next time on Peabody Finds:
The Wild Civic Imagination of ‘Jury Duty’