Listen To Each Other: Podcasts Can Build Empathy

We need to listen and amplify each other’s voices in order to improve as a society. Podcasts can help.

two people listening together
  • The world is changing. We need education and to build empathy to cope with it. There are podcasts can help you with this.
  • The TED Radio Hour shares inspiring conversations about race, culture, and comfort zones.
  • Bello Collective provides lists of podcasts for kids, and for adults on varying aspects of race.
  • Anne Baird's Podchaser list of fiction podcasts has something for everyone.
  • Comedy and yoga podcasts are healing as well as informative.
  • We need to listen and amplify each other's voices in order to improve as a society. Sharing stories through podcasts can help bridge the gap.

We're living in interesting times, to say the least. You probably see big changes happening in your community, and around the world, and think, “why is this happening,” or, “How can I be a better ally to people who need help?”

It's not the job of people of color, the LGBTQ community, or anyone (other than a teacher), to educate you on the diversity of human experience. Promoting a cause without understanding it turns into performative activism. I'm not going to tell you what you “should” do. You can decide for yourself what's right. However, knowledge is power, and podcasts are one of the most effective ways to share human experience and educate yourself. Listening to podcasts not only makes you feel excited, it increases empathy and enhances understanding. We could all use more of that right now.

TED Radio Hour and Discomfort

These conversations are uncomfortable, but very necessary. For every person who feels that talking about race is uncomfortable, there are millions of people who feel exhausted from carrying that weight their whole lives. However, there are some particular podcasts which can help you navigate this unease. The TED Radio Hour is a gem in NPR's crown. The episode you should strongly consider, is “Can Creating Discomfort In Others Help Change The Status Quo?” by Luvvie Ajayi. Her bright wit is contagious. She shows how becoming comfortable with discomfort helps us make change for the better. Most recently, they published an episode where scholar and poet Clint Smith talks about what's happening in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Bello Collective's Guidance

Bello Collective has a long history of promoting not only excellence in audio, but also podcasts by and for people of color and other marginalized voices. Recently, they've published two articles showcasing podcasts to help with conversations about race.

If you have kids in your life, 8 Podcasts That Help You Talk To Kids About Race is a good resource. For adults, 24 Podcasts That Confront Racism In America breaks down a comprehensive list by topic, and each entry shows you a good starting episode.

Anne Baird's Fiction

Storytelling podcasts excite and stimulate us more than any other kind of podcast. Anne Baird produces and promotes audio fiction with Hug House Productions and Radio Drama Revival. She's curated a long, healthy list of Fiction Podcasts Created By People of Color. There is something for everyone, here: science fiction, modern witches, romantic comedy, horror, family-friendly fairy tales, and more. Any and all of these will help you build empathy through metaphor.

listeners talking about their favourite podcasts

Comedy is Truth

2 Dope Queens is a firework among podcasts. It started as a comedy podcast from WNYC, with Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson. The show took off like a rocket in popularity. HBO produced it for television for two short seasons. Williams and Robinson ended the show in January 2019, but you can still listen to these hugely funny women. Phoebe Robinson now has her own entertainment interview podcast from WNYC, Sooo Many White Guys.

Yo, Is This Racist? is a discussion show, where Andrew Ti and Tawny Newsome discuss listeners' questions. Often satirical, always truthful, this show doesn't give away easy answers. The questions it raises are worth consideration. Plus, it's really funny.

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Wellness Is For Everyone

The Yoga Girl community podcast handed the microphone over to three of the guides on the Yogagirl.com platform, and asked them to share their experiences, fears and hopes for the world. The Black Lives Matter episode isn't performative allyship. It's an honest sharing of lived experience and what it will take to improve society.

Listen and Amplify

Screen fatigue is real. The cycles of news and social media can feel laborious. Big social changes toward equality are hard work. Now is a good time for us to listen to each other's voices and stories, take them to heart, and share them with friends. We can build empathy and understand each other better.

If you want your voice and experience to affect others, podcasting is a good way to do it. Our guide to How To Start A Podcast will walk you through every single step. That's a great place to get started, and it's packed full of links to deeper-dive articles on each individual topic, too!