Jeff Schectman, Best podcasts 200 part 12
WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman. Photo credit: Jeff Schechtman

In a world of 280-character sound bites, talk radio misinformation, cable television shouting, and political violence, podcasts have become the go-to place for civilized conversation.

The explosion of podcasts no doubt reflects their unique ability to convey information in an intimate and uncluttered fashion. 

From the many podcasts WhoWhatWhy published in 2021, we have selected 10 for our annual “Best of” list, which we believe represents a kind of overview audio diary — capturing what we lived through, felt, and thought during the past 12 months. 

Here are the first five; we will add five more next Friday. Of course, you can always find YOUR favorites by going directly to our podcast page

caskets, Afghanistan, troops, deaths

Photo credit: See complete attribution below.

The Direct Line From 9/11 to January 6

In a conversation with Spencer Ackerman, we examine the elements that tie together a year that began with the insurrection of January 6 and marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11. 

Bill Gates, Scotland, 2018

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon welcomes Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to hear about work being carried out by NHS Scotland staff as part of our commitment to global health on January 26, 2018. Photo credit: First Minister of Scotland / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Bill Gates Has Always Shown Us Who He Is

Bill Gates was once considered the “good billionaire.” Today, his personal life and his carefully crafted reputation as a public-minded philanthropist are eroding before our eyes. A conversation with investigative journalist Tim Schwab.

Mazie Hirono, AAPI, hate crimes

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in the US Capitol on November 13, 2019. Photo credit: © Michael Brochstein/ZUMA Wire

A Conversation with Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono

Fresh off engineering almost unanimous Senate support for her COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill, the junior senator from Hawaii, Mazie Hirono, joins the WhoWhatWhy podcast.

Gaza Strip, Israeli airstrikes

Palestinians inspect the damage of their homes and shops following Israeli airstrikes on Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, on May 20, 2021. Photo credit: © Ashraf Amra/APA Images via ZUMA Wire

A Palestinian-American Struggles for Peace in Our Time

It is the exceptional individual who, having seen and experienced the worst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can hope for any kind of future. Yousef Bashir may be unique in maintaining that hope.

George Packer Explains It All

How do we see each other? Has the SARS-CoV-2 virus made us more fearful of our neighbors? Are we hopelessly and forever divided into clashing tribes? Why didn’t a worldwide pandemic — a literal threat to every human being — bring us together? Packer explains how the nation today is like a patient in the high-risk category — and how the SARS-CoV-2 virus could yet finish us off.

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