Jenn White hosted two critically-acclaimed WBEZ podcasts this year, Making Obama and 16 Shots. She’s also the new host of WBEZ’s daily talk show, Morning Shift.
So when she’s not lending her voice to them, what podcasts does Jenn White listen to?
If you’re ready, let’s take a deep breath. Here are Jenn White’s favorite podcasts of 2018.
Season 2 of In The Dark
The first season of In The Dark followed an investigation into a Minnesota cold case from 1989.
In the second season, the team from APM Reports tells the story of Curtis Flowers, a Mississippi man who’s been tried six times for the same crime. He’s won appeal after appeal, but every time the prosecutor tries his case again. And all the while, Flowers has remained in prison, now for more than 20 years.
“It really breaks down some of the problems in the criminal justice system,” White said. “It’s a really fascinating and heartbreaking story. And it doesn’t just look at his case, it looks at the impact the case has had on the town, which already had some challenging racial dynamics, and how people fell on one side or the other, and it really happened largely along racial lines.
“Really good podcast. Highly recommend it.”
Believed is a podcast from Michigan Radio and NPR about the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal involving that organization’s now-imprisoned former team doctor, Larry Nassar.
White said the power of this podcast resides in how its creators broke down a central question: How did Larry Nassar get away with his crimes for so long?
“At the root of that question is the issue that people just didn’t believe these girls,” White said. “They just didn’t believe them. And [Nassar] was really able to use his position as a doctor — as someone who was well-respected — to gaslight these young women, to gaslight their parents, to fool law enforcement. And they just pull back each layer in meticulous detail.”
Episodes of Believed involved real-time reporting from Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells and Lindsey Smith during Nassar’s trial.
“There were a number of survivors who didn’t know they’d been assaulted until the news stories started to come out because they’d been convinced that what he’d been doing to them, sometimes with their parents in the room, was medical treatment,” White added. “It’s just heartbreaking, but also incredibly informative and challenging, I think, in the way it makes us examine why or why we don’t believe girls. Highly recommend.”
LeVar Burton Reads
“This is my pure escapism podcast,” White said.
You probably know LeVar Burton from his role in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The actor also appeared in the 1977 ABC miniseries Roots and the long-running PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow.
But in LeVar Burton Reads, the title says it all. Burton reads short fiction — often science-fiction or speculative fiction — from a variety of authors with some musical scoring underneath.
“The strength of the podcast really stands on his voice and his ability to convey the emotion of the story,” White said. “The stories he seems to be drawn to are the ones that have a strong vein of humanity running through them.”
“I can just lose myself in that podcast,” she added. “It’s probably my favorite thing to listen to when I’m walking the dogs. There’s something really lovely about being outside in the fresh air and listening to him tell me a story. It’s meditative and I just love it.”