Sometimes, you want to get your extemp information without having to pore over news articles and think tank reports. That’s where podcasts enter into play: you can stay up-to-date with the latest events and relax a bit! Keep reading to discover some enjoyable podcast sources. This article was written by Ananth Veluvali.
Before getting into this article, I’d like to apologize for the inactivity on this site over the past week and a half. Most of the staff writers on the Extemper’s Bible are busy with AP tests or college finals. However, we hope to post more actively after this stretch is over; that means continuing with our weekly questions and at least one other article per week. Stay tuned for some exciting summer updates!
These are podcasts that post every weekday (and some every single day).
The Daily: Between the soothing voice of Michael Barbaro (the podcast’s host) and digestible insights, it’s easy to see why The Daily attracts millions of listeners. This is a great podcast that draws on intriguing journalism from the New York Times, and each episode features experts with fascinating analysis. With twenty minute episodes, you can effortlessly incorporate this into your daily routine; speaking personally, I listen to the show as I eat breakfast.
Today, Explained: Another goodie. Hosted by Sean Rameswaram from Vox, this podcast, unlike most other daily podcasts, centers around one big topic per day: sexual assault in the military, the push to remove Liz Cheney within the GOP, India’s rising COVID-19 cases, etc. Most of the episodes are centered around US topics, which may deter some IXers from listening, but I highly recommend that every extemper gives this show a try.
Up First: If you cut down The Daily’s length in half and removed some of its in-depth discussions, you’d get Up First. Hosted by NPR, this show delivers lots of news in little time. A great listen if you’re busy, but still want to catch up with the most important events of the day.
Global News Podcast: The BBC’s never been known for its creative titles, and the Global News Podcast is no exception. Nonetheless, with two episodes delivered per day on the BBC’s top stories, paired with in-depth discussions and profound insights from the podcast’s guests, this show is a pleasant surprise. Unlike Today, Explained, the Global News Podcast skews toward international news; again, though, don’t let this dissuade you from tuning in to a great listen!
These are podcasts that post less frequently. They could update their podcast several times a week, once a week, or several times a month. These podcasts’ episodes are typically longer than daily podcasts.
Pod Save America: This is one of the most popular political podcasts in the world, and it’s easy to see why. Hosted by alumni of the Obama Administration, each episode is accompanied by comprehensive, deep dives into US political subjects, and each episode has stellar guests: I’m talking US senators, leading grassroots activists, etc. However, because of the hosts’ political affiliations, their analysis skews leftward. If you enjoy the show, consider also listening to Pod Save the World, Lovett or Leave It, and Pod Save the People. They’re all hosted by the same media organization.
The Ezra Klein Show: Out of all of the podcasts listed on the article, this show offers the best guests because each episode centers around them, rather than the host. Ezra Klein—who you may know as the co-founder of Vox—does a great job steering the conversation in interesting directions. Not all episodes are directly applicable to extemp, but I find even those episodes interesting.
Left, Right & Center: Have you ever wondered how the other side views a certain political subject? Well worry no longer! This was a hidden gem for me. Hosted every Friday, the host (the “Center”) discusses the week’s biggest events and gets perspective from the right and left’s leading thinkers. Topics range from Biden infrastructure plan to US foreign policy. It’s worth noting that the podcast is exclusively focused on US affairs.
Foreign Policy Playlist: Foreign Policy is an excellent magazine that is a must-read for any international extemper. When I found out they also had a podcast, I was—to say the least—ecstatic. When I heard how they were structuring the podcast, I was even more excited. Updated every week, national security and intelligence reporter Amy McKinnon recommends one podcast from around the world (which provides a unique, regional perspective) and occasionally offers her own insights. Truly a cool listen!
While you shouldn’t grow over-reliant on podcasts as a source to draw on during your extemp speeches, they can help frame important social, political, and economic issues, elevating your understanding of important subjects. There are lots of other excellent podcasts I wish I could’ve included in this article. As such, I hope to follow this up with another, similar article covering even more podcasts! Enjoy listening to these, and please check out our own podcast: the Extemper’s Bible. Happy listening!