Favorite Podcasts: Presidential

5 Jun

clevelandI listen to a lot of podcast. And by a lot, I’m talking over three dozen. I just counted up the podcasts in my Overcast app and the number is 56. So actually, it’s more like over four dozen. I derive a lot of enjoyment listening to my various podcast so I decided to start a series in which I describe why I like certain podcasts. And, with this being Sunday, I thought I would begin with the Presidential podcast from the Washington Post.

The brainchild of Lillian Cunningham, a the Leadership editor at the Washington Post, the Presidential podcast looks at each one of our 43 (not a typo) presidents. Starting back in January, each episode features a single president that focuses on his life, his administration, and how he got elected to the office, or, in some cases, how he ascended to the office. The timing is such that the last episode, the Barack Obama episode, will be published on November 6, right before our 2016 election day.

I was a tad late when I discover the podcast coming in as I did at number four (Madison, or number five (Monroe) so I was able to binge listen and catch up. What makes these episodes fantastic, especially from a historian’s point of view like myself, is her “sources.” Not only does she get renowned historians like David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham but she has the ability to go to the Librarian of Congress and examine actual letters and documents from our presidents. That is spectacular.

In the George Washington episode, Lillian had asked a question that, at first, I laughed at: “What would it have been like to go on a blind date with George Washington?” At first blush, I was thinking how the world could that be relevant, but as the weeks have gone on, and the same question has been asked of a guest in every episode, the true nature of a question like this becomes apparent. You see, with a question like that, you’re always talking about a younger man, not necessarily the older man who became president. This kind of question actually gives a great glimpse into what makes up the character of each of our presidents.

Along the way, she has developed a reading list which is also available at the main website.

The presidential podcast has become essential listening for me. There’ve been a couple of times when the episodes, which always are published on Sundays, came late in the day. But no matter when the episode is made available, I listen to it almost immediately.

To paraphrase the slogan from “Meet the Press,” if it’s Sunday, it’s the Presidential podcast.

Today is Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president. I’m about to listen to the episode so I’ll find out how she’s going to cover him, whether two episodes or just one. I’m hoping two because I want more of this podcast.

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