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Political & News Podcasts I’m Listening To

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Some days, I like to be alone with my thoughts while I work. Some days, I want to know as much as possible of what’s going on in the world. Some days, I want to listen to someone read to me. Some days, it’s some combination of those three.

The longer we practice public health measures for COVID, the more I find myself sliding into the second category: I need to know everything. I like to be well-informed, though there are times I feel like I might be taking it to an extreme, and there are certainly times I’ve found myself with inability to bite down on an opinion because of it.

But, being informed means media consumption.

Full disclosure: something most folks who read anything I write that isn’t fiction or who know me in real life know I wear my politics fairly openly. Those politics are typically left of centre, but I try to consume media from a variety of sources. In practice, that seems to mean that I can’t go too far right of centre to get opposing views before I step off the cliff into partisan propaganda, conspiracy theories, and cynical rage-bait. I don’t usually get more than a half dozen episodes before having to drop a conservative podcast because I can’t swallow the Kool Aid. If anyone has a recommendation to a conservative media source that’s just into factual reporting, I’d appreciate it.

All of that is a big lead in to say there’s probably nothing that most people would consider conservative in the list that follows, but there are two podcasts where at least one member of the podcast team professes to be conservative, so there’s that.

A lot of this is Canadian, which makes sense, because I am, too. And I’ve taken more of an interest in Ontario Provincial politics in the last couple of years, too. As well as wanting that better view of what’s going on in Ontario, I’m trying to get a feel for regional views across the country as well and have found a couple of podcasts from the Prairies, the West Coast, and Québec I like, but I’m still lacking Maritime and Northern coverage. I’d take suggestions there, too, if anyone has any. I have considered some of the CBC morning shows, but morning shows tend to be a weird combination of stuff, a lot of which might give me a regional flavour but not a lot of real information content in the vein I’m looking for.

It’s a sizable list, so don’t look for a lot of detail on each one. And this is the politics and current events list. I listen to a lot of other stuff, too.

The current list, in alphabetical order:

  • #onpoli – Weekdays – Bias = Centre. Ontario Provincial politics.
  • 49th Parahell – Monthly – Bias = Left. “Where we explore the hellish nightmare world of modern reality together.” From a Canadian perspective.
  • Canadaland – Several Per Week – Bias = Left-Centre. Less bound by the niceties of network reporting, critical independent journalism.
  • Canadian Politics is Boring – Weekly – Bias = Centre. Less current and more pointing out some weird stuff in Canadian history to disprove the podcast’s name.
  • At Issue (CBC) – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. The Thursday night political panel from The National.
  • Common Sense – Not very often – Bias = Centre. Part opinion, part modern historian. I wish he would produce episodes on a regular basis.
  • Commons – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. Takes a theme for each “season”. “Radicals” interrupted by “Pandemic”. You know, like everything else.
  • CPAC: Today in Politics – Daily – Bias = Centre. Early in the day, big stories in the process of breaking or changing.
  • Power Play (CTV) – Weekdays – Bias = Centre. Podcast version of the CTV daily politics show.
  • Question Period (CTV) – Weekly – Bias = Centre. Podcast version of the CTV weekly politics show.
  • Follow-Up (Huff Post) – Infrequently – Bias = Left. I think this is on COVID hiatus. No episodes since early March and they were sporadic before that. Host interviews political “insiders” and high profile government officials and MPs.
  • Frontburner (CBC) – Weekdays – Bias = Left-Centre. Depth on one particular story/topic each day.
  • BBC World Service Newshour – Weekdays – Bias = Centre. The daily BBC Global roundup.
  • Party Lines (CBC) – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. Weekly roundup, usually on a specific subject or story group.
  • Political Stripes with Bob Rae – Weekly-ish – Bias = Left-Centre. Former Premier and MP interviews people who might otherwise not be in some depth on current topics.
  • Politicoast – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. BC politics. Well, and Canada and a bit of international.
  • Power & Politics (CBC) – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. Considering the show is still on, it’s a little irritating that the podcast is on hiatus. How hard would it be to just package the audio track?
  • Sandy & Nora talk politics – Weekly – Bias = Left. The hosts live in Toronto and Québec City, so you get an interesting blend of views.
  • Sprawlcast – Monthly – Bias = Left-Centre. Based in Calgary.
  • The Agenda – Weekdays – Bias = Left-Centre. Ontario politics and current events journalism.
  • The Big Story – Weekdays – Bias = Left-Centre. Politics, news, current events, culture.
  • The Boys in Short Pants – Biweekly-ish – Bias = Centre. One of the hosts claims to be conservative. I’m unsure of the other. Lots of fun procedural and technical stuff mixed in here.
  • The Bridge – Weekdays – Bias = Left-Centre. Peter Mansbridge providing his signature context and commentary on current events.
  • The House (CBC) – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. Weekly CBC radio politics show.
  • The NPR Politics Podcast – Weekdays – Bias = Centre. Daily NPR politics roundup.
  • The Progress Report – Variable – Bias = Left-Centre. Progress Alberta’s weekly podcast.
  • The Secret Life of Canada – has “seasons” – Bias = Left-Centre. More history than current events, though those creep in. A lot of stuff we should know.
  • The Skepticrat – Weekly – Bias = Left. US politics from a skeptical (and angry) point of view.
  • The West Block (Global) – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. I’d actually say closer to Centre. Rounding out political podcasts from the top tier of Canada’s TV/Radio networks.

I can hear some voice out there. “Seriously? You listen to all of this, and other stuff too?” Yup. The trick is to not confine yourself to normal speed. Most podcast players will let you adjust upwards, and the trick is to do it a bit at a time, get used to the new speed, and then push again. Depending on audio quality (and sometimes accents), most of what I’m listening to, I’m listening at 2.0 to 2.5x recorded speed. Probably why I feel like the real world moves too slowly sometimes. Also drives my wife crazy so I can only listen with headphones or when I’m by myself.

The other trick is I’m able to listen while I’m doing other things – chores, household projects, yard work. Not a luxury I normally have except during my commute. When my industry goes back to work, the list will probably get much smaller. But for now, I can overdose on current events whenever I like.

Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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