Picks of the week
Nice White Parents
The New York Times recently snapped up Serial Productions, increasing the possibility for future cross-pollination between the paper’s newsroom and the podcast giants. Their first collaboration is, indeed, one with a newsy hook – a show about white parents, “arguably the most powerful force” in the US public school system. Chana Joffe-Walt presents what is an intriguing look at the continued role of segregation in US education, with a hefty accompanying reading list available online. Hannah J Davies
The Michelle Obama Podcast
The former first lady pulled a few strings for her first episode to get Barack Obama as a guest and, of course , it was a delight. There’s so much affection in their chat, which is an incredible reminder of how far the couple came to get to the White House. “I wanted stairs and a station wagon,” she says, reflecting on her childhood, while her husband talks about being from a “broken home” where the community kept an eye on the local children. Episode two sees her change tack slightly, to wrestle with the pandemic and BLM protests. Anything Obama-related is an irresistible listen, so it will be interesting to hear future episodes. Hannah Verdier
Chosen by Danielle Stephens
I’m annoyed every time I read or hear a story about a Silicon Valley start up that lost its way because of overspending or bad behaviour, but I’m also a glutton for punishment and was excited to listen to Bloomberg Technology’s new series, Foundering.
It tells the outrageous story behind the downfall of office space startup WeWork, with host Ellen Huet looking back on the many years she spent reporting on founder Adam Newman, and the various absurd decisions he made before eventually being forced out of the company.
A couple of the episodes overscript in parts, and it can sometimes get repetitive, but overall it is a success, with colourful recordings of Newman himself, company meetings and interesting interviews with former clients and employees. I thought I knew everything about what went wrong at WeWork, but Foundering enlightened me on how big tech companies are allowed to spiral just so out of control. An infuriating yet enjoyable listen.
The hunt for the Missing Cryptoqueen has restarted, with a brand new episode of Jamie Bartlett and Georgia Catt’s hit BBC Sounds podcast. Episode nine, released on Thursday, sees the pair restart the search for Ruja Ignatova, the cryptocurrency magnate and ‘expert in dealing in the grey area of life’, whose One Coin business was in fact a multi-billion-dollar scam. Her swindle, and subsequent disappearance, made the first series an irresistible hit – but will they ever track her down?