12 Black-Led Podcasts To Listen To Now
From pop culture-focused to Denzel Washington-obsessed
In celebration of Black History Month, NYLON is running a spotlight series called UNAPOLOGETIC. Every day, we’ll celebrate different aspects of black culture through profiles, interviews, roundtables, reviews, videos, and op-eds. #Blacklivesmatter and we hold that truth to be self-evident.
When podcast hosts come to mind, names like Ira Glass (of This American Life) or Sarah Koenig (of Serial) probably do, too. The platform tends to be associated solely with the white NPR pundits of the field, but that's not entirely the case. With the steady rise in podcast popularity, added diverse voices are becoming a welcome presence to the public radio world. These leaders are welcome, not only because they're so few and far between, but because they're uniquely themselves. The hosts don't try to be the Glass or Koenig's of tomorrow, and they don't have to; they're doing fine as they are. Being, ahem, unapologetically yourself can pay off, and they're proof.
The podcast sphere is still very, very white, don't get us wrong, but the following hosts are helping to bring new and nuanced perspectives to the cultural conversation. Click through while also hovering over the subscribe button on iTunes.
2 Dope Queens
Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams were funny girls long before they got their own podcast and they will remain so long after podcasting is obsolete and we just have robot voices delivered directly into our brain from implanted microchips. Anyway, the live audience format of their show just means that they're able to share laughs with a different audience, on a different platform. Black female comedians so rarely get the recognition they deserve, it's nice to see them infiltrate and dominate this world.
It's clear New York Times staffers Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris are still finding their podcast footing (they started only in September), but they're quickly becoming one of the most essential cultural podcasts out there. The recent episode they put together in the wake of Trump's Muslim Ban order, titled "You Only Leave Home When Home Won't Let You Stay," is just one example of the duo's whip-smart abilities to put together a well-rounded and informed show.
Ever wonder how Oprah became the first-name-basis mogul we know today? It didn't happen overnight, and it wasn't without setbacks. Jennifer White explores all of that and more in this podcast. You'll find yourself going through it quickly, but take your time to savor the backstories. There are also some nuggets of wisdom from the woman herself you won't want to miss out on.
Host Glynn Washington brings these real, often dark and twisted stories to life with his brilliant narration.
The Combat Jack Show
If you're going to commit to a hip-hop-focused podcast, have it be this one. Reggie Ossé, former music attorney and former managing editor of The Source, started the show nearly four years ago and has had everyone from Rick Ross to J.Cole and Jermaine Dupri on.
Our love for hosts, Kid Fury and Crissle, runs deep. Both self-declared introverts, the two friends definitely don't shy away from letting their thoughts, opinions, and declarations be heard on everything from Donald Trump to Beyoncé. (Spoiler: They worship her and Blue Ivy.) They don't care, really, about what anyone else thinks, and the podcast is all the better and hilarious for it.
Tracy and Heben are our best friends in our head, and that speaks a lot to the vibe of their podcast. It's laid-back, welcoming and, more times than not, empowering. They've interviewed everyone from Hillary Clinton to Issa Rae, and their various segments like "Tracy's Joke Corner" and emphasis on self-care are particularly refreshing.
Black Girl Nerds
Because black girls can geek out, too. This podcast gives them a safe space to do just that.
Black Men Can't Jump (In Hollywood)
Black lead actors in films are a rarity. Unless, of course, said film is about slavery or the Civil Rights movement, then there are plenty. By highlighting the movies that do have a black actor or actress at the helm, Black Men Can't Jump aims to promote its cause and highlights how black professionals are treated in Hollywood.
Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period
Denzel Washington fanatic or not, the witty banter between comedians W. Kamau Bell and Kevin Avery will have you returning week after week. They review every Washington film in alphabetical order (sort of) but also delve into more timely and race-related conversations.
In Black America
In Black America holds particular relevance today. Host, John Hanson, profiles civil rights leaders, writers (like Alex Haley, the author of Roots and The Autobiography of Malcolm X), artists (like gospel singer Bishop Rance Allen), and more, who come on to talk about their experience and how their work is helping to advance life for African-Americans.
Code-switching refers to the shift of languages or expression in conversation (perhaps to fit in, to get something you want, or maybe you do it inadvertently). The NPR podcast by the same name references this action in the context of race and identity. Ever experienced microaggressions in the workplace? Been cornered about an awkward conversation about your culture? Co-hosts, Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji, are here to help.