Written by Amanda Smith

In a time of increasing division, Americans are desperate for sources that reassure us that future unity is possible, and that our hope is not in vain. Over quarantine and the recent election, there has been a decline in the perceived accuracy of mainstream news channels and social media. Podcasts, however, prove to be a relatively unproblematic platform, providing a seemingly personable source of optimism for many. Below are a few examples submitted by UF Honors students.

Dolly Parton’s America
From the sexually liberated to the devoutly religious, America is in love with Dolly Parton. In “Dolly Parton’s America”, Jad Abumrad, the creator of Radiolab, takes a closer look at Parton’s surprisingly wide appeal. By examining the ways Parton unites a diverse audience, listeners are inspired to find common ground with those politically distant from themselves.

Ear Hustle
With prison reform on the cultural radar, “Ear Hustle” has never felt more relevant. Described by the Pulitzer Prize jury as “a consistently surprising and beautifully crafted series on life behind bars”, the first prison-produced podcast has a laundry list of accolades. Tune in to hear the creative Nigel Poor, previously incarcerated Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, and currently incarcerated Rahsaan “New York” Thomas share refreshingly honest stories from current and former inmates at San Quentin State Prison.

WHOA That’s Good
Hosted by New York Times bestselling author and Duck Dynasty star Sadie Robertson, “WHOA That’s Good Podcast” invites listeners into a raw conversation with guests from Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson to two-time Grammy award winner Lauren Daigle on the best piece of advice they have been given. In searching for what drives wildly successful people, Robertson analyzes the simple words that spark positive change in influential people.

How I Built This with Guy Raz
Bursting with inspiration, “How I Built This with Guy Raz” shares stories of the humble beginnings of some of the world’s most admired companies. Specifically, Raz has interviewed Kate Spade of Kate Spade, Tyler Hanney of Outdoor Voices, and Ron Shaich of Panera Bread. By walking listeners through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, Raz communicates a sense of optimism, that there is an assured hope.