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Really? Another Politics Podcast?

Posted: December 3, 2019 | By: Kiley Roach Tagged: Blog

The twenty-first-century political junkie has a new home, and that home is on streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify. Podcasts have rapidly taken over how many people get their latest news and their favorite entertainment alike. In 2018, 6 million more Americans listened to podcasts weekly than in 2017. It’s a novel industry that keeps growing in popularity and consumption.

If you scroll through the list of podcasts that I follow, you’ll see content like The Daily from the New York Times, Today Explained by Vox, FiveThirtyEight Politics, Freakonomics Radio by Stitcher… you get the idea. I, like many of my politically engaged peers, turn to podcasts to learn something new, to reinforce ideas that we already have, or maybe just to kill time on a long drive or while making breakfast in the morning.

At the beginning of November, VICE News announced the debut of a brand-new politics podcast. I know what you’re thinking – another politics podcast? Many of the political podcasts out there now focus on current news, many of them placing the 2020 election on the back burner. Uncommitted: Iowa 2020 does the opposite – it narrows in on the 2020 Democratic nomination on the local level, embedding itself right here in Iowa.

Here’s how they describe the podcast:

“Join VICE News and Spotify as we tell in-depth stories about the Iowa caucus, what Americans there are fighting for, and what they want our next president to fight for too.”

Well, that sounds… familiar. Telling stories of Iowans on the ground leading up to the Iowa caucuses? If that’s the content that you wanted, why wouldn’t you just stream the Iowa Caucus Project Podcast, which can be found here?

All joking and the self-plug aside, Uncommitted is doing work that no other mainstream politics podcast is doing. Some might run an episode now and again about why Iowa is first in the nation or mention touchstone events in Iowa along the campaign trail. Like us at the Iowa Caucus Project, Uncommitted sees value in embedding itself where the real action is.

So, like any nerd with an eye for Iowa politics, I binged the first four episodes (which is all they have at the moment). It’s hosted by Antonia Hylton and they put out episodes once per week. I’ll be continuing to tune in as the series develops. Each episode is about 30 minutes long, perfect for your morning commute or a nice distraction for laundry day. I’ll be honest, it’s pretty good. They don’t take a bird’s eye view; they visit small towns, they interview young activists, and they’re really trying to understand why some people dedicate their lives to this stuff.

I applaud the folks at VICE for taking a stab at covering Iowa from the ground during the caucus cycle. It’s something that national media has tried to do, and has struggled to do particularly well. However, I won’t be surprised when they pack up their equipment and head back to the coast as soon as the caucuses are over. Yes, all eyes are on Iowa, as they should be. What happens here before February 3 will have massive implications for the future of our country.

Over the last decade, there has been a monumental shift in the way Americans consume their news. Things like media consolidation and spikes in layoffs at local news outlets has led to the nationalization of our politics. In other words, most people are going to tune into Fox News or MSNBC to see what the president has been up to instead of picking up a copy of their local newspaper to check in on politics at home. A troubling statistic from Johns Hopkins University shows that one in every three Americans don’t even know who their governor is (!). What happens at the local level seems to be most American’s last priority. Iowa just might be the last place on earth where cameras and microphones are turned towards local leaders and events.

So, if your podcast queue is a bit dry, give Uncommitted a look. But if you want the real story of real Iowans from people who live here full time, check out the Iowa Caucus Project Podcast.