Podcast Picks: Throughline
Hosted by: Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah // NPR
While listening to a podcast episode on James Baldwin during an evening walk last fall, I was stopped in my tracks. The episode had been slowly building towards a gut-punching monologue that was so moving that I needed a moment to gather myself. When it ended, I listened again.
The podcast is Throughline. It launched in 2019, but was perhaps an unlikely show. Co-hosts Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah are not historians. In fact, before Throughline, the duo were only producers who had never even been on air when they pitched their idea to NPR.
"There were these large gaps in our knowledge about all of these important events, and if we felt that way, we thought others did too," Abdelfatah told Podcast Review in 2019.
Arablouei and Abdelfatah are contagiously curious in their conversations with knowledgeable guests as they examine the nuances of history often remembered more broadly. Episodes challenge listeners to set aside preconceptions — which the masterful storytelling makes easy.
Episodes cover wide-randing topics including the N95 respirator, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Billie Holliday's "Strange Fruit," the Kurdish people, the banana industry, and a self-proclaimed genderless prophet named the Public Universal Friend.
For those who want to know the stories behind the headlines, Throughline is for you.
— Jonathan Burdick