Arts & Culture Podcasts

A look at our world through the culture and art that define it

A look at our world through the culture and art that define it


United States


A look at our world through the culture and art that define it




What was served at the REAL first Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a time when we pretty much know what's going to be on the dinner table. It's almost religion that we have turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce. But here's some hard truth: almost NONE of that was on the table at the first thanksgiving in 1621. CultureCast food editor Sasa Woodruff is here to blow our collective minds! Sasa also has some ideas for old-school recipes for a more authentic Thanksgiving dinner. This come to us from Mrs. Hale's New Cook Book: Cider...


The man who predicted digital 'hell'

Twenty three years ago, John Eger, a presidential advisor to Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, predicted a digital "hell," in which the internet will fuel social divisions and spread misinformation so unchecked that it can threaten our sense of reality. We talk with Eger about how he could predict our current problems with such accuracy in 1995, what his proposed solutions were, and what he predicts for the next 20 years. Also, we debut a new feature: time capsule -- looking at some of what...


The human toll of migrant family separations

The migrant family separations that were undertaken by the Trump administration, in an effort to discourage immigration through the unequivocal prosecution of migrants and the separation of their children at the US-Mexico border, have taken a profound toll on the children and the adults. Much of that toll has been hidden from the public, but details are now beginning to emerge. Testimonies filed in federal court offer am arresting look at the suffering incurred by migrants during the months...


Nazis and fascism: The sobering rhetoric entering our cultural discourse

The forced family separations at the US-Mexico border that occurred under a get-tough immigration policy by the Trump administration have opened up the floodgates of comparisons to dark periods of recent human history in the US and elsewhere. We speak to a London-based human rights expert about whether the comparisons are fair, and the danger signs he sees in events in the US and Europe. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama, speaking about her upcoming memoir "Becoming," offers words of...


The baroness and her viral video

An unlikely video has gone viral online -- sparking debate over whether it is an example of the type of sexism women have had to battle for generations or an innocent relic of its time. The video is of a 1970 BBC interview with Janet Fookes, at the time a newly-elected member of Britain's parliament. In it, the interviewers seem more interested with the lawmaker's personal life and looks than her opinions and politics. The video has inspired recent news stories. But no one has heard from...


The Parkland school shooting: should we blame video games?

On this episode: mass shootings and the media. After the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, one idea for change has gained ground -- restricting children's access to violent popular entertainment such as video games and movies. "I'm hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people's thoughts," President Donald Trump said days after the tragedy. The idea is not new. For decades, politicians and others have pointed to the...


"Ready Player One" and "Warcross": One a Spielberg movie, one not

(Photo by: Jaap Buttendijk / Copyright: © 2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.) On this week's episode, CultureCast book editor Loretta Williams focuses on two books lighting up the Internet. "Ready Player One," a book by Ernest Cline and "Warcross" by Marie Lu are getting a lot of comparisons to one another. "Ready Player One" was adapted by Steven Spielberg into a movie that comes out in March. The sci-fi story tells of a future dystopia where the virtual world is as -- if not more --...


Christmas foods from Christmas songs; How to make GOOD fruit cake

Christmas time brings us scores of familiar songs. Many of them include references to foods and drinks that we may not really know much about in our modern times. We explore the myths surrounding the origins of candy canes, the reason figgy pudding is actually an example of GOOD British food, the wassail drink, and how to make the dreaded fruit cake actually taste good -- and the historic reason why it usually doesn't. We discuss all of these in our latest episode looking at Christmas...


Women finding their voice

Our culture - from the artistic to the political - has been rocked in the last couple of months. We’ve had many allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment — mostly on the part of powerful men. A striking theme in much of the last few weeks has been that women, who most often were the targets of abuse, often didn’t speak up for a long time. So in this episode, we are taking a look at the idea of finding one's voice — from a female perspective. We're listening to the words of...


Religion and the FBI

Until recently, James Comey's twitter handle was "Reinhold Niebuhr." Not exactly a household name, but a significant figure in American culture and political thought throughout World War II and the Cold War. And what Niebuhr had to say gives us insight into Comey's thinking, how he handled Trump and the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. In this week's episode, we explore Comey, Niebuhr, and the FBI's fraught relationship with religion.


Pumpkin pie's shocking secret REVEALED!

'Tis the season for pumpkin pies, and pumpkin spice flavored lattes, cookies, bread... and so many more. We break down a dirty little secret about pumpkin pies, and tell you a great way, which you may not have thought of, to make the delicious holiday treat. We also explore the origins of pumpkin spice mix. And what's in the mix anyway? You'll know the answer after our latest episode. Plus, we are remembering a true American musical genius, Leonard Bernstein on the anniversary of his...


A gripping book about terrorism, and a raging sci-fi debate

CultureCast book editor Loretta Williams offers a listener challenge with a $25 prize! And we discuss the gripping novel The Association of Small Bombs, as well as a raging online debate over two sci-fi books.


Photographing Houston

How do you photograph a tragedy like Hurricane Harvey? Our guests offer answers to that difficult question. (Photo courtesy: Lt. Zachary West , 100th MPAD, Texas Military Department)


Are Confederate monuments art?

We consider the history and artistic merit of Confederate monuments. Are they painful symbols of oppression or important cultural relics? Share your opinions for a future episode by clicking "Contact" on (Photo courtesy: OZinOH on Flickr)


A "masterpiece" book; How to read for deeper understanding

We discuss some of the best contemporary books out in print right now, especially an award-winner that is a true "masterpiece," according to CultureCasts's book editor Loretta Williams.


The life-changing art of organizing; Police officers' art

Those who practice the Kon Mari method of organization swear by its life-changing power. We take a look at the ideas behind it, Marie Kondo -- the woman who created it, and the people who practice it. Police officers in Chicago are creating art work to help deal with the incomprehensible tragedies and unique pressures of their daily jobs. We visit an exhibit. On the show, we'd promised you the full video of Marie Kondo's presentation at the Chicago Humanities Festival. It turns out, it...