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The Podcasts You Listened to Most in 2020

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Danielle Thompson, who features in the most-listened-to episode of 'Rightnowish,' in front of a computer at Youth Beat.  (Pendarvis Harshaw/KQED)

Looking for listening inspiration in these last days of 2020?

We’ve taken a look at the KQED podcast shows — and the specific episodes — you listened to most this year, in the hope you might like to queue them up and discover for yourself what everyone enjoyed so much.

Find these episodes anywhere you get your podcasts.

‘Zoning Out’ 

From the podcast SOLD OUT: Rethinking Housing in America

The entrance to the Claremont neighborhood, then and now. (Carly Severn/KQED)

The single-family home is synonymous with the American dream. But that Norman Rockwell-esque image of a single home surrounded by a white picket fence comes with a loaded history. This episode of KQED’s newest podcast explores how when cities first created neighborhoods where only single-family houses were allowed, it was about more than separating homes from apartments; it was about separating white families from everyone else.

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‘Protesting for the Soul of America: The New Civil Rights Movement’

From the podcast Truth Be Told

Thousands of vehicles lined up at the Port of Oakland before departing to Lake Merritt on Sunday May 31, 2020 to take part in a caravan protesting the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of the police.
Thousands of vehicles lined up at the Port of Oakland before departing to Lake Merritt on Sunday, May 31, 2020 to take part in a caravan protesting the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of the police. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Millions took to the streets to protest the police killing of George Floyd and systemic racism that Black people are subjected to every day. Each week, Truth Be Told brings on board a “Wise One,” and this episode’s is Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr., chair of Princeton’s African American Studies department. He joined host Tonya Mosley to discuss the accumulation of grief, disregard and contempt for Black lives, parse out nationwide actions and to re-center Black joy and resilience.

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What Are Those Grids of Glass in the Sidewalk — And Why Are They Purple?

From the podcast Bay Curious

Walking around San Francisco and Oakland, you’re likely to come across a grid of vault lights on the sidewalk. (Mike/flickr)

Each week, Bay Curious dives into a question posed by a listener — and this episode was prompted by a San Francisco tour guide who noticed gem-like grids of glass embedded in the sidewalk on their travels. Spoiler: They’re there to project sunlight down into subterranean spaces, and they’re a kind of technology first used on ships as deck lights.

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How We Got Here

From The Bay podcast

Business owners have been chipping away at benefits in all kinds of sneaky ways since the late ’70s. (Giselle Chow)

Tens of millions of people in the U.S. are either out of a job or still working without meaningful protections, benefits or wage increases. And if something goes wrong, workers mostly have to figure it out on their own. In part one — the most-listened episode in this five-part series on labor — The Bay podcast looks at why the conventions of modern-day media have made it so hard for journalists to tell this story and unpacks how obscure laws have been used by managers and executives to weaken employee benefits like health insurance and retirement.

Coping Under Quarantine 

From The California Report Magazine podcast

How can Animal Crossing provide solace during quarantine? (Ariella Markowitz/KQED)

Back in March, this episode examined the new direction many people’s lives had taken under shelter in place — which was, at that point, just a few weeks old. From interviewing residents of the same Oakland condo (at a distance) to lessons from Generation Z on making the best of virtual living and finding meaning through Animal Crossing, listen and cast your mind back to the earliest days of the pandemic.

Hennessy Pound Cake, Long Commutes and Filmmaking

From the podcast Rightnowish

Danielle Thompson in front of a computer at Youth Beat. (Pendarvis Harshaw/KQED)

A few years ago, filmmaker Danielle Thompson and her family were evicted from their home in Oakland and moved to Pittsburg, a city 40 miles away. Using that experience as fuel, Danielle produced her first documentary film, “Displaced.” In this episode, Thompson talks to host Pendarvis Harshaw about her work, gentrification in Oakland and how she hoped her career would one day bring in enough financial resources to allow her to move back to her hometown.

How Learning Emotional Skills Can Help Boys Become Men

From the MindShift podcast

Ashanti Branch, founder of Ever Forward-Siempre Adelante, listens intently to middle school boys at Academy of Alameda. (Josh Egel/Ever Forward Siempre Adelante)

When Ashanti Branch started the Ever Forward Club, he was a high school math teacher trying to figure out why the young men in his classes weren’t succeeding. He found they were craving what he desired as a kid, too — a safe place to be themselves, to show emotion, to get support without fear of judgment. This episode explores how Branch has made it his life’s work to support other educators to create spaces where boys can be vulnerable, share their feelings and feel supported by other boys.

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