You must have heard of documentary films or photographs, but ever come across documentary podcasts?

If you haven’t, it is my greatest joy to introduce you to one of the most captivating storytelling formats of all time. A documentary podcast is a genre of podcasting that tells true stories in a compelling format, with sophisticated sound effects and even a background score. Topics range from historical events to well-known humans to stories from everyday life. You don’t expect a documentary to have such a significant impact without the accompanying visuals, but not having them adds to the experience. 

For me, it all began with 1619. A friend sent me the link and urged me to listen without reading the reviews. It was a lazy Sunday, and I was labouring in the kitchen, so why not. What happened next was a feast for my ears — the sound of the waves, seagulls, and the mellifluous tones of host, Nikole Hannah-Jones.

This five-episode documentary podcast is part of the larger 1619 Project, conceptualized for a special edition of The New York Times in August 2019 to mark the 400th anniversary of the slave trade. It gets its name from the year the very first ship arrived at the port of Virginia carrying enslaved Africans – an event the project calls “the moment (America) began.”

According to the project’s editor, their goal was “to reframe American history” and “place the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very centre of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.

Indulge in this luscious retelling of American history. And I’ll prepare my list of the best documentary podcasts for my next Just One Thing.


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