Alexandra Cohl is a PR & marketing consultant at her company POD.DRALAND, which centers on amplifying women-hosted podcasts. Her current and past clients include nj.com’s chart-topping true crime podcast Father Wants Us Dead (5M+ downloads & named a Best New Podcast of 2022 by Variety), award-winning indie podcast Immigrantly, Admissible: Shreds of Evidence, Spotify Original You Heard Me Write, Apple featured podcast I Swear on My Mother’s Grave, and more. She writes the newsletter Podcasting by the Moon, which centers women in podcasting news and recommendations. She also works with women podcasters on their PR and marketing efforts in her exclusive membership Broads in Progress and hosts & produces the podcast The Pod Broads: A Podcast About Women in Podcasting. When she isn’t doing all her podcast related things, you can often find her reading fantasy novels, keeping up with her Italian Duolingo streak, and asking her cat, Zuko, “Are you a cute baby?” for the millionth time.
I’m not going to lie. When I first realized I’d be making this list during Women’s History Month, I was a tad bit overwhelmed. There are so many fantastic women-hosted podcasts (and I would know given that I’ve been curating women-hosted podcast recommendations since 2019 and making a conscious decision to ingest as many podcasts hosted by women as humanly possible for even longer than that). The thing about this month is that our focus on women-hosted podcasts should be every month, and so I can’t just pick some and have those be the end all be all recommendations. But, as I was putting it together, I wanted to take the significance of this month into consideration and I started to think about all the ways we relate and connect to history; and all the ways that women’s voices play into that.
Here’s what I landed on: History through a woman’s perspective means many things. It means looking back at historical moments centered on “women’s history” with more detail and thought. It means looking back at pieces of history not necessarily presented as “women’s history” with a renewed perspective and with a woman as the expert voice, guiding the way. It means the serious and the fun. It means unearthing truths we didn’t know existed. It means strengthening our connection to our ancestral past. And, it means the history we are creating now, the ways in which our present intertwines with generations before, and the ways in which women are shifting future history for the better.
This is not an exhaustive list because it could never be. But, these are some podcasts that have stuck with me and that I hope stick with you. Enjoy!
I’ve been a longtime fan of Locatora Radio for many reasons and have interviewed both Mala Munoz and Diosa Femme on my own podcast, The Pod Broads. When they talk about their work with this podcast, an important piece always comes up: that they are committed to archiving and celebrating the brilliance of women of color. That archival piece is so important because archiving is an act of preserving history and ensuring that future generations know the truth of a moment from the lived experience of folks now. In this case, the voices and experiences of women who have been systematically underrepresented. Mala and Diosa are making history as we speak and capturing that which needs to be held onto.
Recommended episode: Capítulo 149: Are The Girls Ok?
A classic choice and it’s a classic for a reason! I have never not enjoyed an episode of You’re Wrong About and something I love about it is the fascinating mix of topics that host Sarah Marshall dives into. I like how there is a mix of really relevant cultural conversations contextualized with history (that we as a culture aren’t always attune to) and then you’ll get an episode like the history of Beanie Babies with guest and fellow podcaster Jamie Loftus – that I didn’t know I needed but am now riveted by. And, as the description states, it is one that “reconsiders a person or event that’s been miscast in the public imagination” and a world where misinformation is at an all time high, Sarah’s focus is what we need.
Recommended episode: Cancel Culture
I am obviously writing this list as an American person from an American perspective and so when I was introduced to this podcast, I immediately went “Oh! I need to listen to this.” It follows host Moya Lothian-McLean as she explores “the true story of British involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.” Moya is a journalist and the “descendent of both Black African Slaves and White slave owners or overseers,” which makes her the perfect person for me and others to listen to when it comes to diving deeper into the background of a very pivotal moment in history and one that more often gets told from an American historical lens (as Moya herself points out) and yet so many key pieces get missed in the general retelling. Here’s one I know I didn’t know before listening: the connection between Sir Isaac Newton and the Atlantic Slave Trade. Do you know?
Recommended episode: Where there’s a Will, there’s a Way
When you first look at this podcast you don’t necessarily think “history.” But, this is one of those ones where I very much do because what the host Lauren Williams is doing is helping women reframe cultural, social, political, you name it, pressure on women. When I listen, I think of the years of history that have led to women believing certain narratives around what they should or should not be. I think of the way that it impacts a woman’s day-to-day life and how she feels about herself and the choices she can or cannot make. On Lauren’s podcast, she welcomes women on to “share their heart,” and to reframe something in their life and by extension, to reframe the future of our history, as we speak. Things like when we’re “supposed” to be married with children or how we’re “supposed” to feel about pregnancy or leading as a young woman or being a woman in politics or wearing or not wearing makeup. The list goes on.
Recommended episode: Too Taboo: You Can(‘t) Talk About Sex
The last time I attended The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I passed through the Greek and Roman Art section, first approaching the sculpture of Perseus holding Medusa’s severed head, and I immediately thought back to an episode of this podcast and couldn’t help but think, “Ah! But the perspective this sculpture and overview is missing for the patrons of New York!” I love the way that host Liv Albert (and writer, editor, and producer) handles this topic and brings in “cursing and a feminist attitude” – two of my favorite things. She takes time to examine myths through “a modern intersectional feminist lens, focusing where possible on amplifying the voices of women, trans, and non-binary people.” All things that we need to be doing more of.
Recommended episode: RE-AIR: Medusa, Colonialism, Re-Imagining Goddesses and Monsters with Nikita Gill
If I asked you, ‘How does American Ivy style relate to gender, WWII, Jewish culture, Black culture, capitalism, classism, social status, and other integral parts of American culture?’ would you know how to answer? Or, how about what part of 80s fashion gets lost in the general narrative around big hair, fishnets and leg warmers, and bright colors? One of my favorite things about fashion as a lens to understand history is just that – that fashion holds so much history in it and it’s not just this superficial piece of life that some people like to make it out to be. In this season of Articles of Interest, host Avery Trufelman does a deep dive into the American Ivy and undercovers all these interesting faucets related to it, like how it became a staple fashion here by means of propaganda (this is the tidbit I share at dinner parties).
Recommended episode: American Ivy: Chapter 1
As many of us know, there has been a lot missing from what history we learned in school growing up. I remember listening to an episode of That Wasn’t In My Textbook last year and learning that Black History Month used to be longer than a month and that each year it has a theme – something I definitely didn’t learn in school. The podcast is hosted by Toya From Harlem, who is a historian and whose site toyafromharlem.com helps “millennials of color to uncover historical places they pass by every day, learn the history that wasn’t in their textbooks, see dope art by people of color, and find cultural events in LA and NYC.” So much that has been whitewashed gets uncovered in this podcast, and with the attempts to ban Critical Race Theory and books right now in the U.S., it’s a must to seek out others like Toya, who are making sure that the pieces of history that were excluded from our generic curriculums can still be found.
I have to admit something. I really didn’t know much about Sappho or the term “sapphic love” until I started listening to Sweetbitter. Much thanks to their first season and their description of her as “the o-g lesbian,” I was introduced to this investigative history podcast that focuses on queer & women’s history. What’s extra cool, though, is that hosts Leesa Charlotte and Ellie Brigida (who clearly take a lot of care with each episode and have fun while doing it) introduce a new overarching theme and “corner of history” each season to “untangle [these] stories tainted by years of homophobia, colonization, and patriarchy erasing and rewriting history.” Plus, every season they switch up the artwork a bit to reflect that season’s focus – which I think is pretty rad. While the current season as I write this is awesome (it covers the Bible and Christianity through the lenses of feminism and queer liberation theory), I am partial to stories about pirates, so that’s the season I am recommending an episode from!
Recommended episode: Pirates: Women Pirates
This podcast started as a way for the youth of the Lummi people (Indigenous folks who are the original inhabitants of Washington’s northernmost coast and southern British Columbia) to keep the “origins of their oral tradition alive by starting a discussion about relevant topics on the rez.” The first episode primarily follows one of the hosts, Isabella James, as her brother teaches her her introduction of her Lummi language and the sharing of her name. It captures the importance of storytelling and language in history and, as they point out, is a means of connecting to ancestors, to “those people [elders…who] live through us…and not just the ones who are here.” Other episodes explore things like motherhood, life lessons through song and storytelling, local Native artists, youth mental health, and more. They wish for the podcast to be a place for their community but also for folks outside of their community who would like to learn more about them.
Recommended episode: Ep.001 | Awakening the Ancestors
This is the kind of podcast that makes you fall in love with podcasts, and host Maria García captures the way a cultural figure can mean so much more than who they are and the art that they create. Because as we know, culture or art does not exist in a silo and often helps us understand so much more about our history and the way we interact with each other. In this podcast, Maria honors Selena’s legacy, but she also unpacks the significance of Selena. We learn why an attack on Selena was an attack on a whole people, the way she was a symbol for Latinos, what it taught Maria about Latinidad, how Selena’s death shined a light on racism in America and a specific “fear of immigrants” during the time of her death, and how mourning can be political. And amongst all of that, the love and reverence Maria has for Selena shines through when you listen, and if you are anything like me, you will cry multiple times while listening to it!
Recommended episode: Selena and Me
In short, a look at the national parks in the U.S.! But really, it’s more. If you read the description of the podcast it captures the focus quite quickly: “She [host Misha Euceph] goes out to see America to tell a new story of our national parks.” But here’s my listener story and why I included it here: I remember what really got me was the first episode on Yosemite. Visiting Yosemite as a kid was one of those influential childhood moments, and I’ve never forgotten how beautiful Half Dome is, or the hikes we got to do, or even falling during one of those hikes, deeply scraping my knee, and having to limp all the way down to our cabin (don’t worry, it’s since scarred over). But, what I distinctly remember not learning about back in the year 2000 was about the roads into the valleys (built by Chinese immigrants) or Black history as it pertains to the Buffalo soldiers in Yosemite. That’s a problem – this missed history and the work people are doing to remedy it; and one that Misha seeks to remedy herself through her experimental storytelling and curiosity one national park at a time.
Recommended episode: Ep. 1: Hello, Yosemite
Ever since 2016, conversations around voting and access to voting in the U.S. has been growing and growing. The more we learn, the more we know about voter suppression in different states and why local elections are extremely important. But, how much do we, as a society, actually know about the history of women’s suffrage? Upon listening to this podcast, I realized, clearly not enough. Hosts Rosario Dawson and Retta guide us through the pieces that were missed when many of us were taught about this movement. They dive into the complexity of those who fought for the right as well as the complexity of the time and how just referring to it as focused on suffrage does a disservice to the breadth of issues women were focused on at that time.
Recommended episode: The Cult of True Womanhood
I’m obsessed with the descriptor of the podcast: “We bring you all the dirt, gossip, and glamour from trans history!” Right away, I was like “Yes, please” as trans history is American history and it’s something I’m continuing to learn more about. I love the host’s [Morgan M. Page] clear love for this work, her focus on reading between the lines in history, and the wide range of topics she explores. Plus, as one reviewer states, “she [Morgan] uses it [music] to set the time period, the mood for the episode, and so much more.” There really is a full breadth of topics to explore, whether you like to listen in order or bop around to different episodes, or if you’re captivated by the idea around “how magic, witchcraft, and ‘unreason’ intersect with the emergence of Gay Liberation and early trans organizations.” (Like me!)
Recommended episode: OFTV Presents – Interview with Abram J Lewis
As someone who loves music, has been a singer and performer in periods of my life, and who lives with a musician (shout out to my partner Kerry Blu), I’m often immersed in stories and news related to musicians. Music shapes our world and our culture – and at the same time, is such a reflection of it. This podcast, which is a scripted anthology series, is a perfect one to re-center the conversation around women and another one of those that unpacks the pieces that are missing in the stories of such influential people in our time. Current host Nikki Lynette dives into the stories of women who have “long been eclipsed by the legends of their famous partners. Bowie, Elvis, 2Pac, Prince, Miles, Biggie” and makes clear how different “the landscape of popular music” would have been without them.
Recommended episode: Shante Broadus: Snoop, Reconciliation, and Becoming the Boss Lady
One of my all time favorite podcasts and it definitely needed to be added to this list! In short, “Back Issue reminisces on moments in pop culture’s past that have shaped our present.” Because we cannot dive into history without touching on important pop culture moments, and hosts Tracy Clayton and Josh Gywnn literally hit everything. It’s like an audio I Love the 90s mixed with the commentary only Tracy and Josh (and their awesome guests) can provide and a recurring clip of Tyra screaming “Learn something from this,” and I really do learn a lot from each episode and have the most fun along the way.
Recommended episode: Remember How Messy Top Model Was? (feat. Jay Manuel)
As far as I know, Not Past It is doing something different than any other history or history adjacent podcast out there. It’s rule of thumb? Covering a moment in history that happened in the past the same week that an episode is published. Or, as the show puts it: “host Simone Polanen picks a moment from that week in history to explore how it shapes our world today.” This approach keeps the topics fresh – and unexpected (unless you somehow are able to pinpoint what major or minor moment in history that week that would be discussed!). I love the mix of pop culture (from cult classic to the real housewives) to the more serious topics like when tobacco companies specifically targeted Black communities and other vulnerable communities after the U.S. Surgeon General came out with a damning report around smoking. All that mixed with its narrative structure makes this a super engaging listen and makes me trust that each new episode will make me go “Huh!” in the best way.
Recommended episode: Beefcakes and Bulges: Playgirl Magazine
I can’t have a history related list that centers women without having a podcast that centers on abortion! Abortion is and will always be an integral part of our history and experience. The podcast is hosted, reported, and produced by Garnet Henderson, who is a journalist, dancer, and choreographer. Her reporting on health and abortion access has been published in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Scientific American, and more. She dives into topics surrounding abortion from so many different directions and presents it in a manner that will help everyday people understand these complex issues. She invites on people who have had abortions, as well as abortion providers, funders, and researchers. It is an absolute must-listen.
Recommended episode: Why Adoption Isn’t an Alternative to Abortion
Alexandra Cohl’s headshot photo by julesandfilm.com.