Lazy summer days and long travels are a great time to catch up with podcast listening. Here are five standout Princeton podcast episodes to add to your playlist:
Composers and Computers
In the 1960s, scientists were only beginning to understand how to create sound from then-hulking computer processors. Some chance encounters at Princeton during that time led to innovations that eventually made it easier to hear digitally generated music. In the third episode of the “Composers and Computers” podcast, host Aaron Nathans, digital media editor for the Princeton School of Engineering and Applied Science, details the fascinating relationship between Princeton engineer Ken Steiglitz and composer Godfrey Winham, who worked to build a device that would translate the ones and zeros generated by the IBM mainframe in the Princeton Computer Center into analog sound — the only form human beings can hear. The work they did together represented a watershed in the use of computers as a tool to create music. Bonus: While the podcast wrapped as a five-part series, Nathans plans to drop additional episodes this September with some previously unrecorded guests, including Winam’s son and 96-year-old widow.
African American Studies Podcast
Through her research in visual culture and fine art, Tina Campt has rendered the everyday stories of Black individuals more visible. In its second season, Princeton’s African American Studies Podcast invited Campt, the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities and professor of art and archaeology and the Lewis Center for the Arts, to talk about her career, including her early work in vernacular photography. “A Black Gaze” focuses heavily on Campt’s archival plunges into the family photos of Black Germans, studio portraits of African Caribbean migrants to England, ID photos, passport photos and prison photos. Co-hosts Mélena Laudig, a Ph.D. student in religion and African American studies, and Collin Riggins, an undergraduate in African American studies, draw lines between Campt’s career-long explorations of perception and viewership — how we all participate in the images we see and the ways in which we can “listen” to them.
If Everybody Knew
“Shuffle Along” was the first major all-Black Broadway musical, and, in the words of Langston Hughes, the soundtrack that launched the Harlem Renaissance. The debut episode of the Humanities Council podcast “If Everybody Knew” explores the reasons why this groundbreaking 1921 musical — which brought jazz to Broadway, introduced Josephine Baker to the world, and was a waypoint in the careers of Paul Robeson and Nat King Cole — never fully occupied the public’s awareness. Host and producer Dexter Thomas, ACLS Emerging Voices Fellow and a postdoctoral research associate in the Humanities Council, speaks to author Caseen Gaines, actor Amber Iman, and Princeton lecturer Catherine Young about why the first successful all-Black musical keeps getting buried, but still influences artists and scholars a century later. The episode chronicles some of those influences, from the show’s short-lived revival on Broadway to new scholarly research and coursework like the spring 2022 Humanistic Studies course about theater and the Tulsa Race Massacre that was co-taught by Young with Arminda Thomas, lecturer in the Humanities Council and the Lewis Center for the Arts.
What is it like to be an Arab Christian studying public policy in the United States? Challenging, at times, for Baher Iskander, who earned his MPA at Princeton earlier this year, but also part of a rich personal and academic journey. In the premiere episode of “Dean’s Dialogue,” Amaney Jamal, dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) talks with Iskander about his experience navigating his identity, his work and his studies. Iskander came to the U.S. from Cairo on an immigration visa lottery. He talks about the nuances of being Arab and Christian, along with other Arab identities that are not always recognized. He also discusses how faith and family have impelled his dedication to service and his experience researching and presenting policy recommendations to the U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, one group of Princeton student entrepreneurs found itself in a worst case/best case scenario. Their fledging college tour app, Adora, was in its earliest launch stages, and COVID lockdown complicated the rollout. But the app was well-positioned to capitalize on the closing of college campuses as schools attempted to mitigate the spread of the disease. The third season of “Princeton Spark,” a podcast of stories produced by the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council (PEC), is dedicated to the Adora journey. Host Wright Seneres, social media and marketing specialist for PEC, chronicles how this team of students — with support from the Princeton entrepreneurial ecosystem — powered their way through the pandemic to achieve success. The fourth episode, “Adora: Edtech vs. the Pandemic,” details the real-time response of the students and their university clients to the uncertainty of COVID-19.