Jordan P. is a fourth-year undergraduate at Queen’s University in Ontario.
Another Round with Heben and Tracy is kind of like overhearing a conversation on the bus: not particularly engaging or funny. When doing some research for this review, I was surprised at the accolades awarded to this show. Co-hosts Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton spend most of their episodes either endorsing products, chatting about what television shows they watched last night, or otherwise filling airspace with fluff. If a friend of mine told me a rambling story about their trip to a botanical garden, I might find it interesting. I like my friend; I want to know about their life, and they can actually tell a good story. But from a podcast, I expect more chicken, less feathers.
Although I find the hosts unlikeable, some of their guests are interesting people who provide worthwhile discussion. One of the episodes I listened to (“Episode 28: Madam Secretary, What’s Good?”) featured one of the best interviews with Hillary Clinton I’ve ever heard. The questions posed to her were surprisingly well thought out and well composed, and the discussion centered on some niche angles of racial politics. What made this interview considerably more compelling than the other episodes I listened to was that Hillary and the co-hosts varied in their views. You could tell that both the hosts and Hillary have strong opinions on such topics as Black Lives Matter and tough-on-crime policies, and it was exciting to hear them (particularly Hillary) work to get the others to understand their position.
Unfortunately, the other two episodes I listened to were lacking in that goal of enlightenment and exploration, and quickly became echo chambers. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t invite guests who are of the same political persuasion, but as I listened to them talk in circles, I began to wonder: Who is this podcast for? As my girlfriend and I listened to the podcasts, we’d often look at each other and ask, “Wait, what about X?” or “I don’t think you can just claim Y.” So the podcast is clearly not for anyone who carries a different opinion from those of the hosts. No attempt is made to acknowledge or try to debate with differing views, and few of their bold statements had any sort of backing. But that’s fine. A good podcast doesn’t always need debate, and it can’t explore every detail. But then, what else are people gaining by listening? There was no call to action. There was little new insight to be gained. I think I learned more about The Good Wife than I did about microaggressions.
I get it. I may not be the target audience. But there are still objective parameters that can determine if a podcast is well done or not. I would gladly listen to someone I disagree with share their opinion with me if they’ll take the time to construct a well-thought-out discourse. Or I’d love to listen to a comedian tell me about their day so long as they know how to set up a punchline. Unfortunately, this podcast failed for me in both respects.