Epidemic (Just Human Productions) releases a new 25-30-minute episode every week. The show’s hosts are Dr. Celine Gounder, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine who is an expert at infectious disease and epidemiologist, and Ron Klain, who has long worked in government and coordinated the United States response to Ebola during President Obama’s administration. Just Human Productions is a non-profit organization that strives “to change the way people think about health and social justice” with storytelling that pairs evidence-based, solutions-oriented journalism with human stories. Previous podcasts tackled subjects like youth and mental health and gun violence in America.
The focus in this podcast is on how the United States is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, covering policy decisions (should WHO have moved faster to declare a pandemic?), medical science (what does “airborne” really mean?), and social justice issues (how does a history of racism influence who gets sick? How are the failures of our healthcare system affecting the virus’s impact?) The podcast intends to help people understand what they can do to protect themselves and their communities and examine how the government is responding.
The two hosts invite a good selection of guests who are well-qualified to speak to the thematic issues of each 25-30 minute episode. The production values are strong, and the variety of topics keeps it interesting.
The podcast series began in late February. Each episode has a transcription available at the podcast’s website, which is helpful—but they do not include a broadcast date, which is a drawback given how quickly events unfold and what we know changes.
Fact-based: 5 of 5. The range of subjects covered is wide, but recruiting interesting experts as guests gives the podcast a valuably wide perspective on the crisis.
Host: 5 of 5. Both hosts have an engaging vocal presence and do a good job of introducting and discussing topics with their guests.
Production: 5 of 5. Good sound quality, editing, and pacing.
Storytelling: 5 of 5. Though the Q & A format could become dull, the choice of guests and the well-paced, well-chosen questions keep it engaging.
Perspective: 4 of 5. It may be hard to find new things to tell an audience inundated by COVID-19 news, but this podcast does a good job of exploring a wide variety of angles, finding depth and nuance.
Action-Oriented: 4 of 5. Though the focus is on the bigger picture – how is the government responding, and what does that mean for the public? the episodes conclude with questions phoned in by listeners that address what individuals should do to protect themselves and their families.
Overall Rating: 4.75 of 5.