This Day in Esoteric Political History

Jody Avirgan & Radiotopia

We’re living in unprecedented times. Maybe. In this show, Jody Avirgan, Nicole Hemmer and Kellie Carter Jackson (and guests) take one moment, big or small, from that day in U.S. political history and explore how it might inform our present –– all in about fifteen minutes. New episodes release Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Find us at We’re also posting about moments from the past @thisdaypod on Twitter and Instagram. If you have a suggestion for a topic, get in touch. This Day In Esoteric Political History is a proud member of the Radiotopia podcast network from PRX.

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Our Editor's Take

This Day in Esoteric Political History is a podcast about small but critical events in time. The three podcast hosts are Jody Avirgan, Nicole Hemmer, and Kellie Carter Jackson.

Jody is the producer and host for many podcasts, including this one. Nicole Hemmer is an author and historian. She currently works for the Obama Presidency Oral History Project. Kellie Carter Jackson is also an author and historian. She teaches at Wellesley College.

This Day in Esoteric Political History has a simple but compelling format. Together, the cohosts explore turning points in American history on the podcast. These are events that seemed minor at the time but ended up having a profound effect on culture. Aisha Harris of NPR talks about the role of American Girl dolls in American culture. She explains that their line of historical dolls increased the visibility of certain populations. She also claims that the dolls foster an interest in history in young girls.

The hosts also talk about figures who were emblematic of their time. They invite author Hadley Meares to the show to talk about Hattie McDaniel. She was the first African-American actress to win an Oscar. As a Black woman, the only roles available were as a maid or nanny. As a result, her success in Hollywood earned her the disdain of civil rights activists. But her Oscar win ended her career in Hollywood. In this sense, McDaniel was at the center of a friction-filled point in American culture.

The cohosts often broach more serious topics. They talk about the Bath School bombing of 1927. They find parallels between it and modern-day school shootings and mass murders. They recount the fight for Native American rights at the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1973. They also examine the role of the media and celebrities in this event.

This Day in Esoteric Political History will appeal to listeners who like to learn. The cohosts are knowledgeable and provide perspective and reasoned analysis. Episodes release several times each week. Most episodes run under 30 minutes each in length.

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