Podcasts and the Cultural Divide: Civic Imagination in the Red States

Monday, September 25, 2017 at 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Wallis Annenberg Hall (ANN), 106
3630 Watt Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089

Podcasting is emerging as an important platform for discussions of key cultural and political developments, one which allows diverse perspectives precisely because podcasts can be produced and distributed from any location. This symposium showcases three podcasts -- Gravy, Home of the Brave, and Us and Them -- which have sought to bring voices from the so-called "red states" to a national audience, in the process reshaping our understanding of the diversity within these regions and the culture wars that are proving so divisive in contemporary politics. These podcasts encourage us to speak together across ideological and cultural differences, to identify common grounds rooted in a more complex understanding of the past and future of these states. For example, as debates around the Confederate Flag and Civil War monuments intensify, what alternative constructions exist for southern pride, heritage, and identity? Can we imagine a multicultural and Multiracial South or are we doomed to think of the region always as a society segregated between black and white? What insights might such discussions give us into regions that seem solidly Republican but are more ideologically and demographically diverse than we might imagine?


Tina Antolini

Scott Carrier

Trey Kay



Henry Jenkins

Tara McPherson


Panelist Bios

Tina Antolini is a Peabody-Award-winning storyteller and radio producer. She currently serves as a Senior Producer at Pop-Up Magazine. Previously, she hosted and produced Gravy, a podcast with the Southern Foodways Alliance, which has won two James Beard Awards, including being named the Foundation's Publication of the Year for 2015. Tina's worked in public radio for more than 10 years, including at State of the Re:Union ( SOTRU ) and New England Public Radio, and has produced stories on everything from Iraqi religious minorities to the sex lives of lobsters. Antolini won a Peabody and a national Edward R. Murrow Award for her work on SOTRU. She attended Stanford, Hampshire College, and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

Scott Carrier is an author, Peabody Award-winning radio producer, and educator. Carrier's pieces have been featured on radio programs, including This American Life, The Savvy Traveler, Marketplace, Day to Day, All Things Considered, and NPR's Hearing Voices. His second book, Prisoner of Zion, was published in April 2013. In 2015, Carrier began producing a podcast entitled "Home of the Brave". The podcast combines original stories with work that previously aired on NPR and other radio shows. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.  

Trey Kay is creator, host and producer of Us & Them, a podcast that endeavors to tell stories from America’s culture divides. For years, he’s reported on how culture war battles have affected education in America. In 2009, he produced the radio documentary “The Great Textbook War,” which was honored with Peabody, Murrow, and duPont-Columbia Awards. In 2013, he produced “The Long Game: Texas’ Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom,” which he researched as a Spencer Fellow for Education Reporting at the Columbia School of Journalism. In 2005, he shared in another Peabody for his contribution to Studio 360’s “American Icons: Moby Dick.” He’s also produced for This American Life, The New Yorker Radio Hour, Marketplace, American RadioWorks, Morning Edition, Inside Appalachia and PBS Frontline. Kay has taught at the Columbia School of Journalism, State University of New York at New Paltz and Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.  He lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and frequently visits his friends and family in West Virginia.


Moderator Bios

Henry Jenkins is the Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education at the University of Southern California. He arrived at USC in Fall 2009 after spending more than a decade as the Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities. He is the author and/or editor of seventeen books on various aspects of media and popular culture, including Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture,  From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Culture, and By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism. He is currently editing a handbook on the civic imagination and writing a book on “comics and stuff”. He has written for Technology Review, Computer Games, Salon, and The Huffington Post. He blogs at www.henryjenkins.org. Jenkins is the principal investigator for The Civic Imagination Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, to explore ways to inspire creative collaborations within communities as they work together to identify shared values and visions for the future. This project grew out of the Media, Activism, and Participatory Politics research group, also funded by MacArthur, which did case studies of innovative organizations that have been effective at getting young people involved in the political process. He is also the Chief Advisor to the Annenberg Innovation Lab. Jenkins also serves on the jury that selects the Peabody Awards, which recognizes “stories that matter” from radio, television, and the web.

Tara McPherson is Professor of Cinema + Media Studies in USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Director of the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Studies in the USC Libraries.  She is a core faculty member of the MA+P program, USC’s innovative practice-based Ph.D., and also an affiliated faculty member in the American Studies and Ethnicity Department.  Her scholarship engages the cultural dimensions of media, including the intersection of gender, race, affect, and place.  She has a particular interest in digital media where her research focuses on the digital humanities, early software histories, gender, and race, as well as upon the development of new tools and paradigms for digital publishing, learning, and authorship. She is author of the award-winning Reconstructing Dixie: Race, Gender and Nostalgia in the Imagined South (Duke UP: 2003), co-editor of Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture (Duke UP: 2003) and of Transmedia Frictions: The Digital, The Arts + the Humanities (California, 2014), and editor of Digital Youth, Innovation and the Unexpected (MIT Press, 2008.)  Her monograph about her lab’s work and research process, Feminist in a Software Lab, will be published by Harvard University Press in late 2017.  She is the Founding Editor of Vectors and lead PI on the authoring platform, Scalar. Her research has been funded by the Mellon, Ford, Annenberg, and MacArthur Foundation, as well as by the NEH.  She is the Faculty Chair for USC’s Visions and Voices and frequently serves of film and new media juries.

Image attribution: Patrick Breitenbach (used under creative commons license)

This event is organized by the Civics and Social Media (CASM) Group and the Civic Imagination Project/Civic Paths.


Event Type

Conference/Symposia, Event Highlights


Students, Alumni, Faculty/Staff


University Park Campus



Add this to your calendar

Recent Activity