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Making (Sound) Waves: TFAS Alumni-Hosted Podcasts


The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) alumni are prolific producers of written material from articles to op-eds to books. They make appearances on news stations, testify in front of Congress and share their expertise on countless radio shows. But that’s not all they do — several alumni take their messages to the masses as hosts of their own podcasts! Podcasts are a great medium for sharing information with a personal touch. Covering everything from current events to the creative industry, the 10 TFAS alumni featured here are making their mark with these must-hear podcasts.


Are You Kidding Me?

Co-hosted by Naomi Schaefer Riley, Novak ’01, and Ian Rowe

In the Are You Kidding Me? podcast, Riley and Rowe discuss salient issues surrounding child welfare. They host a variety of prominent individuals in the industry and converse about everything from education to foster care and adoption practices. Their goal is to bring to light the policies and hidden agendas that negatively impact one of the world’s most vulnerable populations – children. In a recent episode, Riley and Rowe interviewed TFAS alumni Justin Black ’18, ’19 and Alexis Lenderman-Black ’17, ’19. Justin and Alexis are a young married couple with personal backgrounds in the foster care system who wrote a book about their experiences, titled “Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Care Kids Beat the Odds and Discovered Healing, Happiness and Love.” They discussed the transition from foster care to adulthood, especially as it relates to higher education, and answered the question of how to redefine normal.

Riley said “that because of the nature of our podcast — which is about the systems that purport to help kids but often fail — many of our interviews can be depressing. We talk about the problems that plague our education and child welfare systems. But Justin and Alexis offer such an important story of hope in this environment. Talking to them about the parts of the system that allowed them to succeed was inspiring and informative. I know that their experience can help us understand how to better support our most vulnerable children.”

Best of Both Worlds

Co-Hosted by Laura Vanderkam ’99, Novak ’06, and Sarah Hart-Unger

In the Best of Both Worlds podcast, Vanderkam and Hart-Unger give advice for women to strike a healthy balance between work and family life. With nearly 200 episodes in their arsenal, the hosts provide a wealth of information and helpful tips for accomplishing this feat. In this episode on workplace wellness, the hosts discuss different ways to promote engagement and healthy lifestyles while working full time. They cover what wellness looks like, how employees can manage their wellness at work, and how supervisors can promote healthy and happy work environments.

The Deep Dive

Hosted by John Lettieri ’03, PPF ’08

In The Deep Dive, Lettieri leads thought-provoking conversations on the most relevant economic issues facing the U.S. today. His expertise comes from a lifetime dedication to economics. Lettieri is the co-founder, president and CEO of the Economic Innovation Group, a bipartisan public policy organization that combines innovative research and data-driven advocacy to address America’s most pressing economic challenges to forge a more dynamic economy. The Deep Dive features experts in business, economics and journalism and explores complex social and economic issues like demographics, access, social capital, remote work, policymaking, and more.

In this episode with Lyman Stone, Novak ’20, the two discuss Stone’s “thoughts on what policymakers can do to make it easier to raise a family in the United States, the role of immigration in fostering a dynamic economy, the impact of demographic decline on national well-being, and the need to reinvigorate American institutions, especially Congress, in order to meet today’s challenges and ensure their legitimacy for generations to come.”

Bold and Blunt

Hosted by Cheryl Chumley, Novak ’08

In this podcast, Chumley speaks boldly and bluntly about the major issues facing politics today. She takes a conservative stance in her “no-holds-barred” descriptions, calling everything like she sees it. In this episode, Chumley speaks with TFAS Outreach Fellow and Venezuelan asylum seeker Jorge Galicia. They discuss socialism: what it is, what it looks like, and its dangerous consequences. Chumley believes that whether something is constitutional is more important than trying to define whether it is socialist. Galicia explains his personal experience growing up in socialist Venezuela and how the way the U.S. government has managed the COVID crisis reminds him of the socialism he witnessed firsthand there.

The Journey of Life

Hosted by Mark Stansberry ’76

In The Journey of Life podcast, Stansberry hosts a variety of authors, individuals in the entertainment industry, and Oklahoma public figures. One of his featured guests is Kelli O’Hara, Broadway actress extraordinaire. In this episode, they discuss the beginning of their careers in the entertainment industry, their Oklahoma roots, how they’ve chosen to use their voices, O’Hara’s early days on Broadway, and her favorite projects.

When asked what stands out to him as a lesson he’s learned from hosting this podcast, Stansberry shared: “We all have a story! From an Oscar winner to those who have Grammy, Emmy, and Tony wins to political leaders, authors, etc., the guests each had mentors who inspired them. One guest became blind in his twenties and despite those challenges he went on to write books, produce movies, and other ventures!”

You can listen to Stansberry across the web as he shares his insight on some other topics with two other podcasts he hosts. One of them, Newscape Higher Ed Advisors, shares opportunities and challenges facing leaders in higher education today. The other, National Energy Talk, is going live in July 2021. This podcast will discuss energy issues and views facing both our country and the globe, with a central them of “striving for energy efficiency and environmental preservation.”

More Alumni-Hosted Podcasts

The Mark Levin Show, hosted by Mark Levin ’76

Levin, one of the top conservative commentators of today, discusses the biggest updates of the day and incorporates his perspective on each topic.

The Burkean Conservative, hosted by Wes Siler ’06

Categorized into three episode categories – Interviews, Conservatism on Tap, and Refounding Fathers – this podcast explores the conservative movement from the perspective of Edmund Burke.

The Reason Roundtable, co-hosted by Katherine Mangu-Ward, Novak ’05, Peter Suderman, Novak ’10, Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie

The four hosts of this podcast get real with each other on the latest developments in current events each week. Their frank discussions attempt to “play defense against the news,” so they discuss the most relevant news topics.

Nashville Public Radio’s Curious Nashville, hosted by Tony Gonzalez, Novak ’11

In this podcast, listeners submit questions about Nashville for the creators to investigate and explore. These inquiries take Gonzalez all over the city to discover unique and fascinating aspects of Nashville life and culture.

Agri-Pulse Deep Dive, co-hosted by Ben Nuelle ’14, PPF ’20, and Spencer Chase

Nuelle and Chase explore complex themes in the food and agriculture industry in this podcast. They discuss everything from electric vehicles to biofuels to sustainability in the dairy industry.

If you’re an alumnus making sound waves, we want to hear you! You can email us at alumni@TFAS.org or submit an update at TFAS.org/alumniupdates.


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