“If you’re looking for another political podcast to handicap the horse race, there are plenty of them out there,” John Hammontree told listeners in the intro to the third season of “Reckon Interview.”
In other words, that’s not what’s happening here.
“… We want you to join us as we explore the Southern issues, trends and movements that matter most,” he continued.
“And hopefully, learn how to plant our own seeds of change,” added cohost and Reckon’s editor-in-chief, R.L. Nave.
You might know Reckon as al.com’s social brand, which produced the Facebook Watch series “Chasing Corruption.” The brand has transformed, however, with “deep exploration of tough and important issues facing the South.”
The podcast, “Reckon Interview,” reflects that in its third season with a sharp focus on the role the South’s past is playing in our country’s present.
What do voting rights look like half a century after the civil rights movement?
How did the South shape the national politics we know today?
How have coalitions been built in a place divided by race, and what can we learn from that in a pandemic?
Coastal media tends to miss these storylines, said Hammontree, executive producer of Reckon’s podcast, “because they’re missing the movements that are happening on the ground.”
But the South is the birthplace of all those movements, Nave said. And so it’s the perfect place to explore them.
“In our lifetime, we’ve seen some epic elections and the rise of powerful movements,” he wrote in an introduction to the podcast’s new season. “But I don’t know that we’ve seen them collide in quite the way they are right now. That’s why Reckon made the decision to do something different in the months ahead. Instead of just covering politics, we’re dedicating this season of the award-winning Reckon Interview podcast to the movement and coalition builders and observers across the South who are educating voters on issues and fighting to make sure every eligible voter has access to the ballot.
“In short: We’re focusing on the people writing the South’s next chapters.”
Reckon isn’t covering politics the same way that traditional newsrooms do, Nave said. And its podcast offers the space to cover the movements we’re in the middle of.
How are movements built? Who are the people behind them? What does all of that look like mid-pandemic?
Each episode digs into those questions and offers actionable, practical advice, Hammontree said, including how to make sure you’re able to vote in a pandemic, lessons to build your own coalitions and how to make politics better in the South.
National political coverage is more divisive and insidery than most people actually are, said Kelly Ann Scott, Alabama Media Group’s vice president of content. The podcast gives people a place to breathe, explore, learn and form their own opinions.
The approach is new, but the issues they’re talking about are not, including stoking suburban racial resentment, lack of paid child care and voting rights.
“We’ve been having these same damn fights for decades in the South but also across the country,” Hammontree said.
They could keep repeating. Or new movements and coalitions could make them crumble.
This piece originally appeared in Local Edition, our newsletter devoted to the telling stories of local journalists. Kristen Hare covers the business and people of local news for Poynter.org and is the editor of Locally. You can subscribe to her weekly newsletter here. Kristen can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @kristenhare.