Podcasts Reexamining Cultural Institutions

Curated by the Breaking Glass team, a collaboration between Glimmerglass Festival and WFMT Radio Network


Hey hi hello, we’re the team behind Breaking Glass, a podcast that explores the social justice themes in contemporary opera. Here, we present a collection of podcasts that delve into race, class, and identity of our social institutions.




If you hear something described as an institution – an idea or an occupation or an art form – it’s easy to assume that will never change. It has been around for so long and it will continue into the future for so long, no one can touch it. It is immutable… right?

WRONG. An institution can and should change. We are a partnership of two hubs of “high-culture” art pushing into the 21st century: the Glimmerglass festival of opera in upstate New York and WFMT, the classical radio station in Chicago. We are self-reflecting on the creation and performance of opera to better understand our world and make sure we are prepared for the present and future, refreshing and reinventing the art form to reflect the humans who make and listen to it.

We collected a handful of podcasts that look at a long-standing body of work and breaks it down for the 21st century. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of social justice breakdowns and critical race, gender, and feminist thinking. We believe re-examining the supposedly stable historical monoliths is a worthwhile (and vital) endeavor, best told by those historically excluded from these spaces.

View, follow, and listen to the whole collection of shows on RadioPublic, available on iOS and Android.

Breaking Glass

Hello from the friendly Breaking Glass team. We explore social justice through the lens of the opera. That’s right – contemporary, amazing, critical, smart opera. By challenging ideas of who opera is for and who should create it, we learn a lot of what our “highest-brow” art form tell us about art and society. The show is hosted by Paige Hernandez and Tazewell Thompson, first-time librettists of color who are composing and creating for the Glimmerglass stage.

Such Stuff

Is there any literature more institutional than Shakespeare? It seems like every high school student has to read and act out a play or two of his in high school, but why do we keep teaching our students this written canon? And does it matter today? Go behind the scenes at Shakespeare’s Globe with Such Stuff, as they explore the big themes behind the theater and Shakespeare’s impact on the world.


If you’re living in America in 2018 and you’re not listening to Deconstructed, you’re missing out. Columnist Mehdi Hasan challenges the mainstream media’s tired takes by sharing her experience as an immigrant, a Muslim, and a Brit in America. We were floored by her conversation with actor Riz Ahmed, where they break down the difficulty of being the only Muslim in the room, or one of the few in Hollywood and media.


Ah, Greek and Roman mythology! What unimpeachable tales of the founders of thought and reason. Well… not exactly. Amanda McLoughlin and Julia Schifini tell foundational myths and folklore from all over the world through a modern, feminist lens to understand how the stories we tell ourselves impact us now. You will never think of Zeus as a powerful forefather of the gods ever again.

Racist Sandwich

“The Racist Sandwich podcast serves up a perspective that you don’t hear often: that both food and the ways we consume, create, and interpret it can be political.” We couldn’t put it better ourselves! Hosts Soleil Ho and Zahir Janmohamed regularly feature interviews with chefs of color, and bring humor and grace to discussions of politics, identity, and diversity across the food landscape.

Whitest Cube

Whitest Cube takes on race and class inside the walls of art institutions, for artists, museum workers, and art appreciators. Unsurprisingly, buildings that house the most important artifacts and masterworks of culture inspire complicated feelings. This show refuses to shy away from those ideas and, like a docent who has stopped caring about the opinions of her superiors, let you know what’s really going on.

The Intercept

Sometimes an entire city needs to be re-examined. That’s what this episode of The Intercept brings us with their live show “Chicago Claps Back.” Poet, scholar, and author Eve Ewing, revolutionary educator Bill Ayers, activist Charlene Carruthers, and journalist Jamie Kalven discuss everything from the murder conviction of the Chicago Police officer who gunned down Laquan McDonald to the war on Chicago’s public schools.


Want to create your own collection of shows that dovetails with your area of interest? Add shows to your Smart Folder on RadioPublic, then inform the Podcast Librarian of your collection: librarian@radiopublic.com.

Leave a Reply