Consuelo with an O: Podcast review transcription

During this episode, I will review the Past Present podcast!

Welcome to Consuelo with an O, the one-episode show where I review a podcast so you don’t have to! 

For Loyola University Chicago, I’m Consuelo, and today I will be talking about a very successful podcast. This show, which started way back in 2017 and has more than 300 episodes, is called Past Present podcast; please do not mistake it with Past & Present, these are different podcasts. Though if you like colonial Williamsburg, probably you will not mind mistaking them.

Well, back to Past Present. This podcast was made by Nicole Hammer, associate research Scholar at Columbia University, Neil Young, historian and opinion writer at The Week, and Natalia Petrzer, associate professor of History at the New School for Social Research. Something interesting about this podcast is that, despite of Nikki and Natalia’s affiliation with important institutions, Past Present is an independent project; in fact, to keep it functioning, they have a 1-dollar Patreon subscription.

Now, probably the more important question you are asking yourselves is: what is it about? Well, who better to answer this question than their hosts themselves [“Welcome to the Past Present podcast where we look at American culture and politics through the lens of history and turn hindsight into foresight”]

If you are looking for a high-theory podcast this is not for you. Though that doesn’t mean that this podcast is not interesting in itself; on the contrary, during the episodes, the listener can learn a lot. Like in my case, as an immigrant, I have learned a lot about American History. It is a perfect podcast to listen to while cooking, working out, or commuting. 

Talking more in detail about the format, In the first years of the podcast, the hosts centered each episode around three news. However, around episode 200, they made the good decision to change that format. Since then, they have only reviewed one news per episode. 

Why was this a good decision? Well, back when they used to review 3, it felt like they were always running out of time, and most of their episodes lasted more than 50 minutes. As a listener, I suffered a lot through this period because when I was starting to engage with the topic, they had to jump to the next news. Now, by only reviewing one news per episode, they can talk about it in depth while keeping the episodes shorter at the same time, between 30 to 40 min each. 

One really good section they kept is called “what’s making history,” where, before the end of each episode, Nikki, Natalia, and Neil share with the audience something that happened during the week, a book, or an event that they think that is making history. Oh! I must add that another good thing that changed with the new format is that they have more time to share about themselves with the audience. Though I must admit that what I’m missing is a special episode where they can tell the audience a little more about the origin of the podcast; those stories are always the best. 

Now, talking about technical stuff, if you are the type of person that suffers from listening to low-quality sound, this podcast will be wonderful for you. So far, only one episode 114 has bad audio, but it’s understandable because Natalia was recording from France. Besides this one, all the others are amazing; even the few LIVE episodes they have done have good-sound quality. The only problem I find is that they speak very slowly, even a non-English native speaker like myself (I know, shocking) had to listen to them with a 1.2/ 1.5 acceleration. Though I think this is something defined by personal preferences, and also it gets better throughout the episodes. 

So now, talking about the production that surrounds Past Present, I tried to find transcriptions throughout all the sites where this podcast is available: public seminar, Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, and even on their own website, and they were nowhere to be found, though that’s understandable –sadly, transcriptions are expensive and time-consuming. Speaking about their website, I must say it is halfway to nonfunctioning. All the episodes are on, but is confusing to navigate, the hosts’ information is not up to date, and has a huge publicity about a tv show that makes the visitor think they are doing the show. Another problem with the website is that some of the URL for social media and other pages are broken, so to get to their Facebook and Instagram, listeners have to go to Google or directly to the apps to look for them.  

On the contrary, their social media are active, their links are working, and they are always posting content with the launching of each episode. Before when they used the old “3 news per episode” system, they used to invite the audience to continue sharing on their Facebook, but when I looked at older posts, it seems that this wasn’t happening anymore. 

In conclusion, the Past Present podcast is an incredible initiative by Nikki, Natalia, and Neil. It is amazing to see how they become progressively more relaxed throughout the 300+ episodes. They have the ability to talk about a thing that seems so trivial as news and make it a learning and enjoyable experience for everyone. Also, they never use explicit language so parents can hear them with their teen kids without worrying much, and I said teenagers because a kid will not be able to follow the content. 

 As I already told you, and I will never get tired of saying this, from the very beginning, this podcast has the best quality audio. They should share some tips!. Besides that, I think changing the old  “3 news per episode” format was the best decision. If they hadn’t made that change this review would probably be more negative. Now, regarding the context that surrounds the podcast, It saddens me that they have no transcriptions of their episodes. Accessibility is a big problem that needs to be fixed by our society. 

Also, they need to fix their webpage! In order to check the information about them, I had to struggle to memorize what they said, and at some point I gave up and just Google it. In the end, I think my rating for this podcast is 4.8 stars for the production because is good, really good, and 3 stars for their website. 

Now it is time to finish this episode. Thank you for staying with me, and I invite you to hear Past Present, so after that, you can come to my review available on and let me know if you like the show or not (and also, if you had to make it faster too; like I really want to know if it is only me). 

And with this, I conclude this episode, as they say on Past Present: this episode is history!  

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