Podcast party: A chat with Kendra Pierre-Louis of How to Save a Planet,’ plus a Canary podcast playlist

It’s a big week for all things podcast at Canary Media.

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Canary Media’s Friday Social column explores the intersection of energy, climate and social media. Canary thanks Silverline Communications for its support of the column.

You may have heard some exciting podcast news this week. We’ve crowdsourced a podcast playlist!

Kidding. The big news is that Stephen Lacey and Shayle Kann will be behind the microphones on two brand-new clean energy podcasts. Canary Media is partnering with Post Script Media to produce the shows, The Carbon Copy and Catalyst. (But we also crowdsourced a playlist. More on that in a minute.)

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We’re far from the only people launching energy and climate podcasts these days. It’s a burgeoning field, to say the least. So we wanted to talk to someone outside of Greentech Media alumni circles to get some perspective on this trend. Fortunately, Kendra Pierre-Louis of Gimlet Media’s podcast How to Save a Planet (and a former New York Times climate journalist) was gracious enough to share her perspective with us.

Climate journalist Kendra Pierre-Louis, reporter and producer of Gimlet Media’s podcast How to Save a Planet (image courtesy of Kendra Pierre-Louis)

Mike Munsell: Why do you think more energy and climate podcasts keep popping up, and what does that say about the medium?

Kendra Pierre-Louis: People in the United States are connecting the dots between extreme weather events — wildfires, hurricanes, floods — and climate change. That is leading them to seek out more information, including in podcast form.

Munsell: If you could get Canary’s audience to listen to one episode of How to Save a Planet, which episode would you choose and why?

Pierre-Louis: I think all of our episodes would be great for Canary’s audience, but if I had to pick one it would be How Amazon Workers Got Serious About the Climate (and How You Can Too).” The episode is one that most directly touches on ways that people can make changes in the workplace.

Munsell: Do you have a favorite non-Gimlet-produced climate or energy podcast, and why?

Pierre-Louis: Probably Drilled. Especially seasons 1 and 3 where they dig into disinformation by the fossil fuel companies. It makes plain how much they knew, how they delayed climate action and how they seem to want to continue to do so regardless of what it means for the planet.

Munsell: Your podcast is great at highlighting climate solutions. Do you have a message for Canary’s audience of professionals working on these solutions?

Pierre-Louis: Think beyond individual actions. For so long, the climate messaging was buy this green thing,” and not only is that not true, it’s disempowering. What we need is people getting together as active participants in our democracy, working toward solutions on the school board, in the PTA, going to community board and planning board meetings, drafting legislative bills with their neighbors, and so on.

Munsell: I’ve followed you on Twitter for a while and am familiar with your anti-mayonnaise stance. I’m on your side in the fight against Big Mayo. If things don’t work out with How to Save a Planet, would you consider starting a podcast with me digging into the corruption and general gloppiness put out by Big Mayo?

Pierre-Louis: I don’t really think about How to Save a Planet not working out (I love it here). I have thought that if we solve this whole climate-change thing then I could devote my energies to taking on Big Mayo. Whether that’s as a podcast, long-form narrative text journalism, documentary film, or in song, I haven’t really entertained because, alas, we have not yet as a nation taken adequate steps to rein in emissions and adapt to a warming world. As a result, while Big Mayo remains a scourge, I think climate change is the subject most in need of rigorous journalism. 

Mike Munsell and Kendra Pierre-Louis share a passion for compelling climatetech journalism — and a soul-searing hatred for mayonnaise. (Image by JeepersMedia/CC BY 2.0; graphics by Canary's Binh Nguyen)

Introducing the Canary Media Energy & Climate Podcast Playlist

Last week, we asked you to share your favorite episodes from energy and climate podcasts. Thank you to the dozens of Canary readers who chimed in. We pulled 29 of your nominations together into a playlist of hit episodes.

We limited the playlist to only one episode per podcast. Otherwise, based on your recommendations, it would have been overrun with episodes from The Energy Gang, The Interchange, How to Save a Planet and The Energy Transition Show.

Speaking of which, when pressed about his favorite episode, Chris Nelder, host of The Energy Transition Show, tweets, I love all my children equally but like any artist I think my most recent work is my best yet.”

Here are more thoughts from Canary readers whose episode recommendations made the list.

Marshall Kirkpatrick recommends an episode of NDN Collectives climate podcast In Our Power that focuses on indigenous climate science. In a tweet, he said it is something I’ve been sharing with everyone I can. It went deep & shook up a lot of things I’d only thought about lightly. It’s humbling & inspiring.”

Rachel Roseneck, associate director and deputy general manager at Kivvit, highlights the amazing Windfall” miniseries from NHPR’s Outside/​In. I endorse her choice of the episode that focuses on Cape Wind.

Energy analyst Fei Wang recommends the new miniseries The ABCs of Big Oil” from Drilled and Earther. Wang writes, When I was researching building electrification, I was surprised by how quickly the number of states with pro-natural-gas legislation has grown, sometimes using identical language. This miniseries really shows this type of lobbying and influence has been pervasive for decades.”

Over on the DER Task Force Slack community, Eric Van Orden, director of sales and business development at Copper Labs, recommends a few podcast episodes, including the Watt It Takes interview with Nancy Pfund.

Canary General Manager Nicholas Rinaldi recommends The Deep Decarbonization Draft” with Shayle Kann and Stephen Lacey on The Interchange. It’s genuinely fun if you’re into either energy wonkery or fantasy sports, and doubly so if you like both.

Enjoy the playlist!

Honorable mentions

Because of our one-episode-per-show rule, the following nominations didn’t make the cut, but you still might want to check them out. 

MJ Shiao, head of U.S. business development and marketing at Longi Solar, says the Interchange episode on Amazon-drone-based solar installations will always hold a special place” in his heart. It was an April Fools’ Day episode that fooled” a then-GTM Research solar analyst into discussing the topic in earnest while moderating a panel. This former analyst will remain unnamed.

Pamela Wildstein highlights an early episode of The Energy Transition Show, Grid Architecture of the Future.” She writes, Literally the reason I wrote an undergrad thesis and am now in grad school studying [distributed energy resources].”

Over on the ToFu Slack channel, a community for climatetech marketers, Ted Dillon, director at Clean Energy Ventures, recommends another Interchange episode. He says it was the first time I really heard the term climatetech’ used. Very much an aha’ moment as I was searching for how to talk about what was happening in cleantech.”

Thank you again to everyone who contributed. If this helped you discover a new show — or if you think we missed an important one — let us know on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Energy and climate podcast directory

For all the audiophiles out there, here is an alphabetical list of all the podcasts recommended by Canary readers — not specific episodes, but the shows themselves.

The ABCs of Big Oil

A Matter of Degrees

Catalyst with Shayle Kann

The Carbon Copy

Climate Positive

Columbia Energy Exchange

Cooler Earth

Degrees: Real Talk About Planet-Saving Careers

The Disconnect: Power, Politics and the Texas Blackout

Drilled

Electrify This!

The Energy Gang

The Energy Transition Show With Chris Nelder

Experts Only

Hot Take

How to Save a Planet

How We Survive

Impact Adventures

Important, Not Important

In Our Power

The Interchange

My Climate Journey

Political Climate

Outside/​In Windfall and Outside/​In Powerline

Renewable Energy SmartPod

The Renewable Generation

Smart Energy Voices

Smart Grid Today Podcast

Solar Maverick

SunCast

Volts

Watt It Takes

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Silverline Communications, the supporter of this column, is a climatetech and ESG communications firm with deep experience in all facets of the clean economy. Learn more about how Silverline connects clients with stakeholders on social channels and beyond.

Mike Munsell is director of growth at Canary Media.