Substack: The Podcast Tax: If You’re Paying Taxes, You’re Paying For Government Podcasts! 28_SS_podcast_tax

February 27, 2024 09:34 AM



Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

By Adam Andrzejewski | Published at Substack


Just since 2020, the federal government paid $324 million in grants to projects that in some capacity deployed a podcast.


In Wichita, Kansas, the $4 million #FactsNotFear Covid-19 health information campaign used local podcasters to “heighten awareness while engaging residents, community organizations and community leaders in crafting a culturally sensitive message” around “health literacy.”


The University of Houston received $2.3 million to develop podcasts and study if those podcasts can reduce the spread of HIV.

And while some podcasts seem ideologically neutral, others push a left-wing framing of American life that some taxpayers may find objectionable.


Here are some examples:

  • Regeneration Rising ($446,353 from Department of Agriculture), a podcast about agriculture, features an episode on “building a queer farmer community.”

  • Subtitle ($227,420 from the National Endowment of the Humanities), about linguistics, has an episode called “the little pronoun that could” about a new gender-neutral pronoun being introduced in Swedish.

  • Sacred & Profane ($199,663 from the National Endowment of the Humanities), about American religious life, has an episode on how “Satanists play an important role in American religious and political life, showing us how ideas about religion, pluralism, and the separation of church and state are changing in the U.S.”

  • Fullbright Forward ($20,000 from the Department of State), about the Fullbright program, has an episode on “Exploring Identity, Language Teaching, and the Impact of Whiteness.”

  • CalArts Center for New Performance Podcast ($20,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts), about new artistic works from UCLA, has an episode on “the specter of Emmett Till’s murder to create a nightmarish reverie on white violence and silence in America.”

  • Artists and Hackers ($10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts), about the intersection of art and technology, has episodes on “Erotic Ecologies and the Fluid Relationships Between Humans and AI,” and an “AI chatbot experiment trained on erotic literature, feminist and queer theory, and an ethics of embodiment.”

  • Purple Royale ($5,000 from the Department of State), about “issues and stories affecting trans and intersex lives in Zimbabwe.”

Since your taxpayer dollars funded these podcasts, we include the links so you can listen for yourself. After all, you paid for it.



While many government agencies are involved in funding podcasts in some way, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) take a primary role funding podcasts in the name of artistic or cultural expression.

According to the NEH website:

“Because democracy demands wisdom, NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. The Endowment accomplishes this mission by awarding grants for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers.”

The NEA website says of the agency:

“By advancing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, the NEA fosters and sustains an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States.”

However, lots of regular people wouldn’t characterize these podcasts as “wisdom,” but instead “waste.”


Never-the-less, Congress has increased the appropriations for both agencies by nearly $60 million since 2017.



Enacted budgets for both the National Endowment for the Humanities and for the National Endowment for the Arts. Both agencies get the same amount of funding each year.



Because we believe the American people should be able to access and evaluate for themselves the podcasts they are paying for, auditors found 58 podcasts produced in the past four years for your listening pleasure.


Many other podcasts have been funded the past four years, but the 58 we identified were those that had links people could use to listen right away. These podcasts account for $8,535,556 in federal spending. 


Most Americans would not think to wonder whether they are funding a conversation about Satanists in America, or about ‘male romantic friendships’ in the 19th century South, nor about trans people in Zimbabwe. Yet, all of these topics received funding from the federal government. 


It begs a serious question: Is there anything the government won’t throw money at?


Ten podcasts received over $300,000 in funding:




Were these podcasts worthy of your taxpayer dollar?


To be fair, this content would likely not be made without government subsidies, but judge for yourself whether you think it’s right that you’re paying for podcasts like:


  • Brains On! The Move ($556,544 from National Science Foundation), a podcast for children that features an episode on “superheroes prepared to help us defeat the coronavirus: Sgt. Socially Distanced, the Masked Mentor, the Testmaster and the Vaxinator!”

  • The Prologue ($370,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts), a podcast on Southern history and culture, that features an episode on “how 19th century male romantic friendships queer our understanding of historical masculinity.”

  • Genealogies of Modernity ($299,900 from the National Endowment of the Humanities), a podcast on history, that features several episodes with clear ideological bents: “Jamestown and the Myth of the Sovereign Family,” “A Medieval Anti-Racist,” and “A Genealogy of Gun Violence.”

  • Queens Memory ($228,546 from the National Endowment of the Humanities), about the history and culture of the Queens borough in New York City, that has an episode discussing “learning about the Black Lives Matter movement, taking part in protests, and [the hosts’] continued self-education on racism.”

Much of the spending featured in this report was not intended primarily for podcasts, but rather for expansive research or outreach projects with a podcast component tacked on. For example:


  • $4,000,000 in 2021 from the Department of Health and Human Services to the City of Wichita for the #FactsNotFear communication and outreach initiative to “heighten awareness while engaging residents, community organizations and community leaders in crafting a culturally sensitive message” around COVID-19 “health literacy.” The program includes partnering with podcasters and “local influencers” to spread the message.

  • $3,531,686 in 2023 from the Department of Agriculture to the Institute of Food Protection and Sustainability to test robotic apple harvesting and sorting technologies and “broadly disseminate and accelerate the adoption of” the technology through podcasts and other media.

  • $2,312,423 in 2021 to the University of Houston to develop podcasts and study if those podcasts can reduce the spread of HIV

  • $1,893,997 in 2023 from the National Science Foundation to Women of Color in Engineering Collaborative to “tackle the systemic barriers that exist for women engineers of color through innovative solutions and the sharing of collective knowledge,” using, among many other initiatives, a podcast.



While the National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities says that “democracy demands wisdom” and they fund “excellence,” most regular Americans would not view these projects as wisdom, but waste.


As our national debt exceeds $34 trillion, every dime of this podcast funding is borrowed against our future and future generations of Americans.


Certainly, propaganda promoting silly notions and radical ideologies should have no claim to taxpayer funds.



US taxpayers forked over $8.5M for government-produced podcasts: ‘Left-wing agitprop’ | New York Post | February 21, 2024


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