• By Alyson Heisler

Listening in: ‘Very Presidential’

As the upcoming election looms in the distance, it’s important to keep an eye on the future (which will be shaped by those who vote!) and also look back at the actions, decisions, and statements of past presidents. “Very Presidential,” hosted by Ashley Flowers, is one source of hidden historical details related to the more personal parts of the presidency. Plus, who doesn’t love an odd historical story or fact to share with a friend or discuss on a first date.

Since its beginning in August, the podcast has covered topics such as the wide spectrum of presidential affairs that are surprisingly prevalent, bad attitudes, and questionable medical treatments. Think of “Very Presidential” as your one-stop-shop for a collection of historical facts that you won’t learn in history class — including the questionable decisions by well-loved presidents like John F. Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt. Flowers encourages listeners to “rethink everything they thought they knew about the Oval Office, as we go deep into the secret pasts of some of our most well-known U.S. presidents.” Sources for each episode are available at www.parcast.com/verypresidential.

Each presidential dialogue is presented chronologically, usually showcasing how the buildup of personal choices can impact the success or public opinion of the president. One episode I found particularly interesting focused on Warren G. Harding, a man that stated he was not intelligent nor did he like to read.

The episode, titled “The Erotic Poet,” chronicles how Harding’s presidency began as a setup to make money on an oil-related opportunity (that may or may not have been illegal) and follows an extended affair with a possible German spy that involved steamy love letters between the two. A fun fact is that a selection of Harding’s letters are contained in the Library of Congress and were made available to the public in 2014 after the 50-year family agreement to keep their contents secret had expired. Listeners will also find out about some reasons why Harding isn’t known as being a very prolific, accomplished president.

Though this is a research-based podcast with much information, Flowers has a way of weaving these perplexing historical events into an entertaining story that spans entire presidencies without boring the listener.

Each episode is around 35 minutes, making it very consumable — what can I say, lengthy podcasts can be more difficult to commit to or become boring. “Very Presidential” offers enough detail about these presidential peculiarities that one could tell the story to a friend but not write an entire biography about the presidential subject.

New episodes will be posted every Tuesday through the 2020 election. “Very Presidential” is available to stream and download on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever podcasts are available.

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