How NPR's 'Throughline' Explores The History Of Current Events


In the NPR podcast Throughline, co-hosts Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah take listeners back in time to understand news stories of the present.

While neither of the hosts are historians, they say that's the point of the podcast.

“It’s much more relatable," says Arablouei. "It’s not that we’ve studied these issues for years, it’s that we’ve gone on this journey and we want you to come with us and along the way we hear from people who have studied these issues for many years.”

With a non-stop news cycle it can be hard to choose which story Throughline will take a deep dive into, especially as more headlines demand deep and nuisanced coverage. But Abdelfatah says they try to keep a balance when producing the show.

“There are definitely, I think, times when we kind of drop everything and respond and then there are times when we give ourselves breathing room to really digest what’s happening, get a better understanding, do more research, talk to more people,” she notes.

Another thing the show is trying to do is challenge their own preconceived notions on topics they chose to cover says Arablouei.

“If it’s just confirming the biases that folks on the team might already have, then it’s really not that fun to work on. The fun comes in the surprise and the novelty of finding out something that makes you think differently about the world you live in today,” he says.

If you grew up hating history classes or found them boring, Abdelfatah says don't even think of Throughline as a history show. 

"I think it's limiting honestly to think of it in that way because it's so much more than that," she says. “If you’re confused about the world, as I think many of us are, this is a podcast that will help you I think make a little more sense of what’s going on. And that I think is valuable to anyone nowadays.”

Listen to Throughline on WUWM Friday’s at 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., or online.