Hit podcast 'Heavyweight' facilitates hard conversations with humor and tops list of 'Best Podcasts for 2022'

Award-winning radio and podcast host and producer Jonathan Goldstein hosts the hit podcast "Heavyweight," where he facilitates hard conversations and asks questions we feel we cannot ask ourselves, using empathy and humor. "Heavyweight" also recently topped the New Yorker's list of "Best Podcasts for 2022." (Copyright of Ahmed Klink, courtesy of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity)

 At some point, you may have been told that you shouldn’t live in the past, but instead you should embrace the present. It’s good advice, but what do you do if your past is haunting your present? What if, try as you might, you can’t get around it on your own? Enter the Heavyweight, also known as award-winning radio and podcast producer and host Jonathan Goldstein.

On Goldstein’s hit podcast “Heavyweight,” he facilitates hard conversations and asks the questions that we feel like we cannot ask for ourselves. His trademark combination of empathy and self-deprecating humor results in heartwarming stories that are as likely to leave you laughing as they are crying.

“Heavyweight” recently topped the New Yorker’s list of “Best Podcasts for 2022,” and to celebrate, Jonathan Goldstein joined “City Lights” senior producer Kim Drobes via Zoom.

Interview highlights:

How prior work as on “This American Life” helped inspire “Heavyweight:”

“I think there was a common denominator among the stories that I seemed to gravitate towards as a producer on ‘This American Life,’ stories that dealt with regret. A blueprint for ‘Heavyweight’ might have been a story that I did in the early 2000s on ‘This American Life’ in which I found myself so regretful of everything that comes out of my mouth that I decided to spend the entire day recording every conversation that I had, everything that I was doing that day, in order to replay the tape, and kind of have a second go at it, and get a chance at a redo. And the episode that they built around that story was called ‘What I Should Have Said.’ So in many ways, ‘Heavyweight’ is an offshoot of ‘What I Should Have Said.'”

On gathering weighty material and sharing it with compassion and care:

“I have wonderful producers who are just very thoughtful and intelligent, so I feel like I’m never kind of in it alone. I think there are different parameters to it than therapy. It isn’t, I guess, as holistic. It has aspects of therapy, in that we’re revisiting the past to try to rectify something about the present, but it’s also more quest-based. You know, like there is one specific thing that might have ripple effects, and open up onto bigger issues, but we have to sort of decide where to close the door, and also sometimes things just don’t work out. That’s a part of the scary thing.”

“The flip side of the scary thing is that sometimes, in not working out, they become better than they would’ve otherwise been, had you achieved that goal in a straight linear path,” said Goldstein. “It’s oftentimes the barriers that come up, the moments in the story where you feel like, ‘Oh, all is lost. There’s no way we’re going to achieve this thing,’ that complicates things and enriches them, kind of makes it deeper. Sometimes not getting the – I mean, this sounds a little cliche – but in not getting the thing that you set out for, you find something else, and to kind of spectate, to witness people going through that, to be allowed access to that, it’s a special thing that we on the team, we don’t take lightly.”

Seasons 1-6 of Johnathan Goldstein’s hit podcast “Heavyweight” can be heard wherever you get your podcasts. Season 7 and beyond are only available on Spotify. More information is available at https://gimletmedia.com/shows/heavyweight/episodes