Anniversary Episode: One Year of 55 Voices for Democracy Podcast

November 18, 2021

The 55 Voices for Democracy podcast celebrates it's first birthday this month! Time to look back on the first 25 episodes and reflect on what happened so far: Hosts Tom Zoellner and Aida Baghernejad discuss the highlights and their favorite moments of the podcast against the backdrop of their own biographies. How do their individual political and professional backgrounds shape the way they approach the podcast and interview the guests? What can we learn from having a German and a U.S. standpoint on the podcast, and how can these different political systems be helpful to get a deeper understanding of democracy? Who would Tom’s dream guest be and how did Aida first get interested in Thomas Mann and his work? In this episode, they take the time to reflect on these and other issues and give us the opportunity to learn more about the hosts of 55 Voices.




Tom Zoellner (host) is the New York Times bestselling author of eight nonfiction books, including Island on Fire, Uranium Train, and The Heartless Stone. He teaches at Chapman University and Dartmouth College. A former reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, he is the politics editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Aida Baghernejad (co-host) is an award-winning journalist and culture critic based in Berlin. Her work appears in national and international media outlets, among them the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the San Francisco Chronicle, the TagesspiegelZeit Online and Deutschlandfunk Kultur, as well as the German podcast series Pasta & Politik, featuring leading female politicians and thinkers in Germany. In 2021, she received the International Music Journalism Award as Music Journalist of the Year. She has previously taught at King’s College London and the Humboldt University Berlin.

Lisa Bartfai (producer) is an award-winning independent radio journalist, podcast producer, and translator. She is the producer and editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books podcast 55 Voices for Democracy, and the producer, editor, and host of Bowdoin Presents, a podcast by Bowdoin College. Bartfai’s own reporting was included in the Columbia Review of Journalism’s “Best journalism of 2020: Covering racial justice,” and has been awarded second place in the Society for Features Journalism 2021 Excellence-in-Features, in the Best Podcast category. Bartfai is a mentor with Report for America, and a proud alumni of the KALW Audio Academy.