COVID-19 changed the stories we tell — and inspired a new podcast

This Changes Everything host Sara Bernard focuses each show on a different aspect of life, and how we now have to navigate through it without a road map.

A lit up skyline

Hearts are illuminated in Downtown Seattle windows on Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Seattle, Wash. (Sarah Hoffman/Crosscut)

I didn’t want to make a “coronavirus podcast,” per se. For one thing, everyone else is making one. Just Google “coronavirus podcast” and you’ll get dozens of brand-new shows featuring the latest stats and interviews with experts and so on. Lots of existing investigative and story-based podcasts are now doing their own multipart coronavirus series, it seems, while news podcasts are consistently hammering  the virus’s daily mayhem and tragedy.

Plus, like many people, I am exhausted by coronavirus information right now. In such a dire situation, the news is often terrible. So many of us are anxious and overwhelmed. I find myself reading articles about #Megxit — that distracting drama surrounding the decision by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to essentially leave the British royal family — just so I don’t have to read articles about coronavirus.

At the same time, there was really no other story to tell. None of us can think about anything else for very long. And because coronavirus has affected each one of us, we need to know what’s going on, even if we don’t want to know what’s going on. This little virus has utterly consumed everything. 

And so, we made a podcast with a title and theme that we felt was reflective of our world right now: This Changes Everything. The virus is affecting our health, but it’s also affecting almost every single aspect of our lives, from how we work, socialize, think about art and religion and politics, to our very ability to pay rent and survive. And we know, now, that this won’t just be a few frustrating weeks or months. We’ll be in this scary, bizarre and sometimes weirdly inspiring zone for a long, long while. The new normal we’re experiencing right now will keep evolving.

That part isn’t always bad, though. The changes we’re seeing can reveal truths about ourselves that are important to see — truths we can hold on to and cherish, like our ability to connect with neighbors in new ways, to fully experience the small things or to really show up and advocate for each other. Sometimes, they reveal the harsh truths that only a major crisis can, such as gross inadequacies in the social safety net, the health care system and overall emergency preparedness. 

This too shall pass, but for better or worse, we won’t be the same afterward. That’s what this podcast is about. Go listen. 

Subscribe and listen to This Changes Everything on SpotifyStitcherApple PodcastsGoogle Play, Overcast and Podbean.  

About the Authors & Contributors

Sara Bernard

Sara Bernard is Crosscut's podcast producer and host of This Changes Everything. A former staff writer for Seattle Weekly and producer of the podcast Seattleland, she's written and produced stories for Grist, KUOW, and the Atlantic, among other outlets.