Code Switch

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Code Switch
NPR Code Switch cover art.png
GenreRace and Culture
LengthAbout 30 minutes
Original releaseMay 2016 – present
ProviderNational Public Radio
WebsiteOfficial website

Code Switch is a race and culture outlet and a weekly podcast from American public radio network NPR.[1] It began in 2013 with a blog as well as contributing stories to NPR radio programs. The Code Switch podcast launched in 2016. In the wake of the George Floyd protests, it became one of NPR's top ranked podcasts.[2]


Code Switch was launched in 2013 with a $1.5 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; it developed as a blog and contributed stories to a variety of NPR programs.[3] Harvard's Neiman Lab describes the project as "designed to increase coverage of race issues and reach out to new audiences" at NPR and affiliated media outlets.[4]

The blog began publishing on April 7, 2013 with Gene Demby's introductory essay "How Code-Switching Explains The World".[5][6]

The outlet's name refers to the linguistic phenomenon of code-switching, when speaker moves between multiple languages or dialectics. Demby's introductory essay said the project construed the concept broadly, with the linguistic concept also serving as means of analyzing aspects of race and culture in identity: "Many of us subtly, reflexively change the way we express ourselves all the time. We're hop-scotching between different cultural and linguistic spaces and different parts of our own identities—sometimes within a single interaction."[7]


Harvard's Neiman Lab described the Code Switch project as a "forward-thinking effort given the rapidly changing demographics in the U.S.[;] Code Switch has grown into a place where reporters tries to consider issues around race with nuance, whether that’s the myth of the colorblind millennial, or going deep on the hit Broadway musical Hamilton."[8] The outlet has also drawn notice for reporting and commentary on topics ranging from sports[9] and reality television,[10] to the Supreme Court.[11]

Code Switch reporter Kat Chow has also described the project as especially interested in the "second beat" of a story: "If there is breaking news, we want to take a step back and see what this actually means. What is there to report on that hasn’t already been said?”[12]


Team members have included Gene Demby, who is lead blogger and cohosts the podcast[13] with reporter Shereen Marisol Meraji; Tasneem Raja, senior digital editor;[14] supervising senior producer Alicia Montgomery;[15] Matt Thompson[4] and Kat Chow.[16]


In May 2016, the Code Switch team launched a podcast by the same name.[17] Episodes are released weekly on Wednesdays.[18]

The Guardian characterized the podcast as "courageous conversations."[19] Wired said Code Switch's July 14, 2016 episode "Black and Blue" offered "thoughtful conversation about race and policing."[20] Los Angeles Magazine said, "NPR’s 'Code Switch' began as a popular blog, but its evolution into a podcast seems explores issues of race, culture, and politics in a personal way that flourishes in an audio format."[21]

Awards and reception[edit]

Code Switch won the Online News Association for best online commentary at a large outlet in 2014.[22]

In 2015, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists awarded Shereen Marisol Meraji the "Radio, Feature News - Large Market" award for her Code Switch segment "Tandas".[23]

Despite generally positive reaction to the blog, some users complain about practices and policies on moderating comments.[24]

In 2016 Los Angeles Magazine recommended the Code Switch podcast as one of "5 Podcasts You Must Listen to This Summer".[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wang, Shan (June 2, 2016). "What does the intersection of race and culture sound like? NPR's Code Switch is looking for the right mix". Neiman Lab. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  2. ^ "How NPR's 'Code Switch' Podcast Became a Hit Telling Stories "The Way They Needed to Be Told"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
  3. ^ Grinapol, Corinne (May 10, 2016). "NPR's Code Switch Podcast Is Debuting at the End of the Month". FishbowlDC. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b Ellis, Justin (May 13, 2013). "Monday Q&A: NPR's Matt Thompson on Code Switch, covering race and culture, and developing a mobile audience". Neiman Lab. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  5. ^ Demby, Gene (8 April 2013). "How Code-Switching Explains The World". Code Switch. NPR. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  6. ^ Parham, Jason (April 8, 2013). "NPR Launches New Blog Covering "Race, Culture and Ethnicity"". Complex. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  7. ^ G., R.L. (April 10, 2013). "How black to be?". The Economist. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  8. ^ Ellis, Justin (October 5, 2015). "Tasneem Raja on how NPR's Code Switch navigates the increasingly crowded race-and-culture beat". Neiman Lab. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  9. ^ Prince, Richard (August 21, 2016). "Media Turn on the Olympics' 'Ugly American'". The Root. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  10. ^ Butler, Bethonie (16 March 2016). "'The Bachelor' and what we really mean when we say 'diverse'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  11. ^ Prince, Richard (June 26, 2016). "CNN Hiring of Ex-Trump Aide Raises Ethical Concerns in Media". The Root. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  12. ^ Hallman, Charles (12 November 2015). "Code Switch deepens race conversation on the airwaves". Minnesota Spokesman Recorder News Online. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  13. ^ "NPR Launching Code Switch Podcast | Cision". Cision. 23 May 2016.
  14. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (18 December 2014). "Tasneem Raja named senior digital editor at NPR". Poynter. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  15. ^ Ragusea, Adam (July 14, 2016). "Code Switch's Alicia Montgomery on leading conversations about race". Current. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  16. ^ Steigrad, Alexandra (14 July 2016). "NPR Tackles Race, Gender and Identity in America With Code Switch Podcast". WWD. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  17. ^ Neyfakh, Leon (10 April 2016). "The Fight for the Future of NPR". Slate. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  18. ^ Jao, Charline (June 15, 2016). "Interview: Kat Chow and Shereen Marisol Meraji of NPR's Code Switch". The Mary Sue. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  19. ^ Locker, Melissa (16 May 2016). "Small Town Horror provides radio scares while Code Switch gets its own podcast". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  20. ^ "5 Podcasts You Need to Hear to Get Through This Week". Wired. July 18, 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  21. ^ a b Abarbanel, Aliza (20 July 2016). "5 Podcasts You Must Listen to This Summer". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  22. ^ "2014 Awards | Online News Association". Online News Association. Archived from the original on 13 September 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  23. ^ "NAHJ Journalism Awards: Fusion Wins George Ramos "Chale" Investigative Award; CNN & ESPN top winners list". National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  24. ^ Lapin, Andrew (5 June 2014). "A year in, NPR's Code Switch still figuring out commenting". Current. Retrieved 5 September 2016.