Alumnus-Produced Podcast Earns Webby Award
by Scout Brobst BA ’20
For the past six months, Sam Ozer-Staton BA ’17 has served as an associate producer for CAFE, a media venture run by Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York. A few short weeks ago, the Webby Awards––dubbed “the Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times––announced “Stay Tuned With Preet” as the People’s Voice Winner of News and Politics in the podcast category, as chosen by the voting public.
Bharara, a high-profile prosecutor perhaps best known in recent years for his termination as part of President Donald Trump’s 2017 dismissal of U.S. attorneys, hosts the informational podcast each week to discuss the political and legal issues of the moment. Last year, many of the episodes circled around the legality of presidential impeachment. This year, issues have ranged from the implications of coronavirus stay-at-home orders, the charges filed in the killing of George Floyd, and concerns surrounding public protests.
Ozer-Staton, who graduated from Lewis & Clark as a political science major, cites the podcast as a critical resource for those who want to think about questions of law and justice in the context of where we are as a country.
“People are frustrated, and they want an outlet for their frustration,” Ozer-Staton says. “People are following government orders now more than ever because they know that we’re in a moment of crisis, and what Preet provides for people is one level deeper in analysis.”
After graduating from Lewis & Clark, Ozer-Staton began his political career in Montana as a field organizer on the campaign to elect the Democratic Senator Jon Tester. The position was a far cry from his roots in San Francisco or his current home base in New York City, and he credits the success of the move, in part, with the role of empathy in the liberal arts college experience.
“I had the experience of going to college and questioning a lot of what I thought I knew, and I left college with the understanding that I knew very little,” Ozer-Staton says. “I think that was tremendously important before moving to a place like Montana and trying to tell people who they should vote for.”
Ozer-Staton names Associate Professor of Humanities Kim Brodkin as a particularly influential figure in his educational development, alongside Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Associate Professor of History David Campion and Associate Professor of Political Science Ellen Seljan.
“My advisor [Ellen Seljan] instilled in me a sense of discipline and a seriousness that I think is trademark of the political science department at Lewis & Clark,” Ozer-Staton says. “I’m really proud to have been associated with that department.”
From his current role in political media, Ozer-Staton remains open minded about future opportunities in law and politics.
“Ultimately I want to create public policy that makes the world a fairer place,” he says. “The degree to which the Lewis & Clark community was focused on justice, and social justice in particular, made a large impression on me, and it set up a framework for how I think about the problems in our country.”