Top Codcast: Three scrappy women from Somerset

Check out the CommonWealth’s most popular podcasts from 2022

COMMONWEALTH‘S MOST POPULAR Codcast of 2022 was an interview with three women from Somerset who fought back against a scrap metal export operation at Brayton Point that was launched after federal permitting delays stalled offshore wind development at the property.

The women — Nicole McDonald, Kathy Souza, and Nancy Thomas – eventually prevailed in court and succeeded in shutting the scrap metal business down. They were fed up with the truck traffic that rattled their community and the metal dust that often blanketed it. 

They not only fought the scrap metal operation in court, but launched an organization called Save Our Bay – Brayton Point that mobilized friends and neighbors, became a political force in the community, and catapulted Souza on to the Board of Selectmen.

Souza said during the Codcast that she was tired of people questioning how a scrap metal operation could be any worse than the coal-fired power plant that once occupied Brayton Point. She said her father and Thomas’s father both worked at the power plant and died of rare cancers.

“We are going to be the people that stop this from ever happening in our neighborhood again. And if it takes me until the day I go, I will, I’ll keep at it,” Souza said. “There is no good poison. There is no good harmful contaminant to land in our neighborhood. We don’t deserve it. Nobody deserves it.”

The Codcast with the women of Somerset had 1,534 plays on Soundcloud, demonstrating that conversations about local issues and public policy can resonate with listeners. Last year, three Codcasts topped 1,000 plays; this year 31 did.

Here are this year’s top 10 Codcasts in reverse order, along with links to the audio files and the stories we wrote about the conversations. 

  1. “Making sense of COVID policies in schools” January 24, 2022

Natasha Ushomirsky, state director for Massachusetts at the Education Trust, and Dr. Richard Malley, a senior pediatrician in the division of infectious diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital, discussed changing COVID policy in schools.

Listen to the Codcast or read the write-up by Shira Schoenberg. Total plays in 2022: 1,250.

  1. “The air traffic controller of electricity” April 10, 2022

Gordon van Welie, president and CEO of ISO New England, is the guy in charge of keeping the lights on in the region.

Listen to the Codcast or read the write-up by Bruce Mohl. Total  plays: 1,274.

  1. “Defense lawyer dismisses Baker marijuana bill as ‘junk science’” February 22, 2022

John Amabile, president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Dr. Staci Gruber, director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at Harvard’s McLean Hospital, explain why testing for marijuana impairment is not so simple. 

Listen to the Codcast or read the write-up by Shira Schoenberg. Total plays: 1,284.

  1. “How Boston escaped the national spike in homicides” January 9, 2022

While cities across the country set all-time records for homicides in 2021, Boston stands out as one of the few exceptions among large cities. Thomas Abt, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Council on Criminal Justice, and Tito SantosSilva, the executive director of Boston Uncornered, an innovative program that provides intensive mentoring to gang-involved youth, explain what Boston is doing right.

Listen to the Codcast or read the write-up by Michael Jonas. Total plays: 1,307.

  1. “2 mayors explain their ARPA spending strategies” January 17, 2022

After New Bedford and Pittsfield received tens of millions of dollars from  the federal government, the mayors of the two cities – Jon Mitchell in New Bedford and Linda Tyer in Pittsfield – talked through their plans for how best to spend the money. 

Listen to the Codcast or read the write-up by Bruce Mohl. Total plays: 1,309.

  1. “Should we try a bit of Maryland in Mass.?” January 3, 2022

In Maryland, the state sets all hospital rates. Dr. Josh Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins, one of the architects of the system, discussed the pros and cons of state regulation with John McDonough of the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard and Paul Hattis of the Lown Institute. Sharfstein clearly prefers the Maryland regulatory approach, but he said its long history of state rate-setting is fairly unique. “It’s hard to snap your fingers and turn another state into Maryland,” he said.

Listen to the Codcast or read the write-up by Bruce Mohl. Total plays: 1,314.

  1. “Chang-Diaz brings progressive fight to governor’s race” March 7, 2022

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz spoke about the big ideas she was pushing on the campaign trail as she sought the Democratic nomination for governor. She noted her father came to the United States “as a skinny brown kid with 50 bucks in his pocket” and achieved his dream of becoming an astronaut. “It puts the challenges that I face in perspective,” Chang-Diaz said. “And it gives me no excuse, no quarter, for thinking small.” She would later withdraw from the race in June.

Listen to the Codcast or read the write-up by Shira Schoenberg. Total plays: 1,345.

  1. “Mass. Exceptionalism: Reputation meets reality” May 8, 2022

Jerald Duquette of Central Connecticut State University and Erin O’Brien of UMass Boston discuss their new book examining the outsized role of Massachusetts in US politics. 

Listen to the Codcast or read the write-up by Michael Jonas. Total plays: 1,348

  1. “Tracing the origins of the Mass General Brigham fight” January 30, 2022

Paul Hattis of the Lown Institute and John McDonough of the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard say the fight over a Mass General Brigham expansion plan can be tracked back to the early 1990s when the state began deregulating health care. “Now, 30 years later, we look at the result and we’re not too happy with what we see,” said McDonough. “So, to some extent, Mass General Brigham is getting caught up with the renewed appreciation that there needs to be a much more aggressive watchdog on the part of the state in preventing these institutions from getting too big, at least within state borders.”

Listen to the Codcast or read the write-up by Bruce Mohl. Total plays: 1,376.

  1.     A ”nightmare experience” yields a few positive takeaways” March 13, 2022

Three women from Somerset talk about their fight against a scrap metal operation at Brayton Point.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Listen to the Codcast or read the write-up by Bruce Mohl. Total plays: 1,534.