Kickback – the global anti-corruption podcast: now hosted by the CSC

The Centre for the Study of Corruption (CSC) is to take over as host of Kickback – the global anticorruption podcastProfessor Robert Barrington outlines the plans.

It feels like quite a responsibility to be taking on the podcast which heads the list in CIPE’s run-down of top ten anti-corruption podcasts. Created in 2019 by Harvard law professor Matthew Stephenson, and Nils Kobis and Christopher Starke of the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN), Kickback has quickly established itself as the turn-to podcast for in-depth thinking on corruption.

Kickback is not a current affairs commentary, so episodes from three years ago by luminaries such as Susan Rose-AckermannPaul Heywood and Alina Mungiu-Pippidi are as relevant today as when they were first broadcast.  In contrast to some podcasts with several hundred episodes in frequent short bulletins, Kickback’s style is more long-read editorial than twitter thread.  Serious experts, looking in depth at corruption, corruption theory and approaches to tackling corruption – but presented in an accessible way.

The best non-commercial podcasts series like Kickback are community efforts – in this case, produced for a community of scholars and practitioners by a community of scholars and practitioners. If you add together all those in government, business, academia and civil society with a professional interest in corruption, you probably have a community of some tens of thousands of people worldwide.  We want to serve that community as best we can.

Looking at the stats, we can see that most regular listeners are in the USA, followed by the UK and Europe, with clusters around university cities.  We want to continue to cater for these audiences, while increasing the listenership in other areas of the world, notably Africa and Asia.  We can also see that episodes which have been promoted via other channels, such as the CIPE competition, have the highest number of listeners.  So we are interested in partnering with others to increase the distribution.

What are we planning for Kickback?  First off, we’d like to hear from anyone who has a good interview to suggest.  Who would you most like to hear talk about corruption for 45 minutes?  Please write and let us know.  Secondly, we want to keep the mix of practitioners and academics, from all disciplines  – the heritage is both the ICRN and Harvard Law School, and that has given a great range of insights and experiences.  Finally, we may vary the length and style from time to time as we try to keep up with the ever-changing world of podcasts.  But for those who like Kickback as it is – rest assured, changes will be evolution not revolution.

Let me finish by celebrating what a great few years Kickback has had under the superb stewardship of Matthew Stephenson, Nils Köbis and Chris Starke.  What a great job – and a hard act to follow!  Our own CSC team will consist of Liz David-Barrett as the lead interviewer, with a supporting cast of Robert BarringtonDan HoughSam Power (that’s the Sussex one, not the head of USAID) and Tom Shipley.  You can hear most of us already on previous episodes of Kickback, talking about state capture, sports integrity, the UK Bribery Act and political corruption.

One notable absence amongst the Kickback episodes is interviews with Matthew, Nils and Chris themselves.  We’ll be remedying that over the coming months – starting with Liz David-Barrett speaking to Matthew Stephenson about what he has found most interesting in Kickback’s 83 episodes to date.

To get in touch with suggestions about who you would most like to hear, contact

Where can I find Kickback?

What should I listen to first?

Try these:

Michael Johnston on syndromes of corruption

Caryn Peiffer on social norms

Jodi Vittori on corruption and the US military operation in Afghanistan

Daniel Kaufmann on state capture

Michel Sapin and Valentina Lana on anti-corruption approaches in France

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