“Back in America” – The Podcast That Explores America's Inner Working
A fireside chat with prominent French-American journalist Stanislas Berteloot to hear his answer to his own signature question: “What does America mean to you?”
This story was initially published on Riviera Buzz
If you are a regular RIVIERA BUZZ reader, you’ve come across the name Stanislas Berteloot on several occasions. In September 2019, the former Fleet Street journalist wrote a great piece about his daughter’s involvement in climate change (also published in French in WeDemain). More recently, he shared some of his podcast episodes with our readers. He is a well-respected contributor across many different platforms other than this magazine with a reputation for asking hard questions about some of the burning issues of our current society. And he is a French-American expat who has spent large portions of his life on either side of the Pond.
In his podcast “Back in America”, Stan signs off of each episode with a trademark question to his guests: “What does America mean to you?”, weaving a multidimensional fabric of what makes America, America. Today, we are turning the tables to interview the interviewer and find out what makes Stan, Stan.
But first an introduction to a man who wears many hats with equal grace: Journalist, marketing expert, social media personality, community activist, trailing spouse, father of three. He is decidedly an early and enthusiastic adopter of all things technology and social media. So podcasting comes naturally to the eternally-youthful fifty-something.
If his podcast is a pivotal piece in Stan’s career, it’s because he knows America from the inside out. He is more than an expat, he is a “serial transatlantic relocator” who has moved across the Big Pond not once but twice. He lived there as a high school and university student, savouring the heady flair the progressive, enterprising United States of the 1980s and 1990s offered. He then returned to France for a long while, and finally came back in 2016, now in his late forties and with a family in tow, only to find a country in turmoil.
This second relocation has provided the basis for “Back in America”. The title alone gives away the whole plot in one short quip. Through his European lens, Stan examines the contemporary American values, culture, and identity that make up the varied and surprising image of this vast and diverse country. Naturally, there are cultural discrepancies from his European standpoint – but that’s just the point. Although presented in an easygoing way, this is not the kind of chipper podcast intended for mass consumption and casual background noise, but targets those who are interested in thoughtful discussion and various different voices.
Since its creation in 2019, the podcast has positioned itself as the connective tissue between the many complex layers that make up American society. Layers that are often frayed around the edges from having been buried for so long but that have recently begun to come to the surface. Tensions are running high. Young people feel shortchanged. A highly divisive political climate, increased discrimination, and much greater readiness for violence have done a lot of damage.
A mix of prominent guests and “regular Joes” gladly take the time to sit with him for half an hour to share their opinions. While virtually all of Stan’s guests are Americans, talking about topics close to their hearts, the podcast is also highly educational for Europeans. “In Europe, people often think they know America, and that it’s quite similar to Europe, but that is really not the case. You need to understand the social fabric. You need to grasp the values of this country to understand what makes America, America,” Stan explains.
Listening to him, you quickly grasp that this man is a trained journalist, not another wannabe-influencer cashing in on a social media trend. Stan, the “foreigner”, has a unique understanding and love for his adopted country but he does not pussyfoot around hot topics like racial violence, the Constitution, the right to bear arms, work culture, immigration, capitalism, the pandemic and its impact on small businesses, the arts, toxic masculinity, and gender equality in today’s society… he tackles them head-on. He does so with lots of charm and a delightful French accent which cushions many an inconvenient truth. But the shoe fits also on the other foot: “As an American, this podcast has exposed me to new ideas,” says Missy Grimes, a listener from a small town in Maryland. “Back in America has challenged what I took for granted so far.” So, without further ado, let’s meet Stanislas Berteloot:
Stan, give us a nutshell version of who you are…