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🥛 A branded show you'll love ⚡️ Web3's Fyre Festival 🏖 weiner dog ramps 🐶 balloon guy 🎈
🍭 👂 You're in for a treat! 🌈 🤸♀️
Today is Monday, March 21. It’s Twila Dang’s birthday. There are 47 days until I go on my next Disney cruise. (Yes, I have been counting wrong this whole time. It’s closer than I thought!) If you want me to send you a postcard from the cruise, fill out this form. And in case this email is too long, here’s a branded podcast gone brilliant, take a trip to the web3 version of Fyre Festival here, I finally listened to this and oh my god.
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Katherine Moncure, a recent graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. For the past two years, she’s been volunteering as an audio editor and contributor to the Divided Families Podcast, a show that highlights accounts of family separation around the world and the cultural/political forces that cause it.
The app you use to listen: I use Pocket Casts -- I love the user interface and the fact that it's made by podcast professionals. It does mean that sometimes I have to switch apps if I want to listen to Spotify-owned shows that are exclusive to their platform, but it's worth it to me to have the majority of my shows in an independent app.
Listening time per week: Really depends on the week, but I probably average somewhere between 10 and 15 hours.
When you listen: I listen in the morning as I get ready and make breakfast, while I'm doing chores, in transit, while jogging, and while cooking. One of my favorite things is to settle into a good recipe and a good show at the same time. I'll also sneak in a listen if I'm doing menial work that doesn't require much brainpower.
How you discover: Word of mouth, advertisements in shows, best-of lists from various publications and newsletters.
Anything else you want to say? Check out Divided Families Podcast -- we cover some really important cross-cultural issues and fascinating conversations! You can also find some of my recent audio projects and writing on my website: katherinemoncure.com
ps If you are pleased with Podcast The Newsletter, please spread the word.
👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
Jay Ellis is an actor (Lawrence on Insecure,) producer, director, writer, philanthropist, and host of Lemonada’s The Untold Story. Season one was about policing; season two followed criminal injustice. Follow him on Twitter here. Follow Lemonada on Twitter here.
You have a lot going on. Why was this project important to you, and why did it have to be a podcast?
Storytelling comes in so many forms and I think audio is just as powerful and impactful as any other medium to gain exposure, learn and find ways to take action.
How is the new season different from season one?
This season is similar because again I get to go on a journey where I get to talk to lawmakers, academics, data scientists and folks affected by some of the policies we’re covering. This season is different because we pivot to Pay to Stay policies, Felony theft thresholds and a bunch more stuff I really didn’t know about until this season.
What do you hope this show does for people?
I hope it gets people fired up to make a change. When folks hear these policies and how it affects peoples lives and our systems, I hope that they explore the ways they can create change in their own communities.
What have you learned about yourself making this podcast?
I love learning. With every person I talk to I find myself wanting to listen and learn more. I realized how little I know about so many laws, policies, and practices that not only cause huge backups and inefficiencies in our court and legal system but how they often have the ability to ruin folks’ futures.
If Lawrence had a podcast, what would it be about?
Ha! IN MY FEELINGS hosted by Lawrence Walker. He just wants y’all to know how he feels.
Is there anything I didn’t ask you about that you want to say?
Hope y’all enjoy this season and also go out and learn about these policies in your own communities. Go make good change.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
I was absent the day everyone listened to S-Town, and it has been a missing piece of my podcast knowledge for years. I finally listened over the weekend and it was the biggest treat. The Trojan Horse Affair’s Brian Reed got a call from John, a man from a small town in Alabama who is convinced he needs Brian’s help to take on an unsolved murder, which sets Brian on this intense journey where he becomes close with John (who is one of the most colorful, complicated people I’ve ever heard on a podcast or otherwise) and everyone in the town, and finds himself embroiled in a mystery that goes deeper than he could have imagined. The hype is real. I can’t believe it took me this long to listen to S-Town. You’re either rolling your eyes at me right now or learning about a show you should listen to right now. If you’re the later, drop everything and binge it.
⚡️News from Sounds Profitable⚡️
On Sounds Profitable (check out the newsletter and podcast) your favorite data master Caila Litman breaks down the numbers of women in podcasting—the top podcast genres women gravitate toward (79% of women listen to Kids & Family podcasts, 63% listen to true crime,) how much time women are spending listening, and how more representation of women and other underrepresented voices in podcast programming will increase their audience bases. (And how no amount of audience data can capture the complexity of women.) Read/subscribe here.
🎙️I heard that Oatly had a podcast on American Hysteria and I am interested in branded podcasts, so I listened. Did I go in with low expectations? Yes. Was I completely amused? Yes. Do I recommend you listen to this? Yes. Oatly Lake is poking fun at true crime/murder investigation podcasts by sounding exactly like them. The episode (there is only one, and there will only be one) sounds like an episode of Serial, with plucky music and serious tone. But in this case, it’s mid-2021 and Oatly, the Swedish dairy alternative company, found a lake in Michigan with the same name as their brand. (Or so they thought—we learn that nobody on the Oatly team googled it and there is a difference in spelling.) They send out Schuyler Swenson to interview the lake’s proprietor Justin Hausler about who owns the lake and whether or not there is a connection with the milk. (Spoiler alert: there’s not.) It’s a completely meta experience—Schuyler waits for an ad break and then is reminded by a producer that there are none because this entire episode is an ad for Oatly. I would love to know the budget for this thing, if it wasn’t so funny it would be considered a well-done true-crime shows. Oatly Lake is one of the most fun marketing campaigns I’ve ever encountered. Listen here.
🎙️Heads up to all of you who don’t think they could possibly give a shit about crypto—PJ Vogt’s Crypto Island is here. It looks like it will be a limited series (it also looks fiction but it’s not) about crypto-evangelists Max Olivier and Helena Lopez who are trying to start a utopian society on an island full of “crypto rich, bitcoin dynasts and dogecoin princelings,” which PJ calls “the web3 version of Fyre Festival.” I’ll be tuned-in to see which crypto-bro/a dies first. Listen here.
🎙️Last March, Islamist militants attacked the Mozambique town of Palma, the site of a $20B gas project, besieging a hotel, where more than 200 civilians were taking shelter, waiting to be rescued. Tortoise Media has released the short series Left to Die that investigates the help that never came, focusing on the people who were rescued (a local politician, dogs) and the men, women and children who were not. Left to Die feels like a fast-paced action movie, with gripping audio and jaw-dropping anecdotes, focusing on two brothers who found themselves at the center of the attack, only one made it out alive. This is a story about privilege, whose lives are valued when it comes to a rescue, and whose stories are told in the aftermath of tragedy. It shares DNA with Sweet Bobby, another Tortoise show. Tortoise is putting out some great stuff. Listen here.
🎙️Hopefully by our next world war we will have a better way at shutting down the spread of online disinformation, but right now, it’s complete madness out there. BBC disinformation reporter Marianna Spring is hosting a new show called War on Truth, where she talks to Ukrainian citizens (who are having factual arguments with Russian relatives that are even more fraught than the ones we’ve been having with some of our parents about Trump,) Ukrainian social media stars who are fighting online hate, and an influencer who went from talking about beauty to propaganda…about what it’s like to be on the front lines of the first online war. These are relevant, personal stories that are crucial in understanding the war in Ukraine. It’s like if Bridget Todd’s There Are No Girls on the Internet had a very smart Ukrainian baby. Look out Harvard here she comes! Listen here.
🎙️Power is dedicating a season to Don King, and in the first episode gets into something that as a Clevelander, particularly interests me—the Don King of Cleveland, where he killed a man in front of a now-defunct bar called the Manhattan Tap Room at East 100th Street and Cedar Avenue (and they almost renamed that street after him) and got his start in becoming the most successful boxing promoter of all time and both the best and worst thing to happen to pro boxing. (THAT WAS A LONG SENTENCE. Someone please edit this newsletter!) Don was absolutely eccentric and following his life you get pieces of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and the Jacksons, and the dark shit that King’s done that we’ve all just kind of loled about over the years. Panama Jackson talks to people who worked with King, and they have some wild stories. (King declined the invitation to be interviewed for the show.) The guests weren’t trying to be funny, but the stories are so funny you’ll probably be laughing. Listen now.
🎙️If you think a tech/business podcast hosted by Jacob Goldstein, the former longtime host of NPR's Planet Money, might seem too techy/business-y, please keep reading. What’s Your Problem? talks with entrepreneurs and engineers about the futures they’re trying to create and what’s getting in their way. It’s really a people podcast, a storytelling show. I mean the first episode is about weiner dog ramps. But a business student could be taking notes on what to do, what not to do, and how to think about business differently. Listen now.
🎙️Of all the podcasts I listen to, Straightiolab continues to contain the highest lol moments, yet continues to be smart and make me think about gender and sexism and homophobia in a new way. No, I won’t shut up about it. This week’s episode with Dave Mizzoni had a fascinating segment about handshake trauma (“the greeting between a straight man and gay man will never not be fraught. The entire history of queer history plays out in one second. How do you not make it weird?”) and the gross masculinity woven into male product branding (“Man branding is like, ‘you’re the king of the castle.’ Woman branding is like, ‘everywhere you look people think you’re disgusting, but when you’re home it’s your time to shine.’”) Sam and George, let me know next time you’re at Boiler Room. I live across the street. Listen here.
🎙️If you’re into Scam Goddess, you’ll want to listen to Laci Mosley on You’re Wrong About (debunking Ronald Reagan’s Welfare Queen) and I Weigh (where she talks about learning to love her body as much as her younger self did, colorism, and the racism she faced when iCarly announced her casting on the show.) There is a weird thing going on here where you start to wonder if there’s a difference between Laci Mosley the person and Scam Goddess the brand. (At one point Sarah brings up Elizabeth Holmes and Laci says, “I love her!” and you can tell Sarah is wondering how serious she is) but Laci breaks character on I Weigh. A whole new side of her is revealed and you get a great sense of the woman who is Scam Goddess. Listen to You’re Wrong about here, I Weigh here.
🎙️This is the last time I will be writing about Wild Boys because Sam Mullins has released the final episode. I have been listening to it nervously, wondering when I would get bored or stop liking it, but that never happened and the finale was perfect. Before trying to become some kind of fruit entrepreneur, Roen is sent to the US, where he is completely mishandled by the health care system. (He should have stayed in Canada.) The ending of this story feels perfectly wrapped up and a little bit peaceful, something I did not expect. I will miss the town of Vernon, Sam, and even Kyle and Roan. Listen here.
🎙️If you haven’t been listening to the new season of Under the Influence, you’re missing out. Each episode is a thorough investigation into a different tunnel of how women interact on the internet. An episode about how women teachers are forced to shill for supplies on Instagram, while simultaneously being punished for being on Instagram, had me raging—especially when Jo considers that men are given more lee way when creating personal posts. Jo is a sharp pro in making you feel for the story just as much as she does, she is comfortable in letting you in on her vulnerabilities, and using audio footage of her own personal conversations that add texture to the journalism she is doing. Every episode is knocking it out of the park, coming together to paint a picture of what it’s like to be a woman online—she puts to words feelings women-identifying people have surely had in their own digital spaces. It’s eerie. Listen here.
🎙️Sometimes I write about Maintenance Phase and think, ‘why am I doing this?’ Surely all Podcast the Newsletter readers are listening to each episode the moment it drops, right? (But I just asked my dad, who not just reads my newsletter but pastes each issue on his refrigerator, if he’d listened and he said what’s that.) So dad, maybe just you, but maybe other people, too—Maintenance Phase’s two-parter on Jordan Peterson is both troubling and rage-inducing and sad and also annoying because Aubrey and Michael kind of get you to feel sorry for this guy. Yes, they point out some of the completely dangerous things he says and does, the carnivore diet that almost killed him, and his mysterious disappearance from public, but they also paint a picture of someone who isn’t well. It’s really too bad that I doubt Jordan Peterson will listen to it (unless I’m wrong about him, I was wrong about my dad, after all.) But on my episode wish list I’m adding Aubrey and Michael appearing on Jordan’s show, something I’m sure they would not like but I would pull out the popcorn for. Part one here, part two here.
🎙️Dylan Marron dropped an episode of Conversations with People Who Hate Me that he kind of openly considered a failure, but ended up being the opposite. His guest was Michael James Schneider, aka “Balloon Guy,” who gained notoriety for taking colorful photos of himself in front of big mylar balloons to impart serious, impactful messages like “Stop trying to make the wrong people love you the right way.” It’s something you wouldn’t think would get him death threats, but it did. Dylan reached out to many of Michael’s haters (many of them gay men, which adds mystery to the story because Michael is also gay) but none of them would come onto the show to have an open conversation with Michael. None of them. Usually Dylan scraps these episodes that don’t get to the stage where the internet hater and victim can get into a conversation with him (he laments inventing a show that by design, people don’t really want to be a guest on.) But he made this episode, anyway, sans trolls, and it led to an interesting discussion. What leads people to lash out over things as silly as balloons? Why didn’t anyone want to be a guest on the episode? Michael, who is at home with using cheerful phrases for his artwork, tells Dylan “hurt people hurt people.” But Dylan pushes back—are they really hurt people? Is that what’s really going on? Or has the internet just gamified everything to the point we can easily shirk responsibility for the waves we make there? It doesn’t seem like we’re all playing by the same internet rules—some people think their comments are harmless jokes, but when others take them more seriously, they’re torn down once again. Listen here.
🎙️Last week on There Are No Girls on the Internet, spirituality writer Brooke Obie talked to Bridget Todd about the Whitney Houston hologram in residency in Las Vegas, which sparked a surprising conversation about death, memory, and the ownership we have over ourselves after we’ve died. Whitney Houston’s image is being constructed for her without her consent and she’s being put to work even in death. (Maybe we should see our celebrities in person when they’re alive.) It’s a Black Mirror-y look into the future of our digital rights and the Metaverse and what happens when an estate owns your likeness. Brooke points out an Atlantic piece that I could not put down—Mike Mariani’s ”The Tragic, Forgotten History of Zombies,” which maps out the origins of the zombie archetype, which was born in Haiti from 1625 to around 1800, when Haitian slaves, who often committed suicide, worried that if they took their own lives they’d be condemned to slavery forever, trapped inside their bodies but with no agency over what happened to them. It’s an interesting tie to Whitney Houston, whose hologram is perpetuating the hit-maker Whitney Houston we want to remember, but maybe not the one Black queer icon that she was. Listen now.
🎙️On CAFE’s Now and Then, historians Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman took some time to talk about some of the stories coming out of Ukraine about women doing remarkable things and why we need to think about them in a new way. We have been fed comfortable stories about women warriors throughout history, women who were fictionalized (“Molly Pitcher”) or just completely misrepresented (Harriet Tubman) all because there is a certain way the media likes to spin women in combat stories. If you like Citations Needed like I do, you’ll love this conversation. Listen here.
🎙️Constants is “part anthology series, part radio play and part existential meditation,” that will topple your brain by dipping into the occult, the paranormal, and stories that have been told around campfires for centuries. The sound production makes you feel as if you’re dreaming, the writing is sharp, and the voices are haunting. Time stopped as I listened to the quiet yet terrifying Chumboy, a cautionary tale about a boy who feels a special connection to someone being bullied. Listen here.
🎙️We think of Brown v. Board of Education as a hopeful moment in history that ended legal segregation in public schools, And it was. But a new show from Lemonada, After 1954, is telling the full story, how the firing of tens of thousands of Black teachers in the south led to generations and generations (it’s still happening) of Black students thrown into environments that did not represent them. Educator and nonprofit leader Aimée Eubanks Davis addresses what Black educators can have on a Black student’s life, and what happens when Black representation in schools is denied. It’s a tough subject but I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed listening. Listen here.
🎙️APM Reports, KUER, and The Salt Lake Tribune have come together to produce an investigative look at Utah's massive teen treatment industry that has enveloped some 20,000 teenagers from every state in the country over the last six years. After death, allegations of abuse, criminal charges, bizarre punishments, and an influx of whistleblowers, the state protected these centers. Why? Sent Away has dug up all the facts and voices from the people who have survived to try to find out why we couldn’t keep these teenagers safe. Listen here.
🎙️Liza Treyger is working through shit with her enemies and exploring enemy culture on her new podcast Enemies. She talked to the owner of NYC's legendary Comedy Cellar, Noam Dworman, about a very personal beef they had and how Noam fosters conflict-forward debate among the performers at the Cellar. It’s a give-no-fucks, uncomfortable conversation about comedy and giving stage to comedians who are saying contentious things, and where Noam draws the line. Listen here.
🎙️For reasons I will not get into now, I listened to You Must Remember Manson in its entirety at 3x speed which took a mere 161 minutes and when I find out what kind of damage that did to my brain I will report back!!!! It’s an excellent series and looks at the Manson murders in a new way—with the context of Manson’s musical dreams, and the role Hollywood played in the cult’s growth and the eventual murders of Sharon Tate, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Jay Sebring. Join me, won’t you?
🎙️Continuing on their boy band series, Chelsey Weber-Smith invited This Ends at Prom’s BJ and Harmony Colangelo onto American Hysteria to talk about pop music, the emo scene (the haircuts!,) the freedom of fan groups, how hair metal is a huge middle finger to masculinity, and so many other fascinating things about pop music that I was underlining nearly the whole thing in my brain. Listen here.
🎙️I love you!