✂️ Cut Piece, Carrie the Musical, Marie Antoinette, Podcast But Outside ☀️ Natalia Petrzela 🕺
💌Podcast The Newsletter is your weekly love letter to podcasts and the people who make them.💌
This week we’re getting to peek into the podcast app and listening life of Meggan Ellingboe, a PR/Comms and marketing consultant who spends time pitching a wide range of shows from The Dinner Party Download and In the Dark to Everything Is Alive and Joe Exotic, and beautiful indies like MOONFACE and start-up indie networks like Earios.
App I use: I use a variety of apps due to work and because I have enjoyed working with the people behind many apps. However, I tend to bounce around on Apple, Overcast, and Spotify, the most. I recently tried out Hark which is an intriguing new addition.
Listening time per week: I think I actually fit the stat from Edison research. I'm at about 5 hours for active listening and a couple of hours of "skim listening" for work.
When I listen: I get my news listening in the mornings, chat shows in the afternoon and music podcasts when I'm running before work. Cultural and narrative shows, I save up for road trips or going to the west side of LA.\
How I discover: Due to the nature of PR and marketing, I'm lucky to discover new shows by word of mouth, especially when it comes to setting up cross-promotions with others. But I do appreciate recommendations from newsletters and on the various ediotrial lists curated by platforms/apps.
Anything else? I don’t want creators to ever to feel dejected because they don't get an app feature right away. Remember it's only one part of the promotion mix. Your marketing team will help you get heard! For the Powers In Charge- I want to see a pipeline for underrepresented professionals in marketing, sales, finance and other operational roles so we can support and champion the work by BIPOC and queer creators.
ps If you are pleased with Podcast The Newsletter, please spread the word.
👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
I have been listening to you for a long time, Past Present was one of the first shows I listened to. How did that start?
Six years ago now, fellow historians Neil J. Young and Nicole Hemmer, wanted to start a podcast that provided deeper historical context on current events than most news sources, and in an accessible, conversational way. They wanted a third host who was also a historian passionate about communicating with a larger audience, so they asked me! I said yes right away, because I admired both of their work, and also because as historians, it's rare to get to do work that is both collaborative and aimed at a broad audience. But - I didn't really know what a podcast was when I accepted! Turns out it was a smart choice: we are now 270 episodes in, and both Neil and Niki are consulting producers on Welcome To Your Fantasy.
How did the story of Welcome To Your Fantasy get into your hands?
I was booked to be a talking head on "1980s sexual culture" in a European documentary program that was exploring Chippendales. I started doing a bit of primary source research on Chippendales, which I only knew about as a kind of talk-show fixture from my experience as a 1980s kid, and almost immediately, I was shocked that it had been both a flashpoint for discussions about feminism and the sexual revolution - and that the founder killed his partner at the height of the brand's popularity! That in itself would have been enough for a gripping podcast, but it turned out there was *much* more. Along with my Past Present crew, we pitched it to Pineapple Street Studios and for the next 18 months or so, we made the show that became Welcome To Your Fantasy.
Can you tease something exciting coming up?
When you ask people to free associate with "Chippendales," they either mention the SNL skit, a bachelorette party they attended, or they describe a very particular type of guy: muscular, clean-cut, super macho, and, though no one mentions at first: white. On Welcome to Your Fantasy, we dive into the question of race head on, and will share fascinating reporting that not only reveals how the explicit idea that "white equals classy" shaped the brand from the beginning, but also how that idea was challenged - in one case, at the risk of death.
I'm sure you answer this throughout the many upcoming episodes of Welcome To Your Fantasy, but are Chippendales feminist?
It's a big question we take on in Welcome To Your Fantasy, but "feminist or not" might be a false dichotomy when it comes to Chippendales. "Women's liberation for the ladies of the 80s" was convenient marketing for a male exotic dance revue that turned the tables on a conventional strip club, and to the men who dreamed up and profited from Chippendales, it was pretty much just that. The guys behind Chippendales - and they were all guys - absolutely did not have feminism paramount in designing the show. Yet it would be wrong to think that the women who spent their dollars at Chippendales were just dupes, or that there was nothing empowering about the experience. For many women, there most certainly was! Women really did find it exhilarating to get together with girlfriends, dress up, and stuff hard-earned dollars in the g-strings of hunky guys who were paid to let women believe they were running the show, if only for a few hours. I don't think women would call what they were seeking, or experiencing, at Chippendales a feminist utopia, but there's no question that there was a thrill not only to the table-turning but also the safety of a nightclub where women outnumbered men and where the focus was on their enjoyment and comfort - at least until 10 pm, when the doors opened to men as well.
You are a fitness instructor, and I would LOVE to take your class one day. Do you think more podcasters should be fitness instructors? I feel like there are some overlapping skills, there.
I wouldn't go so far as to make it a law that all podcasters should teach fitness, but I can tell you that no other job has so pushed me to use my voice creatively, think on my feet, and to simultaneously engage people with very different skills and backgrounds... these are all good skills for a podcaster to possess, and I think I am a better one for my years teaching fitness!
What do you hope the show does for people?
At the most basic level, I hope it entertains listeners, because if you're bored, there are a million other things out there you could be doing other than listening to our male stripper podcast. But I also hope that it shows how things we think of as frivolous pop culture punchlines can, if we take them seriously, reveal profound insights about our world and how we engage in it.
What is your relationship with your voice, and how would you describe it?
I own my distinct, deep, raspy voice! I was pleased that a recent review of the show - written by a man! - specifically complimented my "intonation" as giving the podcast a "narrative richness..." This kind of compliment shouldn't feel so momentous, but given how much criticism is heaped upon women for their voices, I was especially happy to read it.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
Embedded just finished a series on the shooting at Annapolis’ Capital Gazette (episode one is here,) an event that left five people dead and many more lives shattered. The series is so interesting, because it goes over the shooting (the paper had written an article about the gunman, Jarrod Ramos, and he didn’t like it) but more importantly the aftermath. How does an entire newsroom deal with the trauma of a shooting, and how does a news organization report on something that hits so close to home? In August 2020, two years after the shooting, Tribune Publishing decided to shutter the newsroom permanently. Losing a space that had been the site of such life-changing events retraumatized the staff, who had been reeling for years. And cutting staff is something that has been happening to local newsrooms across the country. And when this happens, “fewer people vote, taxes go up, and people get away with things.” One of the survivors says at one point in the last episode, “we could survive a mass shooting, but not corporate ownership.”
🎙️For International Woman’s Day, The Lonely Palette re-released a beautiful and insightful episode about Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece." It's richly produced and well-written and brings you so closely to Yoko Ono's performance that you really feel like you are there, with a true understanding of what you are witnessing. I am an art dummy, so appreciated the examination into performance art in general, and the contrast the show makes between what Yoko did on her own, and The Beatles’ work in general. As always with The Lonely Palette, this episode is so richly produced and well-written. This show is tops, whether you love art, or you don’t even think you do.
🎙️Podcast But Outside is a sweet show hosted by two funny friends, Cole Hersch and Andrew Michaan, who set up a table with their recording equipment in random locations and ask passersby to agree to be interviewed for the show. (They’ll give them a dollar.) Cole and Andrew are ADORABLE I want to eat them up and I always just feel GOOD after hearing their interviews with regular people. To get the full experience, watch the clips they share on their site (like this one)—it’s like watching a comedy show, something I miss doing in person so much right now.
🎙️Zombified is a fascinating podcast hosted by Dr. Athena Aktipis, a Psychology Professor at Arizona State University and the founder of the Zombie Apocalypse Medicine Alliance, about things that zombify us—how we are vulnerable to being hijacked by things that are not us. On a recent episode, Athena is joined by anthropologist Cathryn Townsend, who completed fieldwork with the Ik people of Uganda. The Ik were experiencing intense starvation, and Cathryn talks about how starvation can zombify us, and how it literally changed the Ik people and how they related to one another. The Ik were also observed by another anthropologist 50 years ago, Colin Turnbull, but Colin and Cathryn had very different takeaways from their observations. Colin concluded that the Ik were selfish, while Cathryn says that their behavior was not a reflection of their culture, but their situation. This is interesting on its own, but especially within the context of zombification, and how outside forces can take over who we really are, and make us into people we don’t necessarily want to be.
🎙️ODDLY Cathryn was on Sideways, too, for an episode that is less interview and more a narrative of how Cathryn’s observations different from Colin’s. I actually think you should listen to this one first. You get the fully fleshed-out story about Colin’s work, and how after his observations, he set out to try to destroy the entire Ik culture. (He wrote to the Ugandan government saying the Ik people were so disgusting and “utterly inhuman” that they should be rounded by the army, split up, and deported to other places in the country, and he saw the Ik’s behavior as a “warning to the rest of humanity.”) How can two anthropologists come away from fieldwork with such vastly different takeaways? What can this teach this about how we look at culture and anthropology in general?
🎙️The Industry is a podcast that “takes a closer look at some of the lesser know (and sometimes intentionally forgotten) stories of Hollywood.” I cannot think of a better example of this than the episode I listened to, Lions and Tigers and Stitches, Oh My! The Making of Roar. Roar tells the story of Hank, a naturalist who lives on a nature preserve in Africa with lions, tigers, and other big cats. When it was finally released in the United States in 2015, Roar’s tagline was “no animals were harmed in the making of this film. Seventy cast and crew members were.” Roar is now known as the most dangerous film ever made—seventy cast and crew members did indeed suffer injury, and flooding from a dam destroyed the set. On The Industry, host Dan Delgado talks to Tim League, the founder of the Alamo Drafthouse, who picked the rights of the film up after almost nobody in the US had seen it, about the crazy film that almost never happened, and maybe shouldn’t have. This episode was informative, funny, wild (you get some real Tiger King vibes) and packed with compelling stories.
🎙️Someone from Out For Blood DMed me to tell me about the show, and after listening to the first five minutes I was like “oh hell yes” and went and added 3 more episodes to my queue. So the premise (an investigation about how the disastrous Carrie the Musical got made) had me immediately hooked…but the amazing content kept me listening. Chris Adams and Holly Morgan use real audio, interviews with ex-cast members, and their funny, knowledgable analysis of what went so horribly wrong. I love these what-went-so-horribly-wrong shows. Like the episode of The Industry above, The Worst Sitcom Ever Made (a personal favorite,) and Dead Eyes.
🎙️The Alarmist invited Celebrity Book Club’s Chelsea Devantez on board for a funny and smart conversation about Marie Antoinette. (Asking ”who’s to blame” for her beheading?) It seems like a farcical homework assignment but Chelsea and the Alarmist crew bring up that if you’re looking for someone to blame, you may need to go somewhere other than a young woman, which is what everyone has basically done. (“Could a 14-year-old really bring down a nation?” Chelsea asks.) Chelsea was a great guest for this episode—Celebrity Book Club is all about how we malign famous women. Chelsea is able to make strong ties between Marie Antoinette and celebrity women today. (And in The Aftermath episode, professor Catriona Seth calls Marie Antoinette a hostage victim, which is something to think about when you consider her whole story.) In this episode you get the story of Marie Antoinette with details that your middle school teacher skipped over—like the existence of “sex-pot punching bags,” which made me lol. Don’t ever miss The Aftermath episodes, they’re really good. In this one, Catriona comes to an eye-opening conclusion of who’s to blame.
🎙️I hope you’re all listening to Iditapod, a(n almost) daily podcast that follows the Iditarod every year. I get feverishly excited listening to this podcast—getting daily updates on how the mushers are doing and fun facts about the race (did you know that thanks to Rule 34, Alaska state law allows the shooting of animals to protect life and property, which means that the mushers are armed and have shoot moose during the race?) makes you feel like you’re standing on the sidelines. I can’t tell you how emotional I was hearing that Aliy Zirkle dropped out of the race, or how giddy I was to hear the dogs barking in the background of the interview with Dallas Seavey. Covid is making this an Iditarod like no other, but when it comes down to it, it is still just mushers pushing through snow with their dogs, cuddling with them to get sleep on the trail, and ticking off the 850-mile race one mile at a time.
🎙️It’s been a few months since I had a fresh episode of Femlore in my life, and I’m so glad to have it back. This time, with a terribly complex story from The Brothers Grimm, The Girl With No Hands, a story about a girl promised to the devil by her father, who then loses her hands. There are so many weird details of this story dying to be picked apart, and as experts in these stories, Mindy and Rachael do a great job interpreting what this story is trying to tell us.
🎙️Yeah No, I’m Not OK is a new show from LAist Studios (who brought you California Love and California City) hosted by Diane Guerrero (from Orange is the New Black, and was also on a recent, very good episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil) about mental health and helping people struggling get the resources they need. Diane interviewed Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, who is someone to know, about her book The Undocumented Americans. Karla wrote an essay about being an undocumented student at Harvard, but rejects the term “dreamer” because she says the word “dreamer” implies someone who will live in their dreams and not make tangible changes. That is not Karla. This is an interesting conversation about mental health of undocumented people and the stresses they face for them and their families. Karla is a bold, unapologetic voice when it comes to immigrants living in America. And it’s a voice that speaks loudly for so many people who don’t have one.
🎙️The Constant has a rollicking science/history adventure about “crackpot” submissions to science, particularly to the American Physical Society, and two men who were deemed crackpots for submitting to it. One, who argued that electrons didn’t exist, the other who claimed he discovered quasicrystals. The first was dismissed and committed murder. The other went onto earn a Nobel Prize. They were both right. There’s another huge twist to this story that you hear at the end, I’ll let you discover that on your own. Because one of the most fun parts about The Constant is that you feel like you’re discovering a history mystery along with Mark, who, as I always say, has unbridled enthusiasm for his subjects. The kind that gets you excited, too.
🎙️American Hysteria has an episode dedicated to the new American archetype known as the “Influencer” and where this all began. Chelsey makes a really interesting comparison to the skating world, and how skaters were some of the first artists to be sponsored. As always with American Hysteria, this episode presents the subject using the historical context of hysteria, will turn what you think about influencers on its head, and open your eyes to tiny ways that moments of culture impact our thinking and the world. They followed up this episode with an interview with Mara Wilson today. I have listened to many interviews with Mara Wilson but this one really gets into the idea of mental health and child actors, and storytelling. It made me want to read Mara’s book Where Am I Now?
🎙️How did all-girl band from Osaka, Japan eventually end up opening for Nirvana? The Kitchen Sisters has the story of Shonen Knife, who made waves during the early-'90s alternative movement, and the way they used cassettes, fanzines and college radio to make their mark on punk, and even more surprisingly, have been able to retain their status of cultural influence some 40 years after their bands’ origin. I can remember falling in love with Shoen Knife when my parents played me their track on If I Were A Carpenter in 1993—they have a sweet, pop-y cover of Top of the World.
🎙️Euphomet is one of the best produced shows on the paranormal (check out my favorite episode, Idol of Nightmares,) and it’s back for a new season. Headlights talks about the danger of being open to the other side. Doing it opens yourself up to a scary reality, that will shape your experience of the world. It’s not for the weak of heart, and some people can’t hack it. A scary story about a disappearing car illustrates what it really means to have an encounter with the paranormal, and the encounter’s impact on how you might experience the world.
🎙️Rough Translation presents two stories from two very different places in the world that illustrates the universality of convincing people to vaccinate themselves against Covid. First, an imam in the UK who is so eager to vaccinate people he turns his mosque into a vaccination center and does his best to convince them to take the vaccine. Over in Israel, people aren’t being asked to be vaccinated, but if they aren’t, they are denied entry into their gym. (Or wherever.) Both methods seem to be working. In Israel, doubters break pretty easily on their anti-vax stance once they realize the prize for vaccination. But what will their behavior be once they are vaccinated? Will it be different than the behavior of those who were convinced by the imam? Is it more effective to convince people to decide to vaccinate themselves? Or shame them for not?
🎙️In 1980, after years of advocacy and negotiation, the Census Bureau introduced the terms Hispanic and Latino to its lexicon, uniting Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Cubans into one group. The intent was to strengthen the Hispanic and Latino communities so they could receive more government action. When they came together they became more powerful, technically, but so much was lost for Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Cuban culture. The Experiment tells a story of American identity, and argues that nuance is needed when we’re talking about Americans. Who do we think of when we think of Latinx and Hispanics? And where do they feel like they belong?
🎙️99% Invisible presents the interesting story on the evolution of license plates, how they went from beautiful ceramic pieces to mini-state advertisements, and how one Idaho license plate changed the whole game. This episode demonstrates that license plates aren’t just decorations or tracking systems, and they’re more contentious than you may think. A story about New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” message sparked a lawsuit that evoked constitutional rights and dragged in the supreme court. My favorite part of the episode was hearing from a license plate collector Rick Just, who is so excited about his plates he can hardly focus on the conversation. I love hearing people talk about their passions with unbridled enthusiasm. Especially for something as dorky/cool as license plates.
🎙️If you haven’t started The Sporkful’s Mission: ImPASTAble series yet, start here. (Dan Pashman has set out to invent a new kind of pasta, and have it made for you and me to eat.) Dan went into this with an anti-spaghetti and anti-bucatini stance that I did not advocate, though I do advocate the series in general. But in episode three, Dan has a bucatini epiphany that made him appreciate bucatini the normal amount, and me appreciate it more. (It’s all about what makes bucatini the perfect a pasta, because it is.)
🎙️Reverberate is your plane ticket around the world to hear about musical moments in history that originated in cities from London to Cairo to Panama to Hong Kong and eventually spread across the world. I listened to the call and response that changed Cairo, which interviews Ramy Essam about a moment during the Arab Spring—he almost accidentally stirred up the crowd with a call-and-response song that became a rallying cry for an entire generation. Birmingham's bhangra revolution is about the unusual circumstances that allowed bhangra to grow from tiny basements in London, and why that music struck a chord, why it sparked fire in the people who found it. It’s a collection of tiny, human music stories that have hugely shaped history, in ways you’ve probably never considered before. And it speaks to the way culture works in general—how and why things a tiny moment, or idea can catch on and grow stronger and louder, and end up impacting everyone from now until forever.
🎙️Alexandra Cohl is the founder of Pod.Draland, a space that was made with the intention to elevate women’s voice in podcasting.. And on The Pod Broads, she’s doing something I love (to do for this newsletter!)…interview women in podcasting. Each of these women is worth hearing about, but I loved the episode with Allison Behringer of Bodies and The Cut. Allison’s podcast takes a topic that is SO brushed to the side—women and the relationship to their bodies, their pain—and shifts it front and center. Being a human can be so lonely sometimes…sometimes the things that hit us the hardest, impact us the most, our bodies, aren’t something we’re supposed to talk about. Because of Bodies you can put on your headphones and feel less alone. With Alexandra, Allison talks about the community she has built and how she structures her storytelling.
🎙️My friend Imran is the founder of Great Pods (not to be confused with Good Pods,) a podcast discoverability platform that offers podcast reviews from critics and listeners. Imran invited me on an episode of the podcast to give a few recommendations. Hear me talk about teikirisi and My Year in Mensa here.
🎙️Penguin Random House Audio has launched Ahab, a global online casting platform for voiceover actors. Podcasters can use it to branch out into other voice work, like animation, documentary filmmaking and video games, and podcast producers can use it to find hosts, narrators, actors for fiction/scripted shows, etc. Ahab was originally an internal tool for Penguin Random House’s audiobook producers, now it’s open to everyone. Talent profiles are free, 9,000 actors hailing from 67 countries worldwide have joined so far.
🎙️I love you!