🥟 Lunchbox moments, Che Guevara, curb cuts, "am i pegrent?" 🤰🏼 Katherine Goldstein 💪
💌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 Erik Jones, who writes Hurt Your Brain, the newsletter that nerds out about podcasts that will make you think or change your understanding of how the world works. He also writes for The Bello Collective, and just overall loves connecting with the podcast community.
The app I use: I’ve tried almost every app there is, (no really, I have) and the app I always go back to is Castro. It’s not good for search or discovery, but perfect for handling tons of subscriptions where you have varying levels of how much you listen to each show.
Listening time per week: It kind of depends on the week, but I would say the range is 5-12 hours on average. As my listening time went down during the pandemic, I am now fully on team 1.5x listening (sorry producers). Also, I want to know how many hours Lauren listens. Is it 100 or what? Her volume of recommendations put mine to shame.
When I listen: Mostly while driving, exercising (ha!), or any kind of chores. Spring equals lawn mowing season which equals more podcast listening (Levar Burton Reads is my go-to mowing podcast). I’ve fallen in love with Apple AirPod Pros as great allies in sneaking in a few minutes of listening here and there.
How I discover: ALL THE WAYS. Seriously though I love thinking about discovery and recently on Twitter I broke down the source of discovery for 241 episodes I listened to. 81 of the episodes (33%) were new discoveries for me, as opposed to shows I had listened to in the past or regularly listen to. Podcast newsletters were the top source of discovery for me I’m happy to say.
Anything else? I know I’m preaching to the choir, but can we all agree that newsletters are just the best for discovering new shows and following industry? I keep an updated list of all the best places to subscribe (of course including this very fine newsletter that Lauren sends out). Also, please say hello on Twitter, I’ve been into making visuals about podcast episodes lately.
ps If you are pleased with Podcast The Newsletter, please spread the word.
👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
What makes The Double Shift unique? Why are there no shows like it?
The Double Shift is the only show that puts mothers at the center of the biggest social and economic issues facing our world. I feel like our unofficial theme this year is radical transparency. We tell moving personal stories about the true cost of pandemic for moms, explore big ideas like UBI from a feminist perspective, and tackle and destigmatize mental health issues moms are facing right now. We talk about matriarchy, we report on game changing public policy initiatives. We are political and we are feminist and we exist to challenge the status quo of motherhood and unwind some of America's most deeply held beliefs about motherhood.
How has The Double Shift changed since it began?
When I was first pitching the show, I would explain that the show was "about a new generation of working mothers," (we've since changed our tagline) and not about parenting or kids. People would ask, "I don't get it. What's it's about if it's not about parenting?" and I would explain.. it was about ... the mothers themselves. People really didn't understand the idea of mother's having their own identity, seperate from parenting. I know that sounds bananas that this was in 2018, but it's true. I used to be militant about never talking about parenting because I had to prove it wasn't a parenting show. Now, at least, 4 seasons in, people get that a show can be about moms, and not about parenting, so now we can experiment with topics and formats a lot. At the beginning we were pretty strictly documentary/narrative and now i feel like we do everything. We've added a co-host, Angela Garbes, and I think that's enriched the conversation and perspective on the show a lot. I invited her to co-host with me after she was a guest of the show because I felt like we had different experiences but shared values. I think listeners love hearing her.
How has the podcasting space changed since you started the show?
When I was developing the show, back in 2018, the podcast space still felt like the wild west -- the industry felt more open and like it could support a lot of different kinds of shows. It's actually been sad to see a number of female-led shows I admire have ended since we started. In terms of smart feminist content, the ecosystem feels less robust, rather than more. I'm a little cynical about the big money coming in -- there's a lot of consolidation and venture investing and that has definitely changed the content landscape. This change inherently moves things more towards the "the middle" in terms of more formulaic popular content. One thing that hasn't changed: a lot of the industry is still dominated by male interests and tastes.
What do moms really want for Mother's Day?
I asked this question on our Instagram, and I got a cascade of answers that were basically like, "TIME ALONE A HOTEL ROOM ALONE TIME TO MYSELF OMG." which is pretty indicative of how unrelented the last year+ has been for moms. Our Mother's Day episode, out 5/5, gets into the historic reasons why so much of our caregiving and domestic labor is unpaid for and largely invisible in society.
How are moms underserved in podcasting?
OMG where do I start? Moms are underserved in podcasting the same way we are underserved in all of media. Most podcasts aimed at moms are about parenting and tips and tricks. But there's no lunch packing strategy that's going to fix the experience of motherhood in America. And in terms of more serious, journalistic coverage, I feel our experiences typically only get minimal airtime on big "general interest" shows, and then often fall into harmful cliches. There is so much more to cover! I wish The Double Shift had more competitors!!
What shows do you love?
Death, Sex and Money is a long time favorite, West Cork is a new fave, Others I'm into right now: Under The Influence & Zig Zag.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
Remember Dan Taberski of Missing Richard Simmons and Running from COPS? Those podcasts felt like personal projects, ones that were born in Dan’s mind. I wondered what his new show The Line would sound like—it’s more of a serious war crime story. (A group of Navy SEALs broke ranks and accused their chief, Eddie Gallagher, of murder in 2018.) But Dan is such an amazing storyteller that this feels personal to him, too. The story and language are his. It does not feel distant at all. Dan is infusing his sense of humor and personality into the podcast, which makes it fun in a way I did not expect. Everything I read about this show made me think it was not my jam, but I heard Rebecca Lavoie raving about it on Crime Writers On…so I was convinced to try. I hope you give it a try, too. Hear a great clip of the show here.
🎙️If you’re having a case of the fucking Mondays, then for goodness sake listen to Jason Feifer’s latest episode of Build for Tomorrow How to Live Like Ancient Royalty. It starts with a thought exercise submitted by a listener: when he gets that “the grass is always greener somewhere else” feeling, he imagines the life of ancient royal kings, who had limited menu options and had terrible pooping situations. Your life is better than that, right? This episode offers a look at what life looked like for even the most wealthy, and it looks like it sucked compared to the luxuries we enjoy today. So if you are allowed to wear purple or don’t have to eat oatmeal every day or can speak the same language as your representatives, you can feel like you’re winning. Save this episode for when you need a burst of optimism. It is truly what Build for Tomorrow is all about. (And why it makes so much senses that Jason changed the name of the show from Pessimists Archive to Build for Tomorrow.)
🎙️The Vocal Fries is a super smart and fun podcast about how our language breeds discrimination in our culture, and they had a fascination interview with Jaya Saxena, Staff Writer at Eater, about her piece The Limits of the Lunchbox Moment. A Lunchbox Moment is that moment we read and hear about so often from first gen kids. They often feel shame for bringing their lunches to school—lunches that may include their family’s Indian cuisine or dumplings or something with fish sauce. Anything not typically American, or that would not be sold in the cafeteria. Jaya wrote about her own Lunchbox Moment years ago but is back to say she thinks she may have made the story up. She doesn’t feel like she was lying, it’s just that The Lunchbox Moment is so deeply embedded in in her mind, she may have felt like she had one. She didn’t think she was a good enough writer when she wrote the piece to unpack that—it complicates the narrative that feels comfortable to us all. But now she is ready. Lunchbox Moments are very real, millions of people have experienced them. (Including my husband.) But Jaya is saying that the marketing and PR for Lunchbox Moments is way too strong and a lazy way to summarize the experience of first generation kids. In this conversation, she talks about food writing and why the way we talk about food matters. Here’s a clip.
🎙️I popped out of bed on Wednesday morning excited to listen to the new season of teikirisi, which is here. I love this show for so many reasons, one of them is Carmen and Fryda’s ability to talk about heavy things with such lightness and fun. (My theory is that it is because their friendship exudes through everything.) Episode one talks about how Che Guevara has become an icon for many…let’s face it, college dudes who want to wear his face on a poster and consider themselves leftist-activists. (Or also my mom, who once got drunk in Italy and bought a Che Guevara t-shirt from a street vendor, which I don’t think she has anymore.) Carmen and Fryda talk about the real Che Guevara and why he is such a problematic icon for Cubans, the story behind that famous Che photograph we associate him with, and why Che would be rolling over in his grave knowing that his face has become part of mass production in a capitalist society, and that his message has gotten completely misconstrued. Here’s a clip.
🎙️I have enjoyed every single episode of Slate’s new internet culture podcast ICYMI. It’s quick, hilarious, and unearths the weirdest internet moments of the week and turns them into something big. I was laughing out loud, literally, listening to How Babby Is Formed, which is an interview with J.T. Sexkik, who posted a video on YouTube of himself simply reading some of the most confounding things asked on Yahoo Answers about pregnancy. (“Is there a possibly that I’m pegrent?” “If a women has starch masks on her body does that mean she’s been pargnet before?”) This is such an internety story. (It’s being resurfaced because Yahoo Answers is being shut down.) Listen here and laugh your ass off along with me.
🎙️I could write about The Daily Zeitgeist every day. Between the daily morning show and the trends show in the evening, I spend about 7 hours a week listening to it. I have the hardest time getting anyone to like it. I think people assume it is like bro/shock-jock radio, or that it feels so insider-y at first, which is one reason that the Zeitgang ends up falling in love with it. It’s so smart and funny, it is my favorite show, hands down. I believe that people enjoy my podcast recommendations, but when I tell them to add The Daily Zeitgeist to their daily routine, they smile, happy to see my enthusiasm, but it’s one of those “Yeah, no,” looks. (My husband listens every day, twice, with me. I think it has helped our marriage.) Last week JB Smoove was on, and I laughed the whole way through. Smoove gets super amped about veganism, talks about his garden with unbridled enthusiasm, and dreams up the idea of a “Wu Cruise,” or a cruise with the Wu Tang. (Listen to him go fucking nuts about veganism and his garden here.) It wasn’t necessarily the best example of your typical DZ episode, but if you want to dip your toes in, this might be a good place to start. Smoove was on to promote his own daily show May I Elaborate?, where he reads a new quote from an inspirational calendar and adds his own wisdom to it, to drive the message home. Like “I cried, for happiness, for sadness, but most of all, for emptiness.”
🎙️If you’ve been wondering why I keep talking about Hark and what exactly I’m doing, download the app! Every day I build Hark Daily, which is featured at the top of the platform each day. (And reach out to me if you think your show should be featured.) To give you another idea of something I’m doing there, listen to this Harklist I made on Afrofuturism. It’s like a podcast mixtape of moments from shows like Imaginary Worlds, Passport, Switched on Pop, Open World, and more, that dives into the history of Afrofuturism. I hope that it takes you on an Afrofuturistic journey from the father of Afrofuturism Sun Ra, to Afrofuturism’s rising moment seen in things like Missy Elliot and Black Panther, to poetry from Nikki Giovanni, to the ways The Sun Ra Arkestra is continuing Ra’s legacy with Marshall Allen, the band’s 97-year-old bandleader. It would mean so much if you listened, and let me know what you think.
🎙️Lil Nas X’s Montero caused such a stir—panties were TWISTING over the fact that he was seen in the music video taking a stripper pole down to hell, or that he released 666 sneakers injected with blood—that the music was almost completely overlooked. On Switched on Pop, Charlie and Nate go into detective mode to investigate the intricacies and the depth of the song. They have done the work! They isolate different sounds and try to pinpoint their origins, taking us to the phrygian scale, Mizrahi music, and the Devil’s Interval. Montero producers Take A Daytrip pop in to explain how the song was born, and we get to hear about why Montero was no sophomore slump, and Old Town Road no accident. By going against the grain and being vulnerable and unapologetic, Lil Nas X is tapping into something huge, which makes his music something that strikes the core of a younger generation. Listen to a clip here.
🎙️Mission: Interplanetary introduces us to Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty, who studies legal policy and social issues dealing with space exploration and development. She talks about what the legal framework might look in space, and what consequences we would face if we were to, oh, say, murder someone up there. It’s something we will have to start thinking about (where there are people, there is murder, especially when Elon Musk is involved.) But Timiebi is kind of paving the way. (Your kids won’t be telling you they want to be a lawyer when they grow up, they’ll tell you they want to be a space lawyer.) This is a mind-expanding conversation that makes you wonder if we are ready for all the repercussions of opening up space to the entire world. You’ll find the gem of this episode at the very end. We get to hear what sounds like beautiful orchestra music, but is really a sonic visualization of the discovery process of exoplanets, by mapping 4,00 discoveries between the years 1991-2019. Listen to that beautiful moment here.
🎙️Oooo was I nervous to see this episode of Ear Hustle, Catch a Kite. Earlonne and Nigel are answering listener questions, like: Can you have an Xbox in your prison cell? How have stimulus checks affected the prison economy? And Is it OK to say “inmate”? I shuddered because not too long ago, I used the word “inmate” to describe the creators of Uncuffed, and was called out on Instagram. I didn’t know how uncool that was. (But I guess I’m not completely alone.) I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard the answer, of course the point of this episode wasn’t to make people feel stupid. My favorite part was getting to hear incarcerated people talk about proud moments they’ve had behind bars. I would listen to an entire episode about that.
🎙️I was looking for a clip about the recent downfall of Rachel Hollis, and what a journey that has been. The most intense dive into the debacle is from the show Be There in Five, which take three very long episodes to discuss Hollis’ empire as it compares to Tony Robbins and NXIVM, the problem with #GirlBoss culture, and what made people turn on Hollis. In the third installment, host Kate Kennedy reads emails she received from real women who have been victims of Hollis’ campaigns, the stories dropped my jaw. You are able to see Rachel as some sort of cartoon villain who had too much power and capitalized on women’s insecurities, and pushed them to strive for unattainable standards that she was supposedly holding herself to, all while denying her own privilege. There is one letter from a lawyer at the beginning that broke my heart. This woman is smart enough to pass the Bar Exam but has spent two years trying to undo the emotional damage the Hollis empire has done. Kate is someone who became famous for selling a Turn Off Your Straightener doormat, and admits the murkiness of someone like her, who is playing in the same field as Hollis, calling Hollis out. If you want to really understand why the internet soured on Rachel Hollis, let me save you some time—this is where to go.
🎙️99% Invisible’s Curb Cuts starts with an object—a wheelchair found in storage at the Smithsonian, and the man who used to sit there. It belonged to Ed Roberts, who was central to a movement that demanded society see disabled people in a new way, which opens the discussion of the curb cut effect, an idea that one change intended for one group can benefit the broader well-being of society. Curb cuts, the small ramp at most intersections between the sidewalk and the street, are perfect examples. They were created to help people in wheelchairs maneuver through cities, but we all benefit them, whether we are rollerblading (which I never am) or pushing a stroller. (Also never am.) There are many things we experience that benefit us (like a football huddle) but were not intended for us. And that is what this episode ends up being about. It made me really think about how we never think about disability needs until we need them, and it made me really want to be more active in standing-up for disability rights. (This all comes to us around the 30-year anniversary of the 1977 Disability Rights protest that broke records and changed laws.) Roman opens up the episode calming the fears of anyone who was unnerved about the fact he is leaving Radiotopia. His explanation makes a lot of sense, and made me feel really positive about his decision.
🎙️Season 1 of The Last Archive tried to answer the question: Who killed truth? And now Jill Lepore is back for a season about the rise of doubt over the last 100 years of American history. It opens with a fresh look at John Scopes, who in 1925, was put on trial for teaching evolution, and William Jennings Bryan, a firm believer in a literal interpretation of the Bible who assisted in Scopes’ prosecution. But what did Bryan really believe, and why was he skeptical of science? He didn’t hate science, he was opposed to social darwinism. This insight completely changed the way I thought about this story. (Oddly, Rose Eveleth talks about this, too, in her recent episode of Flash Forward, What If Our Cities Were Smart? Rose, kind of the opposite of anti-science, talks about the dangers of technology and science taking over things that would change our social structures. )
🎙️To promote her book Let’s Talk About Hard Things, Anna Sale published an episode for Death, Sex and Money gathering together the 7 most difficult conversations Anna has had since 2014. (Hear the most cringe-worthy moment here.) From angering Sallie Krawcheck to letting down her fans in a way she conducted an interview, she makes a nice collection of discomfort. I’m sure that lots of podcasts could have a real of their shows’ most awkward moments, but awkward conversations are what Death, Sex & Money are all about. Hearing the empathetic way Anna deals with all the push back makes you realize a) how hard her job is as a leader of these tough conversations and b) how critical these tough conversations have been in Anna’s work and how she’s shaped the show, which makes me want to read the book.
🎙️Relative Fiction just keeps on getting better and better. It starts with host Nicole Georges discovering that her father isn’t dead (from a palm reader!) but the deeper Nicole digs, the more complicated things become. In last week’s episode, she discovers that her father’s family has been looking for her, too. But she is still confounded as to whether or not her father abandoned her, or if she was kidnapped when she was young. The clues don’t match up, and it sends her mind and heart into a talespin. The people most crucial to her identity suddenly cannot be trusted, and new characters have been added to the mix. This podcast is so much fun to listen to. The storytelling feels alive and almost visual, which makes sense, because Nicole is an illustrator. This reminds me of how another illustrator, Stories with Sapphire’s Sapphire Sandalo, told me that visual artists are perfect candidates as podcast hosts! That was something that surprised me to hear. But with these two shows, I so see it.
🎙️Reply All has finally responded to the whole Test Kitchen thing. Emmanuel Dzotsi and Alex published a brief explanation about what happened and what has been going on behind the scenes since the New York Times article, the notes apps apologies, and all the Twitter backlash. So what is Reply All now? What has this whole thing taught us about the Reply All audience? What is it without PJ? They propose an (I think) exciting change, fully admitting that it might not work. There’s some introspection here, an apology, some acknowledgement of blindspots. But it seems some Reply All listeners, maybe the ones who really need to know why the show is changing, still feel in the dark. This is such an interesting example of a show that built a loyal community of listeners who were not open to following a show along when it decided to make some positive changes.
🎙️I love you!