👋 Meet the Janes 👯♀️ snuff films 🍿 lowriding in LA 🚗 puppies! 🐶 Muslim cool 😎
🍭 👂 You're in for a treat! 🌈 🤸♀️
If you’ve been following along, you know I should have gone on my Disney Cruise last week, but my mom and I were turned away because my mom tested positive for Covid. (She’s fine!) Thank you for all the sympathetic notes, I felt rather silly. After listening to American Hysteria and Tiffany Dover is Dead and so many other conspiracy podcasts, I started to worry you all would think I had plotted a fake cruise for attention. I promise you that is not the case. And don’t be too sad for me—we have a new cruise booked, to Bermuda, on October 5. So let the new countdown begin. Today is Monday, May 16. There are 142 days until my next Disney cruise, hopefully. In case this email is too long, this was the most encouraging thing I heard about Roe vs Wade, lowriding in a 1965 Chevy Impala here, a podcast that roasts bad podcasts here.
ps If you are pleased with Podcast The Newsletter, please spread the word.
👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
There are so many movie podcasts, but what makes this one different?
The difference between Feeling Seen and other movie podcasts is… me! That might sound a little audacious, but unless you have an absolutely killer conceit that stands apart from every other film podcast (congratulations if you do!) then it’s the job of every host to make the time listeners spend with them feel special and worthwhile. That’s the mandate, and it’s my responsibility to live up to that and make sure people want to keep coming back when they have so. many. other. options.
Why are you the perfect host for this show?
Because I am relentlessly two things: Sincere and Enthusiastic. I’m of the mind that genuine enthusiasm is how you make extremely earnest interviews, like the ones we do on Feeling Seen, stay fun and engaging without getting treacly or too corny. But I’m sure that happens sometimes too, and that’s fine!
Have any of the conversations surprised you?
The surprises of every episode are the best part of Feeling Seen, because even with the common denominator of the conceit you know that each person being unique means the way they respond to characters and internalize films is going to be specific to each life experience. That said, talking to the comedian Josh Johnson about how he relates to Heath Ledger’s Joker was a twist!
What movie has made you feel seen?
I love this question and the answer has two parts. One is Amanda Seyfriend’s character Needy Lesnicki in the succubus horror comedy and best friendship love story that is Jennifer’s Body. The other is Elizabeth Mitchell’s performance as Linda in the harrowing HBO original movie Gia starring Angelina Jolie as the tragic titular character. I’ve actually done a bonus episode all about this on Feeling Seen, but this is where I tell you that you have to become a Maximum Fun member to listen to it — because withholding the goods on occasion is also how you grow your audience!
What do you think most movie podcasts get wrong?
People are just talking and recording and thinking that’s the same thing as having purposeful conversations meant to be published and consumed as entertainment. If you’re not going to be a hard news investigative reporting show, you better be as fun as you are informative, and you better record like there’s an audience in front of you at all times. Everyone has opinions about movies and someone just sharing theirs doesn’t make them inherently interesting. Give your audience a show, otherwise you’re just a reply guy with a microphone.
✨My podcast Feed the Queue featured the Peabody-nominated episode of Erica Heilman’s Rumble Strip, Finn and the Bell. Listen here.
✨Enter your podcast in the Podcast Partnership Database—we just hit 300 shows! If you have already applied, check back often to look for potential new podcast friends. Here it is.
✨Podcast Marketing Magic (sign up here) featured a great interview with Eric Nuzum of Magnificent Noise, all about podcast marketing. So many gems. It’s not great because of me, it’s great because of Eric. Read it here.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
🎙️Transfeminine author and activist Margaret Killjoy is the voice behind Cool Zone Media’s new show Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff, which focuses on freedom fighters, trailblazers, and the wild rebels behind our most iconic revolts. It’s a history show, but Margaret stays true to the the Cool Zone Media tone, keeping things a little snarky, totally casual, and fun to listen to. It’s like a fast-paced, action-packed conversation between your funny friends that you get to eavesdrop on. The format mimics Behind the Bastards—Margaret brings along guests (the first is Behind the Bastards’ Robert Evans) to take them (and us) through complex stories of resistance that will have you punching the air and be slightly less lazy in your efforts to stand against oppression. Last week, Margaret told the very timely story of The Jane Collective, an underground organization that provided illegal abortion services in Chicago from 1969 until abortions became legal in 1973. They provided 11,000 completely safe abortions in three years. Stories, both personal and newsy, are pouring into our podcast feeds, but this was actually a piece that made me feel hopeful and reminded that fighting back works.
⚡️News from Sounds Profitable⚡️
In Sounds Profitable, Bryan Barletta outlines why the podcast business won’t turn into the the film/TV business. There is a format in TV/film follows that does not exist in podcasting—podcast deals are generally more likely to offer wiggle room when it comes to minimal guarantees, IP ownership, etc. What’s driving those differences? Listen here. Read here.
🎙️Snuff films, or pornographic movies of actual murders, have been a tenet of conspiracy theorists since the porn wars of the 1970s. On American Hysteria, Chelsey Weber-Smith explores the phenomenon with wild stories of a mysterious home movie found tied to a cluster of balloons, Nine Inch Nails, Winnie the Pooh and a rumor that involves the Manson Family, which was the catalyst for it all. This is one of my favorite American Hysteria episodes of all time—Chelsey is able to weave together the truly outrageous stories of how both feminists and the far right told false stories about snuff films to support their own agendas. They do it with a clear smile on their face—it’s disturbing but hilarious, and Chelsey balances it perfectly. Listen here.
🎙️My husband is Taiwanese, and I’ve found it nearly impossible to find a way to catch up on Taiwan’s 400 year-old history, but this week I started with episode one of Formosa Files, hosted by John Ross and Eryk Michael Smith. It’s a show that brings English-speakers the story of Taiwan that they’re probably missing. It’s not going chronologically, instead it starts with one hell of a hoax—a blonde haired man named George Psalmanazar, who had never left Europe, was able to con London’s elite that he was a native of Taiwan, or what was then known as Formosa, with a bunch of wild stories and stereotypes about the Formosa people. (Like that they didn’t venture above ground, which explained why he was from Formosa but looked European.) John and Eryk are anchoring history with personal stories, which I think is a smart move. We care about people and their stories and it’s a great way to explore history. Listen here.
🎙️UnFictional is a storytelling podcast that gives you a front row seat to the lives of others, with interviews that make you feel like you’re along for the ride, and audio that makes you feel like you’re part of the conversation. I shrieked with delight when I saw it was back after a hiatus. Lowrider is a mini documentary that takes you to East LA, where real lowriders cruise the the city streets. I always sort of thought lowriding was an idle hobby born from restless and bored teenagers, but we learn it’s actually a tradition that’s keeping Chicano culture alive, a family tradition and a dance. It’s a way of life. Today the cruising scene is bigger than ever, and it has become a way that families and communities come together—a "neighborhood barbecue on wheels. The episode gets into those wheels, the music, the hydraulics, and more, to captures both the high-level excitement and the peaceful harmony of riding low. UnFictional producer Jaime Roque speaks with Ernie Moran, who explains how he got started and why lowriding is more than just random people hitting the streets in their cars. Listen here.
🎙️Acclaimed investigative journalist Connie Walker is back with an all new Spotify-Gimlet podcast—Stolen: Surviving St. Michaels—excavating the story of Canada’s residential school system by looking at her own family’s trauma with it. Connie’s father was in a residential school, and the trauma he experienced impacted their relationship later on in life. And one day last year, he found himself face-to-face with a ghost of his past, that sent Connie on a mission to better understand what happened to the Indigenous communities all over North America and how she can work on her relationship with her dad. The best investigative stories are told when there’s a personal connection. Eric Nuzum always asks, “why is the podcaster telling this story?” You could say that telling this story is essential for Connie’s being, and she’s invited us along for the ride. Listen here.
🎙️I think love Crime Show so much because it’s episodic—you can dip into stories and none of them are a huge 10-episode commitment. You get a neat (and always bizarre and well-produced) story in 30 minutes-ish. Behind the Locked Door tells the story of Don Miller, a 90-year-old man in Indiana, who was housing a museum of artifacts he had stolen from Indigenous graves—the biggest recovery of cultural property the FBI has ever taken. This sets off an operation to retrieve all the items to return them to the tribes they belong to, and that part of the story is wild enough. The FBI also discovers 40 human skulls and garbage bags of human remains of Indigenous people. So this crime story also tells a story of the trauma Indigenous people endure by having artifacts stolen from them, whether it be from a National museum or some guy’s basement, and how we try to set things right. Listen here.
🎙️The Roe Vs. Wade war has reached new heights, and on Things Fell Apart, Jon Ronson takes us back to where it all began, an unexpected place—the early 1970s in the Swiss Alps, where Frank Schaeffer, the son of an influential theologian, sort of accidentally made an anti-abortion propaganda film that sent ripple effects through America and gave birth to the the religious right, who then pounced on Frank’s ideas and spun them into an entire idolatry that is stripping women of their rights today. Things Fall Apart takes a unique look at America’s culture wars, mining our history for the tiny butterfly wing effects that had enormous consequences on today’s banned books, comedians, and everyday people. Listen here.
🎙️I was on hold for more than an hour with the Disney Cruise customer service line, and while it was frustrating (I never did get through) it put me in a happy place to hear the Disney hold music. I then discovered the Sounds of Disney podcast, which showcases sounds only found inside the Disney theme parks and resorts. This is the real stuff—the songs you hear in the caves of the Pirates of the Caribbean, the music played in hotel lobbies, and more. There’s an entire episode that takes you through the Spaceship Earth ride narrated by Jeremy Irons (voice of The Lion King’s Scar,) which I listened to several times. If someone said to me, ‘hum the song from the Splash Mountain ride,’ I wouldn’t be able to do it. But hearing this me hit me with a happy wave of nostalgia. I even appreciated the park updates at the top, even though many of them are outdated and there is no reason I need to know about them. This podcast brings you into the park, and the most extreme Disney nerds will feel like they’re being lulled into a safe, comforting space. Listen here.
🎙️Formerly Deliberately Wasting Your Time with Jon Daly is a podcast lover’s dream—it’s a podcast review show with a sharp twist of comedy. Unlike No Harm in Asking, Jon and his guests seem to be purposely choosing almost exclusively shows that are bad—Alan Dershowitz's podcast DERSHOW and a show run by incels, to name a few. We are in need of more podcast criticism, and while these episodes seem more like roasts, it feels good to point out the major shortcomings of podcasts that everyone reading this newsletter would consider bad. Jon and guests layer their commentary onto clips of the shows, which is a possibly illegal but enjoyable technique. Episodes are long, but I find that they fly by. Listen here.
🎙️For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Risk! is sharing stories about the life experiences of Asian Americans over the course of four episodes. On the first installment, there are five stories that range from emotional to hilarious—a woman gets a meal from her family in North Korea, another one finds herself face to face with a racist on a busy LA street, and a man endures hatred and violence from his own adoptive family. There’s also Bowen Yang’s incredible coming-out story. Time stopped while I was listening. Listen here.
🎙️In 2019, Snow Ranger Frank Carus set out to investigate a reported avalanche in the backcountry of Mt. Washington. He found a skier buried several feet under the snow—severely hypothermic, but alive. Outside/In recounts the attempted rescue, which was more delicate than you’d think, becomes a story about the science of saving a hypothermic person, what happens when rescuers are tasked to make decisions about the thin line between life and death, and what happens when your best efforts go horribly wrong. This episode was reported an urgency that made me both want to hurry to the end and savor every second. Listen here.
🎙️On Maintenance Phase, Aubrey and Michael do a deep dive into How To Take 20 Pounds Off Your Man, a silly book written by Suzy Gershman in 1984. They appropriately roast the book, but pin their critiques to a larger problem—thin people dictating the diets of others, and the ways that fat people are monitored around the clock and calendar about what they’re eating. How To Take 20 Pounds Off Your Man is a book about putting your husband on a diet without him knowing, and it seems Suzy’s concern isn’t his health, but his looks. (Though she repeatedly states how worried she is that her husband will find himself in an early grave, windowing her and forcing her back onto the dating scene.) This is an extreme example of a thin woman on a mission to quash fatness from someone in her life, but it illustrates nearly every way fat people are marginalized every day, from the way we try to control what fat people put into their mouths, to what items they put in their shopping carts, to what they order at restaurants. Listen here.
🎙️Ever since I interviewed Rumble Strip’s Erica Heilman, everyone has been asking me about her. (Then one of her episodes was featured on 99% Invisible, and her episode Finn and The Bell, was nominated for a Peabody, and is featured in my podcast Feed the Queue.) She is a masterful interviewer and Rumble Strip is goddam beautiful. Erica released an audio diary that exposes the trials and tribulations of getting a puppy. Her friends have sent in audio that captures their lives during their first day as new pet owners, which is sounds as exhausting and frustrating as having a new born baby. It’s a little peek into a charming couple and the pretty normal decision they made that totally upended their lives. Listen here.
🎙️Blair Socci is a favorite podcast voice and frequent guest on The Daily Zeitgeist (I embarrassed myself at her stand-up show at The Bellhouse by running up to her and screaming “WHAT UP ZEITGANG,” her tagline, in her face.) Now she has her own podcast, Dear Owen Wilson, based on a real letter that Blair wrote to Owen Wilson in 2007 telling him how much she loved him. The show features funny guests reading fan letters to celebrities they loved growing up. The first guest is king of podcasts Jon Gabrus, host of High and Mighty and guest on…everything, who reads a letter he has written to Harry Cavill. Listen here.
🎙️Dead End is a true-crime podcast I cannot stop listening to because it’s a genuine puzzle and is reported with such great detail that it has me completely invested in every twist and turn. Reported and produced by Nancy Solomon with Emily Botein, Dead End outlines the lives and brutal murders of John and Joyce Sheridan, a prominent couple with personal ties to three New Jersey governors. Could John have killed Joyce and then set their bedroom on fire before knifing himself? That’s what authorities say, but because of junky police work (or more, a lack of any of it,) John and Joyce’s son Mark has some good questions that he is having a hard time finding answers to. As Governor Chris Christie’s personal lawyer, you’d think he’d have a unique advantage to clearing the fog but he’s hit with roadblock after roadblock. If you like mysteries that get into the DNA, the blood smears on the wall, and all of the crucial evidence that was thrown away, if you like pretending you are the detective, if you think you can solve this thing faster than Mark, you’re going to find yourself swallowed up by this show. Listen here.
🎙️On Rep, Noor Tagouri is showcasing what it means to be being Muslim in America in a fresh way. The episode Muslim Cool blends history of and context for hiphop, Islam, and Blackness, and how they have been tools in helping Muslim Americans make sense of themselves. There’s a cool loop going on—how Black people practice Islam in America has shaped Black communities and the founders of hip hop. And today, Muslims can listen to hip hop as a guide to establish knowledge about themselves. Noor illustrates this by inviting a collection of people onto the show—Dr. Su’ad, Maimouna Youssef aka “Mumu Fresh,” Brother Ali, and Ilyasah Shabazz, who bring with them music and personal stories that give being Muslim a new perspective—noticing how America can strip people of who they are and replace their identifies with a myth, something that hip hop is able to answer. I listened three times—partially for the music, partially because each storyteller had insight about race and religion that I’d never considered before. Listen here.
🎙️I love you!
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Ajoké Adebesin, a creative storyteller with 15+ years of entertainment experience. She's worked on 75+ commercials, music videos, independent films, and TV shows. And she also spent some time in the film festival world, working for Outfest Film Festival, TCM Classic Film Festival, and Pan African Film Festival.
Ajoké is a proud alumna of The Ohio State University (BA in Interactive Communication) and National University (MFA in Professional Screenwriting). And since 2015, Ajoké has been committed to creating diverse and female-driven content that is inclusive behind the camera. You can check out those projects at www.ajokeadebesin.com.
The app you use to listen: Stitcher, Castbox, and YouTube.
What speed do you listen to podcasts? Normal speed.
How do you discover new shows? Through social media.
One show you love that everybody loves. I listen to a ton of entertainment and business podcasts. Some of my favorite (I believe "popular") non-scripted podcasts are Behind The Brilliance, Jay Shetty Podcast, and Scriptnotes Podcast. And one of my favorite scripted fiction drama podcasts is Meet Cute.
One show you love that most people don't know about. Some of my favorite (I believe not as "popular" yet) non-scripted podcasts are She Did That, Enjoy The Podcast, and On The Page. And one of my favorite scripted fiction drama podcasts is Margarita & Donuts.
Anything else you want to say.. I love listening to podcasts because it's a great way to learn something new or be entertained by so many diverse voices.