🦎 Newts 🥗 lunch salads in France 🎸 Tom DeLonge’s UFOs 🛸 Route 66 🚗
🍭 👂 You're in for a treat! 🌈 🤸♀️
Today is Monday, May 13. There are 114 days until my next Disney cruise. Hello to my new favorite reader Emilie Silvian Myers, whom I met at my high school reunion over the weekend. In case this email is too long, an audio adaptation of a 1936 dystopian novel about newts here, rethinking shoveling lunch salads into your mouths behind your desk here, possibly my favorite episode of You’re Wrong About here.
ps If you are pleased with Podcast The Newsletter, please spread the word.
👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
Why are you the perfect host for LGBTQ&A?
I really believe that interviewing is both an art and a science. When I was starting out, I would read transcripts of great interviewers so that I could see exactly what they were doing. All I Did Was Ask by Terry Gross was partciularly great for this. Every interview needs to include certain things, but how each interviewer goes about it is what makes things interesting. Hopefully you're asking new questions or approaching a subject in a unique way.
Everyone tends to copy whoever their favorite interviewer is when they’re first staring out and eventually you start to figure out what your own voice and style sounds like. About 10-years ago, I started interviewing authors for a website and this allowed me to practice and make lots of mistakes without a lot of people listening. By the time I launched LGBTQ&A, I felt prepared.
I also have volunteered at The Trevor Project, the national suicide and crisis hotline for LGBTQ+ youth, for almost seven years and learning how to navigate those calls was an incredible tool that I was able to apply to my interviews. People want to talk about challenging things. If someone trusts you, and if you approach a topic respectfully, I think you can ask anything. If it makes you uncomfortable to ask, great – that will likely be the most interesting part of the interview.
How have you been able to grow LGBTQ&A?
I didn't have a massive network behind me when I launched in 2016, so I chose to focus on strategic partnerships. The show is now "produced by The Advocate magazine, in partnership with GLAAD". Tapping into these different audiences has been valuable and has also helped attract talent. We've had people like Pete Buttigieg, Laverne Cox, Roxane Gay, Melissa Etheridge, and Brandi Carlile on the podcast and I'm not entirely sure if people understand how challenging it is to consistently book such high profile people.
There are some people/publicists that I emailed with for over two years. Big names draw in a larger audience and the trick is to then make sure that that audience sticks around for the next episode...I say that's "the trick" because it's literally a magic trick and something we'll always be working on.
For a while, I used to email different journalists every week with breaking news from the podcast. We’ve had stories picked up literally everywhere (Entertainment Weekly, Page Six, People Magazine, Perez Hilton, PopSugar, HuffPo, Buzzfeed, Seventeen, Refinery...), but if I'm being honest, I don't think that did anything to move the needle in terms of downloads. There things that work for some podcasts and not for others, but I've found that if people read an article and see that it's based on something that a celebrity said on a podcast, the vast majority will never click on that link or listen to the podcast itself.
What’s the secret to a perfect interview?
There are many different components to conducting a good interview. You have to do research and know in advance what you want to discuss, while also being flexible enough to let the interview go in a different direction if something unexpected comes up. You can't be afraid to be nosy. You can't be afraid to look dumb or ask someone to explain something that’s confusing. You have to ask follow-up questions.
The more interviews I do, the more I feel like my brain is split into two while I'm conducting an interview. 1. I'm listening to what the person is saying and trying to be present while at the same time choosing between asking a follow-up question to what they've just said OR changing the subject and asking a new question. 2. If I am going to ask a new question, what is that question? Have we built enough rapport where I can get ask about a meatier subject? Should I try something lighter? What do we have time for?
In the pandemic, we downsized (yay) and I started editing my podcast again. It's been a great way for me to keep getting better. Listening back, I’ll hear the person say something that I can’t believe I didn’t ask about. Or I’ll hear myself say a dumb joke and I think “Well, that can be cut.” Listening to the raw tapes has really helped to amp up the show’s interviews, in my opinion, over the last 24 months.
✨In very exciting, hell-yes news, Skye Pillsbury (the original writer of the Inside Podcasting newsletter, creator/producer/host of the award-nominated show Inside Podcasting, former Hot Pod contributing writer, and listen to her Heavyweight episode here) has launched The Squeeze, a weekly newsletter for podcasters and audio professionals that features a mix of reporting, interviews, tweets, and gossip. It will be a weekly race to see who opens it up first—see if you can beat me to it. Subscribe here.
✨Shreya Sharma from Tink, Inside Podcasting and The Download joined Jeff Townsend for an episode of Indie Podcaster about her life in audio. Getting to hear about how much she loves working with Tink made me cry. (“It’s addictive!”) I can’t believe I get to work with her. Listen here.
✨On Wednesday, I’ll be talking podcast marketing for a virtual event called Success Secrets to Launching and Marketing Your Own Podcast from the Women’s Media Group with Bridget Armstrong, host of Pop Cultured at The Skimm and audio journalist, podcast showrunner, and WMG member Golda Arthur. Sign up here.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
I listened to the first three episodes of Mother Country Radicals at 1x speed (a rarity for me) because it’s so rich and detailed and I didn’t want to miss a nuanced breath or small detail. That’s several hours of listening and not a second was wasted. Zayd Ayers Dohrn, son of radical left wing Weather Underground leaders Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, is giving a very personal account about what it was like to be born underground in the 70s with his parents on the run from the FBI for pursuing radical change through any means necessary, and how The Weather Underground evolved. This story could be a mess—there are so many timelines and pivotal moments but this show is perfectly pieced together—we learn about Bernardine in episode one, and Bill in episode two. All the while we get to understand how unusual (and at some points absolutely normal) Zayd’s childhood was. There’s so much instructional information about starting a revolution I feel like I could do it myself. This is an unusual, important story well-told, and gives a voice to radical politics and the strategic extremes people will go take to change the world.
⚡️News from Sounds Profitable⚡️
🎙️And now for something completely different from Ian Coss, the creator of Forever Is a Long Time (highly recommended.) Newts! is an audio adaptation of Czech sci-fi pioneer Karel Čapek’s 1936 dystopian novel War with the Newts, which revolves around the discovery of an intelligent breed of newts, our enslavement and exploitation of them, and the inevitable global war for supremacy once the newts become smarter than us and rebel. The tone is theatrical—scenes switch back and forth from sea shanties, fake news clippings, narration, and film reels, to tell a story that feels the perfect amount of madcap for the subject. More extraordinary is the voice talent—Chris Barron of Spin Doctors, Glynn Washington, Mo Rocca, Rebeca Robles of Search Party, and more. This show is in collaboration with The Truth, which is fiction show I find most inviting for people who don’t think they like fiction. And I mean, if you think you don’t like fiction, this podcast is so undeniably inventive I think it could change your mind. I wanted to stand and applaud after I heard episode one. It felt like the curtain was closing on the first act to a play made from the blood, sweat and tears of a very inventive team. Listen here.
🎙️I Was Never There from Wonder Media takes us to Morgantown, West Virginia to tell the story of local folk hero Marsha “Mudd” Ferber, who went missing in April 1988. Marsha was the founder of a countercultural movement called The Underground Railroad and a communal home called the Earth House. But a closer look at her life by podcast hosts Jamie and Karen Zelermyer find there are things they didn’t know about her, and that may explain her disappearance. They lived with Marsha at the Earth House and are digging into her life to try to figure out how someone could just vanish. It’s a personal story, and the show is partially the story of Jamie and Karen, how they ended up at Earth House and their relationship with Marsha. The storytelling feels alive, we discover things about Marsha along with them. Jamie and Karen are not detectives, but their work is driven by their curiosity about their friend. I like this show because I like Jamie and Karen. It makes me think about what a podcast would be like if my mom and I were go make a podcast about one of our own unsolved mysteries. Oh my god I want to do this. Listen here.
🎙️For Rough Translation’s new season @Work, Gregory Warner is taking notes from workplaces all over the world to learn what the way we work tells us about ourselves and how we can make our workplaces better. In episode two, Gregory talks to English teacher Kaitlin Plach, an American working in France, who is opposed to shared lunches with coworkers and prefers shoveling down salad at her desk, something that is technically illegal in France. If that idea makes you panic, congratulations for being extremely American. (It is 5:43pm right now and I am eating my lunch as I type.) Gregory talks to lunch-goers, Kaitlin’s coworkers, and has a little therapy session with Kaitlin to try to figure out what is lost when we don’t have an extended lunch with our colleagues (it’s not just getting to know your coworkers—it is opening yourself up to a surprise encounter to learning something new, which made me rethink the idea of shared outings for lunches) and if there is something Kaitlin can do that isn’t illegal and doesn’t make her squeamish. Listen here.
🎙️lol when the hosts of Hot Money, a new show from The Financial Times, are talking to porn star Stoya (made famous for her video Kill the Bear, which I watched only part of but I think I got the gist pretty fast) about the premise of their show. “Stay in your lane, Financial Times,” she says. “Follow the money.” And that is what Patricia Nilsson and Alex Barker did. They quickly find what Stoya knew all along—if you want to understand the porn industry, you have to trace it back to the money. The porn industry is powerful and murky, yet journalists have avoided looking for answers to the most basic questions, like who even controls it. Hot Money is giving us a rich investigation into the secret history of the adult business and the billionaires and financial institutions who shape it. Listen here.
🎙️The Dyatlov Pass Incident is a mystery that has been gripping people for decades—in 1959, nine Soviet trekkers died in the northern Ural Mountains in creepy circumstances. In what I feel was a perfect episode of You’re Wrong About, Sarah Marshall and adventurer, dogsled racer, musher, advice columnist and nonfiction writer Blair Braverman try to debunk many of the outlandish theories (super human, human, and natural,) pointing out for each one what drives us to want them to be true, and come up with their own explanation that are perhaps less exciting but make a lot more sense. If you’re looking for fantastical speculation, it’s not here. It’s a much more interesting look at human nature, our fear of the outdoors and the fetishization of making it seem dangerous. Why do we love this terrible story and what’s the moral we take away? Thailand's "Backpacker Murders" might be blamed on turtles, The culprit of The Staircase murder might have been an owl, could the hikers on The Dyatlove Pass have been victims of animals, too? And why is that disappointing? It’s a study into natural disasters, our distrust in government, our belief in the most ridiculous explanations, and our fear of adventure, where things will always go wrong. Listen here.
🎙️Hosted and reported by Jenna Spinelle, When the People Decide is a new narrative series from the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State that launched today and tells the stories of people who have organized ballot initiatives across the country. This was an idea that made America’s founders nervous—what if citizens had too much power and say? But in conversations with campaign strategists, political scientists, historians and journalists, Jenna will be looking at the ways that some states offer citizens the right to vote directly on policy and make change on things that constitutes actually care about. I personally love Jenna and how she kicks off the show—from a BINGO hall in Pottsville, Pennsylvania with her grandma Barbie. So it’s personal and historical, and incredibly current, giving us a unique approach to democracy and the ways we are shaping American politics. I give it a big, cheesy, smiley, wide-eyed, double-thumbs up. Listen here.
🎙️Witnessed: Friendly Fire tells the story of beloved K-9 officer Hubert "John John" Yancey in Tennessee who was shot and killed by his partner Marty Carson during what was intended to be a routine search for a suspect. A little digging around by his widow reveals it might not have been an accident. It’s part of The Binge, a new channel on Apple Podcasts, which allows you to unlock all episodes of this show, ad-free, right now. (You also get the entire network of podcasts on The Binge with a brand new story dropping every month.) This is the kind of thing I would usually binge but haven’t had time, I am still on episode two, but I listened in a state of pins and needles I’m enjoying basking in. Start here.
🎙️Here’s another thing you can listen to in full on Apple Podcasts channel The Binge (or not)… Fringe Network: Alien State, a podcast that is talking to people, like Blink 182’s Tom DeLonge (the first episode is called Enema of the State…this show has a sense of humor,) who are coming forward with evidence that the US government is more invested, and has always been more invested, than we may think about the UFO phenomenon. This comes in the wake of US navy fighter pilots releasing three videos in 2017 that depicted flying objects they couldn’t identify, or even figure out how they were flying. It’s like host MJ Banias says…if you missed it, it’s understandable. It’s been a busy few years. But now that Covid is over (jk,) we can turn our attention to aliens. The show is taking the story of UAP out of the fringe and into the this-is-actually-happening, and if you don’t believe there’s something out there, I’d like to hear your reaction to the evidence that makes even Tom DeLonge talking about UFOs on The Joe Rogan Experience not sound crazy. Don’t let the Joe Rogan thing turn you off…it’s a teensy slice of the story that illustrates Tom’s journey in going from punk singer to UFO researcher and founder of a company called To the Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, which is as interesting as the idea of aliens if you ask me. Listen here.
🎙️Courtney Kocak (Private Parts Unknown) has launched The Bleeders, a podcast that offers an honest look at book publishing. So many book podcasts talk about the writing process, leaving the rest a mystery. Courtney is talking to authors, agents, and people in the publishing industry about the nitty gritty…how do the ideas and words turn into a book that is sold in bookstores? Her first conversation was with Samantha Allen, author of Real Queer America, which brought her on a road trip to red states to talk to queer people about their lives (I worked with Samantha on the book at Little, Brown) and her latest, Patricia Wants to Cuddle, which pubs later this month. Writers will learn about things they actually want to know—how to work with an agent, a publisher, an advance, proving there’s nothing to it. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Listen here.
🎙️As part of Tribeca Film Festival's Audio Storytelling Program, we’ve got the pilot episode of Paradiso Media’s fiction comedy series Conference Call, where our guide Julie Burke helps eccentric entrepreneurs "The Toade Bros” pitch their half-baked ideas to a string of bewildered investors. (Fake) investigative podcaster Charlotte Dunn (Emma Roberts) shares cringeworthy recorded phone calls from The Toade Bros to tell their tech story of incompetence, fraud, and betrayal. It sounds like things are going to get juicy. Episodes 2-8 will be released later this year. The pilot was original and funny, I’m on pins and needles for the rest. Listen here.
🎙️I absolutely fell in love with Evan Stern’s first season of Vanishing Postcards, where he took us to tiny places in Texas you wouldn’t find on the map to learn about their histories but more important the people who made the places unique. It doesn’t feel like it was made in a studio (in a good way,) it feels like you’ve been plopped in Evan’s shirt pocket, listening in on his conversations with bartenders, musicians, and storytellers who hold memories that have never been written down. He’s back with a new season about Route 66, a journey that spans 6,845 miles. The first episode sets us up with history of “The Mother Road,” with sound from Evan’s travels and interviews with the people who are woven into the land and can report why Route 66 is a treasure, considered by some as American as the Statue of Liberty. Listen here.
🎙️First Person is a new podcast from New York Times Opinion with Lulu Garcia-Navarro that dips into stories from the headlines with people who have personal ties to them for intimate conversations that help us better understand the news. For the first episode, Lulu talks to Merritt Tierce, a writer who, 23 years ago at age 19 found herself anti-choice and pregnant. She went through with the pregnancy, married the father of her child, and found herself pregnant again. Lulu doesn’t just sit back and listen, she pulls out answers to questions about Merritt’s doubts and regrets to paint a picture of the life Merritt chose and what it means for women who might not have the right to abort if Roe Vs. Wade is overturned. Listen here.
🎙️I love you!
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Diamond Young, founder of Diamond Unlimited & BLK Directory and producer and host of The BLK Directory Podcast, a weekly show that focuses on sharing the stories of black entrepreneurs with a wide lens.
The app you use to listen: I primarily use Apple Podcast to listen to new shows. I also use YouTube as well to watch video-based podcast episodes if available because it makes the experience 10x better for me! Ultimately it depends on where I am. If I’m driving or in the shower, I’ll listen to the audio version of podcasts and if I’m a little less distracted I’ll use YouTube.
What speed do you listen to podcasts? I’ve only listened to my podcasts on 1x so I’m not sure what that says about me. I like to hear episodes at a good natural pace.
How do you discover new shows? I actually like to find new podcasts from Instagram, TikTok, or through recommendations from friends. With Reels and TikTok’s taking over, we’re now able to get a little dose of a podcast before we fully invest in a new show. Aside from being more drawn to visual content, the short form snippets are easier to follow and they have to grab your attention fast.
One show you love that everybody loves. A show that I really love is the Social Proof Podcast. It's an entrepreneur-based show that focuses on providing tips, motivation, and easy-to-apply strategies to help individuals who are transitioning from their job to their dreams. There are new episodes daily and many expert guests feature to look forward to.
One show you love that most people don't know about. Everyone has a guilty pleasure show that they listen to. For me that show is Love Island: The Morning After and Reality With the King. As you may have guessed, both shows are based on reality shows. A fun fact is that I’m obsessed with great tv-series and good casting. So I love having the ability to break down scenes, analyze characters, and develop show predictions. Also, I love that these shows will bring on actual cast members as a guest.
Anything else you want to say…Don’t be afraid to use short-form videos to market your podcast. It’s so important to make sure that your show stands out and sometimes you have to meet your audience where they’re at. There’s a high reward on the other side of your comfort zone.