🐔 Roosters on trial 🪒 the arms race of shaving 🥇 The Yips 🧚♀️ fairy photos 📸
🍭 👂 You're in for a treat! 🌈 🤸♀️
Today is Monday, April 25. There are 10 days until I go on my next Disney cruise. If you want me to send you a postcard from the cruise, fill out this form. In case this email is too long, here’s something cool that’s never been done before here, in search of a possibly-but-probably-not dead nurse here, a cruel and unusual punishment for animals here.
ps If you are pleased with Podcast The Newsletter, please spread the word.
👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
Ben Lapidus and Andy Cook
Andy Cook & Ben Lapidus are the creators of Who Killed Avril Lavigne? Follow Who Killed Avril Lavigne? on Twitter here.
Why did you make Who Killed Avril Lavigne?
We made Who Killed Avril Lavigne because we love this music, this scene, and this moment in time so much that we thought there had to be a whole other mass of people who loved it just like we did. We’ve produced a version of this show as a live musical, but there are always limitations with live performances of how many people you can reach. Podcasting was a way to eliminate that barrier of accessibility and make it possible for anybody to find this story at any time, all over the world – and we’re so thrilled with the great feedback we’re getting!
Why is Warped Tour so funny?
We think Warped Tour is so funny because the idea of “pop punk” is so inherently contradictory – to be punk is to not be pop, and that tension between angst and pain and trying to draw attention to yourself is so innately hilarious to us. And there’s a built-in shitty attitude to the whole scene, and this deeply antagonistic feeling towards any sort of authority, that allowed us to build characters with really strong POV’s who were bigger than life that can say and do crazy outlandish things – but really, reality is stranger than fiction. In the first minute of the 2012 Warped Tour documentary “No Room for Rock Stars”, a guitarist from a band washes his hair with Monster Energy before walking onstage – so nothing we write is REALLY that outlandish.
What kind of podcasts do we need to see more of?
Honestly (and no shade meant to anyone in particular!!), I think that narrative podcasting could use some more genre differentiation. The space is pretty inundated with horror/mystery titles, and we made the kind of show that we want to see more of – high concept, grounded world, funny, and formally inventive. I think sometimes the need to make multiple (long) seasons can make those demands really difficult, so I hope podcast fans feel more affinity for limited series (esp because fiction podcasting is so damn expensive to make!)
How long did it take between the idea and the day you hit publish on episode one?
WKAL started out as a stage musical called Pop Punk High that premiered in an indie theatre festival at a church in Brooklyn in 2016. The show then leapfrogged from slightly bigger venue to slightly bigger venue, being rewritten and rethought every time, until we finally had a run at (le) poisson rouge in the fall of 2018. We got some great press from the FADER, Billboard, and others, and apparently it was enough to reach Germany, where a theater company reached out to us to translate the show into German to be performed for thousands of German high-schoolers, happening in 2023. After that vote of confidence, we thought about how we could reach even further, and after the success of Gay Future, we were really excited about the opportunities that podcasting provided.
We started writing first drafts of scripts in Spring 2019, but didn’t seriously hit the ground running until the pandemic hit and our work in live theater dried up. We wrote drafts of scripts from March 2020 to May 2021, hosting table reads every so often to get feedback, and we went into pre-production last summer, recorded last September and October, and edited and prepared for release until our air date on Feb 22nd, 2022.
✨I created a podcast swap database for podcasters who want to set up promo and feed swaps and other sorts of partnerships. Fill out the form to enter your show into the database, then browse the shows that have already been submitted to find your new podcast friend. Learn more in Podcast Marketing Magic, (there is a bunch of other shit in there you should probably read) and on tinkmedia.co.
✨I’m hosting another podcast marketing session with Radio Boot Camp on 6/6. This time it’s an hour longer, which means an hour of more fun. (And we can TOTALLY nerd out.) Sign up here.
✨Arielle Nissenblatt spotlighted the podcast What Could Go Right? in her newsletter and podcast.
✨We covered feed drops and swaps in the last edition of Podcast Marketing Magic. Read here.
PRX IS HIRING!
PRX has several positions available including:
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
Studio Ochenta has done something ambitious today, dropping 37 multilingual episodes that take kids and adults on a choose-your-own-adventure game, Adventure in Atacama (in English) and Azafata en Atacama (in Spanish), something that has never been done before. The series follows the story of Mariela, a flight attendant whose estranged father comes to her with a mission: Find her missing mother, and save the world from the so-called “Atacama Effect,” a language apocalypse that causes people around the world to lose the ability to communicate. The show features Hindi, Japanese, Portuguese, and an invented language: Babelle, as listeners decide her fate and discover up to 12 different endings for Mariela’s journey. This is a fun one that gives me Pixar vibes—it’s for kids but I found myself laughing throughout. Check it out if you want to have fun, listen to something with your family, or just want to see a cool thing a podcast can do. This is a labor of love from the people at Ochenta, and you can feel it. Listen here, or en español here.
⚡️News from Sounds Profitable⚡️
For one of the most AHAAAA episodes of Sounds Profitable, Bryan Barletta talked to Steve Wilson (of QCode, formerly Apple Podcasts) about how to get featured in podcast apps. The trick? Think of it as a co-marketing opportunity between you and the platform. Listen here. In the newsletter, Caila Litman explains why are podcasts the “it” girl right now, for listeners and advertisers. Read here.
🎙️Jamie Loftus has dropped episode one of Ghost Church, her limited investigation of American spiritualism. It’s a nice introduction to the series, we meet her as she’s on her way to Orlando, Florida, headed for one of the only American spiritualist camps in the US, which she’s calling Ghost Church. We get a nice background about what Ghost Church is and isn’t—it’s not a cult, and actually the opposite. (“Too chill for a cult,” and “diet Christianity—Christianity minus heaven and hell and plus ghosts.”) This show isn’t about Jamie’s journey with spirituality. It’s a show about an endangered American religion, how it came to exist, who is drawn to it, and whether or not it will stick around. But it’s not entirely without a personal connection. Jamie’s grandfather, who didn’t believe in any sort of heaven or hell or afterlife, recently passed away, and Jamie’s here, hoping he was wrong, and openly curious about what the spiritualists are trying to offer. Listen here.
🎙️Noor Tagouri of Sold In America is back with a show examining the misrepresentation of Muslims in US media. On Rep, she’s thoughtfully and beautifully piecing together anecdotes and interviews that illustrate a new way to look at America. It’s a story that combines politics and culture with a lot of heart, as well as a story about the stories we tell, as Noor gives us a look at her own journey of being a journalist. Does wearing hijab make her a journalist or an activist? Can an activist tell unbiased stories? In one interview she talks to oral historian Sahir Ali about something that stopped me—the idea of sitting with a story that is not your own, and how to really listen. Listen here.
🎙️The Constant is a lively history podcast about the things we’ve gotten wrong, and for the episode The Cockatrice, Mark Chrisler unravels some of the most unusual death sentences in history—the convictions and executions of animals, like roosters and rats. The facts he has to work with are murky (we’re still not sure exactly why so much time, effort, and resources were spent on these animal crimes) but Mark weaves the whole thing into a beautiful, puzzling story, that even though it might not answer the “why,” gives us a portrait of what law and order was like in the good old days. Listen here.
🎙️I was unsure how excited I was about a podcast that explores the “secret history, behind-the-scenes details and little-known fascinating facts about your favorite movies, music, TV shows.” It’s not typically my favorite kind of show. But if the first few episodes of Too Much Information are any indicator of what’s to come, I’m excited. “Trivia nerds” Jordan Runtagh and Alex Heigl kick things off with unexplored stories about Rugrats, Full House, and Hook, topics that seem to be targeting me or someone with my exact same media diet as a kid. It feels like a Buzzfeed list being read aloud by funny friends, but it’s one I want to read. It’s the ins and outs, the drama, and the Easter Eggs all fans probably don’t know. Listen here.
🎙️Decoder Ring has returned opening with an episode about the razor blade and how Gilette created its own customer by going beyond the singular blade, thus launching the arms race of shaving. We get to hear the petty competition (and lawsuits) between Gilette and Schick, that were spoofed by SNL on its very first episode in 1975. The story about the fight to put more blades on razors tells us the story of the capitalist notion that more is better, and in a way, these commercials touting “more razors” aren’t far off from the SNL spoof. (Or the Mad TV spoof that came years later.) Microscopic improvements like these aren’t necessarily making products better. Listen here.
🎙️I almost wrote this last week and deleted it last minute, but after listening to episode two of Heidiworld, I’m more convinced it’s true: Toneally, Heidiworld is nothing like You Must Remember This but they share overlap in what they’re doing. Molly Lambert is coloring in the history of LA with names and places that each deserve their own history lesson. If you’re a fan of Karina’s storytelling on You Must Remember This, if you love the dishiness of Hollywood and unknown stories about Hollywood’s biggest names, you’ll love Heidiworld. Even if you hate Hollywood, you’ll enjoy this smart look at American culture told through the story of Heidi Fleiss, and what happens when an ambitious hustler paves her own path in the sex industry. Listen here.
🎙️NBC misinformation reporter Brandy Zadrozny is hosting a misinformation podcast called Tiffany Dover is Dead*, by zooming in on the Tennessee nurse who got the Covid shot on TV then fainted, sparking a legion of conspiracy theories that had people convinced that Tiffany had died and that the vaccine was harmful. To tamper these beliefs, all Brandy has to do is prove that she’s alive, right? It’s harder than it seems. Tiffany’s disappearance after her TV spot has stoked the fires of these conspiracy theorists, and Brandy is hunting her down. Through interviews with friends, we get a clear sense that Tiffany just wants to be left alone, but now she has her own NBC podcast. I’m wondering what her responsibility is in straightening this whole thing out, and whether or not I should feel guilty gobbling up this story and wondering where Tiffany is. Listen here.
🎙️In 2020, Simone Biles introduced us to the idea of the 'twisties,' the mental block that causes athletes to lose their spatial awareness. It’s a dangerous phenomenon, and also referred to as The Yips, and also the subject of a new podcast called Losing Control. Host Justin Su’a talks to athletes, coaches, and other professionals about the power the Yips have over our mental and physical capabilities. He’s kind of like a Yip detective. The Yips aren’t just for athletes—we all can have encounters with them. This show is about more than just sports. it’s about how our mental health impacts our ordinary, every day lives. Listen here.
🎙️The Superhero Complex tells the story of a Phoenix Jones, a pseudonym for the masked crusader, the world’s first legally defined super hero and his attempt to rid the Seattle streets of crime. Through Phoenix’s story, we are invited into the world of his side-kicks, who eventually turned against him (all of them,) claiming he’s anything but a hero and more of a fraudster. What kind of person puts on a costume to take the law into their own hands? A saint or a narcissist? That’s what journalist David Weinberg is setting out to find. It’s a real-life audio comic book where the villain is unknown, and his origin story and motives are far more complex than any superhero on the big screen. Listen here.
🎙️The bold, futuristic style of family restaurants born in Los Angeles in the 50s and 60s is thanks to Helen Fong, one of the few women architects of her time. The Kitchen Sisters has a drop-dead-gorgeous piece on Helen, taking us back to her birth in Los Angeles’ Chinatown in 1927 to some of her most iconic projects—Denny's, Bob's Big Boy, and more. The ability of an Asian woman to climb the ranks of architecture in the 50s and 60s is almost puzzling. She was so impossibly good that her race and gender could not be overshadowed by her talents. She isn’t remembered as being someone easy to work with, but how could she have been? Her retirement came far too early, and this piece ends a bit sadly, wondering what she could have accomplished with nothing holding her back. Still, she was able to leave a lasting imprint on every tiny detail from building structures to restaurant menus that was core to how America defined itself after World War II. Listen here.
🎙️On Conversations with People Who Hate Me, Dylan Marron is spending three episodes with two people on opposite sides of a gay conversion therapy story. In part one, Garrard Conley recalls his experience surviving one. And in part two, John Smid recounts how he came to run it. These episodes are so good that time stopped while I was listening, and I completely forgot that I had the third episode in the series to look forward to—a conversation between the two. It is the missing part of the puzzle. I look forward to hearing how this story ends this week. Listen to part one here and part two here.
🎙️An entertaining history story on Cautionary Tales brings us a case that attempts to explain how smart people can lose control of the truth. In 1917, young cousins Elsie Wright (sixteen) and Frances Griffiths (nine) took two photographs that show the girls playing with fairies. The photos got the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a spiritualist, who was convinced they were evidence of psychic phenomena, which set people int a tizzy. The girls held their secret—that the photographs were faked—until the early 1980s. They’d been trapped in their own joke for more than sixty years. The episode explores how they got away with their con for so long, and why on earth two girls might not want to chip away at an influential man’s (fragile) ego. Tim Harford takes us through it, and reflects on what this story tells us about our longing to believe. Listen here.
🎙️On Run, Bambi, Run, Journalist (and Campside Media co-founder) Vanessa Grigoriadis is telling the story of Laurie Bembenek, who despite the fact she was a total babe (she was a Playboy Club bunny,) wanted to become a Milwaukee cop and was eventually convicted of first-degree murder for killing the ex-wife of her husband, another Milwaukee police officer. This ends up being a twisted story of the toxic environment of working in the police department, especially if you’re an attractive woman, and how Laurie got caught up in something that was totally out of control, was jailed, and then escaped. Diane Sawyer called this story the "most glamorous murder case of the 1980s.” It’s got everything—sex, bad apple cops, revenge, murder, media madness, and a runaway Bambi. Listen here.
🎙️On April 12, 2021, first responders were called to a group home on a quiet street in Gilbert, Arizona, where they found that resident Christopher Lambeth had murdered his roommate Steven Howells. Fifteen years earlier Christopher had also murdered his grandparents. This was shocking news to the residents of Gilbert, who wondered how a killer could be living on their street. Erica Stapleton hosts Locked Inside, which tells the peculiar story of Christopher’s crimes in full detail, with audio recordings from the first responder calls in Gilbert and reenactments of interviews police had with Christopher after the murder of his grandparents, to expose the state’s faulty justice and mental health systems. Listen here.
🎙️Best Laid Plans feels like Song Exploder (and Hrishikesh Hirway is a guest!), thanks to its comfy and intimate format, where Jon Frechette and Todd Luoto ask creatives about their moments of pivot when things in their lives weren’t going as planned. Listen here.
🎙️I love you!
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Johnny Flores, a freelance producer and editor based in Sacramento, CA. He founded Flores Podcast Consulting in 2018 after getting his start as a hobbyist in 2011. He cohosts Graphic Novel Explorers Club, an audio book club podcast.
The app you use to listen: Apple Podcasts, but only because I listen to podcasts on my laptop.
What speed do you listen to? I’ve always stuck with the tried-and-true 1x, but now that I think about it, why am I not listening at faster speeds?
How you discover new shows? Mostly through word-of-mouth. Once in a blue moon I discover new shows through transdimensional exploration, but that really blows my budget for the year because of fuel costs.
What’s a show you love that everybody loves? Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. I come for the trio of Conan, Sona, and Matt, but stay for the interviews. My favorite episodes: Bill Hader, Martin Short, Andy Richter, Kegan-Michael Key (Chew-Back-ah), and Tiffany Haddish.
What’s a show you love that not enough people know about? I’m picking two. Bring Your Own Popcorn is a “podcast about movies and feelings.” Guests pick movies that impact their lives one way or another, then they have funny, touching, and meaningful discussions about the movie and life. Dare Daniel is hosted by Daniel Barnes, a movie critic, and Corky McDonnell, an improv comic. Per their website, “Daniel and Corky do your dirty work by watching the worst movies you can imagine, then reviewing them in excruciating detail.”
Anything else you want to say? I’d love a recommendation for a new podcast to listen to.