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😎 The coolest guy who ever lived 🙉 the shrine of the silvery monkey🗿Compton’s Cafeteria Riots 🍎 hands the size of plumbs ✋ chitlins🍴climate journalism change 🌎
🍭 👂 You're in for a treat! 🌈 🤸♀️
Today is Monday, July 4. There are 93 days until I go on my next Disney Cruise. In case this email is too long, some chitlins talk here, a look at climate journalism change here, exactly the right amount of information about Legends of the Hidden Temple here.
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👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
How would you describe Hood Politics in 10 words or less?
10 words?! Okay here we go: If you understand and survived the inner city, you understand politics.
I’ve been pointing people to Bridget Todd’s episode about cap—where do you think people should start if they’re new to your work?
I’m somewhat of a polymath so it’s hard to say what the best entry point is. There’s the hiphop side of me so I’d say start with my album called “Crooked,” for the poetry and literary work I’d say start with my book Terraform. For the pod? I’d say Bridget’s episode is actually perfect.
Why did you start the show?
I was a high school history teacher in Pomona, Ca, the last city on the east side of LA county. It’s a largely black and brown, low income population. In working with the students, I saw a lot of me in them. Most of time when it came to school, it’s not that I didn’t understand what I was being taught, I just had difficulty in showing my knowledge in the form that white dominate culture wanted. So over the years I got really good at translating. So the pod really was to onboard kids like me, BIPOC from the city, who actually have an intelligence base that’s just not affirmed. I want to ultimately onboard us into the political world.
What is your real name, and why do you go by Prop?
Jason is my name, and Prop is short for Propaganda. It’s my music stage name. My cousin gave it to me when I was 16 and it just stuck. We actually just thought propaganda was a cool word. But as we grew we saw that it actually embodied my life’s work. I was a visual artist first, then rapper, then teacher. It’s all Prop.
Who is the show for?
I’m definitely not one to gate-keep who gets to listen to show. But whom I’m picturing in my head is the person who’s well versed in the culture and is pretty sure they know what they are talking about but doesn’t really have the words to articulate it. I basically want them to know they aren’t crazy.
Can you tell us about Cool Zone Media and what it’s trying to do?
Cool Zone is dope! It’s Robert Evans and Sophie Lichtermans’ baby. The idea is really around taking a real truthful look at the mess we’ve made of the world, but not to just stare at it but help imagine a way forward.
What does the podcast industry have to do better about?
It’s hard to put a finger on, but there’s a lot of overlap with the pod and music industries. It’s starting to feel like the podcast industry is picking up a bunch of bad habits from the record industry. I think it would be great to see an effort to forge their own way of doing contracts and marketing.
What do you love about podcasting?
The intimacy you can develop with the audience. That weekly check-in can feel like an actual friendship and although it’s definitely going one way, I still feel a sense of connection to the listener.
What’s the suckiest part about being a podcaster?
I think it might be unique to me, but the content I choose to cover can be quite a kill joy. The fact that I gotta constantly pay attention to the news gets draining.
What have you learned while making the show?
Prolly that we love myths deeply because we believe they make us who we are. I think Americans feel like they have never taken any Ls so the idea that we may not always be a superpower feels anathema. But it’s more and more clear that our time on top is ending… and that’s okay! We will be fine.
Who are your listeners? Do you have any interesting stories about engagement with them, or getting good feedback from them?
My listeners are so dope! They are mostly Latino but VERY diverse across gender race and class. I was in fact very surprised by the amount of listeners I have that are incarcerated.
How has the show itself changed since it began?
I got challenged by some actual gangsters about the premise and name of the show because hood politics also means the politics between gangs. If I’m not a gangster, then what business do I have doing a show about gang life? So that convo really made me hone in on what I’m trying to convey. I think that got more focused on what I mean by “hood” because as you can see I mean something much more broader than crips and bloods. And the reality that real people have died over those colors so to make sure I’m actually handling the content with respect to those brothers and sisters.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
Wesley Lowery is hosting the new season of Unfinished—Ernie’s Secret, which tells the story of Ernest C. Withers, a Black journalist who lived a double life as the "original civil rights photographer" and FBI informant. He first photographed Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery in 1956, and is best known for his photograph taken on the day of King’s last march, a shot of hundreds of strikers holding signs bearing the words “I Am a Man.” Ernest passed in 2007, but due to an FBI fuck up (hilarious) in 2010, a journalist named Marc Perrusquia got a lead that there was a lot more to Ernest’s story. These first two episodes of Ernie’s Secret are absolutely packed with intrigue, secrets, and questions like…should Marc have exposed Ernest’s past? Was Ernest coerced and simply caught up in FBI surveillance during the Civil Rights Movement? Would King have cared? And why aren’t our heroes perfect?
⚡️News from Sounds Profitable⚡️
The first-ever credible study of the people who create podcasts is here! Presented by Sounds Profitable and Edison Research, this in-depth report gives key insight into the demographics, psychographics, and more of the U.S.-based podcasting community. Download it here.
🎙️I stumbled upon Black People Love Paramore in my promo swap database (use it! and reach out to Sequoia if you want to swap with this show!) and was intrigued by the name…I love it when people commit to a take. I listened to two episodes—the first, which explains the show’s premise, and an episode with Yassir Lester because I knew it’d be hilarious and I was right. Yassir talked about Chirp Phones & Sidekicks, and randomly both episodes went into great depth about chitlins, which I truly appreciated and think could be a spin-off show. (“You’ll never fully experience being Black in this country unless you’ve eaten them,” Yassir says.) This episode felt like a comedy set and I’m excited to hear more. (Though the sound needs improving.) Listen here.
🎙️Eric Benson is hosting Project Unabom, the story of Ted Kaczynski and what actually happened during the 18 years he was terrorizing the nation from his tiny cabin in the Montana woods. This show is examining all of the pieces of the puzzle. New original reporting and interviews give us a look into the dicey joint decision of The Times and The Post to publish a terrorist manifesto, Ted’s childhood and relationship with his brother, and troubling insight into where Ted’s spiraling might have begun. The FBI cleared 652 people before targeting Ted as the Unabomber, and the episode Roll of the Dice explains how a group of Dungeon and Dragons players were incorrectly identified as the culprits, which illustrates the hysteria surrounding role playing games at the time and their ties to the Satanic Panic. I was too young to remember the fear Ted had over us from 1978 to 1995, but I feel it listening to Project Unabom. I keep hearing Linda Kaczynski pop up in these stories. Linda, the wife of David, Ted’s brother, is the one who pointed out that Ted might be the unabomber. And in today’s episode Parallel Brothers, we see she might have saved David from taking the terrorist path like his brother. Linda’s the hero of this story. Listen here.
🎙️Shon Faye has returned with a new season of Call Me Mother, which offers conversations with queer, trailblazing elders that are packed with warmth and wisdom. Donna Personna, a trans campaigner and writer, ushers in the new season with a story of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots, which occurred three years before Stonewall, and the women who fought there. These women were seen as throwaways but were laying the foundation for trans rights. Donna can remember watching these women as teenagers and has a message to them: you were loved then and you are loved now. I loved this sweet little piece. Listen here.
🎙️Just when we’re pedal-to-the-metal set to destroy the earth, climate journalism is in its own great resignation for so many reasons. On Outside/In, Justine Paradis talked to reporters who have stayed in climate reporting and left (previous Outside/In host Sam Evans-Brown quit journalism to become a lobbyist for clean energy) and why, painting a picture of a field that’s so important and yet can make the people in it feel powerless. Where should climate journalists go, how can we use them best? To educate or to lobby? What will happen as they shift roles? We’re starting to talk about climate change more, but it’s interesting to follow climate journalism change, too. Listen here.
🎙️I fell in love with Dulcé Sloan when I heard her on an episode of Ignorance Is #Blessed in 2017 called Not Your Sassy Black Lady—it’s one of the podcast episodes that made me fall in love with podcasts. It’s a three-hour episode that I have listened to several times and sent to many people, and one that took me probably about three hours to find—Ignorance is Blessed has ended and I haven’t listened to the episode in years. Dulcé has risen in fame and you may know her now as correspondent for The Daily Show. Dulcé and Daily Show writer Josh Johnson are bringing their office banter to the new podcast Hold Up. I’m picturing them at a water cooler that I don’t think exists. It’s like getting to be a fly on the wall of the Daily Show office—not in the room where they write, but in the one where they talk about the funny little stuff that may seep into the show but who knows. A funny fight about bar soap vs. body wash includes a quote from Dulcé, who prefers Suave Breeze, “I’m out here smelling like a vacation at all times while Josh is smelling like a hard day’s work,” which nearly had me falling out of my chair. Listen here.
🎙️On Imaginary Advice, Ross Sutherland brings us unexpected audio stories that don’t fit inside boxes or descriptions, letting us see what happens when the storyteller tinkers with the basic elements of storytelling. I find these episodes both enjoyable and difficult to write about. You just have to listen. The latest episode lets us tune into a radio call-in show, where The Coolest Guy Who Ever Lived. But Ross has used the format of a radio interview that bleeps out certain words to spin a kind of tale we’ve never heard before. Somewhere in that episode, Ross reminds listeners that the only reason these stories can be so unusual, outside-the-box, so…whatever he wants them to be, is because he’s completely funded by listeners who want to hear them. If you enjoy Imaginary Advice half as much as I do, please join Ross’ Patreon. There, each month he releases an episode of Imaginary Reprise, where he revisits an episode from the main channel and talks about the development process with a guest. I am new to listening to these and find that hearing Ross and brilliant people like Helen Zaltzman talk about storytelling and podcasts make me a more critical listener, reader, and life-experiencer, to everything. Listen to The Coolest Guy Who Ever Lived here.
🎙️I mentioned before that I listen to Mother Country Radicals at 1x speed, which is unusual for me, but now I basically just have to stare at my phone or into space while I’m listening to it because it sucks up all of my attention. I think it’s because the story host Zayd Dohrn is telling—being born underground to two counter-culture outlaws on the run from the FBI in the 1970s—is just so cool and Zayd’s perspective is so cool, I can’t get enough of it. It’s like when I was eight and obsessed with horses. I have relistened to episodes to catch tiny things I may have missed. I think topically I’ve found a new obsession, but the storytelling here unfolds perfectly. Tension is building, we’re getting to know the characters, and the larger story is starting to fall into place. Listen here.
🎙️David Hampton spent the 80s convincing wealthy Manhattan socialites he was Sidney Poitier’s son (he was not,) promising them roles in movies and opportunities to meet Sidney, slowly conning them into giving him food, shelter, and money. Cons are bad but this one’s kind of funny and you have to hand it to David—this is the perfect lie that is exciting enough to get you attention but not exciting enough that people wouldn’t believe it. Hear the story on Cheat! then google image David Hampton con artist and ask yourself how long you would have fallen for it. Are you smarter than a Manhattan socialite? Listen here.
🎙️I initially was drawn to In Your Hands for the concept: comedian Lizzy Cooperman lets listeners decide her path by giving the two options—should she get a double piercing or a job at Cold Stone Creamery, start making jewelry out of keys from her keyboard, become a tour guide for a This Is Us tour in LA, create a workout routine? She talks to funny friends about the choices, and then once her listeners decide what she should do via voting on Instagram, she actually follows through. Her life is in our hands, and over the course of 17 episodes, her life has changed somewhat drastically. I eagerly listen each Thursday and vote on her Instagram as instructed, so I’m invested. But my last listen made me realize it’s not just the coolness of this idea that keeps me coming back, it’s Lizzy. Her life is in our hands, but I think I want her comedian/ musician /writer/ LA life, which feels like a sitcom I’m invited to participate in. And she has this way of words that has me laughing when she’s making even the tiniest observation. (She recently called someone’s small hands “the size of plumbs” and that is the kind of weird detail I truly appreciate.) Listen here.
🎙️On the new show out of Anna Hossnieh’s NextUp mentoring program comes Beauty Translated, where Carmen Laurent is sitting down with other trans people to collect their stories. Carmen goes first, bringing on her friend Violet Chachki to remember her tough young adult days of being ostracized by her family, squatting and running away, drugs, fighting, and trying to figure out how to fit into a world not accepting to her. She doesn’t talk about it in a “woe is me” way, she seems to look back at the shitty stuff almost with a fondness that allows her to appreciate the life she has now. In one tiny episode, there were many moments that gave me new insight into the trans experience and a life I can’t imagine. These conversations are hard and funny and I think hearing them is a tiny step in empathizing the world. Listen here. (Hear Carmen on Ethnically Ambiguous here—she talks about the NextUp program.)
🎙️Again: I don’t like shows that feel like they’re just reading us random facts from a Wikipedia page, but Too Much Information nails it in so many ways. Hosts Jordan Runtagh and Alex Heigl are sweet and funny, they do extensive research, and the topics they choose are hitting me with nostalgia. I licked up their recent episode about Legends of the Hidden Temple, which revisits the Nickelodeon TV show that aired from 1993 to 1995 and gets into its history to try to explain its weirdness, telling stories of temple kids who grew up to be permanently traumatized by the temple guards (15% of them cried when they were captured in the temple?) and funny details (a girl once vomited in the pit of despair.) I can remember being so excited about the airing of this show I left a birthday party early so I could come home and watch it—but my mom eventually made me stop watching because I would get so blood-boiling angry that nobody could ever get through the temple and she didn’t appreciate how much, or how closely, I was screaming at the TV. Who were these idiots that couldn’t put the monkey together in The Shrine of the Silver Monkey? I could win, I thought. (And I still do.) But learning about the structure of the temple gives clarity to the failure of the temple kids. Maybe they weren’t idiots. Maybe it was stressful to put the monkey together, maybe it was scary to be worried you were about to be captured by temple guards, maybe putting the monkey pieces together was tougher than it looked. Looking back at this show made me empathize with these kids, and find the show a kind of hilarious disaster so important to the Nickelodeon timeline. Listen here.
🎙️Every episode of Kuper Island peels back a new horror that is Canada’s “Stephen King-like” residential school program. The latest episode got into lateral violence and how survivors of residential schools were not equipped to heal, which has led abuse, alcoholism, and suicide among indigenous people that’s spread through the community like an infectious disease. The stories in this show are blowing the cover off a story that contains a darkness I haven’t properly thought about, but it’s one that’s so big it should be impossible to ignore. Listen here.
🎙️When Bonny Lee Bakley headed out west to LA in the 90s, she had dreams of being famous. In 2001, she was shot and killed in Robert Blake’s car. Blake was the prime suspect, but Bonnie had made a lot of enemies on her path to stardom, leaving behind a messy trail of people she’d fucked over, which blurred the case and makes the story worthy of some unpacking. The Execution of Bonny Lee is doing it in a really weird way that seems more historical fiction than true crime. The dialogue is totally imagined and read dramatically by the people also “investigating,” Tracy Pattin and Josh Lucas. It sounds like two friends were obsessed with this story and decided to make a 2-man radio program about it. Again, it’s a wild story strangely told. Listen here.
🎙️On Snooze, Millennial creator Megan Tan hosts bubbly conversations with people about things they put off and how they conquer their fears to follow their dreams. A recent episode nudges Gerardo to apply to be a contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race. It feels like an uplifting therapy session / game show and a service to humanity all in one. You’re cheering Gerardo on the whole time and also left wondering which of your dreams you are hitting the snooze button on. Listen here.
🎙️Women my age (I’m 38) specifically will be grateful for The Panic Years, a conversational show hosted by journalist and author Nell Frizzell about the period of our lives between hooking up with random guys and thinking of becoming moms. It’s basically about growing up. Nell tackles aging topic by topic (“geriatric” motherhood, being a step mom, changing careers, etc.) and then following up with an expert in the field to help us take the story into our own hands. This podcast is a special niche space for people like me, who used to be the drunk girl dancing on the corner of 2nd avenue and 4th street, and is now the old lady screaming from her window at 3 o’clock in the morning, “keep it down and go to bed! It’s a school night!” I’m old but I still want things. If this speaks to you, too, listen here.
🎙️Feed the Queue featured an episode of An Arm and a Leg. Listen here.
🎙️The podcast newsletter swap database is live! (Plus why you should start a newsletter for your podcast.) In Podcast Marketing Magic.
🎙️I love you!
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Taka Yasuzawa, a classically trained violinist and composer based in Tokyo. His earliest podcast work was writing music for the first season of Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History. The growth in the industry since then has allowed him to pursue scoring as a lane, which was an aspiration even as he was making Garageband beats in his college dorm room. Most recently, Suave, a podcast he scored with his writing partner, Alex Sugiura, won a Pulitzer Prize for Audio Reporting.
The app you use to listen: I listen primarily on Pocket Casts, although Google Podcasts has a better search function. I'll use Spotify for the occasional exclusive show.
What speed do you listen to podcasts? 1x, because anything faster makes my brain hurt.
How do you discover new shows? Pocket Casts has a pretty good Discover tab. Also, word of mouth.
One show you love that everybody loves. Fresh Air (Terry Gross is the best; don't sleep on Dave Davies)
One show you love that most people don't know about. I don't know if I have such esoteric listening habits, but every so often, I will go back and cue up a random episode of The Champs with Neal Brennan, Moshe Kasher & DJ Douggpound. It's still one of the funniest podcasts I've ever listened to, and they had on so many up-and-coming comedians who are now legit stars. [Ed note: this was THE SHOW that got me into podcasts and I miss it so much.]
Anything else you want to say…There are seriously only like 4 images of Dave Davies on the internet.