🦖 The queer community and dinosaurs 🏳️🌈 Siegfried & Roy 🐯 pep talk 🎹 Yellowjackets 🐝
🍭 👂 You're in for a treat! 🌈 🤸♀️
Today is Monday, January 17. There are 141 days until I go on my next Disney cruise?
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Joanna Clay, a senior producer at Neon Hum Media, a podcast production company based in LA. She joined Neon Hum in 2019 and has worked on narrative and chat shows for clients such as ESPN, discovery+ and Spotify. Recently, she was the showrunner for the NHM original Spectacle: An Unscripted History of Reality TV, which has made "best of" lists in Time, Esquire, Vogue and Vulture. You can find her on Twitter @joannaclay.
The app I use: Apple Podcasts and Spotify. No fancy apps... yet.
Listening time per week: Oh man. Outside of the listening I do for work, I probably listen to an average of an hour a day -- so like 7 to 10 hours a week.
When I listen: So when we first started working from home, I missed that time in the car before and after work to just zone out and listen to my shows. So nowadays, my daily walks are my time to catch up on shows. Before work, when my brain is caffeinated, I try to listen to some docs. Recently binged 9/12. I had notions about a show based around 9/11 and it upended all those. It's so surprising. Dan is a great interviewer. Really enjoying When Diana Met... (shoutout to Neon Hum alum Mary Knauf, a producer on it!) I love the way host Aminatou Sow approaches these interviews as larger societal conversations. It's both a fascinating look into Diana's life but also a lens into society then and now. Then after work, you can often find me cooking to some chat shows like Forever 35, The Deep Dive or Maintenance Phase.
How I discover: Mostly word of mouth. I'm always asking people what they're listening to. But I also follow newsletters, like this one! And I check out the charts.
Anything else? Wanna plug my colleagues and say.... listen to Smokescreen Season 3, The Sellout! It's a story about city politics, corruption and gentrification. Shoutout to Showrunner Carla Green. We partnered with LA Taco on it. If you're in LA, you might be familiar with some of the voices, like host Mariah Castañeda or co-reporter Lexis-Olivier Ray. The writing, the music, the way they treat the story with such care -- they did a great job.
ps If you are pleased with Podcast The Newsletter, please spread the word.
👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
Why did you decide to start DCP?
I started DCP Entertainment because I was tired of being frustrated about the lack of opportunities and lack of true representation for underrepresented communities across the media landscape. I wanted DCP to be a space where we can show the diversity of voices, interests and perspectives within marginalized communities like people of color, LGBTQ+, women and individuals with disabilities, while also having a major focus on mental and emotional well-being. And beyond wanting DCP to be the leader in those spaces, we also want to help elevate other podcasters and networks who are doing incredible and authentic work, while also showcasing the value of these underrepresented voices, that way major media companies will take notice and invest in these communities the same way they do when it comes to their white-cis-heterosexual-male focused programming.
Dumb question...what does DCP stand for?
Not a dumb question at all! DCP stands for “Dario Colbert Pinho”. Dario is my cousin, but growing up he was more like my brother. Though we didn’t live together, as a kid, when I would visit him, we would sleep in the same bed and stay up late talking about our life goals and careers. And even though we had different passions in life, and our career choices changed with each conversation, we talked about how we’d always be connected so that we can take care of our families and the people we love. Dario died tragically when he was 22 (I was 20), and so naming DCP Entertainment after him is my way of keeping his name and legacy alive, while following through on our mission to take care of our families and help others. And Dario is definitely still here with me, guiding me each day. 11:11 (spiritual people may get the 11:11 reference)
What’s the work you’re most proud of?
I’m most proud of the work we’re doing with Say Their Name. I can honestly say that we are the first media outlet that is truly giving families impacted by police violence an opportunity to tell their own story, and frame their own narrative, without having to be worried about being taken out of context. Just by speaking with these families we have learned so much more about what is truly happening in communities across the nation, and we’re learning more about how we can directly support these families. And as we are now entering our second season, which debuted January 3, I’m excited that we’re going to help open up the conversation to focus more on the women who have been impacted by police violence. Because too often we don’t hear about the women or the transgendered individuals who are being violated.
What has surprised you about working in podcasting?
I think my biggest surprise has been how collaborative the podcasting space is. Coming from the super competitive landscape of live radio (where I worked for SiriusXM for 11-years), I was pleasantly greeted by the podcasting space that has SO MANY people that want to help elevate each other’s work. It feels like I’ve found my tribe, because back in my radio days, I’d try to partner with local radio stations to help increase audiences for them and for my SiriusXM channels, and I was usually met with confused faces and unanswered calls. So it's great to be working amongst people that understand that audiences can listen to multiple channels or shows.
What does the audio industry have to be better about?
This industry (lumping in radio and tv as well) really needs to take a hard look at itself and reevaluate the companies and individuals that we’re celebrating. And by this I’m specifically talking about industry awards. Most awards in media (podcasting is no exception) go to major companies that can afford to pay for multiple entries into multiple awards. Most companies that were started by POC, women, LGBTQ+ or disabled individuals, do not have the financial ability to have their shows recognized the same way, even if they’re producing high quality work. We have organizations like the Podcasting Seriously Awards Fund (I’m also a board member) that are trying to lower that barrier to entry. But the problem is bigger than that. There is a real problem when you look at a prestigious award like the Peabody Awards, and you notice that in their history, they have only once nominated a podcast project created by a company of color as a finalist for their award (let alone win the award). And even last year as Say Their Name won various awards, the Peabodys decided to honor major media companies for projects about Black people killed by police, instead of a Black owned company that is giving a more complete and responsible narrative about these Black families and communities… Obviously I’m biased, but the reason this is a big problem is that these prestigious awards open up opportunities for companies to get more sponsorships, partnership or development deals, and just overall press to bring in new audiences. So something needs to change quickly, and I don’t mind being the one to point out this uncomfortable truth.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
Normal Gossip is a new show that takes us through non-mean gossip—Kelsey McKinney tells stories of what feels like small town gossip, not promising that any of it is true or identifying any names. The kind of gossip your mom tells you she heard about at the hairdresser. The way it’s presented, it feels a little like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. (What would you do if this happened to you?) A fantastic episode with Sam Sanders about a woman who learns a bit too much about her boyfriend’s family will force you to question your morals and ask yourself, how did this woman get into this situation?
🎙️On Wednesday at 4pm EST, Adela of Podcast Brunch Club has organized a Twitter Spaces Podcast Pitch Party. Podcast newsletter writers will be on the line to hear you pitch your shows. Hope to see you there! Set a reminder.
🎙️I got to talk to Rufaro Faith about three of my favorite shows on You’re Gonna Love This Podcast—Imaginary Advice, The Alarmist, and In the Dark. Listen here.
🎙️This week in newsletters: The Bello Collective ran its last issue ever, Inside Podcasting on Spotify’s trademark win against Potify, HotPod on Spotify closing a podcast studio, Hurt Your Brain on the art of memorials, PodMovDaily on Twitter self-promotion, Podcast Bestie on getting started as a tape sync.
⚡️News from Sounds Profitable⚡️
Sounds Profitable’s newsletter and podcast, the absolute best resource about ad tech, had an interview with Nick Leighton of Were You Raised By Wolves, a show that makes it way through etiquette crimes. The interview will inspire you to up your merch game—Were You Raised By Wolves had more than 20 products before the first episode was even recorded. Nick and his cohost Leah Bonnema thought of some merch that makes sense for the show, thank you notes, and collaborated with Dempsey & Carroll, which makes some of the best stationery in the world. It’s a fun conversation about branding and how you can do something unexpected to market your show. Nick even gives suggestions for other shows. Subscribe here.
🎙️Did you call 928-563-6257 last week, like I asked you to? You have one last chance…it’s part of McSweeney's Radiotopia audio issue, a collection of art, fiction, a slew of unclassifiable print objects in a custom box, and beautifully-produced audio. If you dig deep you will find this phone number, which directs you to a hilarious audio experience brought to you by none other than Everything Is Alive’s Ian Chillag. If that fun fact doesn’t convince you to listen to it, I don’t know what will. You could call a hundred times and I think I did. Subscribe.
🎙️Endless Thread has produced my favorite dinosaur episode of all time. (Here’s another good one.) The Internet’s fight over the dinosaur emoji is about the connection between people who identify as gender queer and dinosaurs and have adapted the dinosaur emoji on social media, and how their social enemies tried to use it as a dog whistle to signal the TERF community. There is also a fact about dinosaurs/Jurassic Park and gender that made me shout aloud to my husband, who was listening in the other room, “What why doesn’t everyone know this?” Listen here.
🎙️The 11th runs a surprise episode every month on the 11th, listeners can expect any sort of genre or format. This month it was all about pep talks. One of the funniest things I heard all week was a piece by Morgan Bassichis, who gives a musical pep talk for those of us who unfortunately have committed publicly to The Artist's Way. I clipped it here, but listen to the whole episode. There is a fantastic clip from the show The Relentless Picnic about a grieving guy who wrote a letter to George Saunders (and got a few notes back!) Listen here.
🎙️I interviewed Rumble Strip’s Erica Heilman last week, so now you know her and hopefully you are following her. I have never had so many people reach out to me after an interview saying they were grateful for the introduction. Erica tweeted about an episode of Dead Honest and I trust her taste so I listened, and now I can’t stop. Dead Honest is a show about grief, like so many shows. But instead of looking at things scientifically or through the lens of a therapist, host Georgie Vestey interviews people dealing with death in the most dicey ways—a Police Family Liaison Officer, someone who takes pictures of newborns after they’ve died in the hospital, and more. The things Georgie is able to capture in these conversations is due to her sharp interviewing skills, something Erica knows a lot about. I have listened to podcasts about grief before, but this one opened up an entire new wing of the grief mansion to explore. Listen here.
🎙️Say Their Name is a powerful show from DCP Entertainment. memorializing Black victims of police violence with detailed storytelling (there’s a chime to warn you if something coming up is hard to hear, and a lot of it is hard to hear) and interviews with friends and family members of the victims, the people who can remind us not about the terrible thing that has happened, but the beautiful person we lost. I cried (and I think I started to get heart burn from the rage I felt) listening to the story of Miriam Carey, who on October 3, 2013, was driving in the car when she was shot at 26 times, and was hit 5 times in the back and head by Capitol Police, after she accidentally made an incorrect turn into a White House security checkpoint, with her baby in tow. We hear about people like Miriam too often but the way Say Their Name paints portraits of them will get to you in a way that no other podcast can. It’s searing storytelling. Listen here.
🎙️On Namedropping, Defector's Giri Nathan and Samer Kalaf are talking to people with names that might make you do a double take, because it’s unusual, hard to pronounce, or entirely too common. These conversations reveal how our names shape our experiences. Episode one is with Sports Illustrated writer Rohan Nadkarni. Listen here.
🎙️On a new show from Ochenta Studios, Atlas Linguae, host Luis Lopez Levi talks to experts about the wonderful complexity of the world of language and translation. The first episode is an interview with a Pixar filmmaker and the power of storytelling and there were so many aha moments that will sharpen your storytelling skills and explain to you why watching a Pixar film makes you cry. (Hear a great moment here.) I love the different ways this show is addressing language (episode two was about emoji. Listen here.
🎙️On the conspiracy theory podcast that makes me laugh my buns off, Lizard People (listen to my episode about the Donner Party here,) Katelyn Hempstead invites Nina Concepcion on to try to prove that The Blair Witch Project was actually a documentary. Lizard People is brilliant because Katelyn sits patiently as guests enthusiastically set out to prove cases so zany that they could never be true but could they? (A favorite episode argues that PETA is a sham and I am sold.) And then, having taking this nonsensical argument seriously, Katelyn tries to poke holes in the theory with facts. She is both smart enough and funny enough to do this flawlessly. This show is a favorite. Listen here.
🎙️Wild Things is here, and telling the story of Siegfried and Roy. It starts out perfectly, telling the story of how they met. (I clipped a moment for you, here.) The podcast is about what went wrong that day in 2003 when Roy was attached by Montecore, the white tiger who had become part of Siegfried and Roy’s show. The episode is also about the relationship and magic of the complicated Siegfried and Roy, how their (similar) backgrounds brought them together to form their partnership is one for the books. Listen here.
🎙️From the people who brought you Where Should We Begin?, This Is Dating lets us eavesdrop on people on their first dates. But instead of featuring them for one episode and then saying goodbye, we get to follow four couples as their stories are woven through the series. The hosts set you up for the date, interview the daters, and offer their armchair expert opinions on how the dates are going. The daters never quite do what you want them to, or expect. (Hear a clip here.) I felt like their mother, cheering them on to be their best, confident selves, and open to the idea that they’re falling in love. It’s an interesting character study and fun for people who like to think about relationships in a totally different way. Listen here.
🎙️Yellowjackets fans will want to check out The Gay Agenda, hosted by Jasmin Savoy Brown and Liv Hewson, two stars from the show (that has been called a mashup of the films Now & Then and Midsommar.) Jasmin and Liv are interviewing queer creative people about how they became queer creative people. It’s simply joyous. First episode is with Bex Taylor-Klaus of The Killing. Listen here.
🎙️In other Yellowjackets news, Yellowjackets Buzz is a show I have been listening to religiously. Hosts Diva Incarnate and Glenn Rubenstein bring on very cool guests (like Wynter Mitchell and today’s episode with BJ Colangelo) to go through every single fan theory you could ever wrap your brain around. (I listened to a 2.5 hour episode today and felt it wasn’t long enough.) The show ran its season finale last night but the podcast will continue with interviews from people who helped make it. (Listen here.) And in case I haven’t convinced you to watch Yellowjackets, I will mention that podcast tastemaker Rebecca Lavoie said on Crime Writers On… that the show “exactly tickles her feminist angry 48-year-old 1990s teenage g-spot in a way that she doesn’t mean in a sexual way, but she is so fucking entertained in a way that she has ever been by anything like it, ever.” (Listen here.)
🎙️Who killed MLK? The official story says it was James Earl Ray, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4th 1968. The MLK Tapes is presenting a much more complicated, much more interesting, much more likely story. James Earl Ray was a poor, unintelligent man who committed petty crimes. Using rare recordings of eye-witness testimony and new interviews with people who were there, The MLK Tapes sets out to prove that he may have been framed. Why did a friend of King defend James Earl Ray in court? Why would he have been targeted as the culprit? This show is unraveling a mystery with a depth I didn’t understand. Listen here.
🎙️We all hate Joe Rogan (amirite ladies?) but have we actually listened to his show? Alex Patterson of Media Matters did so we don’t have to, and his learnings will confirm your fear that Rogan is mainlining right wing talking points into the general public, and stoke your fear about his influence a little more. It will make you question the ethics of Spotify of even hosting his show and want to sign the letter asking for Spotify to moderate misinformation on its platform. (As Rogan tells one of his guests spewing vitriol about the trans community, ‘you can say whatever you want, this is Spotify.’ The New Abnormal hosts a conversation with Alex that will catch you up on what you’ve been missing. Listen here.
🎙️Adam Roberts’ Lunch Therapy hosted an interesting interview with David Lebovitz about turning blogs into newsletters. Listen here.
🎙️My heart was exploding listening to Teikirisi’s Carmen and Fryda talk to Anna and Shereen on Ethnically Ambiguous, four of my favorite women talking together, Carmen and Fryda talking about being Cuban-America and how they started one of my favorite podcasts. And I basically dropped dead to hear a shot out at the end from Shereen. Get to know all of these women, I have massive crushes on them. Listen here.
🎙️I love you!