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🧜🏻♀️ It takes a village to kiss a girl 📞 idiots on phone calls 🦝 coontail caps 👹 goblin mode 🥡
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Today is Monday, September 11. In case this newsletter is too long…a celebration of Ursula’s titties, gunkles, twink fish, and bottom surgery here, subscribe to the trailer of a time-traveling trivia show here, epiphanies about goblin mode here.
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👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
James Kim is the creator of the fiction podcast You Feeling This? with iHeartRadio. He has worked with Marvel, Radiotopia, APM, NPR, Spotify, Audible, and Gimlet. In 2019, he made the indie audio drama, MOONFACE, and recently started the podcast company Overtones. His next show, Magnificent Jerk, is a documentary series hosted by Maya Sugarman.
Describe You Feeling This? In ten words or less.
A fiction podcast mixtape about love in Los Angeles.
How did you decide who to work with and how did you work with them on the stories?
There’s a lot of great indie audio creators I wanted to hear more from. So I emailed a ton of them about doing an anthology show, and luckily people were interested in telling these intimate stories about human connection. Some had experience in audio fiction, but the majority of them have never made something in that space.
We had a pretty strict creative process since we were working with a large team. There were about 15 people just on the creators and crew side, and everyone had to be on the same page. The entire team – from producers, creators, composers, sound engineers – were working together several months before we even started recording. It helped us have the most cohesive vision and work flow for the show.
For every script edit, we identified what the main focus was – whether it was a story edit, production pass, or an edit where we focused on sound design elements. The production and post-production team also gave edits so we could make sure each story would make sense at every phase of production.
It was an organized collaborative effort. The show had so many moving parts, but the north star was making sure we stayed true to what each creator wanted to say.
There’s such a strong sense of place in You Feeling This? How do you make a podcast feel like LA (or anywhere?)
The thing we really wanted to capture is the vastness of Los Angeles. Every neighborhood in LA has its own sound, and its own stories to tell. So it was important that every story was set in a different neighborhood and setting.
I’ve done audio fiction where the actors are recorded in a sound booth with the best equipment. And all of the sound effects are added in post production. Everything sounds nice and clean, but many times that method of recording lacks the beautiful imperfections and distinctiveness that comes with recording on location.
Since our show wanted to highlight the sound of Los Angeles, we decided to ditch the recording studios and capture everything out in the world. It allowed the actors to interact with their environment, and we truly got to capture a sound of LA that I’ve grown up hearing all my life.
It took a few months to figure out how to approach recording in the field. Luckily, I had a brilliant team that included sound designer Diego Perez and sound mixer Daniel Martinez. Our producer, Cameron Kell, also had a heavy hand at figuring out our entire approach. None of this would have been possible without them.
Are you optimistic about the future of podcasting?
Looking at the immediate future – no. The system is broken and it has become more evident with the layoffs this year. Many of my colleagues, who are some of the most talented and experienced people I’ve worked with, don’t have a regular source of income anymore.
Currently, there are limited options for these people who are passionate about making audio and want to make a living doing it. Freelancing is unstable, there aren’t a lot of full-time openings, and it has become more difficult to pitch original shows.
I wish I could be more optimistic about the future and say that things will bounce back. But to be honest, I didn’t like how things were operating even when the industry was in a boom. After freelancing for a little more than three years now, I was able to work with a wide range of companies and shows. There were countless times where the shows were not properly staffed, timelines were unreasonable, and because of mismanagement, people would have to work more than what was agreed upon without a pay increase.
What these shows and gigs had in common were having inexperienced people making the decisions. This industry lacks proper training for these top level positions, and the result leads to hard working producers, engineers, assistants, interns, freelancers being exploited. It also results in podcasts that aren’t well-made.
But there is potential for a better work environment that leads to better podcasts. I see that potential in the talented producers and creators who love making things in this space. People who have experience managing production calendars, understand each step of the creative process, and who have a vision for the future of podcasting. I hope more of these people feel empowered to take on leadership roles, and that the industry creates clearer pathways to these positions.
What’s something you wish you’d known before you started making audio projects?
Since leaving my full-time job, I’ve focused on making original shows. For me, I need collaboration to make something great. So it’s important to have a team of people I trust and love working with.
It could take years to complete a podcast. And it’s become one of my priorities to build a team that gets along and compliments each other well. I’m gonna be side by side with these people for a while. And I want to have a good time throughout the creative process. Having an environment where everyone feels respected and just enjoys working together makes a huge difference in the quality of what you make.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
🎙️You Are Good doesn’t bill itself as a movie podcast, but a feelings podcast. And come to think of it, that’s all I really want to think about when I think about movies. The distinction is so important. I felt like I was swept up in a huge hug during the episode with Eve Lindley about The Little Mermaid, which I was actually nervous to press play on—The Little Mermaid is my favorite movie of all time. But Eve, Sarah, and Alex all have so much respect for “the queerest movie in the whole world” (found family, twink fish, gunkles, bottom surgery, physical transformation…) and point out so many tiny things that are overlooked by reviewers obsessed with the box office or the soundtrack. Things like violent parental tyranny, a Faustian bargain, Ursula’s titties, and how the fuck Flounder got that massive statue into Ariel’s grotto. The way Eve talks about Ariel’s girlhood experience, and how she was able to experience girlhood through her eyes as a trans woman, stopped me. I rewound several times to hear Sarah says “the experience of girlhood is knowing that there’s no correct way to be and if there was you’d fuck it up anyway” because I really needed to hear it, like 20 years ago at least. I was slapping my knee to hear about how Arielle is basically having orgasms throughout the entire movie, and her similarities to Kelly Kapowski. (“Arielle IS Kelly Kapowski”) And I too, like Sarah, would watch a Saved by the Bell-style show starring Ariel teenagering in the mermaid world. You Are Good is such a lovely, smart, earnest study in humans and culture. This episode was moving and hysterical.
✨I’m hosting a Podcast Marketing 101 workshop with Radio Boot Camp 9/18. Sign up now!
✨Read Introducing: Speed Pitching Special for International Podcast Month Only in Podcast Marketing Magic.
✨Read my latest Lifehacker piece 12 of the Funniest Comedy Fiction Podcasts.
✨Twila Dang is launching Boy Band Babylon (a podcast about boybands) and needs your support. (Starting tomorrow.)
✨Have a kids’ podcast? Feel like a teeny tiny fish in a really big pond? Come hang out with New Kids on the Pod. They’re a group of kids’ podcasters–some seasoned, some brand-spanking new–that meet virtually on the second Tuesday of each month to share ideas and learn from one another. For September they’ve got Noah Glenn (Like You Mindfulness Podcast for Kids) and Breck LeSueur (Bedtime History) sharing a bit about the trajectory of their indie shows, and then they’ll pepper Yvette Manase (Libsyn) with questions about how to make ads and kids’ pods play nicely together. Sound interesting? Email Meg Lewis (Storypillar) for Zoom link.
🎙️When I saw that One Year’s new season was about 1955, I got excited because that is the year Disneyland opened, and I was crossing my fingers for a great episode about that. The episode of my dreams landed last week, and in true One Year fashion it’s not just about the opening, it ties everything to the Davy Crockett craze that took over America that same year. It was a huge part of why Disneyland was able to happen. Disney turned Davy Crockett’s story into a TV show for ABC, and the entire country tuned in (the price of raccoon tails went up 3000%, 10% of all kids clothing that year was Crockett-related, and other merch was born—from oysters to underpants) which ended up being a big marketing opportunity for the theme park. By the time it was 1956, Crockett mania had died down, but it didn’t matter. Disney got what it needed. This is a story of Disney’s genius and intuition that could be seen as luck. They squeeze in a bit of fun about Disneyland’s opening day. One kid lost teeth, women’s high heels were getting stuck in wet concrete that had not yet dried, Mark Twain’s steamboat almost sunk, which all gave this day in 1955 the name “Black Sunday.” But once again, it didn’t matter. What did was that everything looked good for the cameras. That I knew. The Crockett stuff I didn’t. Listen here.
🎙️I saw a trailer for the audio fiction podcast Conference Call more than a year ago and checked back every week religiously to see if episode one had dropped, and now it finally has. Starring Elizabeth Henstridge, Jeff Ward, Gregory Stees and Emma Roberts, it follows Julie Burke, who finds herself paired with eccentric entrepreneurs "The Toade Bros” to help them pitch their zany ideas to investors. The podcast is hosted by fake investigative podcaster, Charlotte Dunn, who pieces together the story of Julie and The Toades using hours of their cringeworthy recorded phone calls. The Toades are aggressively incompetent and confident and and with zero self-awareness, and Julie is politely trying to hold things together. It’s an exaggerated version of what many women in tech experience, attempting to smooth things over make sense of nonsense, overlooking sexist jokes, and trying to steer bombastic leaders into a better direction. She tries and fails, but if she succeeded Conference Call wouldn’t be funny. It is very funny. Listen here.
🎙️Sam Dingman (The Midnight Disease, Family Ghosts) is the host of Sports Explains the World, a show that uses beautiful storytelling to tell us about surprising sport stories that are actually just fascinating people stories. The first one is about a trickster teenager (Kieran Morris, the story’s reporter) who crafted a fake PR campaign about a real football player who he dubbed the “Honduran Maradona” on Wikipedia (it’s a nickname he pulled out of his ass,) and watched him go on to sign a million-dollar deal. There is a moment when the trickster and the real athlete (who had found greatness in his own way, as well as a deserved nickname) meet, both of their lives impacted by this lie that grew and grew, and it’s a memorable and thought-provoking meeting that gets you thinking about how our own stories are sometimes taken out of our control, and the path that sets us on. Listen here.
🎙️Ronald Young Jr.’s Weight For It is a personal project about Ron’s relationship with his weight, and actually…other people’s relationship with it, too. Each episode is a tunnel into a new aspect of what it means to be fat. One uses audio from Ronald’s doctor’s appointment that gives us a rare (for some of us) look into what doctors actually say to overweight patients. I’ve heard terrifying rumors about these appointments, and if Ronald’s interactions with his doctor are normal, and I’m sure they are, we have been undersold the horrors of what doctors say. (If Ronald were to listen to his doctor in this meeting, he would be doing Zumba, spin class, and Orange Theory, playing soccer and volleyball, doing daily walks, and practicing portion control, the healthy plate diet, and not eating very much with zero snacks and drinking tons of water.) I want to point out the episode that dropped right before that one is the story of Ronald’s ex, who he judged for being fat and was too embarrassed to be seen with to pursue a real relationship. He gets her back on the mic, she sounds like an interesting, incredibly sweet and cool person who is no longer fat, to talk about what it felt like to be shamefully swept away by him years ago, and how it feels to be a straight-sized person now. (She would not date Ronald now…he’s fat!) It’s one of the best episodes of anything I’ve heard in awhile. Someone please give it an award, it’s twisty and honest and we’re given the rare opportunity to hear, with complete transparency, how to people experienced something from their past, and how it has impacted them today. Every episode of this show is packed with nuanced epiphanies, and though Ronald is going deep—very deep—it feels like he’s just scratching the surface of something much bigger. Listen here.
🎙️Ronald was recently on Sam Dingman’s Midnight Disease to talk about Weight For It, and I absolutely recommend you listen to it. In my last review of Weight for It I said I found it difficult to believe that fat women are more glorified than fat men, but that I was excited to hear more about this. Hearing Ronald talk to Sam, my thought became a little more fleshed out. Sam mentioned that this was the first time he had ever heard someone admit that their entire life had been defined by their size. This was shocking for me to hear. Women have realized this, and are reminded of this realization any time they go online or look in the mirror or try on clothes or don’t want to be photographed or go to the doctor or think back to a time their size was holding them back. It is revolutionary that men are hearing this. That’s revolutionary for everyone. Listen to Ronald on The Midnight Disease here.
🎙️I have been eagerly inhaling all of the new episodes of Material Girls, “a scholarly podcast about pop culture” hosted by Hannah McGregor and Marcelle Kosman. Each one is an academic look at something that at first glance seems too fluffy to be smart. But Hannah and Marcelle are able to structure an argument that objects like Queer Eye and Barbie and Spare are deeper in their mirror than they appear. We’ve all been joking about goblin mode for years (I just did it last issue) but McKayla Coyle, author of Goblin Mode: How to Get Cozy, Embrace Imperfection, and Thrive in the Muck popped on to explain that goblin core (not the same of goblin mode) is actually a reflection of the way we feel about ourselves in a post-Covid world and something that illustrates our new-found longing for coziness and taking care of ourselves, especially in an age we find ourselves increasingly more alone. It’s not greedy or lazy or slovenly behavior, it’s anti-capitalist and human. Hannah and Marcelle then dive into Goblin core lifestyle’s relationship to the abject, and how we might joke about it and pretend to be repelled by it because of our innate rejection to our bodies, that we are disintegrating meat corpses made of shit, vomit and sometimes menstrual blood. We are decaying right now, and maybe it’s just now that we’re comfortable about that. Listen here.
🎙️I wrote down the following words in my notes app and for the longest time could not figure out why: “Beef stew and strawberry shortcake, woodchuck murder, loneliness, casket, worm babies.” Days later I remembered it was because I listened to a beautiful, heart-wrenching episode of Rumble Strip. Erica interviews her friend Forrest Foster, a dairy farmer in Hardwick, Vermont, whose recently lost his partner of 43 years Karen Shaw to illness. The day after she died, Forrest built her coffin and a few days after that buried her in a field behind his barn. We hear the construction of the coffin, the cracks in Forrest’s voice. This conversation had so many lines and words my mind and my heart grabbed onto. Listen here.
🎙️I finished Classy and could not believe how specifically beautiful it was, or how it launched me into so many different universes that felt completely separate but were all tied together by the theme of class and money. Jonathan teaches us about the military, cobija-inspired streetwear, his grandmother’s role on the reality TV show Queen for a Day, and invites us to listen in on an expensive dinner with Chris Gethard. There’s more. And I just found some weird notes I made in my phone when listening. I wrote: He puts on the necklace! YAYYYYY! (I cheered when he was able to put on a gold chain from his past that he had once deemed trashy.) There is a moment about a woman sock shopping that I cannot stop thinking about. This podcast is so, so personal. So, so well made. So, so thinkey and full of heart and research and a kaleidoscope of stories and voices. If Jonathan is a classhole at least he’s a brilliant one. Listen here.
🎙️Fans of Not Past It are probably sad the show ended but can be excited that host Simone Polanen is back with a new time-traveling trivia show, Past Perfect. It’s a 5-episode tournament (so you simply must follow along) where comedians, writers, and podcasters put their general knowledge to the test. Each episode covers a decade in history, beginning with the 1980s, traveling through the 2010s, and culminating in a grand finale covering trivia of the century. It stands out from other trivia shows because the sound is so distinctly FUN, zingy, and quick. Listen to the trailer here.
🎙️On Lemonada’s I Need to Ask You Something, trauma therapist Dr. Monica Band is sitting down with a young person and their parent, friend or partner each episode to tackle some of the big, big, stuff Gen Z is dealing with today (climate, isolation, gun violence.) It seems like someone really needs to be doing this, and on I Need to Ask You Something, we get to listen in, much like Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin? We get to hear these raw moments that we don’t feel like we deserve to be present for. The episode that hit me like a ton of bricks was How Can You Still Love Me, about Seth, who spent many difficult years in the foster care system before he was finally adopted by his moms Jeannie and Denise who love him absolutely unconditionally, something that’s hard for him to grasp. This episode proves that love is an emotion you can feel with your ears. Listen here.
🎙️Digital Folklore is back for season two with an episode that has Perry and Mason visiting other creators who specialize in making media about folklore studies. (Mark Norman, who lives behind a grocery store, inside a bizarre apartment complex shaped like a wizard's tower and Daisy Ahlstone, one of the creators of Folkwise. a folklore-centric livestream show on Twitch.) They explore folklore in ways you’ve never considered, including the meta-ness of studying the study of folklore, metafolkloristics, participatory action research, the folklore of Scooby-Doo, and folklorists as 'Enthusiasm Enthusiasts.' In true Perry/Mason fashion, this isn’t just a bunch of interviews. The guys jump in their Folkswagon and bring you on an experiential ride that feels like an audio pop-up book. In the follow-up episode, Mason shares some great tips about writing for non-fiction pods. Start here.
🎙️The Head Nod is a show that shares raw and unfiltered conversations about Black life in predominantly white spaces, with season one focusing on Black Life at a PWI (Predominantly White Institutions). Exploring the initial culture shock to navigating the complexities of Greek life, and even sharing random Saturday night adventures at the most unexpected places, The Head Nod gives us an inside look into a college experience that is common but not often discussed. Co-Hosted by award-winning podcast hosts & producers Adell Coleman, COO of DCP Entertainment and Anna DeShawn, CEO of The Qube. Listen here.
🎙️Late night talk show hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers and John Oliver created Strike Force Five to support their striking writers and out of work staffs. They’re just chatting, it doesn’t matter. That’s not the point. Listening to five famous white men talk is not what I’m into but the most insightful thing I learned on it is that if it’s bad (and again, I do not like it) it’s proof that we need writers because these guys need writers. So…mission accomplished? And as Nick Quah pointed out, this podcast was born from an emergency, just as Smartless was born out of Covid. So Strike Force Five might have legs. Ten of them. Listen here.
🎙️If Dan Delgado’s main podcast, The Industry, is about things going wrong on movie sets, then his new series is about things going wrong on Broadway. Closing Night is a narrative nonfiction podcast looking into what caused what should have been very major shows to have very minor runs on the stage. The first season focuses on one theater, the Marquee Theater, which seems to have had more than its fair share of flops. The host, Patrick Oliver Jones, is an experienced theater actor AND host of Why I'll Never Make It. I was fascinated to hear the Evita episode, about the 2012 revival that came to both a London and Broadway stage. The new Evita, Elena Roger (I saw her in this performance in Cleveland when it went there) had difficult shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of previous Evitas Julie Covington, Elaine Paige, Patti LuPone, and Madonna, who (all except for Madonna) were pretty unknown before their Evita role. It was Evita that made them. So why did this version flop in less than a year? Closing Night explains how this revival was different and why it couldn’t recapture the fame and longevity of the original. Listen here.
🎙️Two amazing episodes recently dropped on The Best Advice Show: something you all need to hear about promoting your own work from Tink’s Devin Andrade, and advice from an extraordinary woman who ran a solo Five Borough Ultra Marathon Challenge. Listen here and here.
🎙️I started Feed the Queue a few years ago with Podcast Brunch Club’s Adela Mizrachi. It went away for awhile but is back with a confusing vengeance, meaning it’s a) going to be amazing (the entire Tink team is hosting it) and b) guaranteed to surprise you. Because it’s going to surprise us. We’re going to be feeding your queue with amazing podcast episodes, interviews, and the inside scoop on what happens behind-the-scenes at Tink. What day does it drop, you ask? No idea. Whenever we think your queue needs to be fed. Subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss a thing. The first episode explains everything. (Aakshi wrote a Feed the Queue Song! I cried.) We’re calling our listeners Queue-ties. Become a Queue-tie. Listen here.
🎙️Chelsey Weber-Smith was on an episode of Behind the Bastards, but we all get to learn about the history of the swastika. It’s fascinating. The swastika is possibly the oldest symbol of all time, and Robert explains how it was first observed in nature. I love Chelsey so much I felt like a proud mom watching her kid nail the landing at a gymnastics competition. Start here.
🎙️I got the most spot-on pitch last week for Debate This, a podcast that argues over questions about comic books and video games that no one is asking. (Like "Which X-Men villain would make the best college roommate?" or "Which Pac-Man ghost would be the scariest in real life?" Most recently, they debate "Which cat is the best cat in all of video games?" You don't need to know anything about comic books or video games to like it. Cat lovers will be nodding along thinking, why aren’t there more cats in video games? Listen here.
🎙️I love you!
📦 From the Archives 📦
[From April 20, 2020] I love how Femlore (formerly Feminist Folklore) uses old stories as springboards into fascinating feminist topics that impact us on a daily basis, today. If you’ve never listened before, the Clementine episode is a great place to start. (You remember the song, “Oh my darlin’, oh my darlin’, oh my darlin’ Clementine…”) Hosts Mindy and Rachael, along with guest Natalie Craig, start there and reveal what this song is really about—hating fat bodies? unrealistic expectations for women? literally drowning in patriarchy, which harms both men and women? All that and more!, in this innocent little ditty, which tells us so much about what our culture has valued for centuries, and how little those standards have changed.
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