🌊 Sea crimes 👵🏻 old white ladies 🐸 psychedelic toads 🍄 daddy hat 🧢 Kim Kardashian's new show ⚖️
🍭 👂 You're in for a treat! 🌈 🤸♀️
Today is Monday, October 24th. In case this email is too long, subscribe to this ASAP, an awkward, beautiful Ear Hustle moment here, why gay men love old white ladies here.
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👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
Rebekah Sebastian is the host of DIE-alogue. Listen to her new series on consent now. Follow her on Twitter here. Follow DIE-alogue on Twitter here.
What makes DIE-alogue different from most crime shows?
When I started DIE-ALOGUE In 2019, the world certainly didn’t need another true crime podcast. Nobody was saying “Shoot, I ran out of true crime to listen to, if only there was one more!” But I did see a small opening for something different. There were so many amazing case focused shows that uncovered a new story each week, and there were constantly new investigative series being published as well. What I couldn’t find was anyone examining the genre itself. Like, why do all care so much about murder, and is it really about murder? I suspected that it wasn’t but I wanted to confirm this by talking to experts.
So my podcast idea became an interview format show where I bring on experts in crime, law, justice, advocacy, as well as creators - everyone from podcasters to journalists, authors and directors, and we would discuss true crime, both as a genre and specifically their work and POV within it. So listeners will hear about cases but in a completely different way, and from the people who understand the complexities and themes within the story even more than we - the biggest true crime DIE-HARDS do. DIE-ALOGUE has little to no banter. We prefer to kill the small talk.
How has the show changed since it began?
I like to think it’s gotten better. As is the case with many independent podcasters, you can hear improvement in the audio quality from episode one to episode 120. That’s the technical answer. From an editorial standpoint, it’s just more polished. I have learned that not every word of an interview is gold and that crafting a conversation in post production is really important. I am still learning the best way to do this and I hope the show will continue to improve as I go, but many episodes are shorter than they used to be and I would argue that less can be more when it comes to interviews.
I also pretty much changed my whole thesis and core belief for DIE-ALOGUE. I used to always ask my guests WHY are we so fascinated by true crime? Somewhere along the way - around 80 episodes in (better late than never?) I realized it wasn’t interesting to keep asking that. It was the combination of a listener and a specific guest who actually helped liberate me from this question - Rebecca Lavoie, host of Crime Writers On. She basically was like “We just are and it’s ok and it doesn’t matter why.” This freed up a lot of my headspace and opened up new ways to explore true crime with my guests. That might not sound like a big deal, but it really was a pivot for me and the show.
Then a listener from Australia tweeted something about my show and said (not exact quote)
“DIE-ALOGUE challenges true crime tropes and discusses the ethics of engaging with the genre as content makers and consumers.” YES. She articulated better that I had been able to,exactly what I wanted the show to do. It was a great moment of clarity and I am using it as my springboard as I map out the show for 2022.
Your interview with Justine Van der Leun about Believe Her kind of blew my mind. How do you prep for your interviews to make sure you get a totally unique conversation?
(Justine is awesome!) If my guest wrote a book I read it. If they produced and hosted a podcast, I listen to it. If they directed a film, I watch it. That’s the easy and fun part. I try to avoid watching or listening to other interviews they’ve done, but I will read about them. I follow them on social media to get a sense of their style and voice. Are they serious and formal? Are they irreverent and bold? I don’t change who I am when I interview, but I certainly modify the tone of the interview. Then I think about what I hope we will cover in our conversation and try to sketch out an outline to accomplish that. And then the day of the interview (sometimes the night before) I regret all my life choices but mostly creating this podcast and feel like I am going to puke.Then I breathe and turn on the zoom and pretty much abandon my notes and try to stay present so the conversation can go where it needs to go.
Is there anything I didn’t ask you about that you want to say?
True Justice > True Crime
I’ve decided it’s ok to enjoy true crime as entertainment. I used to really struggle with that. But I hope that as the genre continues to expand and the content within it keeps improving, that we as consumers will think beyond the consumption experience and start to connect dots between the themes we find at the heart of most true crime stories and real life applications. It isn’t a requirement; people can just listen to podcasts and enjoy them, but for me, I want some of that time spent to be directed towards effecting change. Angry about wrongful convictions? Contact your local DA’s office and find out if they have a conviction integrity unit. Can’t stop thinking about that missing woman from the last doc you watched? There are amazing nonprofits who need funding to help provide support to families of the missing. Believe that a victim of domestic violence received too long a sentence for killing their partner in self-defense? Write the courts a letter on their behalf. What if our love for true crime stories could fuel a movement that advances true justice?
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
People get away with murder (and other terrible things) at sea for a reason—it’s almost completely unpatrolled, there’s no clear international authority, and it provides a nice place for people to hide. Outlaw Ocean is taking us to our most treacherous waters to investigate crimes and exploitations, from traffickers, pirates, mercenaries, wreck thieves, vigilante conservationists, poachers, shackled slaves and more. Pulitzer-Prize-winner and former New York Times journalist Ian Urbina is hot on the trail of these crimes at sea, and with explosive footage, he’s able to tell us a story of the ocean as a place much darker and scarier than we might have thought when we were only, I don’t know, scared of sharks. Ian is bringing us along on his dangerous journey, which includes a 4-month long quest to track down an outlaw fishing vessel called The Thunder that spanned 10,000 miles and ended with The Thunder’s sinking. Ian’s not relying on research, he was there, with a team of exhausted, uncomfortable, terrified translators, photographers, and reporters. Outlaw Ocean makes you feel like you’re there, too. There is a moment in the Slavery At Sea episode that stopped me (the entire episode is amazing.) Ian’s reporting on slavery in the South China Sea—it’s the first time a reporter has ever made it onboard a Thai distant-water vessel using enslaved labor—to find a group of enslaved boys pulling in an enormous net, using a chant to gather their power to do work intended for a machine. The show also touches upon non-crimes like legal over-fishing and maritime law loopholes. One episode has an interview with Rebecca Gomperts, founder of Women on Waves, which legally administers abortion pills to people who want to end their pregnancies at sea. The show is revealing some of the world’s darkest, most undocumented atrocities (plus the hidden cost of cheap tuna) by going under the sea to find the hidden underbelly of our global economy. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles in the production, here. Just jaw-dropping audio and wonderful storytelling, kind of whispered by Ian, which makes you lean in close to hear what he has to say.
✨The Wild Chocolate trailer is here. Subscribe now so you can listen to episode one when it hits. (Trust me.)
✨On behalf of Hub & Spoke, Wade Roush published An Indie Audio Maker's Manifesto.
✨Arielle spotlighted Trail Weight in her newsletter and podcast.
✨ Canadian Politics Is Boring, the Canadian political satire podcast, released a special episode called ‘An Incomplete History of The Hudson Bay Company’ on audio cassette. There are only 50 in existence, and they can only be played on retro devices. I love fun shit like this.
✨My latest from Lifehacker: 12 Long-Running Podcasts Worth Bingeing Immediately, 11 Sex Podcasts to Make You Better in Bed.
✨Call 1-844-POD-AT-ME every morning while you’re brushing your teeth—and leave your own podcast recommendation at the sound of the beep. We might feature it on the hotline. Listen to our Podcast Recommendation Podcast here. It’s brilliant.
🎙️I love long-form journalism and have so many links saved of stories I haven’t had time to read. Story of the Week kind of solves this problem by bringing these stories to where I already am—podcasts. On each episode, Joel Stein reads an article and gets into conversation with the person who wrote it. You can listen to two episodes now—one is about a piece that ran in The New Yorker earlier this year that I find myself googling about once every other week (The Pied Piper of Psychedelic Toads) and the other is one of the funniest things I’ve heard in awhile— Billionaires Prepping for the Apocalypse, a piece written by Douglas Ruskhoff about being called to a conference of billionaires to answer their completely idiotic questions about their bunkers. They didn’t like what Douglas, a socialist media theorist, had to say. Listen here and here.
🎙️On Ear Hustle, Earlonne and Nigel traveled to the California Institution for Women for a two-parter about the architecture of prisons, starting with the spaces incarcerated people have to themselves, from their cells to their pockets, exploring how people in prisons can find feelings of freedom under constant surveillance. Earlonne and Nigel enter the cell of a woman who finds freedom in dancing with her headphones on, and they witness this (I’m stealing from Nigel here) “awkward and beautiful moment.” Earlonne noted that it almost felt like the woman didn’t know they were there, and it’s an interesting experiment in audio hearing Earlonne and Nigel describe it with her there. A woman dancing in a prison cell, transported somewhere in her mind that makes her feel safe, is one of the most memorable images burned into my brain from Ear Hustle. And get this—men’s prison uniforms have pockets, women’s do not. Are we surprised? Listen here.
🎙️Earlonne guest hosted an episode of Wrongful Conviction for a conversation with Caramad Conley, who was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on the strength of one man’s testimony for a drive-by shooting in San Francisco in 1989 that left at least 11 people injured, and 2 people dead, despite the lack of physical or forensic evidence. In 2011, Conley’s case was dismissed. Earlonne proves that he shines in this straight-up interview format. Earlonne spent time at San Quentin and his unique insight made this interview stand out. Someone please give him another podcast. Listen here.
🎙️I have never seen an episode of a Kardashian show and have very little interest in them (I did interview Kim once when I worked at Barnes & Noble and her book Selfie came out—ask me about her baffling outlook toward books and literature!) It’s easy to roll your eyes at a new celebrity podcast, especially when that celeb is Kim Kardashian, but Kim’s new Spotify exclusive show The System is in the hands of veteran true-crime producer Lori Rothschild Ansaldi, Tenderfoot TV, Big City TV, as well as Spotify. And it’s good. The first season is about Kevin Keith, who was arrested and charged with a triple homicide in Bucyrus, Ohio in 1994 without any physical evidence tying him to the crime. (He’s been behind bars for 28 years.) The quality is amazing, Kim doesn’t overshadow anything and is a clear host who is able to pull us through the story, and oh the story—the story is rage-inducing—I’m glad Kim is bringing attention to this. She has influence. Listening made me want to quit my job, get a law degree, and dedicate my life to The Innocence Project. Listen to Kim’s show here.
🎙️A Gayish tribute to the late Angela Lansbury got Mike and Kyle into a conversation old white ladies like Angela, Queen Elizabeth II, and Jessica Walter, and the gay men who love them. Why so many gay men are drawn to older women is worth a thought—it’s not all old ladies. It’s the sassy ones, the ones with raspy voices, the ones who have been through shit (maybe at the hand of straight, white men,) the independent ones, the ones who turn tropes on their heads. There is a real tribute to Angela Lansbury (sort of, mostly about the gay man she married) and a debate on whether Queen Elizabeth II is worthy of the Gay Icon crown. And a reminder that Jessica Walter did a ton of shit, kind of faded away, and came back with a bang as an older women, “Patron Saint of Shitty Mothers,” who will live forever on in our GIFs. Listen here.
🎙️If you don’t always tune in for Podcast But Outside, tune in for this one. On every episode, Cole Hersch and Andrew Michaan set up shop in a random location with a table and chair with a sign that says “Be on our podcast. We will pay you $1.” (And they mean it.) Last week, Cole and Andrew were stationed in front of Koontz Hardware in West Hollywood and were approached by a rotation of colorful characters, one of them a podcaster whose voice I recognized right away, and you might, too. Cole and Andrew did not, which made the conversation hilarious. They also had the best advertisement for furniture I’ve ever heard, it was totally part of the bit. Listen here.
🎙️Talk about a diamond in the rough. Did you know that The UCLA Labor Center has been making a podcast that spotlights the voices of workers, immigrants, and communities of color called Re: Work since 2016? This is a labor podcast, but really a storytelling-first podcast. Episodes are sporadic and touch upon labor by focusing on people, telling stories of bring you stories of forced labor, a Black woman studying STEM and in a workforce of predominantly white men, a 6-year-old man working food service during Covid, a woman Lyft driver, a Guatemalan woman working in LA to support her family back home. Work, work, work. I wish there were more of these things but these episodes take a lot of work and it shows. Re: Work is not phoning it in and every single episode is worth your time. Listen here.
🎙️Gil Kruger was an anxious kid and grew up into an anxious adult who found himself working with a lot of bit YouTubers like Grace Helbig. For his new podcast Mentally Gil, he’s calling back old friends to discuss the weird thing all these creators have in common—struggling with mental health while you offer yourself up to the internet like these people have. It’s a show that links mental health and creativity, and is a chance for people like Grace to get totally honest about what it was like to be creating hours and hours of content a week as an introvert. This podcast doesn’t feel like a straight-up interview show, it’s playful and funny, and there is pretty sweet theme song. By opening up about his own mental health and sharing the stories of these big stars, we can all feel a little more normal about the way we are nuts. Listen here.
🎙️On Into It, Sam Sanders asked people to call in with the pop-culture moments that haunts them. My submission made it (true call-in girl, here) and you can listen to it here.
🎙️I was recently reading in Eric Nuzum’s newsletter that people need to see things three times before it sticks in their brains. How many times have you heard me rave about The Daily Zeitgeist? In case you’re new here, I have listened to every single episode, every day, since it launched in 2017. That’s including the nighttime episodes, all in all it’s like 7 hours of Jack and Miles a week. I flew to Chicago for their live show, I wear Daily Zeitgeist t-shirts, I ran a Daily Zeitgeist fan account on Twitter, and I identify as a member of the #Zeitgang. (When I’m lucky I get my clients on there.) Last week they hosted George Civeris and Sam Taggart of Straightiolab, one of the funniest, smartest shows in existence. So if you haven’t listened to The Daily Zeitgeist yet, or even if you have, this is a great example of why this show is often the best part of my day and something I never, ever, ever miss. Read here.
🎙️Good Sex is intimate because of its content and format—there’s no host, each week the mic is passed to someone who has a story to tell about sex. By cutting out the host you get a one-on-one with someone (or someones) who are willing to get real about all kinds of sex—fat sex, kink, butt stuff, and when sex fucks with friendships. No shame, no filter, it’s like you’re calling up a friend who is ready to dish. Hosts who are reading this, I love you all and you are all beautiful unique snowflakes, but I do love these host-less shows. Listen here.
🎙️Mobituaries is back with the obituary of a name, Mo Rocca’s real name, Maurice. Mo goes back to his elementary school to ask kids about their own thought about the name Maurice, and the name of his own elementary teacher (Mildred, who is surprisingly still there and available to talk about her own thought about the name, which also…RIP.) It’s an episode about the assumptions we make about names, nicknames, why there are more names now than ever, and why exactly some names (Bertha) gives us ugly vibes. There is actually a science behind all of this. Listen here.
🎙️anemoia - n. nostalgia for a time you’ve never known. Have you ever had a feeling that you’ve been somewhere or have an intimate connection to a place you’ve never been? There’s a word for that—anemoa. On Abandoned: The All American Ruins, Blake Pfeil is exploring this idea with a beeeeyouuutiful travelogue where he documents via written, photographic, audio, and cinematic storytelling abandoned places he’s found that made him feel anemoa, starting with the genesis of his obsession, the Peregrine Dairy Farm in Colorado Springs, CO. What’s it like to stumble upon a place and try to imagine who was there before you, what happened, why the place was important, who is there now? It’s a totally immersive journey (headphones on, please) that will twist your ideas around about the concept of spaces and what they mean to us. Listen here.
🎙️I love you!
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Natalie Gregory, who grew up in the Bay Area - land of KQED - where she first heard her favorite show, This American Life. After working in podcast advertising, she attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies where she discovered the urge to tell stories rooted in research and investigation. She currently works as a producer on The Opportunist from Kast Media and was a finalist at the Resonate Podcast Festival in Richmond, VA. The beach, history books, and old school jazz are a few of her favorite things. She misses The Dinner Party Download.
The app you use to listen: Apple Podcasts
What speed do you listen to podcasts? 1x, I need all the details (except when I'm going through mass amounts of tape, then 1.75x)
How do you discover new shows? Other podcasts, Arielle Nissenblatt, and my team at The Opportunist/Kast Media.
One show you love that everybody loves. One show you love that most people don't know about. My first true love in audio, This American Life. Hot tip: If you're ever in San Francisco, listen to The Hostess With the Toastess (from No Place Like Home) and then go to Trouble Coffee. Audio tourism!
Hot take: The best tacos are guisados.
Self-care tip: Journaling.