🐍 Serpent handling gospel music 🪕Jesus pancake 🥞 gangs of the LASD 👮♀️ Indigenous futurisms 💭
🍭 👂 You're in for a treat! 🌈 🤸♀️
Today is Monday, November 14. In case this email is too long, hear the most punk-rock and most dangerous, never-before heard music here, a fun new way to use DAI that could make your life better (if you believe in that kind of stuff) here, and the grossest, most compelling thing I’ve heard in awhile here.
ps If you are pleased with Podcast The Newsletter, please spread the word.
👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
Your life is a podcast rom com come to life. Can you tell us how you met your husband?
Hah, yes, absolutely! My husband Ian is a comedian and writer, and we followed each other on Twitter for a while but never actually met. He DM’ed me and asked me to be a guest on his podcast, All Fantasy Everything, and I did! It was over Zoom, but we really hit it off, and the rest is history!
How did you connect after the episode of All Fantasy Everything was done?
I think I texted him! And then we just kept texting. And then had long phone calls. And then, finally, a date in person. And from there, it was pretty much obvious that we were in love and going to spend forever holding hands, etc. etc.
Did you have any nods to your meet cute at your wedding?
On that first episode of All Fantasy Everything, we drafted non-Disney/Pixar animated movies, and we disagreed about the quality of the movie Shrek (sorry, I think it’s over-rated!). That argument may or may not have made its way into his vows.
You have your hand in so many interesting stories—Noble Blood, Haileywood, and now Stealing Superman. What ties all your projects together?
I think you could say I’m drawn to things that are a little funny, and a little dark, and that I like power and celebrity and fame. But more than that, I think I just love stories. I know a lot of my projects are sort of disparate in tone, but to me, the thing that draws them together is the fact that I’m genuinely interested in them. I imagine that if I’m fascinated by something, hopefully an audience will be too.
Describe Stealing Superman in 10 words or less.
Incredibly rare comic stolen and it belonged to Nicolas Cage. 10 exactly!
How have you changed as a podcast host since you started?
I’m more comfortable talking into a microphone, I think, but unfortunately I’m not much better at the pronunciation of French words.
If you were going to start a podcast, your budget is $1M and you don’t have to worry about logistics or whether or not anyone would like it, what would it be?
Okay, this is a little wild, but if I had all of the time and resources in the world, I would make a podcast investigating the Broadway flop, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. I am a little obsessed with it. I wish the people involved would talk on the record. Maybe I shouldn’t be giving my podcast ideas away! No one steal this idea!
Are you a podcast listener?
I am! Obviously I love All Fantasy Everything, but I also listen to Maintenance Phase, and You’re Wrong About, and I’m a huge fan of Blank Check with Griffin and David. Also Cautionary Tales, and the BBC History podcast..
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
On Alabama Astronauts, Alabama songwriter Abe Partridge and podcast producer Ferrill Gibbs are telling a spell-binding story about the deadly practice of preachers and serpent handling, but the show is about music, and the search for “outlawed” songs of the Appalachians, which are as wild and unchained as the handling of snakes themselves. The storytelling here follows no playbook. It’s packed with the history, science, philosophy, and religion of serpent handling, plus travel, interviews, and audio of serpent handling services that seems so intimate it’s like we shouldn’t be allowed to hear it. It’s Abe’s journey to better understand the music and the people and places it came from, covering a taboo subject (Abe does not judge these believers) with a story that will surprise you every minute and some music (maybe the most punk rock music of all time) that has never been heard before. It’s not about religion, but about the services that birthed this genre and the belief it springs from, and how it was passed down church to church over the years, documented by the people making the music in the purest form. This belief that drinking strychnine and handling snakes brings you closer to God is rooted in Mark 3:16 and scoffed at by many Christians. But it is crazier than the other stuff in the Bible? Have you read Revelations?
✨Devin created another podcast episode from our Tink podcast recommendation hotline and it is a TOTAL blast. Listen and Call 1-844-POD-AT-ME to recommend a show you love (it’s okay if it’s yours!) We might feature it on the hotline. Don’t worry—nobody will answer the phone. Just leave a message!
✨Here’s my Lifehacker article on niche podcasts.
🎙️Speaking of All Fantasy Everything [see Dana’s interview above] it’s one of the few shows I never miss and listen to at regular speed. Ian Karmel, Katie Nolan, David Gborie, and Sean Jordan sit around a table (or that is what it feels like is happening) and fantasy draft things not usually drafted. The topics (Animals That Can Fuck Right Off, Songs to STOP a Dance Floor at a Wedding, hiding places, buff dudes) are always oddly specific and funny, and surprisingly I find myself getting completely lost in their many, many tangents, which I enjoy as much as the actual drafting. This is a show to put on while you’re doing other stuff, it’s long [episodes run 90 minutes] and is so comforting to me, it makes my feel like my funny buddies are giving me a back rub. Listen here.
🎙️The grossest, most compelling thing I’ve listened to in awhile is A Tradition of Violence, a show hosted by Cerise Castle about deputy gangs that operate within the LA County Sheriff’s Department. Cerise Castle wrote the first history of deputy gangs inside the department, and the podcast is a collection of her explosive research and interviews that is completely unsettling and dangerous and exposes a culture of violence and thuggery that isn’t even hidden. These gangs are real, they tattoo themselves and punish sheriffs who don’t join them, they twist the law to make money or shift narratives, and they’re not afraid to beat the shit out of innocent people if it helps the story they are trying to tell. Cerise is an incredible reporter, able to get former sheriffs to open up about gang activity they witnessed, uncover trial documents from court cases that almost never go to trial, and give voice to the people who have been beaten and jailed at the hands of the people who are supposed to be protecting. them. It’s vile. Listen here.
🎙️Eric Molinsky’s Imaginary Worlds has an interview with Grace Dillon, who coined the term indigenous futurisms in the early 2000s, which was her way to rebel against stereotypical and horrible depictions in science fiction about native peoples and encourage native and indigenous writers to join in the genre. If you’ve been enjoying Reservation Dogs, you’ll appreciate to hear the way Sterlin Harjo subverts tropes and how other creators are centering indigenous peoples instead of marginalizing them. With a fascinating panel of experts, Eric digs into blood quantum, how indigenous creators come at the apocalypse (when the present day is already their post-apocalyptic future) and the benefits of indigenous artists working with speculative fiction instead of realistic fiction. All of Eric’s episodes feel like a college course in the magic of fantasy. The research he does to tell these stories is incredible. Listen here.
🎙️Bone Valley is a frustrating listen. Leo Schofield has been sitting in jail since 1987 for a murder he most certainly did not commit—that of his then-wife Michelle. Another man confessed several times and has physical ties to the crime. This seems to be a last-ditch effort to get him freed. The work host Gilbert King (author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Devil in the Grove, which led to the exonerations of four innocent men) and producer Kelsey Decker maps out the full story, uncovering stones never unturned. This show is the perfect true crime story, flawless in its execution and full of both personality and explosive findings and footage. The last and final episode was a double punch, containing an interview with a man who says, “Leo did not kill his wife, I did. And he should not be in jail.” And a beautiful ending, observing Leo singing an original song he wrote with a friend for his new family of incarcerated people. (That’s the theme song for the show.) This story is gut-wrenching but leaves us sitting in this moment of beauty and a tiny bit of optimism, like the tiniest bit, that Leo could ever be freed. On November 16 at noon ET, Gilbert and Kelsey will be hosting a Reddit AMA to answer our questions. See you there? Listen here.
🎙️Emma Madden joined Switched on Pop’s Charlie Harding to unpack sapphic pop, a newish term that refers to music by and/or for sapphics (women attracted to other women.) Described as more sensual than sexual, a little folksy, and having a “soft tactile approach,” it’s a new way to look at music made by and/or for queer people. Tegan and Sara jump in to discuss how in their heydey, their music was code for “this is for the gays,” which totally undervalued it. Now sapphic music can be made by anyone, which is one way that the music industry is responding to our desire to blur the lines of who identifies as what, because who cares. Listen here.
🎙️FIELD TRIP!!! On Ghoul Guide, Rachel Fairburn takes us to some of the UK’s most haunted places and nabs a local storyteller to share three local ghost stories. Only one of them is true. Rachel will spend the night at the grounds, sharing audio as she investigates grave sites, photographs, and other oddities of the place to help her determine which one that is. This is a fun twist on spooky storytelling that truly is place-driven, but also character-driven, Rachel is a fun guide. Pack your bags for Glastonbury, Ediburgh, Dunwich, Brownsover, Ruthin Castle and Whitby, where she’ll be dragging us along as she scares herself shitless. Listen here.
🎙️I am obsessed with audio makers who find creative ways to use dynamic ad insertion, and I think Astrology Coach has won the contest (that didn’t exist.) Two episodes a week give a brush up on the star scene that will apply to all of us, but using DAI pulls a random Tarot card to give the listener a unique experience, getting a card that’s truly been selected for them, just as if they were getting Tarot. Your card is choosing you. This week, I got the Queen of Pentacles card. What did you get? Listen here.
🎙️What is it like to be a woman in magic? That’s what professional magician Kayla Drescher is attempting to answer in her podcast Shezam, which was born out of Kayla’s extensive frustration with how women in magic, and other industries, are treated. It’s a deep look into the facets of the magic industry, from bubble magic to circus, to solid illusion and juggling, featuring interviews with women and minorities about how they’re trying to make the magic space more inclusive for all. This niche show is the scalpel into magic, cutting into magic for the blind and hard of hearing, what it’s like to be a disabled magician, and the hurdles women have to clear to stay afloat in their craft. Kayla’s mission is to make the world of magic better—if you know magic, it’s essential for you. If you don’t know magic, it’s fascinating for you. And there’s something for everyone to learn, no matter what industry they’re in. Listen here.
🎙️The first season of More Than a Feeling was completely beautiful and not-to-be-missed, and their new ambitious project is something to watch. (And participate in!) They’ve developed and produced a really cool multimedia experience called The Dread Project, which tries to get us more comfortable with the discomfort this special kind of fear brings. Each episode is a challenge that lets listeners learn about dread and how to deal with it, and road test therapeutic practices (journaling, productivity hacks, art therapy, walks in nature, and death contemplation.) Interspersed audio interviews with regular people tie together the strategies with real life, and it’s all linked to a short documentary called Dread and Coffee and a live art event in Durham, NC. There’s a lesson every day this week, today’s prompt is to write from the perspective of your dread. Learn more.
🎙️Jesus Pancake, an original scripted audio fiction series from Artist’s Soapbox, tells the story of Aimee, who makes a pancake that looks like Jesus and discovers she for the first time she has a dangerous power. It’s a dark and zany comedy about generational trauma and friendship that will unfold in nine episodes. It’s a weird sitcom for your ears that is so well written and sound designed that it feels visual. I want the TV series ASAP. Listen here.
🎙️From the people who brought us The Orange Tree comes Darkness, the story of Mark Kilroy, the University of Texas at Austin student who, in 1989 on spring break in Mexico, was tortured and murdered in a human sacrifice ritual by “Los Narcosatánicos,” a cultish drug gang. Episode one was one of the horrific things I’ve listened to—Mark, a popular athlete goes missing and his body was found with 14 other bodies on a ranch. That first episode is grim, but the following episodes get into the investigation, Aldolfo Constanzo, the Cuban American cult’s leader who keeps slipping through their fingers, an a mysterious young woman taking college courses in South Texas who is aiding him. This stuff is pretty hardcore. Listen here.
🎙️Every week, the Dark & Stormy Nights crew opens up a book to the first page (and only the first page) to dissect each word on that page, which leads to a conversation about storytelling and how great stories are made. By zooming in on the kick-off of a story, you’re able to study the many formats and techniques that makes a great book work. I haven’t read most of the books Dark & Stormy Nights cover (titles range from Kzradock the Onion Man & the Spring-Fresh Methuselah by Louis Levy and Retief & The Pan-Galactic Pageant of Pulchritude by Keith Laumer to Jaws, Goosebumps, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin) but it doesn’t matter—this is a podcast about the skilled ways authors set readers up for one hell of a story. Whether you’re telling stories via books or audio, there is a lot you can learn. And warning if you’re a big reader: this podcast will make you want to buy a LOT of books. Listen here.
🎙️I have always been a reader, always mystified by the magic of a book. But reading is magic, too, especially the way we learn how to do it. It may have come easy to us, it may seem straight-forward. But Sold a Story is a podcast that proves how complicated teaching kids to read is, and how a single misunderstanding about data has led to a whole generation of kids not really knowing how to read, hating books and school. There is a moment when this podcast feels a little like true crime—why are bright kids unable to read? What does privilege have to do with it? An investigation points to one shift, one woman behind that shift named Marie Clay who invented a kind of reading based on detective work, not understanding words. She was very wrong and now parents, even parents sending their kids to the best schools in the country, are watching their kids fail in reading, sometimes realizing they had a shitty reading education too late to really set them straight. This podcast is about the brain, our schools, and will explain the exact techniques that might have taught you, or failed to teach you (or your kids) how to read, and explores the ripple effects of one woman who thought she knew how to do it. Listen here. h/t Devin!
🎙️I love you!
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Marvin Yueh, producer and co-host of Books & Boba, which is a book club podcast that features books by Asian and Asian American authors. He also produces and co-hosts a pop culture discussion podcast called Good Pop Culture Club, and his podcast production practice can be found here.
The app you use to listen: I use Pocket Casts as my main podcatcher, I like that it syncs progress across all my devices.
What speed do you listen to podcasts? 1x, though I do listen to audiobooks at 1.8x as it syncs up closer to my actual reading speed.
How do you discover new shows? I discover new shows mostly from recommendations from friends & colleagues, though sometimes I do follow my favorite personalities from outlet to outlet.
One show you love that everybody loves. Planet Money and its daily sibling The Indicator are some of my go-to listens.
One show you love that most people don't know about. A More Civilized Age which is a re-watch podcast covering Star Wars, and specifically the Clone Wars animated series, but diving deep into the critical (or lack of) storytelling and politics.
Anything else you want to say? Making podcasts can sometimes feel like an insular undertaking, but don’t forget that you’re all in community with so many talented people who want to see you succeed. Getting to know and learn from fellow producers has been some of the best parts of being in this business.